General

This Independent Shoe and Boot Retailer Beats Zappos Every Day

Pick up any business book. Read any business article on innovation. Chances are you’ll find the name Zappos, the online shoe and apparel e-tailer, mentioned there.

For example, just this month, Donna Tam, a writer for CNET wrote the article: “Can e-tailer Zappos demolish the brick-and-mortar model?”

Sam Lewis, Associate Editor of Integrated Solutions for Retailers, wrote a similar article: “Can Zappos Bulldoze The Brick-And-Mortar Shopping Model?”

Ummm, Donna and Sam.

Here’s the answer to your question:

No.

Zappos is good. Really good. But let’s not get crazy.

Let me introduce you to an independent, brick-and-mortar, shoe and boot retailer that will never lose a customer to Zappos and gains quite a few from online shoe retailers every day.

Meet Kevin and Deb Durken, owners of The Boot Shack in St. Cloud, Minnesota.  The Boot Shack is a Destination Business. Kevin and Deb took what they were already doing well, attended our Destination BootCamp, applied what they learned, and now customers willingly fly to Minnesota from all over North America to buy footwear from “The Shack”.

Could these customers buy from brick-and-mortar retailers who are much closer?

Could they go online to e-tailers like Zappos and buy from them?

They could. But they don’t.

Up above is a photo of Kevin in the rarely seen position of him sitting in the store.

The photo below is a device that you might remember if you’re old enough. It’s called a Brannock Device. It’s what they use at The Boot Shack to measure a customer’s foot, to insure that the boots and shoes they sell to customers are the right size.

When I was a child, the Brannock Device was used in every shoe store in the country. My mother never purchased a pair of shoes for me from any store without the salesperson measuring my feet with the Brannock Device.

What makes Kevin and Deb’s business different from every other shoe and boot store, including Zappos?  It’s really simple:

The Boot Shack is the only store in the country that measures feet like they did in the old days, carrying Work and Western Boots in every size from 3-18 and widths 4A-4E.

Why is measuring a customer’s feet like they did in the old days so important?  Kevin said it best to me:

“People come in with stuff they’ve bought off the Internet, and what we see are unhappy customers after the purchase. Everybody thinks they have to get a deal, and then they call us, and they say, ‘I got a pair of boots and can you fit them? I’d like to come in and try on other sizes of this company.’”

Kevin reminded me about basic physiology when we were talking:

“Three things get longer as you get older. The feet, the nose and the ears. That happens with even our regular customers who come in. We’ll have people who have changed one full size in as little as 4 months.”

“On the Internet, it’s a small, medium and large world. But if you really want shoes and boots that fit, that don’t hurt your feet when you wear them, that fit correctly, you use the Brannock device because the arch is what you fit, and then, you fit the width…”

“Two-thirds of all people have narrow feet, and people are shocked by that. But as we tell people: If your toes were so important, why are those $400 orthotics that are prescribed by doctors designed to fit under the arch of the foot?”

“When you spend a day in The Shack, and you see some of these people come through here, and you hear about the tens of thousands of dollars they’ve spent with the medical profession, in the doctor’s office, in the chiropractor’s office, with surgeries, and you listen to all the pain and suffering people go through, and all the issues they have. Their hips wear out, and their knees wear out, and their ankles hurt.  That’s because the shoes they’re wearing don’t fit the arch properly and don’t fit the width properly.”

“Twenty or thirty years ago, you never heard these stories or saw these $400 orthotics that you do now, and now everybody’s got them because nobody wears anything that fits properly.  It’s like an epidemic that gets worse every year.”

“Our wonderful repair shop that we’ve done business with for years has said that the Internet is the best thing that’s ever happened to his business because people are in there constantly with crap they bought on the Internet that doesn’t fit and they’re in getting it altered or stretched.”

The Boot Shack is a one-of-a-kind shoe and boot Destination store.  When you go to The Shack, they’re going to measure your feet correctly, and then, they have a selection that allows them to fit your feet to shoes and boots that don’t pinch, rub, and hurt you when you walk.

Is there any question why people fly and drive from all over North America to buy from The Boot Shack, instead of buying from Zappos?

It’s pretty clear to me.

Oh, one last thing: In Donna Tam’s article, Zappos Lab Director Will Young wonders aloud, “How do we get people out of brick and mortar?”

I’m sorry to break it to you, Will, but you won’t get them out of this brick and mortar store.

The final 2013 Destination BootCamp is on October 1-3 and it’s for independent business owners who want to learn what Kevin and Deb are applying in their business. You can register at www.DestinationBootCamp.com.

 

 

Business owners: Remove “Multitasking” and “Balance” from your vocabulary

If you run your own business, you probably wish that you had the ability to multi-task more effectively, to achieve a better balance between your family responsibilities and your daily business tasks.

I’d like you to meet Teresa Taylor. She can help you.

Teresa Taylor is the author of the newly released book “The Balance Myth: Rethinking Work-Life Success”.

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Before Teresa wrote this book, she was a high-powered Chief Operating Officer for US West / Qwest, the $12 billion telecommunications giant. If that wasn’t enough of a full-time job, while she was a company executive, she also managed to maintain a happy, 20+ year marriage, raise two sons, and get through her own personal adversity (which she talks about in a most personal way in her book).

Today, Teresa is on the speaking circuit talking about her new book, speaking on leadership, economic development, and innovation.

I personally think that every female business owner I’ve ever met should read her new book. Not that her new book doesn’t apply to men, but Teresa’s perspective on being a business woman, while maintaining a healthy marriage and family, in the midst of tremendous time constraints, is going to hit the bull’s eye with female entrepreneurs.

In her book, she brings her real-life experience as a mother and successful executive and shows you how she excelled in both words. You will also discover the answers to these questions:

  • Why “multi-tasking” and “balance” should be tossed out of a business owner’s vocabulary.
  • Why assigning time limits to meetings is critical for staying on track
  • Why not having enough time in the day is a foregone conclusion every single day you do business.

Finally, Teresa will be joining our Destination University (www.DestinationUniversity.com) online training network in the coming months. Everyone’s looking forward to that.

But in the meantime, make your way to your local bookstore and purchase her book. You won’t be disappointed.

Coming to a Town Near You: Destination Business Mobile Office

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Coming to a community near you: the new Schallert Group Destination Business Mobile Office.

Now when you bring Jon Schallert to your town or city to help your business owners, Jon’s going to be bringing his entire office with him. This allows you to have access to all of Jon’s resources right in your town!

Look for this little powerhouse coming to your city in the future months!

You’re Not a Hamster, So Quit Running on Your Wheel

>Have you ever felt like you were running in place, and not making the progress you’d like to in your business?

If you own a business and you’ve felt like this, I have a webinar for you to watch.

If you work in a role where you interact with independent business owners multiple times in a week, you should watch this webinar, too.

This week, I took the time to create a new webinar: “You’re Not a Hamster, So Quit Running on Your Wheel: 12 Keys to Growing Your Business versus It Running You.”

(By the way, I went back and counted. There’s really 14 tips I give!)

We did a live broadcast from our Destination University studio earlier this week, and had hundreds of business owners, community leaders, and association directors watching.

But to make sure all of you had a chance to watch it, we’ve archived it and it’s now available to watch on-demand for a limited time.

To watch, simply go to www.DestinationUniversity.com and clicking on the Webinar tab at the top of the page. You can also connect immediately by clicking here.

Here are some key topics I cover in this webinar:

  • Why business owners today need to quit acting like business owners.
  • How to eliminate the sales plateau your business is in, what won’t work, and what will.
  • Why having your business in a city or town with a poor economy, bad parking, road construction, high rent, unmotivated employees, cheap customers, poor demographics, and the lack of community support is NOT an excuse for your business failure.
  • How to attract top customers with one fail-proof marketing tool.
  • How to know if your business model still is viable today or if it needs reinvention.
  • The 3 most common mistakes in going to a tradeshow, and 
  • Why your business is exactly like the Milton Bradley game Time Bomb, perhaps the most politically-incorrect game that would never be manufactured today

Yes, your business is ticking and you have limited time to act. That’s exactly what I’m saying.

Again, take the time to listen to this new webinar of mine. If you don’t have time to watch the entire webinar, don’t worry. You can come and go as you please, and the webinar will start up right where you left off.

We’ve had calls from owners all over North America saying that the business tips I gave in this webinar are already helping.

Here’s hoping they help you too!

When you are done watching it, either post your comments down below, or email them to me at Info@JonSchallert.com. I want to hear your feedback.

Thanks!

Jon Schallert
www.JonSchallert.com
www.DestinationUniversity.com
www.DestinationBootCamp.com

Quit Worrying About the Size of Your Marketplace

When I consult in communities around the country, I often hear business owners say things like: “My marketplace is too small”, or “There aren’t enough of my type of customers around here to support my type of business”, or “When more people move here, my sales will improve.”

When I hear words like these, I realize that the owners I’m talking to have not embraced the idea that their business can become a Destination. Instead, they are running a business that is location-dependent.

The truth is that no one can accurately measure the financial potential of a community today, and where your business is currently located does not have to limit the sales your business generates.

As for measuring the potential of your demographic area, an accurate measurement of its potential cannot be done. Sure, I know that there are really smart people out there who can run demographic numbers that show the statistics of a marketplace. But the problem is these statistics then are correlated to the potential dollars that can be spent in that same area.

Unfortunately, these studies do not take into account the potential impact of a business that makes itself a Destination, a business that is so decidedly different that it consistently pulls consumers from outside its marketplace.  In fact, every analysis of every marketplace focuses on who is living there, not the potential spending power of everyone who could buy there.

Here’s why any analysis of a marketplace falls hopelessly short of the real potential of an area: Let’s start with every shopper who is walking around with a credit card, giving that customer exponential spending power. Do you accurately know the spending power of the customers who walk in your doors? You can guess, but you’d be wrong. Even in today’s economy, some of those credit cards are still tied to home mortgage lines-of-credit, and even though credit card spending has declined, some consumers still have gargantuan impulse- buying power.

Then, there are the tourists, who also carry credit cards, who visit your area, and these consumers are never measured or factored into traditional statistics. Plus, studies don’t take into account consumers from cities outside of the traditional 15 miles who don’t think they can possibly find what they are looking for in their city, so they drive somewhere else, thereby participating in Road-Trip Retailing. And studies don’t take into account the spreading of the wealth that occurs when consumers in your city, who logically should buy from your business, drive illogically away to spend their money elsewhere.

Now, I haven’t mentioned consumers who spend money over the phone, via catalogs, with infomercials, on the Home Shopping Network, or via the Internet. Those numbers cannot be accurately measured; they can only be guessed at.

And let’s not forget those consumers in your city or town who walk in, and say, “We’ve lived here 20 years and we never knew you were here.” Suddenly, your business has discovered incremental business in your backyard.  And remember:  Don’t slap that walking-around-in-a-daze, advertising-avoiding, living-in-a-vacuum consumer. This person is your neighbor!

Add all these groups up and even the smartest statistician can’t tell you the potential spending power that you can capture from the consumers who you could lure to your business, IF you were marketing your business as a Destination.

Here are 5 simple tips that should give you piece of mind about the potential of your marketplace:

  • Worry less about the limits of your immediate demographic area.
  • Focus more on creating a business that is so different, that you literally remake the demographics of your marketplace, and the share of it that you claim for your own.
  • Don’t simply focus on the consumer walking down your street, or driving by.  Focus on a consumer hundreds of miles away, and make your business so different that this distant consumer longs to visit your business in person. If you position your business to capture  that person and keep him or her interested, the ones walking down the street will be easy to pull in.
  • Think about attending our Destination BootCamp and learn how to reposition your business into a Consumer Destination.
  • And one last thought: Your “marketplace” is always larger than you can imagine, and most of us don’t imagine large enough
Eric Chester, Reviving America’s Work Ethic Expert, Speaking in Longmont, Colorado on Thursday, November 15

Eric Chester, a leading expert on the emerging Generation Y workforce, will discuss “The Declining Work Ethic in America and How to Fix It” from 9 to 10 a.m. November 15 at the Left Hand Brewery Tap Room at 1265 Boston Avenue in Longmont, Colorado.  The event is part of Destination University’s “Tapping the Experts” series on topics vital to business owners and entrepreneurs. The event is free and open to the public.

Chester, is the author of five books, including his most recent best-seller “Reviving Work Ethic: A Leader’s Guide to Ending Entitlement and Restoring Pride in the Emerging Workforce” published this year. He is the founding CEO of the “Bring Your A Game to Work” program.

The talk focuses on restoring the traditional workplace and instilling it into younger frontline workers in order to increase productivity and performance. Chester will answer questions from audience members following the interview.

Destination University, the online training network for small business owners operated by The Schallert Group of Longmont, will record the event and make it available online (www.DestinationUniversity.com) on-demand for members.  Jon Schallert, President of The Schallert Group, will interview Chester during the hour.

The live event seating area has a capacity of 50 participants, so reservations are necessary to reserve a seat. Reservations can be made by calling (303) 774-6522, by clicking here, or by going online to DestinationUniversity.com and clicking on the “Tapping the Experts” tab.

This event is co-sponsored by the Left Hand Brewing Company.  

A Rare Opportunity for Six Ohio Business Owners: Don’t You Wish You Lived In This City?

I have to share with you an exciting opportunity that is available for business owners in one Ohio community. You’re going to wish your business was located in this city after reading this!

The reason I’m telling you about this is to bring attention to this amazing program and to get your help passing this information along to business owners who might benefit from it. Cities and towns around the country are going to be jealous of the support this Ohio community bank provides its local small business owners.

Business owners in Tiffin, Ohio have the opportunity to attend my 2½ day Destination BootCamp in Longmont, Colorado in October this year, where they will learn my 14-step strategy to turn their businesses into Consumer Destinations. For the third year, Croghan Colonial Bank has created the Small Business Reinvention Scholarship where up to six (6) Tiffin owners can receive a $1,500 scholarship for no-cost attendance to our Destination BootCamp.

Croghan Colonial Bank previously created these innovative business scholarships in both Fremont and Norwalk, Ohio. If you want to read about those communities and their business successes following their attendance, click here.

Through a partnership with the Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce, six (6) individual Tiffin businesses will be chosen through an application process. The selected business owners will attend the Destination BootCamp on October 9 -11, 2012. Upon their return, there will be monthly conference calls conducted by me to help the owners put into practice what they learned at the BootCamp. After they come to the BootCamp, I will then travel to Tiffin to conduct a workshop for all the businesses there and conduct on-site one-on-one consultations with each business owner who attended the BootCamp.

If you know a Tiffin business owner who could benefit from this program, or if you are a Tiffin, Ohio business owner who wants to grab this opportunity, contact Gwen Stallard at Croghan Colonial Bank, gstallard@croghan.com or John Detwiler at jdetwiler@tiffinchamber.com, or (419) 447-4141. You can also call me at my office at (303) 774-6522 and I can talk to you more about what you’ll learn at our BootCamp.

The application for this exciting program can be found by clicking here:

Applications are due on July 16, 2012 with final selections to be made not later than August 15, 2012.

If you want to learn more about our company’s Community Reinvention Program (which has had over 40 communities participate in it), you can click here:

Thanks, Everyone!

Jon Schallert

Why Our Destination BootCamp Works

Here’s a letter from a business owner who attended our Destination Business BootCamp seven years ago. That owner was Dan Horwath of Up the Creek Antiques in Centralia, Washington.

Another business owner recently emailed Dan, asking if our BootCamp was really worth attending. When Dan replied to him, he copied us on his email. This is Dan’s letter in its entirety.

We love getting letters like this!

“I’m not good at a time line. Forgive me if I don’t have exact dates.  About 12 years or a little more ago, Jon came to Centralia and talked to local businesses about destination marketing. We attended that event reluctantly, thinking that it would be a waste of time. I have to say that Jon is an engaging speaker. He presented quite a different take on how we had approached our business and marketing.

After that session, Jon walked around the town visiting a few businesses and pointing out things that he thought would change things for the positive. He spent about 10 minutes in our antique store and during that time we took furious notes. Over the course of the next few weeks, we implemented most, if not all his recommendations: things like lighting, placement of product, ways to highlight… As a result, we saw an immediate increase in interest in our customer base. They stayed in the store longer, seemed to engage the sales staff more.

When several years later the City sponsored some businesses to his Boot Camp, we made sure we would take advantage of the opportunity. We were not disappointed. It was fairly intense. The focus is on becoming a destination, set yourself apart, not just an “also ran” in the local economy. The tools were definitely there, the inspiration and continuing help and support were/are also there.

As for results, we turned our antiques business into a contender on a national scale. The greater proportion of our sales are from out of state, with a significant amount from the East coast and Midwest. We are the Antique Destination that includes Oregon, Washington, and Idaho as well. We get visitors from all over the country, as well as sales. That’s an accomplishment that isn’t readily achieved by many antiques businesses. We would not have ever achieved that goal were it not for Jon. In fact, in the present economy, I’m sure we would have closed several years ago. We have remained open and viable, mostly through the level of our destination sales, rather than those in our local limited demographic.

In any of these ventures, you get out what you are willing to learn and put in. For us, we can recommend Jon’s Boot Camp without reservation. It made a world of difference in our approach and bottom line. Jon has offered advice and help over the years, just a phone call away.

If you attend, please give our regards to Jon and enjoy yourself.

If your ever in Centralia, please stop by and see firsthand what we have implemented as a result of attending: 209 N Tower Ave Centralia, Washington.  You may visit our web, which has incorporated many suggestions from Jon and has been a major success. www.upthecreekantiques.com. That site was developed in 1998 and still comes up on the first page, if not the first item of most searches.”

Regards,

Dan Horwath, Owner, Up the Creek Antiques

Pinterest: Changing How Customers Shop and How Small Businesses Compete for Customers

I conducted a webinar in Destination University (www.DestinationUniversity.com) last month on how to use Pinterest. I decided I better learn what Pinterest was after I was asked multiple times in January what I thought of it, and I had no clue. Back then, I was totally ignorant of Pinterest. Not anymore.

If you’re still not getting what Pinterest is, think of this: In front of me as I type this article on my office wall is a huge bulletin board, filled with magazine articles, photos, 3” x 5” cards with words on them, all pinned to that board. Pinterest is just like that bulletin board, except you are collecting images from the Internet, and grouping them into collections of your choosing. These collections are called “Boards” and when you decide you like a particular image, you “pin” it (again, just like a bulletin board).

If you haven’t played around with Pinterest, my advice is to try it tonight. Right now, you’ll need an invitation to join Pinterest to start dabbling around in it. If you’re in Facebook, just post that you’d like an invitation to Pinterest, and your friends will invite you. You can also sign in using Twitter.

Once you start trying Pinterest, you’ll probably be hooked. You’ll see why consumers are jumping on its bandwagon, and why a whopping 84% are female users. Here’s even more key information about it:

Pinterest is one of the fastest growing websites in history, and it is the fifth largest social network and the third most popular. It is also the 16th most visited website, ahead of big names like CNN and the Huffington Post. Started in 2009 by Ben Silvermann of Des Moines, Iowa, the earliest people to start using it were females from the Midwest. The explosion of popularity has happened recently: only tens of thousands knew what Pinterest was in 2011, but 4.9 million site visitors used it in November; 11.7 million in January, 2012; and 17.8 million in February, 2012. According to some analysts, it is the fastest independent website to reach 10 million visitors. Best of all, the average Pinterest user spends 98 minutes a month on the site, which is right behind Tumblr and Facebook’s usage numbers, with an average visit lasting 16 minutes.

Pinterest itself is not a large company. They are based in Palo Alto, California (where Facebook is located), with about 20 employees (they hired half their staff in the last 4 months). Obviously, the growth of their company is causing them to scramble, but like most Internet companies, they aren’t worried about generating a profit, given that they are funded by the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (founded by Marc Andreessen, who co-created Netscape) and Jeremy Stoppelman, the CEO of Yelp. With the $37 million they raised last year and their estimated current valuation of $200 million, they aren’t going anywhere.

Why is this Pinterest phenomenon important to a small business like yours? Here are my big 6 reasons:

1. Pinterest is all about visuals and scanning the Internet for images that a person likes. Once they find a photo, a cartoon, or an image they like, they can “pin” it and it starts a process where other people who view the image, start spreading it. In the world of the Internet, this spreading is called viral marketing, just like a cold that self-replicates itself in multiple places. Since it’s really a form of online word-of-mouth marketing, it is less time-consuming than friending people on Facebook, tweeting on Twitter, and posting your thoughts on a blog. The ease at which someone can engage with Pinterest makes it a social network that is easy to like, with minimal time commitment involved. It also allows people to connect with others that they might not know as friends, but with whom they have similar interests and style preferences.

2. Large companies don’t know exactly what to do with Pinterest. There are no ads on Pinterest, either, so advertising agencies don’t know how to recommend their clients to use it. Consequently, this is a marketing tool that can have a huge competitive advantage for small businesses that get in and play around with this, while big companies stumble trying to figure it out.

3. Now that Facebook is going to a new timeline configuration (I am doing a webinar on this in Destination University in May also), and Facebook has created a new Pinterest app, there are over 870+ million people who will have access to Pinterest through this linking with Facebook.

4. Pinterest, according to National Public Radio, is one of the top five referrers of web traffic to retailers’ websites. Many of you are retailers, and all of you should have websites. Wouldn’t you like more people to come to your websites? Once there, they can learn about your company, call and find out about certain products, or if you have an e-commerce site, buy directly off of it. Put another way, Pinterest is a powerful mechanism to bring more faces to your business.

5. When you start posting product photos in Pinterest, you’ll notice that you can add a price to the product description, simply by typing the price, preceded by the dollar sign ($). I think (and others concur), that this pricing feature in Pinterest might eventually lead to Pinterest being its own e-commerce site, where people will be able to make purchases directly through Pinterest as an online “shopping cart”. If this happens, those of you who sell products will find this could be a huge boom to your business.

6. Every time an image is uploaded to Pinterest, it can lead directly back to your website. This is critically important because if you have an e-commerce site, or if you’d like to sell more online to people you’ve never met, this linking feature of Pinterest’s could yield huge online traffic referrals to your business.

Hopefully, these 6 reasons are enough to convince you to take this social network seriously.

If this post was interesting to you, think about becoming a member of our Destination University business network. For less than a buck a day, you can stay abreast of the newest, most impactful marketing tools, simply by watching the nearly 100 webinars that are in DU (and more are posted monthly). To learn more about joining Destination University, click here.

Such a Big Change: A Letter from a Destination BootCamp Business Owner

This week I received a letter from a business owner who had attended my Destination Business BootCamp in 2011.  Normally, I just keep these letters for myself, but this one, I’m going to share.  When you read it, you’ll see why. There are parts of it that hit the emotions that every business owner in the world has ever felt.

By the way, I asked the owner who wrote this letter if sharing it was OK with him. He gave me permission to do so.

Our Destination BootCamp is a two and one-half day workshop. It takes me that long to cover my 14-step strategy for making a business a Consumer Destination. It’s not like when I speak at a conference for an hour. In the days I have with the owners in attendance, I can show them a different way to position their businesses to be successful.

Here’s a photo of the class. The business owner who wrote the letter was Louie Colosimo, owner of  Red Glass Oak in Central Point, Oregon. To see Louie’s amazing business, go to his website here: http://RedOakGlass.com.  His creations are amazing!

Louie had come to our Destination BootCamp with five other business owners from Central Point and with Tom Humphrey, the Director of their city’s Community Development Program. Tom had organized the group and Louie was one of the participants he had asked to make the trip to Colorado, as part of our Community Reinvention Program.

That’s all I’m going to say. Here’s Louie’s letter to me, in its entirety. I haven’t done any editing.

Thanks, Louie, for letting me share your letter. I hope it helps other owners realize that they can make changes to their businesses and turn a poor situation around.

Here’s Louie’s letter:

Dear Jon,

Short version: I want to thank you for all you’ve taught me.

Longer version: Last year, when Tom Humphrey asked me if I wanted to attend your Businessman’s Boot Camp, I was about a week away from quitting my business and throwing in the towel. Deep in debt, out of energy, and my best sales person was seriously drifting away, the future looked bleak at best. I’d even begun to ask around if anyone knew of a good bankruptcy lawyer. It was either quit or try one more time. Finally, I decided to go see you and give it one more shot. The least that would happen would be that I’d get a free trip to Colorado and escape the shop for a few days. I’m so glad that I did. You absolutely turned my life around. Not just my business life but my regular life (?) too.

But not at first.

On the first day of Boot Camp, or rather in the first two hours of the first day, my ass hurt from sitting. I kept shifting from side to side… left bun, right bun and back again. And you were so indefatigably cherry and positive. I kept thinking, “Christ, I should’a quit. At least with bankruptcy it’d be over and I won’t have to think about it.” But then, you showed “problem/solutions” and order began to creep in. My butt began to hurt less, then I forgot about it.

By the end of the first day, I was mostly a convert. I did my homework that night and woke to face the second day. You got better and so did I. By the end of the last day, I wanted to stay and stay and listen. You never wore down. You kept believing that we all could do it. And finally, so did I.  Not only were you telling me how to market better, but what I finally realized was that you were demonstrating how to do it in real time. I was your customer. You took care to treat me special, give me all the information I needed to understand your product, and see how many others managed marketing. You were able to define your business (on an elevator ride between the 3rd and 4th floor); you had your monument-al achievements, and best of all, you were proud of your accomplishments.

I knew that to stay in business, I had to market my product. But knowing that it isn’t the same as knowing how to do it. To me, marketing was like trying to grab a hold of a sand storm. There was no handle. No place to start. What do I do first, second, etc? And what you told us wasn’t the answers I wanted to hear.

Instead, you asked questions. Being asked a good question was so much more valuable than being told a general something, a fortune cookie solution. Right off the bat, you asked the hardest thing of all, for me to define my business in one sentence. I always thought that I had done that, until I really thought about it. Now that I think about it more, what you did wasn’t asking for a definition, but more like you challenged me to look at myself and my business the way the world does, from the outside looking in. I always looked at myself and what I did from the inside out. I was a glass blower! Now, I want the world to see me as a glass artist that creates hand blow art glass pendant lighting and inspiring standing chandeliers. So that’s how I define myself and it fits how I see myself. It was and is such a small shift in perception. Such a big change! I understood what I needed to do to keep on going. I’m still slipping and sliding, but now it’s in the general direction of where I want to go.

One last thought about trying organize a sand storm: I’ll be shoveling with the Taj Mahal in mind and realize that all I’ve got is a mud hut and it’ll come to me again that I can’t do it all at once no matter how I try. But, I can do something every day. And I do. Plus, I could bring some hot dogs, beer, a kite and enjoy the beauty and flow of it all.

The other day, I was talking to Tom Humphrey about you and I said that I’d like to hear Jon talk about stress relief, when business gets scary. Without a blink, he immediately gave me a “Jon” answer. He said, “Market better.”  Dorothy had a yellow bricks to guide her, but we’ve got Jon, which is a different kind of brick. When in doubt of the direction to City of “ahhs”, all I have to do is ask myself (or the Central Point team) what would Jon do to get there? When I left Colorado, I felt like all three of the clunks from the wizard of Oz all rolled into one: I needed to get a brainy plan, the heart to keep on going and the courage to stick it out. And I can. After all, Jon believes I can.

With the utmost sincerity and thanks,

Louis Colosimo
Art glass pendant manufacturer
Red Oak Glass.com
234 N. Front St.
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Poken makes USA debut at Summit Business Conference in Boulder, Colorado with retail technology & electronic networking tools

A future-is-now business card replacement and electronic shopping tool will debut at the Summit Business Conference October 18-19 in Boulder, Colorado.

Participants will wear Pokens, whimsical devices that use near field communication (NFC) to retrieve and store information from fellow attendees, and then, electronically network with their connections from their computers.

The conference, organized by The Schallert Group of Longmont, Colorado, brings eight headline speakers to a single stage, providing independent entrepreneurs and small businesses access to insights usually available only to Fortune 500 companies.

Rather than exchanging business cards, Summit attendees can collect contacts by holding the Pokens close, – a “high four” from the four-fingered hand of playful characters such as a kitten or panda.

The green glow signals that the connection has been made.

In a first-in-the-U.S. pilot, conference-goers can visit Boulder businesses equipped with Poken technology and will experience this two-way NFC exchange of information. For example, information and videos about fine wine for sale can be passed to customers, while the store receives information about the prospective purchaser.

“Boulder will be the first city in the country where Poken Sparks and Poken Tags are demonstrated,” says Jon Schallert, president of The Schallert Group and a speaker at the conference. “We’re going to put them in different retail stores and conduct a Downtown Boulder treasure hunt.”

Poken devices, created in Switzerland and just now coming to North America, are popular for social networking – a paperless way to collect more than phone numbers at parties – and are finding application in more fields.

This fall, Indiana State University became the first college to distribute Pokens to all incoming students, easing introductions and potentially boosting retention for the school.

Schallert, arranged to introduce Pokens at the Summit Business Conference after he discovered the technology in an in-flight magazine article.

The cutting-edge application fits the event’s aim to elevate small businesses, he says.

“Our conference is really a way that any size business can play on a level playing field with some big companies that would normally get this expert advice. There’s a synergy that comes from combining new technology and these top business experts together to teach independent entrepreneurs.”

In addition to Schallert, speakers are Michael Kerr, a humor expert; Debra Fine, a business networking expert; Terri Norvell, a leadership development expert; Andy Core, a wellness expert; Marti Barletta, author and worldwide expert on marketing to women; Henriette Klauser, an author and authority on writing productivity; and Shawne Duperon, an Emmy-winning TV producer and publicity strategist.

 

Writing Expert Dr. Henriette Klauser to Speak at Summit Business Conference

Once you’ve listed your dreams, the handwriting isn’t just on the wall, says Dr. Henriette Anne Klauser. It’s in the filter at the base of your brain, the reticular activating system (RAS) that helps direct your attention.

That’s why Klauser, author of Write It Down, Make It Happen: Knowing What You Want, And Getting It and four other books, advocates list-making to achieve your goals.

It worked for her 10-year-old son Peter, even though he forgot the list for two years. When he discovered it while cleaning his room, every item, including learning karate, sleeping overnight in a park and getting a pet bird had happened.

It also worked for Lou Holtz when he lost his job at 28 and his wife urged him to record his dreams. At last report, 91 of the 107 goals, including coaching at the University of Notre Dame, winning a national championship, meeting the Pope, dining at the White House, appearing on the Tonight Show and making a hole-in-one have happened.

It can work for anybody, Klauser says.

“When you write up your list, write what you would do if money was not an object and time was not a factor,” she advises, insisting that each record include the date. “Then I tell them money is not an object and time is not a factor.”

Klauser is among nine headline experts appearing at the Summit Business Conference (www.SummitBusinessConference.com) Oct. 18-19 in Boulder, Colorado, a rare gathering that brings Fortune 500-level advice business entrepreneurs and community leaders.

Her focus on writing started when she noticed that some of her university students and some of her fellow Ph.D. candidates suffered writing anxiety. Her first book, Writing on Both Sides of the Brain, is in its 39th printing.

“I wanted to put in concrete evidence about how the brain is functioning,” she says. “It was a natural thing when I heard about the RAS. I want to change the nature of people’s relationship with writing, to recognize that writing is a tool that can help us.”

Another book, With Pen in Hand, describes how writing can help deal with tragedy and loss, with a chapter about a Vietnam veteran who recorded his experiences because he couldn’t talk about them. Put Your Heart on Paper tells the stories of people who enjoyed improved relationships from sharing written thoughts.

In Write It Down, Make It Happen, Klauser explains that brain-heightened attention triggers “go-incidences” (rather than co-incidences) by gaining a sharper focus on the world.

Examples come easy: your ear catches your spoken name above the chatter across a crowded room; a mother awakes to her baby’s cry and no other sound; after Klauser bought a “eucalyptus” Honda, she began to notice how many other green cars are on the road.

“The world cooperates with the plan,” she says. “It activates part of your brain. You start paying attention. You make a commitment to its possibility and things start happening. Once you write down a goal, your brain is working overtime to see that you get it.”

For more information on Klauser’s presentation and how to register, visit www.SummitBusinessConference.com