Monday, March 20, 2006

The Art of Conversation

Today's New York Times (3/20/06) has a wonderful article/review of a new book, Stephen Miller's, "Conversation: A History of a Declining Art."

Here's an excerpt:

Conversation is one of those acts that require subtle forms of social imagination: an ability to listen and interpret and imagine, an attentiveness to someone whose perspective is always essentially different, a responsiveness that both makes oneself known and allows the other to feel known — or else does none of this, but just keeps up appearances. It may be, then, one of the most fundamental political and social acts, indispensable to negotiating allegiances, establishing common ground, clearing tangled paths. Conversation may reflect not just the state of our selves, but the state of society.

Read more here. (subscription required, but it's free.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Are you ready for A Whole New Mind?

I've added a few links to the blog roll (at right).

I especially encourage you to check out Dan Pink's A Whole New Mind.

He was the keynote speaker at a recent HOW Design Conference, where he outlined some of the ideas in the book, notably that artists, designers, storytellers, and big picture thinkers (many of whom consider themselves shy) are poised to "reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys."

"A Whole New Mind reveals the six essential aptitudes on which professional success and personal fulfillment now depend, and includes a series of hands-on exercises culled from experts around the world to help readers sharpen the necessary abilities. This book will change not only how we see the world but how we experience it as well."

Monday, March 06, 2006

Is a personalized email message to a stranger spam?

In a recent Quick Tip from Marketing Mentor, I shared a simple strategy for getting the email address of a prospect whose phone number you have.

One reader questioned that strategy and said I was advocating spam. So I ask you -- do you consider it spam if a stranger sends you a message introducing themselves and their services? Does it matter how personalized the message is? If you can tell they've spent some time researching your company and your needs, does that make any difference?

Do you deserve a raise?

Norman Lieberman, The Pay Raise Coach, is looking for stories for his forthcoming book on pay raise strategies and is even willing to coach someone through the process (at no charge, if you fit his criteria). For more info, check out his web site ( and let him know you're interested.

And here are Norman's five tips to dramatically increase your chances of winning a satisfactory and successful raise:

1. Maintain a list of accomplishments since your last pay increase. Neatly type the list in a bullet format, and use metrics to demonstrate the degree of your success. Example: Instead of saying, "I learned how to run the high-speed press," say, "I have increased output of widgets by 108%, while reducing production time by 16%."

2. Well in advance of asking for a raise, assist co-workers and your boss by helping with their excess projects. Learning various roles increases your value to the company, as well as your value directly to the boss. He certainly won't want the work you're now doing given back to him.

3. Never, ever tell anyone connected with your firm--even your closest work friends--that you intend to seek a raise. People talk, and that talk can hurt your pay raise chances.

4. Never give personal excuses for securing a raise. Excuses like, "Everyone else is paid more," or "My car is old and in need of repairs," are not legitimate corporate reasons to give you a raise. Negotiate based on contributions to the job and you'll get respect and more money.

5. Typically, the best way to get the largest jump in salary is by going elsewhere, where accomplishments and achievements are still of utmost importance. These qualities may secure as much as a 30% increase at a new firm, where new employees' skills may be more appreciated than at previous jobs. The new firm sees strong accomplishments and presence in an interview in stark comparison to what they don't have.