Lucky Is As Lucky Does

Lucky (Part 12)

Throughout this series, many examples have been given to show that luck is a rarity but being lucky is not. Being lucky is being proactive. You have to do the things that will position you to be in an advantageous position when timing and opportunity come together.

We hear statements such as “the luck of the draw” in which selection appears to be a random chance but if you are not in the drawing, you will not be selected or lucky with regard to that drawing.

So what about getting lucky playing the lottery? Many will be in the game, especially since tonight’s drawing gives the chance at one of the largest jackpots. Some will have a strategy for picking the numbers based on a combination of dates, the numbers in a fortune cookie, mythical insight, or something else. While there are statistics available as to the frequency of numbers drawn over time, these may help you choose the numbers you play but cannot really bring better chances of winning.

So how do I get lucky, especially in business?

  1. Decide that you want to win. It is much easier to be lucky if you want to win.
  2. Increase your pool of chances. Even if you do not feel that you are a social person, the odds favor the person who has met or knows the most people. Word of mouth is not a random occurrence. It requires that a party has the knowledge based experience or at least knowledge of a person or entity to make a recommendation or a suggestion.
  3. Deliver a quality service or product. Always increases the word of mouth referrals.
  4. Ask for the referral. If you want to change the chances of someone telling someone else and gaining another prospect, this is the way to do it. Better yet, add a way that someone can offer the recommendation publicly and allow you to leverage it across those you have not met or may not have another way of meeting.
  5. Have a campaign you create (whether or not they know it) for each customer that increases the chance of repeat business and more opportunities to buy your product or service. I got a bit of a tickle when a casket company changed some of its marketing through funeral directors in making family plans available. Most of these were used in pre-planning.
  6. Look beyond one purchase event for a client or customer. What life or business events (timing) will facilitate another opportunity.
  7. Become the source of information for your customers and clients. People gravitate to those they consider to be experts and generally do not question price if there is the confidence and benefit that you are the expert.
  8. Reach out to your clients and customers. Bring them the opportunity to do business with you and you will also take some control of timing. I was talking to a person this morning lamenting his business and the fact that no one calls him. Guess what, friend, it is your job to offer, theirs to accept.
  9. Ask for feedback, input, and other information from your current and potential base when considering a new or revised product or service. Engage, involve and show that you value their opinion.
  10. Perhaps the biggest of all. A genuine “thank you” goes a long way. That does not translate to a gift but sincerity. People are far more likely to repeat and refer business to an appreciative vendor.

While none of these points are new or magical, played at each opportunity and use of timing to focus on the best opportunities, I bet you will be a lucky person too. Lucky is as lucky does.


The Results Are In...

Lucky (Part 11)

Last week we launched a short survey to answer seven simple questions about the music you like to listen to or perhaps use in business. It all started off with the post – I’ve Got the Music in Me. The survey was a fun one which asked seven questions about music and three about demographics.

The environment of our business and personal lives is personalized by what we know through our senses. Unconsciously, we are bombarded by a sensory assault in our own environments as well as the environments of others we enter. That environment may create a perception, condition our approach, actions and receptiveness to the other person, company or place. Consciously, we use our senses to help us.

Think about the last new place you visited. What did you see as you walked in? What demanded your attention? What did you smell? If the scent was strong, you may have also tasted the air. If you were served anything, how did it look, smell, and taste. When you touched things in the environment, did your touch make you appreciate and interpret the choices? What did you hear in the foreground and the background?

Throughout this series, we have talked about opportunity and timing being aligned. The ability to impact luck in the perception is greatly influenced by what we perceive or are delivered through our senses.

We chose to illustrate this a bit through our survey on music. Each of our questions has a purpose and sensory triggers.

1. What song or music really makes you smile when you hear it?
(a) Those taking the survey, whether they realized it or not, probably smiled as their memory delivered potential songs as the answer to the question.
(b) Many of you played potential songs to use in the answer.
(c) You probably thought of where you were and the circumstances related to the time in which you heard the song and it made you smile.
(d) Your memory bank stored that positive element to be recalled with the right trigger.
(e) If someone entered your environment about the time you were thinking of a song or playing it, you probably had a smile on your face and they felt there was a positive reception.

2. What music or song really makes you move? (clapping, dancing, tapping etc.)
(a) If we had been able to see you when you answered this question, you most likely had a smile on your face.
(b) You were probably making something a percussion instrument to the beat of the song playing in your head.
(c) If the song was last heard at a happy occasion and you had a picture handy from that time, you probably looked at the picture adding to the memories that were playing in your head.
(d) What music or song would you select to motivate a group?
(e) This question probably started several potential different paths within your memory such as the last time you were someplace, perhaps a convention, a meeting, a sporting event or church and the music assisted you in following its lead to the purpose intended.
(f) Or maybe you thought of the groups you work with and what songs would serve your purposes in motivating them. The groups may have been related to work, teams you coach, people you influence, social groups where you host or plan an event and certainly civic groups.
(g) The memory of a song that you found motivating may have caused you to do more than you would have without the memory.

3. What is your celebration song?
(a) Everyone has a number of celebration songs that are brought forward from memory for specific occasions including birthdays, holidays, team wins and more. Celebrations are a part of locking the memory of jubilation or success and giving us a better opportunity to repeat the event.
(b) All of us have seen the dance of a favorite player when a play is made, the salute given in honor, the high fives and more. Seldom are these in silence. Songs that remind us of celebrated success are positive conditioning.

4. What is most often playing in the background when you work?
(a)You have the opportunity to control your environment and set the stage for interaction of those who enter. What might be playing in the background could predispose the outcome.
(b) Many of us who work in an environment where there is little physical interaction with others have background music whether or not we have selected it. Whether it is the hum of the technology that surrounds you, a TV in the background or music, the environment you create either enhances your work or serves as a distraction.

5. If you were to choose an anthem for you personally, your company or business - what would it be?
(a) An anthem, while not necessarily a formalized anthem is like a logo. It says something about you. It might make someone remember you and may help them remember your product or service.
(b) Not all anthems are musical, some are spoken but all convey feeling, trigger memories and often help us build our own strength or character.

6. What is your favorite song or piece of music?
(a) Most of us do not have a singular favorite. We have many favorites for a lot of reasons and others that are moments in time. All of these are important because they are triggers.
(b) Having playlists of different types of favorites help when mood and environment adjustments are needed.

7. What is your favorite song or piece of music?
(a) Most of us do not have a singular favorite. We have many favorites for a lot of reasons and others that are moments in time. All of these are important because they are triggers.
(b) Having playlists of different types of favorites help when mood and environment adjustments are needed.

Yes, we are lucky to be able to control, influence and impact others through sensory triggers. We just have to take the opportunity and use it with the right timing. For results from the survey, go to http://www.soltys-inc.com/patmusic.htm.


I’ve Got the Music In Me!

Lucky (Part 10)

I am not one of those blessed with musical talent of my own, but I am lucky enough to be a great aficionado, fully appreciative of a broad range of music with few exceptions. My collection and playlists serve not only for great listening but are also tools to be used in business.

When I teach, conduct a retreat or make presentations, music is often a key portion of the overall experience and environment. Whether it is something invigorating with a pulsating beat to stir up a crowd,  to elicit an emotion or drive home a concept. Using music with visuals, text and a personalized presentation, it is an assault on different sensory receptors all triggering memory, thinking and a permanent link that will be planted in the brain between the concept and the music. The next time the music is heard, there will be recall.

It only takes a couple of bars for many of us to recognize a song and to have a memory triggered. Most know the song “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” well before first word is sung. We tied that to sessions on gathering market intelligence. How long does it take you to recognize “Another One Bites the Dust”, when that pulsating beat and bass begin to play? We used that for market warfare, creating strategies to take out a competitor. It does not matter whether or not all of the lyrics are perfectly suited, we are looking to trigger, memory, responses, thinking and most of all action.

The play list of songs that can be used for almost any business purpose is long and can be used in so many ways thanks to digital media, methods of distribution and sharing. Whether you are gifting a song such as “Need You Now” to that recruit you have been pursuing with the right e-greeting or playing (at least in your head) “Time to Say Goodbye” to the person being shown the door, the dimension and the impact is changed.

Can you imagine going to a convention without music? Most likely the music is working to build excitement and good feelings prior to the start. Specific pieces played during the convention announce change, new strategies or simply a new speaker walking on stage. The music chosen is not a casual selection.

Music can inspire.  Think of “Reach”, which was used in the Olympics or stir our patriotism and loyalty, or “God Bless the USA” which might bring thoughts of times gone by. It can even show the strength of anger and emotion, like “Rolling in the Deep.” No matter the genre, purpose or personal meaning, music is an important part of not only our lives, but also our business.

I thought that it would be interesting to create a small survey that you can take anonymously to learn about the playlist that perhaps gets you moving or plays over and over in your head. The survey will be open now until midnight March 27, 2012 (eastern time). On the 28th, we will post the compiled results in our newsletter, on www.soltys-inc.com and on www.facebook.com/soltysinc. It should be fun and perhaps add new music to all of our playlists.

To participate – click on I’ve Got the Music in Me Survey. We will also post the link on our Soltys Inc. Consulting Page.


Playing The Cards

Lucky (Part 9)

Yesterday was an interesting day. One company made some announcements that rippled through many people and organizations. The announcement should not have been that significant and certainly was not unexpected. What was unexpected were the reactions and perspective of those who received the communications. These varied across the gamut of possibilities.

The company has recently grown by acquisition. Whenever an established company acquires another company, there are likely to be many points of overlap, particularly in terms of personnel. In the time leading up to an acquisition and afterward there is a bit of nervousness, especially in the absence of communications. This often leads to questions and innuendo with few answers or voices of authority. It is usually a very difficult time for all, especially those in the acquired company. They have business acumen and know there must be change. Processes related to the change fight with feelings of loyalty and in some cases loss for the old company. It is also a loss of a comfort zone which triggers responses, thoughts and actions related to natural needs for security.

All companies and people who work for those companies will go through similar issues whenever change is implemented, whether desired or forced. How leadership handles communications makes all of the difference in the world.

Inform – Information creates a knowledge based feeling and takes away many questions, concerns and distractions. Does it mean that you need to communicate every detail? No. You do need to give enough information to give confidence that there is forward movement, trust in the processes and a mutual respect of knowing that no one functions well in the dark.

Set a Time Line – If you are hoping to have your new organization in place in three months, set the stake in the sand well beyond that date. It is okay to meet an objective, early but not having a time frame basically stalls business, decisions and initiative. It also creates a field day for your competitors to work on the lack of knowledge and timing. Most people, having a date in mind, will not make alternative decisions or be side-tracked by competitive pressures and invitations.

Stay Focused – Lack of communications and forward moving activities will cause people to lose focus. No matter what change is taking place, you have to keep business moving which means that there has to be the feeling of mission. If nothing has replaced the old mission, hurry up and wait has a tendency to fill the void. Hurry up and wait generates no dollars.

Use Talent – In most cases there are talented people on board who are used to making valued contributions and doing meaningful work. Being idled, involved in pure busy-work or not able to do anything which really uses their talents breeds discontent and literally changes people from being valuable to the organization to being agents of doubt and concern.

Stay in the Lead – Perhaps one of the greatest challenges is becoming so involved in the processes of change that you are working in your business rather than on your business. Leadership has to carry the flag, help people see a viable mission and keep the wins coming. If the leadership position is relinquished because you are “busy,” it is very costly to regain.

Luck does not come in having all of the cards it is in how you play your cards.


Holding All The Cards

Lucky (Part 8)

This morning I called a friend, as I often do. Sometimes it is to simply extend a friendly greeting or wishes appropriate for the day, and other times to discuss matters of mutual interest. Today I found my friend who usually has a cheerful voice, full of concern.

It appears that the company he works for is undergoing significant change, top to bottom, from who owns the company through the business objectives of the company. It seems that everything is hanging in a suspended state with few certainties, a vacuum of information and leadership fighting for turf and status. While the messages from the company are meant to create calm they do everything but create calm. Everyone knows that with the amount of change in process, nothing is the same or assured.

As we talked it was obvious that a part of what was weighing so heavily were the same feelings that you have when you are mourning loss. When changes are undefined and there is little that someone can do that is pro-active or forward moving it is natural to have the feelings of what is gone be in the forefront of the mind. What is gone also represented a comfort zone where you knew what the game was, who the players were and most of all how to win utilizing the strengths and talents that represented the value you brought to the company.

In the place between what was and what will be, leadership is needed more than ever. Staff and affiliates need objectives, meaningful communications and a feeling that they are moving forward. The lack of leadership brings on doubt, concern and a feeling that new paths and opportunities must be explored. A waiting game that goes on too long is a medium in which degradation grows and thrives. The only winners soon are the competition. They now appear as the bright and shiny pennies when compared with a throttled culture. They also represent a defined new beginning.

As we talked, I told my friend that he was luckier than perhaps he realized. In terms of his position and role that were part of the old structure, they are gone. He had gained the experience, contacts and made great contributions. No one could force him to stay and in the current status, no one was likely to make him leave. He actually holds all of the cards.

He has the opportunity to embrace the change and find a niche that he can claim or choose to follow his dreams in a new position or a new venture of his own. Letting go of the old that will never be again will be a welcome release that will bring him energy and opportunity.

I know that he has concerns and feels a vested interest in everything that he was a part of building, things that defined the former company. Some of those fears and concerns are certainly justified but just like the kid stopping the water with his finger, you will eventually lose to the forces you do not control.

We ended the conversation talking about plans A, B, and C. I could hear the excitement returning to his voice as he realized that he was lucky and able to make choices.


Lucky Choices and Four Leaf Clovers

Lucky (Part 7)
Every once in a while we get the opportunity to realize just how lucky we are when we can make a living doing what we love to do and live a life in many cases better than we ever thought possible.

This morning I had a company out to clean and pump our septic tanks. It is an awful job, in my opinion, where no matter how clean and good smelling you are when you walk out the door, no one will even want to shake your hand after you have been in that truck.

The owner of the company is a really nice guy. He does a great job and takes pride in his work. He is the “& son” in the company name. His father passed away a few years ago and his mother last year, leaving him with a company that I am not sure he really wants. Life has presented him with additional challenges and I get the sense that he feels a little trapped owning and running a company that might not have been his first choice. Should he make the choice to make it his own, things will change greatly and become far more positive.

When I traveled to see my daughter who is posted overseas in a place that will probably never make the Tourist 100, I saw men and women who had been out of work for many years, selling just about anything that might bring a little money. There were others doing work that many in the US would feel is way beneath them. Many of these men and women are highly educated with masters and doctorate degrees, they are proud and protective of what they have and do not mourn what could have or perhaps should have been. They did not get the choice they had built their lives for, but have now chosen the path that is in front of them.

In our own communities, with the state of the economy, there are people who are doing jobs that they would not have chosen as their first choice. Many, by accident, have found new passions, developed new skills and are going to taste the sweetest lemonade in the choices they are making. Others will continue sucking on lemons rather than making a choice to change, grow and or experience something different. As they say, every cloud has a silver lining. The silver lining here is that more entrepreneurial spirit has been kindled recently than we have seen in the last 50 – 75 years.

I have always felt very lucky to be able to make the choices I have in terms of the type of business I want to do, what I want to write and whether I want to work 60 or 80 hours per week, not to mention many other choices. I have also felt extremely lucky to have the family and life I have. All of these involve choices that only became lucky because of timing, opportunity and the willingness to choose a perspective that would let me control optimization. My life and business are a four leaf clover.

Four leaf clovers are rare because they are actually a defective set of leaves. They are not perfect, but we have chosen to consider them a symbol of luck. This choice, rather than focusing on the deformity, celebrates the difference. Business and life exist in a virtual bed of four leaf clovers, ready for us to choose and enjoy.  Only those lucky enough to have chosen to look for them ever find them.

Have a happy and fun St. Patrick’s Day and may you find your four leaf clover.


Over the Rainbow

Lucky (Part 6)

This morning when I went outside, the air was fresh after a light rain. The sky was beautiful with a few puffy white clouds floating to destinations unknown. The birds are singing and if the sun comes up before the last of the moisture in the air clears, I believe there will be a rainbow.

It is hard to see a rainbow and not smile. It also often conjures up all the old fables related to wealth in the form of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Irish tales of luck and lore actually had deep roots in the old sod. Some were based in ancient religious faiths. Most that were related to luck, wealth and well-being were meant to not only inspire but to teach.

While we think of the Irish as believing in luck, and they do, they also knew that you had to reach beyond what was tangible to create your luck. The rainbow was a great visualization of something that could vanish quickly if you did not have the luck (timing and opportunity) to see it. It also represented a path leading to a destination that would be worthy of the journey. Rainbows and the lore built around them and other charmed things inspired dreams and fantasies which were often the beginning of goals and plans.

The source of charms and luck included many symbols and stories including:

  • Four leaf clovers, actually a deformity due to their rarity. Search and you have a better chance of finding luck that most people overlook.
  • A horseshoe especially one from a loved and faithful hardworking horse placed upright and positioned in an auspicious manner can bring luck to the owner, household or building but in farming a good horse was indeed a lucky find.
  • Leprechauns with their ability to trick and deceive became the legendary guardians of wealth. Like wealth or the gold coins they used to bribe, everything could vanish if you took your eye off for even a moment.

Speaking of luck, just how lucky did St. Patrick have to be to drive the snakes from Ireland since there are no snakes native to Ireland? Perhaps the legends are built around driving away bad forces, luck or people who are sometimes represented in lore and business as snakes.

I am getting out all things green, every charm representing luck and preparing to celebrate one of my favorite holidays, St. Patrick’s Day. The music, dancing, lore and small pranks are not only fun, but seem to bring out the best in everyone. Perhaps that is the true luck of the Irish.

I did catch a brief glimpse of a rainbow this morning, I am sure today will be lucky. I have a path to follow and it will lead me to my goal.

Perhaps hearing “Over the Rainbow” will inspire you to follow your rainbows.


What A Wonderful World

Lucky (Part 5)

There is a road that I drive frequently that is nearly magical as spring comes into full bloom. The leaves of green beginning to pop, buds on dogwood trees swollen and near ready, not to mention azaleas starting to show color in yards, pansies in full bloom, all punctuated by bright yellow daffodils. The skies are often cloudless, an almost surreal blue creating a background for nature’s canvas. This road changes my mood and perspective with awe at the wonders of the world that surround us each day.

I love spring, not just for the beautiful colors Mother Nature delivers from her palette but, perhaps even more, because people begin coming out of hibernation. Not just for protection from the cold but as the earth warms and flowers bloom, it seems that spirits and optimism do too. The greetings seem more spontaneous, from the friendly wave to stopping for a minute to chat and exchange a few pleasantries.

The song made famous by Louis Armstrong, “What a Wonderful World” comes to mind. The lyrics are simple and remind us that beauty, and how wonderful our world is, are certainly in the eye of the beholder. We choose the road we drive to work and whether or not we will notice the small things along the way. Whether those small things are people out and about, nature in bloom, changes in places that we pass every day.

The same is true as we walk into the door where we work. Paying a genuine compliment to someone who has a great smile or really looks great may change their day and perspective on the world. As business leaders, it is our job to help create the environment and mood that may set the tone for everyone else’s work day. Putting a flower in a vase on the desk at the front door, cookies on the break room table or even a smiley face at the end of a note or email may make all the difference in someone’s day.

Companies who are either virtual or have a lot of people working virtually can also change the environment from time to time with simple things. Consider changing your voice mail greeting, change the way you answer your phone and/or the signature on your email. Most of all reach out to a neighbor or someone new and as the songs says, offer a hand shake and a “how do you do”.

I guess that a part of my being born lucky is that I see something beautiful each morning that sets my mood to experience my wonderful world.


A Tribute To A Lucky Man

Lucky (Part 4)

He was not tall in stature, but he walked tall. He always had a twinkle in his eye and a firm handshake that let you know he was confident in who he was and his place in this world. He was a hero with medals, ribbons and six purple hearts commemorating his acts of valor, but to many of us who were lucky enough to know this man, he was a friend.

I have chosen to write today’s post as a tribute to my friend Ray Viers, not because of his heroism or the many lives he saved, but because of the lives he made richer. When I first met Ray and his wife Marlene, Ray immediately jumped to his feet and made introductions to all who were around. He wanted to make sure that this newcomer knew that there would be no strangers in this group and all were welcome. Beneath the toughened exterior and gruff voice was a man who was all heart. He had worn the yoke of leadership throughout his life and had no problem taking a leadership role whenever leadership was needed. This was a part of the fabric of his relationships. While some called him a service driven man, which he certainly was, it was all a part of the relationships he nurtured and treasured.

Relationships were the center of the love in his family, the love and respect for the country he served and the soldiers who served under him. His business as an oilman was relationship centered, from employees and associates through competitors. Anyone who became a friend understood that the bonds of friendship were tightly bound in the fabric of the relationships he built, maintained and loved.

Each Veteran’s Day, and I’m sure on many other occasions as well, Ray was called upon to speak to school children. He never took a hero’s pedestal but rather worked to instill in everyone he met an understanding of respect, loyalty, commitment, honor, duty and most of all that these are acts of love in the relationships we all have. While I cannot speak for the parents of those children, I do know first-hand of his interest in kids and those who serve. He always asked about my children and their well-being in the various ways they served the country. He loved reading the stories my daughter wrote from overseas and when he met her, had advice to share.

He was already retired when we met but I would have loved to have seen him in action in business. The stories told show a bravado and passion that he had for everything he did. It would have been a delight and a privilege to work with him.

Ray was a lucky man in many ways, a great family, a wonderfully rich life and surviving the wounds for which he was awarded six purple hearts. He certainly understood that no luck ever comes to those who are not ready to take advantage of the opportunities and timing when presented. I and many others count ourselves lucky to have known him. Thank you, Ray, for your service to our country and all who you touched but most of all for your friendship.


The Midas Touch

Lucky Series (Part 3)

There are always people who appear to have what is termed “The Midas Touch” in their businesses. They seem to have the opportunity to turn anything into gold. One such business owner was John. You might say that John was a bit cocky, perhaps even arrogant, and definitely felt superior to most business people who would be considered his peers.

John was a visionary and a planner, but most people could not see that due to the persona he projected. He had inherited his father’s business at a fairly young age. It was a nice family business that had supported the family well, but there had been little motivation to grow the business beyond the original footprint. He decided to set a path of growth through acquisition and a bit of intimidation.

He had three primary strategies:
  1. Take Away - Attack the opponent company by taking away key people and consequently market share. This meant starting by finding the bell cow* in a competitor’s company.
  2. Hostile Take Over – Take over weaker players in the market place to gain mass. In most cases a negative financial sale was used making it so that the best future alternative was to join John’s company rather than continuing an individual struggle.
  3. The Gun is on the Horizon – Full blown intimidation campaign to let the competitor know that he was coming and they were soon going to be in range.

To the outsider, it looked like John had “The Midas Touch.” His core business grew in size and, through acquisition, he expanded his market place. The business revenue and mass he was accumulating enabled the second phase of his plan to expand the business into an enterprise surrounding the core business with businesses that were a part of the business chain including suppliers to the core business, affiliated services and even those that used the sales of his core business in the ancillary businesses that would be the logical next step for the consumer client.

All was going very well for about 10 years. The greatest challenge for John had been adding trusted people to his leadership circle. He needed strong people who could lead but his persona was so strong that it was difficult for even the best to work in his shadow. He felt that he knew what he was doing and what he wanted to accomplish and the results seemed to show he was right.

Like all of the Midas’s of various stories and lore, the Midas touch turned into more of a curse than a blessing. The larger he grew, the more he needed to empower leadership within his company but he just could not share the limelight.

One day, much to John’s surprise, his most able and trusted lieutenant opened up a new company within his market. The gauntlet was thrown, he had grown the competitor from within, a person who knew and understood his methodologies and could not be intimidated.

Everyone thought that he had lost his touch. Much to the surprise of all, he welcomed the competition and in many ways it was like watching two armies united against a common enemy. They both grew and changed the playing field. John concentrated on the western half of the market where the real money was and let Tom take on the eastern market which offered abundance but not the same dollars. He knew that by helping his new competitor grow and succeed in areas that had lesser interest to him, he also kept other competitors from coming in to the market.

John never had the Midas Touch. He had the good fortune to be born with ambition, and the ability to see and use strategy to his advantage and change to incorporate new dynamics into his plan. He was also a bit lucky. It is unusual for a person with the strength, bravado and history of success to maintain their focus and grow in a situation that could have created vulnerability. John made and continues to make his own luck.

* bell cow | noun
a cow, especially the lead cow of a herd, having a bell attached to a collar around its neck so that the herd can be located easily.


Do I Feel Lucky? Well, Do Ya?

With the theme "Lucky" there are several directions I could take with a follow up post on Facebook's launch of Timeline for businesses and branded pages. But, this one immediately came to mind when I realized I wanted to talk about some of the rules and regulations that Facebook has set for the cover images we will all be adding to our Timelines.

Photo Credit

Facebook doesn't set all that many rules, but the ones they do set...they expect you to follow. They have detailed the following rules for the new large photos that will grace the top of each Timeline account. They may not contain:
  • Price or purchase information, such as "40% off" or "Download it at our website"
  • Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page's about section
  • References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features
  • Calls to action, such as "Get it now" or "Tell your friends"
You might be thinking, oh...they'll never notice. They have millions of pages to monitor, so they're never going to notice that I've got my URL in my image. But, it's the way Facebook deals with infractions that made me think of this particular use of "lucky".

Facebook follows an act now, ask later policy when dealing with infractions. Meaning, if someone reports you, or if Facebook simply stumbles across that URL in your cover photo, they take your page down without any warning. And getting it back up and running isn't as easy as a "sorry, I won't do it again". It can take months of work to get your page back up and running. And who knows how many followers and opportunities you might lose/miss in that amount of time.

So, do you feel lucky? Do ya, punk?


Timeline: In A Nutshell

You know that we've been following along with Facebook's plans to roll out Timeline to business (branded) pages. And you've been patiently waiting for news...so, here it is...what Timeline will do and stop doing, for your business.

We're going to keep it short and sweet here, and we'll go into more detail next week, after we dig a little deeper into all of the possibilities and additions.

(1) First, custom pages will still exist, but you cannot set them as a default landing or welcome. The wall/timeline will now be everyone's landing/default welcome. You'll get two images on the top of the timeline. Your profile pic should be your logo or your face if you use your face to brand your company. The size is 180x180 and will be resized as a 32x32 avatar in the feed. So, you'll want to keep that simple. It's also recommended that you don't swap it out much. Use it as your logo or brand identity. You'll also get your cover image, which is large. 851x315. This one you can swap out often, if you like. There are guidelines. You cannot put a special offer or pricing in the cover image. You cannot put your URL, phone number or contact information in the cover image. You can't point to services from the cover image.

(2) You get a short elevator pitch under your logo to say what you do. All contact information goes on your About page.

(3) You can have up to 12 custom tabs, from maps and events to Youtube and blog feeds. We can now create custom images for those apps and we can reorder them. Four will show as default, the rest can be accessed with a drop-down menu. Pictures will always be the first. After that you can reorder.

(4) You'll have the ability to add historic dates to your timeline. Company founding. Product launches. Other milestones. Milestone posts can be marked as such and will take over the entire width of the page.

(5) You'll have the ability to create a "sticky" or important post which remains at the top of the page for 7 days.

(6) By end of March, Facebook hopes to roll out a new kind of post, an offer post. More on that as I get more information.

(7) Private Messaging has been extended to brands.

(8) You can filter fan activity so you can create the right tone on your page.

(9) The Insights panel has been made much more robust and user friendly.

Each of you needs to start thinking about your cover image and logo. You'll also need to start listing historic and milestone events you'd like to get added to the timeline. You can go back as far as you need. You aren't limited to Facebook's own blip in history.

More on Timeline as we learn it!



Lucky Series (Part 1)

I am not sure, but I think that I was born “lucky.” I had the good fortune to be the first child in a family that believed in luck and lived for lucky experiences. It was actually an expansion of faith, as any circumstance that could not be attributed to a prayer being answered had to be luck. There were many signs portending a soon to occur lucky experience, whether it was sighting a rainbow after a rainstorm, a wish made when blowing dandelion seeds, the hatching of the lady bugs and so much more.

Luck did not always appear in substance, perhaps only as a penny found on the ground, but it could lead to great things. A story I have heard about Warren Buffett is that he was walking into a meeting with three other businessmen. Each of the three walked over a penny on the ground but Buffett stopped, picked it up and held it in the air proclaiming that he had just found the start of his next million.

A dictionary defines luck as – “Success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions.” Most definitions attribute luck to a random, unplanned event or circumstance. My definition of luck is closer to that of a quote from Seneca - “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”   Our actions, positioning, planning, timing and choices probably have far greater impact on our chances of being lucky than any random occurrence

  • To win the lottery, I have to buy a lottery ticket.
  • To find a penny on the ground, I have to be observant.
  • To win in Las Vegas, I must not only play but understand the game.
  • To make money in business, I have to put together the dynamics that will generate revenue and return a profit.

Does that mean that luck is never random? No, but you have a much greater chance of experiencing luck if you have prepared to be lucky. You may buy the lottery ticket but you do not control the randomness of the numbers drawn, nor the number of people in the pool. The penny had to be dropped to be found. In Las Vegas, I go, knowing that the rule is that the house always wins in the end but, understanding that there will be incremental wins and on occasion, a random jackpot. The business need has to exist to allow a business to be profitable. The randomness always has definition which changes the odds.

This month, we will profile luck and people who are lucky, circumstances that position people and companies to experience luck and some of those stories that are hard to explain in any other way.

Yes, I was born lucky into a family that believed in luck but understood that they could not be dependent on random circumstance. Hard work, positioning, timing, knowledge and the choices made changed the odds to favor being lucky. So, as we put together the tokens that we believe help us to be favorably positioned to be lucky, whether it is a favorite item of clothing, a coin, a shamrock, a symbol or an action, be ready for a month of luck experienced through our posts. I’m ready - I’ve pulled out the horseshoe from my Grandfather’s favorite mare.