Your computer is a factory for ideas. Go build something.

Month: September 2011

How Much is Your Customer Worth?

I missed a payment date on a credit card last month–not something I do regularly–and got slapped with a $20 late payment fee.

The balance on the card, prior to the fee, was $56.

I called the company, explained that I would pay the balance today, and politely asked to have the fee removed.

“Sure, Mr. Gowin. We can do that.”

Knowing that customers can and will switch credit cards (it’s easy enough), it’s better for the company to waive the fee than leave a customer frustrated and angry. The customer, in return, feels empowered and is likely to remain loyal.

Two lessons:

  1. The long-term relationship is worth more than $20.
  2. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Communication: The Essential Skill

What’s the most important skill for a young person in business? Being able to navigate social media adeptly? Strong technical knowledge?

It’s far more simple: being able to communicate effectively.

Alan Weiss says graduates need to be able to read, write, speak, and listen.

I agree.

Critiquing Critics

Sitting in my feed reader’s posts today was this from Cult of Mac, a summary of Christopher Hawthorne’s critique of Apple’s new planned campus in Cupertino.

Further down the feeds was Seth Godin’s critique of critics, which reminds me of Anton Ego’s review of his meal at Gusteau’s.

I wonder whether Seth had either of these in mind in his post today.

Can the Traditional Resume?

In some of the classes I teach at Lincoln Christian University, I discuss effective job correspondence: resumes, cover letters, and follow-up thank you notes.

The purpose of your resume, of course, is to get you an interview. To do that, it has to stand out from the stack of 50 other resumes the employer receives. So I usually emphasize things like–

  • Avoid Times New Roman and Arial (use Helvetica)
  • Don’t use a Word template
  • Design matters
  • Ensure that you have NO typos or grammatical errors
  • Highlight intangible qualities: show how you are trustworthy, personable–a problem-solving initiator

I’m intrigued, though, by suggestions that the traditional resume may be on the way out. Designer Jesse Desjardins has a visual resume on Slideshare. And the presentation software site Sliderocket recently offered similar advice.

These are great ideas and, for those looking for creative work, may be the perfect approach. Stand out, be different, offer value.

Can Business Make the World a Better Place?

In comparison with other wealthy business executives (Warren Buffett, Bill Gates), Steve Jobs has been criticized for his lack of philanthropy. An insightful article at the Harvard Business Review blogs argues, however, that the world would be worse if Jobs had been less devoted in his efforts at Apple.

Think of the value that Steve Jobs has brought to the world: the iPod, OS X, the iPhone, the iPad, iTunes–technology that is beautiful, functional, and easy to use. Pixar films (Toy Story, The Incredibles, Wall-E, Up) are among my family’s favorites–and probably yours, too.

Can business do something that charity can’t? It’s a compelling argument, and it’s safe to say that, in many ways, Steve Jobs has done things that others couldn’t, didn’t, or wouldn’t.

How to Ensure You Don’t Get Hired

Good looking resume?  Check.

Good looking suit for the interview?  Check.

Polished interviewing skills?  Check.

Electronic trail (facebook, twitter, etc.) showing all your stupid misdeeds and bad attitudes?


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