As someone who has worked with computers for more than three-quarters of my life, I can say without boasting that I have a decent proficiency with them. Where I don’t know everything about every piece of hardware or software out there, I can usually get my way around with some analysis and troubleshooting.
The longstanding line, “computers are supposed to make our loves easier” seems more like a fleeting goal for many people. Due to my technical experience, I am often held in a higher regard by those who are more tech novices, namely when something they may not understand or are having trouble with comes more naturally to me.
Don’t get me wrong – ego stroking every once in a while is a good thing! But in all reality it mostly isn’t warranted. Whenever I get a large abundance of praise or witness someone denigrate themselves over their lack of technical knowledge, I usually look at them and smile, then I explain to them the reason why I am smiling.
Why? We all have our place.
My skill and ability with computers overshadow things I can’t and mostly don’t want to do. I can’t iron a shirt without making it look worse than what I started with, I can’t lay tile, I can’t bake, I can’t ice skate, I can’t use a SLR or DSLR camera… and the list goes on. But do I care about these things I can’t do? No. Why? Because others can do them, do them well and I look to them for those tasks and services.
Years ago I was at a friend’s business, an auto body shop. When I was there, he couldn’t figure out how to do something on his computer and asked for my help. I don’t recall exactly what the task was but I do recall figuring it out rather quickly. When I showed him what I did, he was flabbergasted and expressed how stupid he felt that he couldn’t have figured it out for himself.
Then it was my turn. I smiled and said something like, “dude, we all have our place. I know computers, and you know cars. You can take a twisted hunk of metal and turn it back into a Mercedes. So when you have a computer question you call me, and when I get into a car accident I call you.” He’s a smart guy and he agreed with my logic.
So the next time you feel frustrated over something you don’t know, think about what you do know and what your place is in helping others. Plus I have to admit – I get baffled with a lot of technology issues I run into and completely sympathize with you that many things are not more intuitive.
This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.
The April 18 – 24, 2013 edition of Time Out Chicago, which unceremoniously arrived in my mailbox this past week, is apparently the last print issue of the weekly arts, food and entertainment magazine. As of this writing I haven’t heard it officially, only from other sources, including some of the majority of the staff who were just fired.
For as much as I talk of how I get most all of my news and information online, Time Out Chicago was the sole exception. It was part events calendar, part coffee table book and not to mention part great bathroom reading material. Even if I wasn’t participating in the literally hundreds to thousands of events, shows or restaurants listed, it was a convenient, well-edited and attractive print publication.
And now it’s gone.
Once partially owned by Chicago resident and Morningstar founder Joe Mansueto, it was sold back to its parent company (which published editions in other cities) and it is apparently going solely online. They already have a Web site, though I have infrequently visited it. They also have an iPod app which apparently I could have bundled with my print subscription but when I attempted to do this the last time I renewed my subscription the customer service rep was not aware of this. Though it would have been nice to have it on my iPad, I had the print version, so why would I need another format?
My Idea Too-Late But Worth Mentioning
This idea hit me when I was in a doctor’s office waiting room, looking at the magazines fanned out on a table. Among them were a copy of Time Out Chicago and StreetWise, the latter being a periodical sold on the streets of Chicago by, as described by their Web site, people “…who are facing homelessness.” The magazine is part of a larger social services agency, and you can read more about StreetWise on their Web site. Where I don’t personally know much about the larger organization , I do see the people selling copies of them on the streets of Chicago. I’ll be honest I may have maybe bought 1 or 2 copies over the years, but then again I barely pickup free copies of other periodicals also available around the city.
So do you see my idea? Why not merge or mashup the 2 publications? The much smaller StreetWise would be included in the pages of Time Out Chicago, then the street sales force would sell the combined publication.
Could it have worked? It would have been worth a try! Rather than hearing someone hawking, “Streetwise…” we could have heard “Get Time Out Chicago, with the latest going on in Chicago…” Add to it Time Out logoed-gear to wear, and it would have added more to the sales pitch. The tourists alone would have bought out every issue.
But alas, it’s not to be. With the staff cuts already made, Time Out Chicago is going digital. I don’t know how much the quality will be effected, or even if their Web site has an RSS feed, but only time will tell.
Though it’s too late, I had to share this. What do you think, could it have worked? Are there other mashup opportunities out there that could be such a win-win? Other potentials for for-profit businesses and non-profit organizations to partner? Please share your ideas and thoughts in the comments to this post.
This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.
A recent article on the Kansas City Star’s Web site by Diane Stafford titled, “Why young achievers don’t stick around” caught my attention, in addition to the fact it was promoted in a weekly LinkedIn email. The topic of team building, motivating, mentoring and leading your team is one that means a lot to me. The article referenced a Harvard Business Review study and research on exit interviews, both of which talked about how young workers will only stay around a company as long as they have opportunities for growth, training and to receive mentorship. Otherwise, they will leave and go elsewhere.
When I read this, my reaction was, “duh!”
The same conclusions of these sources are something I have experienced numerous times in my own career in high technology – as an employee myself, as a manager and as a colleague of other managers who lament over the loss of people on their teams. After reading this, my own beliefs and philosophy in management and leadership were reaffirmed, and I am writing this to discuss this topic and observations I have made over my career.
You Hire A Person, Not Just Their Skillset
Allow me to repeat that, you hire a PERSON, not just their skillset. As obvious as this may seem to some, time and time again I see recruiters and hiring managers looking just at what skillset the person has and how immediate they can contribute to the company, team and bottom like. Of course this is important, however they often overlook the entire person – who they are, what types of experiences they have had in the past, what they do outside of work and what their goals and interests are. The individuals who overlook these important attributes often lack vision themselves, or the manager is more interested in their own goals rather than those of the team.
Many managers are looking to simply make their jobs easy for themselves, expecting their team to just “git ‘er dun” without any regard for their team’s wellbeing and growth. A perfect example of this is the job titles that are prevalent in many Web technology jobs, which include qualifiers like “rock star,” “guru,” and “ninja.” With labels like these employers are looking for the best, but are they also willing to give their best back to the employee, with a positive venue of personal and professional growth?
The True Cost Of Developing Your Team
When management looks at what it takes to give their employees what they need not only to succeed but to grow, they are always fixated on the dollar figure. Many companies have cut back on employee training and other growth opportunities with the justification that once the employee gets this benefit, they will just leave for a new job. Granted that can happen, but they may still leave if the opposite happens and they don’t get growth and mentorship in your company. Where you may have saved on training, conference and time taken for mentoring, you are now spending It on recruiting, recruiter fees and the time it takes to review, interview and vet the replacement employees. In many cases those costs are actually higher but not realized as such as they may be spread over several departments where staff development may only apply to the department they are in.
You Must Believe For It To Happen
In order for people who work for a company to get the growth and attention they crave, management must believe in it. Those managers who do are what I truly call leaders. Sure, some companies may say they do, but if it is not marked against a manager when his staff doesn’t get these opportunities, it truly it not a culture that believes its success is tied to the growth and success of its people.
Like Anything Growth And Mentorship Must Be Defined
In most businesses if it is not defined it will not happen. The same goes for developing your team. To whatever degree you want to do it, write it down, include it in the employee manual and promote the heck out if it. Even small teams can offer budgeted dollars for formal training classes or to attend seminars or conferences. This can include covering either the entry fees and/or the time off from the office. An added feature can be that this budget can be exceeded when the staff is presenting or speaking at such events, where they are a representative – and brand promoter – of your company.
When it comes to mentoring, it should be stated what and how the company looks out for its staff, and what defined meetings or metrics are in place. The challenge here is that not all managers may have it in them to be mentors. In that case, training for mentors can be implemented or mentors from outside the firm who have a vested interest in it (e.g. investors, board members) can be assigned to staff. What better way can there be to ensure of the company’s success than working with its people at all levels?
Strive For Action Not Perfection
If your company doesn’t have a growth or mentorship program or you are a new business, then just start one. Define, review it and refine it with 360 degree feedback from those on the giving and receiving end of the program.
Career Growth and mentorship have always been things I have strived for as a manager. As a small business of 1 person I admit I have not always been the best boss to my 1 employee – me. But if you are to grow, you need to consider the time and cost investment in your people along with everything else you do to bring the on-board your firm.
Agree? Not agree? Not sure? I welcome your comments and questions.
Where you’ll rarely find a retail merchant who doesn’t accept credit cards, you’ll find plenty of professionals – from painters to physicians – who do not. Whenever I ask one why they don’t, whatever reason they give me is almost predictable to me, especially as I am a small business person who didn’t always accept credit cards. Despite this, I look back on my decision to do so as a wise one. Rather than counter common reasons, I’ll present it by benefits, as well as how to decide how to accept them.
Credit – AND Debit Cards
Today most all debit cards are branded with a credit card company logo, so automatically when you accept credit cards, you are able to accept debit cards too. This is not only good to know as some people only have a debit card rather than a credit card, but also for the various “sources” of debit cards, including:
Flexible Spending and Health Savings Accounts – Most FSA or HAS accounts provide their insured customers with a debit card, and not checks, so the only other way to draw from the account is to pay in cash or check, then submit a claim for reimbursement. As a result, patients would prefer to pay by debit card and not have to front the money and wait for it to be reimbursed to them.
Unemployment Benefits – Some states, including Illinois, pay unemployment benefits by addingto the balance of a debit card rather than sending a check. Thus, this may be the best – of not only – way for someone to pay you.
Gift Cards – Just because it was given as a gift it doesn’t mean it has to be spent that way.
PayPal – You can draw on your PayPal account balance by debit card to a merchant or even at an ATM, and many people choose this rather than transferring the funds to their bank account.
Credit Card Fees Vs. Getting Paid Sooner
The fees, the fees! Yes, credit card processing involves fees, where depositing a check usually doesn’t. The best argument I can give in justifying the fees is getting paid sooner when someone pays with a credit card than with cash or a check. Why? In order to pay by cash or check you need to have the money on hand (not considering overdraft protection on your account or just overdrawing your account) where a credit card, providing they have credit available, someone will let you process it right away or sooner than the terms you have offered them. If there is any delay, it may be to wait until after a billing cycle closes so the charge appears on a statement in 2 months as compared to the next one.
My personal experience with my Web consulting business has shown me that clients who pay by credit card typically pay me in HALF the time of my terms with them, which are net 30. Some of them have asked me to pay them when I generate the invoice. For me, that’s huge!
Credit Card Fees Vs. Not Getting Paid At All
Earlier I mentioned I didn’t always accept credit cards. The catalyst for me was when I presented a proposal to an existing client for a new Web site project. They said they didn’t want to proceed right away as they did not have the cash on hand, but if they could charge it they could. I wanted the project to happen and I also realized that at some point I would have to accept credit cards, and there’s no time like the present! By the end of the day I was setup to process cards and ran theirs, and the project began the very next day.
The Magic Numbers For Determining Credit Card Fees
There are many ways to process credit cards, and I will get to that next. Before you inquire you need to know 2 key inputs to how credit card fees are calculated – the number of transactions per month and the average transaction dollar amount.
Any processor that can provide customized rate plans will use these values to determine what they will charge. As you can guess, the higher these numbers are the less your fees may be. Where you may be able to accurately calculate these values, others may not, especially if you have never processed credit cards before. If not, you can survey your customers to see if they’d prefer to pay you by credit card. If you still have no idea – no worries, as that can help narrow the choices for you initially.
Choosing A Credit Card Processor
Below is a list of some credit card processors and is not meant to be an exhaustive list. In addition to these, talk to colleagues or other business owners for ideas on who they may use.
PayPal – The pioneer in person-to-person is ideal for business as well, especially if you don’t know your transaction volume, or if you do and it is sporadic. PayPal charges per transaction only and has no monthly fees, though the per transaction fee may be higher than others. PayPal offers Web online payments as well as a smartphone card reader.
Square – The newcomer introduced the smartphone card reader and now others are adding it to their feature set like PayPal and Groupon. Square offers per transaction as well as flat monthly fees. Soon you will be able to buy a Square at Starbucks stores.
QuickBooks - Intuit’s QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online integrates credit card processing right into their software and Web site functionality. This reduces extra steps – and vendors – and provides a 1-stop shopping with a quick turnaround on setup. Their fees may be higher than what you can get from a bank, and they do charge a monthly fee even if there are no charges for a month.
Your Bank - The bank where you do your business banking may go the extra mile to keep credit card processing under the same roof as your bank accounts. They can provide custom rates by volume and can waive setup fees. They will charge a monthly fee but it could vary by volume. I’d suggest looking into all options first and presenting all of this to your bank to see if they can match or beat it.
Note no matter which way you can start, you can always change if your volume changes.
I’d welcome your feedback and comments on this, and even if you’re still not convinced to accept credit cards.
A story that received little press, even tech circles, was how a blogger was flown to Berlin, Germany to attend and objectively cover the IFA 2012 conference by technology firm Samsung. When the blogger, Clinton Jeff, arrived there from his home in India, he was told instead he was to be a rep for Samsung and demo their technology to attendees of the conference. When he refused, Samsung threatened to strand him there and would not pay for his hotel or return flight. In the end, rival mobile technology firm Nokia paid for Jeff’s stay in the German capital and his return flight home, allowing him to cover it as he saw fit. This was first reported on The Next Web in this post.
Where I personally don’t know Clinton Jeff, I do read his blog Unleash The Phones and follow him on Twitter, and I do know people who know him and he is well-respected in mobile tech circlers. So if he says this happened, I have to believe it. And from Samsung’s response it reinforces their blunder.
A part of the story that was barely touched on by the reports out there was how Nokia paid for his extended stay and flight home. Where some may say this was simply a smart PR move by a competitor, I agree it is. However this in line with how Nokia works with bloggers. How do I know this? Because about 2 years ago Nokia flew me to Berlin to attend a conference and cover it how I saw fit, and I had no logistics issues at all.
Nokia has a strong word-of-mouth social media marketing program called Nokia Connects, which back when I went to Berlin was called WOMWorld/Nokia. It is facilitated by Nokia and WOM agency 1000heads. The program loans new mobile devices to bloggers and others to evaluate and, if they choose, write about it. I say it this was as in all encounters with Nokia connects for over 4 years now, since I went to Nokia OpenLab, they have never even eluded slightly that I need to write something or what I should write.
If this concept is new to you, a thought going through your head may be – why? Why would a company spend money on an international flight, hotel, ground transportation food, admission to a conference for not just 1 person but 3 to cover an event without any expectation of the quality and quantity of what they write? That’s exactly the point! Granted the people they invite are people that will be writing something. But this is why Nokia’s word-of-mouth program is popular with bloggers and successful for the brand.
Diary From Berlin
To better explain, I’ll share more of the itinerary of the trip to Berlin in November 2010. I attended Microsoft TechEd, an international developers conference for those who work with Microsoft technology. Nokia was an exhibitor and had a keynote address on its collaboration with Microsoft for an Outlook/Exchange email client app on Nokia devices as well as other sync technology. Nokia invited me, Dennis Bournique and Craig Richards to cover the event. It was by no means an earth-shattering announcement, and we had no idea only a few months later Nokia would announce it was moving completely to the Microsoft Windows Phone ecosystem from its own known as Symbian. But Nokia wanted people to cover it, and we were invited.
We had a host in Rhiannon from 1000heads who coordinated travel logistics, getting around Berlin, making sure we were fed and access to Nokia staff. Never at any time were we asked to sign ANYTHING, never told or even hinted at what to do or any. In addition to the conference itself we attended a Nokia social and had a little time to see the city, and I gave a brief tour of the areas of Berlin I remembered from a vacation there a few years earlier. I’ll reiterate there was no expectation on what – and when – we wrote, and I did write a few posts including this one and this one and tweeted form the conference. And neither Nokia nor 1000heads ask me to write this – when I heard of what Samsung did, I recalled my time there and was compelled to write this on my own.
In one tech media account of the drama that Samsung put Clinton Jeff through it closed with, “basically, it's not a great idea to accept "free" trips or gifts from companies.” I disagree. First off, for decades journalists have been receiving free trips and all the trappings and still do. Of course buyer beware and know the reputation of the vendor and their consultants to determine it it’s right for you. If an invite comes to me from Nokia again, I will certainly accept it if it fits my schedule and interests.
To borrow from Lysander in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the course of true business never did run smooth. Whether we have meticulously planned or just thought things were going well, stuff happens to disrupt the flow of our workday. Where we can’t deny that it can possibly happen, we also can’t deny the impact it can have on the team or people you work with or manage.
Over the years I have lived through many stressful projects and events on the job. When I started out many times I would feel helpless, but as I moved up into manager and leadership roles, I always felt I needed to do something more – not just work hard to resolve the issue, but to ensure the morale of my team was addressed and supported when needed.
When I sat down to write this post, 2 stories immediately came to mind – 1 when I was on the receiving end of great leadership and the other when I took the lead to bolster my team’s morale.
It’s The Grande Things That Matter
When I approached my desk I knew things weren’t going well. A mass of people, from partners to directors, were huddled around where I sat next to my co-manager, whom I’ll call Becky. And the look on Becky’s face this early in the morning supported my concern.
The issue at hand was not a technical error, rather a business choice that was ultimately deemed incorrect, and now Becky, myself and our development team was deemed the critical path to resolve it. It resided in a part of the system that we had never worked on as we had no previous issues with it – the system was developed by consultants and turned over to the team we built from scratch. In the course of about an hour, there were meetings, finger-pointing, passing the buck, denials and a few heated words. But it was ultimately our job to troubleshoot the technology and work with a 3rd party vendor who provided part of the functionality to get the matter resolved.
As the dust settled from the meeting and we were back to our desks to start the triage, in slowly approached our new boss, the director of development, who started work that day. He did not charge in, rolling up his sleeves and diving into the problem, of which he really had less knowledge of than we did. Rather, he gradually approached us, said hi, acknowledged that there wasn’t much he could contribute to the work we were doing but knew we were on it and needed the time to do so.
And he offered to buy us a cup of coffee!
In the train wreck of our day so far, this was like a rainbow leading to a keg of beer next to a pot of gold. He caught us off guard, allowing is to take our mind off the problem for a minute, catch our breath and tell him how we wanted our coffee. That cup of coffee was one of the best I ever drank.
Talk Work And You Buy Your Own Lunch
At this same company, another fire drill happened a short while later. One of the top managers called for a meeting on a topic and wanted not only the managers but most of the development team – even my graphic designer – to attend. When he told me this I pushed back, as many times “all the king’s horses and men” were called out when they really weren’t needed, and I felt this was the case with this meeting as well. We did not need to get to the code and pixel level in this meeting, and as development manager I would work the team to create a solution to the issue.
Despite my common-sense plea, he demanded the team attend, and I apologized to my team as I told them they had to attend. Now I don’t want to brag but I was right – they did not need to attend, the meeting really went nowhere as was often the case and it sucked a couple of hours of our mornings we would never get back. The looks on my team’s faces were painful, and I felt bad for them but there was little I could do.
Well, there was little I could do about the meeting itself. When it ended and we walked back to our area I felt rumblings in my stomach as it was noon-time. So I gathered the team and I offered to take them to lunch at a new Italian restaurant that had opened nearby, and lunch was on the company under 1 condition – during lunch nobody could talk about work, and if they did, they would have to pay for their own meal. Color returned to the faces of everyone as we all walked together to lunch.
At the end of the meal I paid for everyone’s lunch – there was no talk of work at all, but just about every other topic in the universe was covered, from sports to religion to relationships to politics and beyond. We have had many team meetings and many people went out for lunch and drinks after work, but never had there been a gathering quite like this. I feel people got to really know each other a little better, and they were appreciative of my gesture.
Maintaining positive morale in the workplace takes more thought time than it does in its action. As leaders, you need to be cognizant of it and the actions you take do not need to be grandiose all the time, but timely and appropriate.
I welcome you to share your comments or stories about morale in the comments of this post.
A few weeks ago while going thru my morning routine of catching up on email and news, I noticed something on one of my sources for information, iGoogle, which is Google’s home page product. A box appeared in the header banner as shown below:
The message states, “iGoogle will not be available after November 1, 2013. Learn more.” Upon clicking the link to learn more about this, which you can view at this link, I read the following short message which I am repeating below.
What's happening to iGoogle?
iGoogle will be retired in 16 months, on November 1, 2013. The mobile version will be retired on July 31, 2012.
How did you come to this decision?
We originally launched iGoogle in 2005 before anyone could fully imagine the ways that today's web and mobile apps would put personalized, real-time information at your fingertips. With modern apps that run on platforms like Chrome and Android, the need for something like iGoogle has eroded over time, so we’ll be winding down iGoogle on November 1, 2013, giving you a full 16 months to adjust or easily export your iGoogle data.
What will happen to the data stored in my gadgets?
All of your personal data stored in other Google products will continue to be available via those products, including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Finance, Google Docs (now Google Drive), Google Bookmarks, and Google Tasks. Other gadgets, like the to-do list, allow you to export your data - look for the “Download all” option under the drop-down menu tied to the title of your list. Most iGoogle gadgets are created and maintained by third-party developers. If you’d like to export your data, you should contact the gadget creator directly.
I really like iGoogle -- are there any other alternatives?
On your mobile device, Google Play offers applications ranging from games to news readers to home screen widgets.
If you’re a fan of Google Chrome, the Chrome Web Store provides a similar range of options like productivity tools and applications to check the weather. In addition, just like iGoogle, you can personalize Chrome with a theme.
Following the Google Product Playbook
This decision by Google, while not initially welcome by me, is not all surprising either. Google is a company that encourages its employees to work on side projects and some of them have become products or services they have publicly offered. However, they have also been quick to shutdown non-performing services or those which don’t have an enormous impact on the enormous company. Compound all of this with their practice of buying companies for people or pieces of their technology then shutting them down, and this move to end iGoogle is in line with how they play – and win - the game on a daily basis.
After reading this short but to the point support document, I had to agree with them – the marketplace has changed, not to mention the types of devices people use. The large-format Web browser home page isn’t as popular as it used to be, especially with mobile and tablet devices, and I have to add myself into that category of someone looking elsewhere for content, as I did say above iGoogle was only “one” place I looked for information.
Say Goodbye To The Web Browser Personalized Home Page
I will go out on a limb and say this is the first of many rings of the death knell for this format of information delivery. The originator of this, Yahoo, is in a new reign of leadership with Marissa Mayer, who after joining them from Google probably has some insight into the business model of this type of product. There are also fewer services out there offering this, as I talked about several years ago when I lamented at the lack of innovation from MyWay.com which looks the same as the last time I saw it back in 2008. I predict the personalized home page sector will end within the next few years.
The idea of the portal home page today may work within a company, but for those of us on the go or using multiple hardware devices – from notebooks to phones to tablets to whatever is next – having one source is a good idea, but it is also easy enough to configure widgets on a smartphone screen to show links or feeds or email messages. But with so much choice for consumers, the ability to get the weather, stock quotes and sports scores easily trumps the desire to get them from one single source, especially when there really isn’t one true cross-platform choice.
It’s been real, and it’s been fun, but it’s time to move on from the personalized home page to the next new thing, whatever that may be. I don’t know for sure, but I will write about it when I come up with it!
RSS To The Rescue
As I said I get my news and information from multiple sources, and their common denominator is RSS, or Real Simple Syndication. If you have ever seen the orange icon to the right, then the content on that Web page can be “aggregated” with other content which offers this same ability using RSS aggregator and subscribing to the “feed” of the content. I use Fever, an extremely robust commercial self-hosted RSS aggregator application by Shaun Inman. Fever replaced Google Reader for me, as I didn’t want the search giant knowing everything I read! There are other feed aggregators out there, including most Web browsers as well as mobile apps.
With Fever, I subscribe to over 200 feeds across all categories, from personal to business and beyond. There is no way I can read everything, and typically scan the headlines to get the gist of what is happening, clicking the occasional article for depth on a topic. I am always trying feeds from media outlets, companies, associations and bloggers, in some cases dropping other feeds when I find a new or better one to replace it. Where it’s not the same layout for me, it brings the content together and I can still pick and choose what to scan and what to read.
So do you agree with me, is the personal home page dead? Do you use iGoogle and will you miss it? Or simply how do you keep up with news and information on the go? I welcome your thoughts in the comments below.
At Dunkirk Systems, LLC we have decided to shutdown our Facebook page. We have recently changed our photo and cover to the following image and will shut it down within the next week.
Why are we doing this? After much thought, many reasons surfaced which led to this decision. The following is what I posted on the page.
Thank you for your “like” and support of Dunkirk Systems, LLC. We have decided to shutdown our Facebook page and will do so within the week. As someone who has expressed interest in us in the past, we wanted to let you know this and the reasoning behind it.
Like many businesses, when Facebook started allowing business pages we created one. And like many businesses we did not have a plan for this. As much as we have consulted our clients on social media, we followed the cliché of the cobbler’s kids having the worst shoes and did not put in place and execute a plan for managing the site. So there it sat.
As we are continuously rethinking our business, this page came to the forefront. As a B2B business, we are not reaching out to consumers. We have never received business through the page, and as we look forward we do not see this as a place to solicit business. We also do not have the continuous volume of original content that will allow Dunkirk to be omnipresent in the changing timeline structure of Facebook. And we would not be thorough without taking into consideration our general concern for privacy and security which are frequently coming to the surface within the Facebook walled-garden ecosystem.
There are other ways to keep up with Dunkirk and get in touch with us, including Twitter @dunkirk, our Web site at DunkirkSystems.com and my blog, TheHotIron.com. We of course welcome your thoughts and opinion on this, and as the page is going away feel free to comment on it on the accompanying blog post at TheHotIron.com.
Founder and President, Dunkirk Systems, LLC
What do you think? Am I crazy, spot on, or do you even care? Your comments are very welcome.
Have you ever removed someone as a LinkedIn connection?
The thought came to mind recently as a former colleague came to mind, and when I went into LinkedIn to look up their profile to see where they were working, I saw they were no longer a connection. Not only did they cut ties with me, but several other colleagues who I would go as far as saying were part of a circle of friends. Yes, there was some falling out there, but nothing anyone else would care about!
You Can Remove Someone as a Connection?
Yes, you can remove LinkedIn connections. I know this as I have removed a grand total of 2 people as connections over the years. You have to go out of your way to do so, and I found the link to remove connections through the LinkedIn Help Center. There is no remove link on a profile page similar to the unfriend or unlike options on Facebook. In the image above you can choose from all of your contacts who you want to remove, and as the second image says, it adds those removed connections to your contacts. Many people of course don’t know they have a contacts list either – if you ever sent a connection request and they did not respond, you can find those people there.
Why Would You Do That?
As a wise man once told me, nothing is forever. The 2 people I removed as contacts were a married couple (and they still may be) and I used to work with one of them. I did some Web consulting for the other, and in short, both of them treated me like dirt. I was so appalled at the experience that I never spoke with either of them again, and subsequently removed them as connections. Interestingly, LinkedIn kept the recommendation one of them gave me for when we worked together – it is still hidden, and there is no way of removing it.
As the whole idea of LinkedIn is business connections, ideally you’d want to keep them. I have over 700 connections (or as LinkedIn calls it, 500+) and most of them are people I know of recall. There are a good number whom I don’t though, and would have to rack my brain to figure who they are. That being said, I don’t have any reason to remove them as a connection.
My philosophy for managing LinkedIn connections differs from how I manage the people I am connected with across other social media platforms. As I use Facebook for personal and not for business, I have unfriended people who are purely business contacts over the years. Though I have recently signed up for BranchOut as a Facebook app, the jury’s still out as to how I will use it. Twitter followers is even different for me, as I have unfollowed people before for varying reasons, namely excessive tweet volume and non-stop self-promotion.
So I ask again, have you ever removed someone as a LinkedIn connection? Do you do it often, or not at all? I welcome your thoughts and insights on it in the comments for this post.
(Note the above image of the Ribbit Mobile home page was changed to grayscale by me)
Ribbit Mobile was a service for translating voicemail messages to text and delivering that text message with an audio file of the voicemail message, and those messages would be delivered by email and SMS. For myself, I have used similar services for over 4 years, and having the luxury of reading the text of a voicemail when you don’t have the opportunity to dial in to listen (e.g. when you’re in a meeting), not to mention the ready-access archive of messages, was priceless.
And that was just the case with Ribbit Mobile – they were not charging for “beta” this service for the 2+ years I used it. Near the end of last year I recall getting a survey from them on how much I would be willing to pay for the service. Then in January of this year I got an email saying Ribbit Mobile would be shutting down altogether the end of January, and there was no alternative. Ribbit itself as a company would still be around as they offer other services, like an Android app for voicemail and an add-on to Salesforce.com. The service was still running for a couple of weeks after the announced date, and went down altogether on February 16.
As I said, this was a type of service you could get used to. I also have a similar voicemail to text service through Vonage which I use for my business phone. Prior to Ribbit Mobile I was part of the SpinVox consumer beta program which I talked about previously here at The Hot Iron. Interestingly, around the time SpinVox announced they were dropping their B to C service (they power Vonage’s voicemail to text) Ribbit Mobile came on the scene, and I was able to switch over with very little time without this type of service.
In between SpinVox and Ribbit Mobile I briefly used SpinVox through uReach, a company offering virtual voice, email and office solutions used by many small businesses. When Ribbit Mobile went away, I looked into see if it was still offered, and it took a call to uReach to find the “hidden” URL for the service (they offer it, but it’s not linked from their main Web site), and by visiting ureach.com/spinvox one can sign up for the voicemail to text service for $9.99/month plus usage fees for large volumes of voicemail. The uReach offering is not as robust as Ribbit’s, and for some reason breaks up voicemails when sent by SMS into several messages of 30 second lengths. But you can still get an email with the message text and audio file attached.
Am I the only one who will miss Ribbit Mobile? Am I the only one who uses voicemail to text? Please let me know in this post’s comments, as I know nobody else personally who uses, and loves, this type of service.