Aug 132013
social media trap

social media trap

A recent academic article prompted the line of thinking for this post. I have developed a decent sized following on three social media platforms. I used linkedin, facebook and twitter where I entertain 6000 people. Which ones do you use?

More importantly, which ones did you recently adopt as part of your social media strategy?

According to a bunch of researchers – Milwood, Marchiori and Zach to be precise, if you experienced success with your “new” platform you should be careful not to generalize.

What they mean is this: say you just started twitter. You get to about 100 followers and the engagement is awesome. However, they argue that this is only beneficial in the short run. You can only ride this success for so long.

What do I think?

I agree. I learned the hard way. Nonetheless, the point is I learned. I learned because I watch my analytics like a hawk. I don’t use anything fancy either. Just google analytics. I watched (with a gaping mouth and obscenely protruding eyeballs) my engagement level drop badly. Bad mojo.

Our researchers suggested the same approach. Monitoring! Monitoring your investment – to quote.

Whilst, I sound like a broken record, the point is a good one. Watch out for that spike when you first start engaging people on your ‘newish’ platform. Without “monitoring your investment” and adjusting accordingly, these guys are saying we will not get far.

Social Media remains something that needs attention – it is not something you just let it sit out there. It backfires when you do.. I wonder if my readers have had this happen to them. Maybe you just missed it on google analytics etc. It would have been very insightful to catch it in the act though..

Please share this research-based post to anyone who you know that has a social media presence. The researchers surveyed this extensively. It really highlights again, the usage of solid analytics.

(the picture is from

Jul 222013

cake Gartner: 80% of businesses will fail with their social  media efforts!!

My God! That is a lot. If you go to a business meeting and look at the person next to you.. that person has a 100% likelihood of failure on SM. Scary, right?


Their forecast is from now to 2015. So yes, they are talking about us RIGHT NOW.

By the way, this is from an MIT publication i.e. absolutely not to be taken lightly.




A)     They cite lack of leadership.

B)      And, businesses do not perceive SM as a business driver.



The first is rather self explanatory. Let’s think of a leader or a good CEO? Imagine their commitment to their company. If we don’t put that kind of gung-ho support behind SM, we fall in the ghastly 80% bite-the-dust-ers.

The second one is a bit trickier. Business drivers are basically anything that your success depends on ( sorry for finishing a sentence with a preposition)!

Business folks do not think that their business success depends on SM.

There you go.

If you build it they may not come. By the way, that is not what Gary Vaynerchuk is talking about. If they do come, it may not be enough. Again, that is not what Jim Kukral is espousing either.

But if you don’t think SM will seriously impact your business… in a rather scary way .. you’re actually setting yourself up for a lot of trouble.. most of it will eventuate by 2015!

I always end by asking for your thoughts – but in this case, I think I know what you should be thinking.. and I don’t want to make light conversation on these scary numbers.

(picture is from

 Posted by at 1:03 pm
May 062013

Financial services – how to get better deals and service

How do you deal with financial services providers? Are you giving them too much of your money?

Here are a few examples where I have managed to give them less – where I have been able to go and spend the money saved on other stuff. (from lunch money to a car)
In dealing with financial services, people usually think that the rules are fixed. That is almost never the case.


a) Late fees by your financial services provider

Ever been late with a payment? Did you just pay the late fees? Bad mistake. The first time you are late, call them as soon as you find out. Just say this,” I am so sorry this has happened, can you please give me a second chance to make the payment? As you can tell, I have never been late before.”


The second time you can say,”It has only happened once before, can you please let me off the hook? I could use the extra money etc..”

This can go on for as many times as you need to. That is something your financial services provider can usually waive any number of times. Obviously, it depends on how late you are.

b) Can’t make the payment on time – or you would rather pay it later.

Call your financial services provider. Ask them for a delay. Advise that you are not in position to pay them now.

You always negotiate down. That means, first you ask for a lot. Then you start lowering your “ask”. So, ask for a month. The rep will not be happy with that. Negotiate to 3 weeks. Try to settle for 2 weeks.

Check this link out for more on negotiations :

c) Missed the first repayment.

Again, just call up and ask your financial services provider to remove the late fees. They probably will, considering it was the first time – see above for more details on this one.

d) Financial services reps are not monsters.

Whatever your requirements, always ask politely. No matter how absurd you think it sounds. We all have different upbringings. We all have different notions of what absurdity is. If yours is not the same as theirs, you have a chance.

Be polite, emphasize with whatever they are saying.. and courteously ask for a favour.

e) Interest rates can always be negotiated

Always call more than one financial services provider before you lock in your contract. Get 2 other rates and bid them against each other. You will always get a better rate.

f) Administration and other financial services fees

Always claim some kind of hardship and ask for these to be waived or reduced. Some of these fees, the rep may be able to remove without even talking to their managers. Many times I have been able to do this where they did not want to budget the interest rate.

g) Ask one open-ended question. This one:
“What else can you do for me?”
Followed by this one, if the rep is struggling:
“Is there any other discounts you can give me,” and start reciting the charges one by one. A few coins here and there .. and it adds up. I saved over $400 once, doing just this over a few minutes.

BIG DISCLAIMER – please always make sure they are not about to credit list you for non-payments. Your financial services provider has be aware of your circumstances. Communication is key here!!
Let me know how you go. . . Or if you have other tips to share!

Jan 112013

First of all, a big.. I mean HUGE disclaimer – I AM A MASSIVE FAN OF BOTH!!

Gary V. believes primarily in “heads down bums up” and strong commercial abilities. That is, you are in business to do business. Working hard has never been a bad idea. Some of us even work hard at working hard. Others work hard at not working hard. Either way, the road to success is paved by two types of pavers only. One of them is “working hard” which comes from a deep sense of commitment. The other one is another day’s topic.

Working hard not only produces result but feels great too. Many of us do not think that aspect important. However, that is one of the reasons why people who work hard do not self-sabotage. That is one of the main reasons Tony Robbins mentions why people fail. So far so good?

However, Gary also promotes a saturation model.

He says that you have to try to get on as many forums as possible. Get your message out with passion and the fruits of your labor will eventuate. A non-believer in metrics, he goes on to say that you should not believe numbers either.  Some could still argue a case for him so far.. I teach marketing metrics. I have been preaching numbers since before Gary started on Social Media – so I have a little problem with this statement.

But this is where the titans clash i.e. Gran’ paw Tony and Uncle Gary.

Gary has a one-size-fit-all course of action. He who is most passionate wins. Well, what happens if 10 people are really passionate about a topic? How about 1000? What then? Again, please don’t get me wrong – I am a mad advocate of Crush It. But it does beg the question, doesn’t it? In the words of Dr Banner ( the Hulk!!) “Please tell me you don’t think none of this smells a little funky..”

Tony has a saying for this, “I don’t care how passionate you are.. if you are running east chasing a sunset, you’ve got a problem.”

He seems to think a distinctive strategy is of utmost importance.

Tony also has another saying that goes like this, “If passion was all it took, then every kid would have had a pony.”

What do you guys think? Have you been able to reconcile the two opposing situations..?

I think I am siding with Tony on this one.. more and more.

 Posted by at 10:01 pm
Dec 262012


You did.. now what?

Yes – most of us did overspend. The reasons are simple.


  • First, maybe you underestimated how much things cost? I provided a tool for my followers to use to avoid this very issue.


  • Second, maybe you gave in to temptation? Hey, marketers and salespeople are really good at their jobs. Sales is a cutthroat business. Marketers and salespeople that do not increase sales are fired on the spot. This makes them really aggressive – and we become victims.


  • Third, maybe you did not count how many people well? Again, my tool  could have helped you – but hey, it happened. Now you have a large credit card bill. Hopefully, you are not feeling completely helpless –or maybe guilt is choking you?


How about a few things that can help?

First, check the minimum amount of your credit card repayment. You will find that is usually well within what you can afford.

  • Interest repayments also depend on the interest rate of your card. A multitude of cards will offer lower interest rates to switch. Keep a look out for these offers.


But the fix lies in a really hidden place. It actually lies in the future. The solution to this issue is in how you will be able to decrease next month’s expenses. And the month after that.


  • Second, budget how much you want to repay on the card every month. For example, if you have $1000 outstanding, budget for reducing your monthly spend by $100 per month. You will pay this amount off before next Christmas – This may sound like a long time. But $3/day or $100/month will not feel as bad as staring at a $1000 debt you feel guilty about.


  • Third, find out why you overspent. Most managers or business owners feel too bad to go analyse past expenses. Instead they just beat themselves up & repeat the same mistakes again. What is the point of that?


If you overspent as described above, try the spreadsheet next time. Whatever the reason is, you do not have to repeat the same mistakes. Even if you have overspent for the past 11 years in a row, that does not mean you have to repeat it. Tony Robbins always says, “ The past does not equal the future”. So do I.


 Posted by at 3:23 pm
Dec 182012
What the.. really??

Yes – these ideas will cost close to nothing but will make your business or relationships “healthier”.But why this picture? No, I am not suggesting you send in a damn monkey!!

By the way, these “suggestions” only apply if you are sending stuff to clients, friends who own businesses or anyone that has helped you during the year – Most importantly, use your judgement here.

1)      A card to all your best clients/friends etc with handwritten notes (signed too!!) covering


a)      Your interactions during the year, use the person’s first name

b)      Something positive you remember about their personality

c)       How what they do is significant to you and to their customers or friends

d)      How you expect that you will have a good relationship next year as well

e)      Best wishes to their family

f)       Why you think a hand-written card about your honest feelings are more appropriate for your relationship than say, a damn bottle of vino.


Remember keep it personalised and this customer will not forget you. Maybe they’ll think you’re cheap – but then again..



2)      A dvd covering the above in a conversation.


But you need to add a few things here. Take a picture off google images or something, from istock or shutterstock. Print it out on A4. Cut it to fit a cd case and voila!! Do not use weird pictures like the one above!!!! Go for regular ones – you are not trying to be memorable for this, please!!!

The content itself? Just add that you thought it more personal to actually do a video than just a card.

Again, personalise and personalise some more i.e. add as many things as you remember about that person. DO NOT MAKE ONE VIDEO AND SEND IT TO EVERYONE! Why? Well, you are showing that you thought of this individual. You will sound like a fraud if you made the same video for everyone.


3)      This one is the bare minimum.


If you have a blog, or a facebook page, or twitter. Put a post out advertising their business. Send them a nice email telling them you have done so as you think they are great at what they do, or who they are etc. A little flattery won’t kill you.

Oh – Don’t put their address, maybe just provide their websites..or anything that is publicly available anyway.




At worst, you will make more money with these ideas. Relationships, whilst inedible, are worth much more than money. So, personalize away!!


Let me know what you think.. or if I inspire some crazy ones?

 Posted by at 6:47 pm
Dec 122012

A big disclaimer on this one – many have tried to budget for this and failed badly. You may still fail if you use this tool. All I can say, for the 6th year running, I have used this tool and it has worked for me. I usually give this away for free – and no one has complained yet.


A bit of background.  My wife and I are both immigrants. We have tripled our income in the past 5 years. Not a small achievement. However, when our salary doubled, we still did not have any savings. The reason was simple. We spent all the extra money we made. So we devised an elaborate budget. We stuck to most of it. This is part of what we found easy to stick with. Regardless of how much money we made, we decided to freeze a Christmas budget – no matter how much money we were going to make in the future.


Now that amount sometimes feels that it is not enough as we have increased our income dramatically since then. But we still manage to stick to it. Here is a spreadsheet that explains that philosophy.


The principle is to simply build a budget from the ground up. Most people set a fixed lump sum and try to squeeze everyone in that budget. The result is usually failure. The failure discourages any sense of discipline they could develop. Self-sabotage at its best!! The key is to BE REALISTIC.


How do you do that? Easy. Build your budget from the ground up. If the following steps don’t make sense, please let me know. But once you download the spreadsheet there are more instructions there for you too.

If you think this is time consuming, just remember it will only take a few seconds every year FOREVER. It is a great investment of your time.



If the following does not make sense, don’t worry. Download the spreadsheet and it will then. Promise!

1)      Start with how many people in your immediate family and how much you want to spend there

2)      Next, how many close relatives you have and how much you want to spend per head.

3)       Followed by distant relatives and friends for whom you will need to buy presents

4)      Last but not least, buy 3-4 presents as spare ones – you can always use them for other occasions if you don’t need them this time



Now, you will have a budget you are much more likely to stick to. It is more of a forecast really. This encourages discipline. It will encourage to stick to other budgets as well.

Again, the key is to BE REALISTIC.

Here is the spreadsheet – tell me what you think?

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<Christmas Budget>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

 Posted by at 3:07 pm
Dec 022012



At the bottom of this email, there is an attachment in excel. You can download it to start measuring outcomes. Yes, it is free. Before you download it, please read the following.


Let’s look at some of the reasons we feel most social media attempts do not bear fruits. Do you think the ones that lost are not passionate enough? That could well be. However, if having loads of passion was all it took, all freshmen would drive Ferraris!! You need the right strategy. It is a bit like building a house. You can’t paint before the plaster goes up.


Why should it be any different with social media?


There is an order to things. You have to have the right quantity to each ingredient. To make matters worse, this strategy or ingredient list will vary from company to company. Whatever works for me, may actually put you in financial ruin. So, what do you do? That is a really complicated issue. Can all this be resolved by a simple spreadsheet? Of course not!! Make that a triple NO, barista!!


So what exactly does it do?


Back In 1992, a couple of management gurus, Kaplan and Norton invented a strategic tool. It was complicated. They used the following decades to refine it. They called it the balanced scorecard. To really oversimplify, it is a tool that measures how you are tracking towards your goals. It also provides insights on how to adjust your operations to reach these enthusiastic goals you set yourselves.


Now, I charge hundreds of dollars per hour to implement a proper one in small or large businesses.  I also lecture this stuff to Post grads and execs. Some of the businesses I have worked with have multi-billion dollar turnovers whilst others do not have more than 4-5 people in their offices. This download/spreadsheet is an ultra-condensed form of this advice. Whilst it is not the same value as having me sit there with you for hours, it gets you started in the right direction.



It allows you to:

1)      Ensure you are not forgetting to monitor any areas in your business

2)      Ensure that your social media strategy aligns with everything else you do

3)      Monitor ROI for each social media dollar you use

4)      Assess how productive your time spent on Social media is

5)      Plan your opportunity costs

6)      Have more control over your cash flow



My spreadsheet won’t save the world – but it can do the above easily. A wise man once told me never to have more than 25 KPIs, so, please go easy on the spreadsheet.

By the way, it is easy to use.

Remember, I said whatever works for me may not for you. Well, this little baby allows you to tailor it to your business. So YOU build part of it – and no, you do not need to be an excel guru. All you need is a basic understanding of English – which I think you have .. if you have managed through this post so far.. Change the variables column to fit your business.



Download it, let me know how you go. Remember, discipline pays off – make sure you stick to it. Otherwise, nothing ever works.



p.s. Comments are deactivated – too much spam .. email me at instead, if you need any help or just want to say hi.


p.p.s In the downloaded device, you can change the facebook variable for a twitter one or add another one in that field. The model still remains sound. Or if you have multiple twitter accounts, use more than one. Use your imagination. Feel free to explore.


p.p.s. If you stuff it up, just come back here and download another one. Be gentle and don’t crash my server.





>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Social Media Cost Control kpis<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<







 Posted by at 3:18 pm
Nov 262012
Being nice will not look after your finances

Anyone who is familiar with my career over the past 10 or so years knows that I ace my interviews. Recruiters who work with me love me for that. As a result, I tend to get put forward to more clients than most. And I usually end up making more money than my competition. I do try my best to be courteous. However, I don’t agree with people who think it is really important to be liked. Here are my reasons:


1)      It takes the focus off your real skills

If you disagree with me – a large part of the interview will be spent trying to get the interviewer across the table to like you. Either he/she will be as anxious as you are. Or busy pretending that they are not. Or, they are the real deal – in which case they are after real ability and skills. In all three scenarios, you will not get hired by being the nicest candidate.


2)      It takes too much effort

If you have been to an interview, you know exactly what I am talking about. It is like learning to drive shift! And you are supposed to watch the road too..?? That’s right. You are busy trying to answer the current question. Probably, you are sweating beads thinking about how the competition did. Worried about whether you are forgetting that little something that could get you this job? Anticipating the next question?

Wondering whether he/she is understanding you across the table?

Or, wondering whether you will get the job?

Let’s face it – you are not in a position to worry about whether you are being ultra-nice and being liked too. You are already stretched. Leave it. Focus on the moment and answer the question to the best of your ability. That is the only way to impress anyway. And to get the job too.



3)      It does not mean that much to the interviewer

I have had senior positions. I have been top dog in Finance. There were too many times we have reached the following conclusions about someone we just interviewed, “He/She sounds really nice but..”


It is a commercial environment. Our decision are based on how you can help us achieve our profit goals. “Being liked” is not usually among our top 5 goals. But if you have ticked the other more essential boxes, we’ll take it as a bonus.




However, this is what will really bake your noodle. Most of the time, we hire someone who manages to tick at least 3 of the boxes. That is because the other candidates only ticked two.


By the time the job description makes it to the door, we have listed so many skills that we rarely ever get many people to match all of them.


Using pareto’s 80/20, we make a decision and hope for the best..

 Posted by at 12:11 am
Nov 212012
new career advice

Here are tips updated for 2013 and beyond – the old tricks do not seem to work anymore – all these are free or cost close to nothing:



Use groups in linkedin and referrals from existing connections to find employers. It is free and vastly under-utilised



Do not do what everyone else is doing. If everyone is just busy sending, cv’s – don’t waste your time. Odds are, the recruiter will not even look at all of the cv’s received among the thousands they are getting. Depressing but that is what they are telling me. Instead, how about building a relationship with the recruiter? Find out how you can help him do his job – maybe offer a referral?



Use Facebook to locate employees of the companies you are interested in e.g. Run an ad (it does not cost that much when it is targeted) that simply says, I would really like to work for Bank of America. Link it to your cheap website ( a cover letter, cv and contact details are enough) and watch the ad go viral in their office until someone picks up the phone.



Always watch government spending and get a certificate in that particular field e.g. specialise where money is being spent in the government. Follow the money.



Have a diversified portfolio. In booming economies, it is good to keep specialising in one field. Now, we go for a large customer base and cheaper. Go for volume rather than rate. E.g. I am lecturer, analyst and career advisor. This maximises chances of always being employed.



Twitter is insurance. It is instant notification. In an era, where people are getting made redundant, nothing can beat twitter’s reach. It is painless. People just like to follow others. I only spend about 10 seconds on it everyday and have gotten 20 followers in 5 days! If made redundant, you can spread the news really quickly and for free.


Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks!!