Category Archives: Technology

Keeping DS Technology Relevant

On 10/8 I had the pleasure of speaking at the first Fragmob Technology Convention for Direct Selling companies.  Fun event with great information and networking in beautiful San Diego.  A couple of very kind folks have asked for my slides, so here they are!

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What’s wrong with my technology team… and how did they get this way??

I had the pleasure of being the guest speaker on the Women’s Power Circle call last night.  (Thank you Michele!)

There are so many really good topics of conversation for the use of technology in a direct selling business, but I chose to talk about how to improve communications with your internal technology team or with your vendor.   I tried to put a good business spin on the subject so no one glazed over with too much “geek speak”.  Hope I hit the mark.

Thanks for the great reception ladies!

Here is the presentation….

(The Women’s Power Circle is a networking group of women executives in the Direct Selling industry.  Leveraging their combined experience, they work together to build stronger and more successful companies.  Once a month they have a guest speaker on various topics of current or critical interest for the industry.  (If you would like to join, please email Michele McDonough at mmcdon4946@aol.com or request membership on Facebook.)

Virtual Training….A Modern Day “Must Have”

Here’s a brief article I wrote on training platforms for my friends at Direct Selling Mastery Group.  Check them out at http://www.directsellingmasterygroup.com.   (Unfortunately I was limited to 250 words.  As most of you know, that’s a near impossibility for me.  May be unfortunate for me, but the better for YOU!)

Virtual Training…A Modern Day “Must Have”

You wouldn’t treat a seasoned veteran consultant the same way you would a new recruit and vice-versa, right?  Strategic technology is a great way to meet the needs of the field at every major milestone in their development and for enhancing the growth of each individual team member.  The right technology recognizes and adapts to the consultant based on their longevity, activity level, training level and even information consumption rate.

A successful training delivery platform supports recruiting, retention and leader development through each stage in a consultant’s life cycle   It uses a more modern and consistent approach, replacing systems that often consist of disconnected emails, collections of PDFs and piecemeal videos.  The right training technology allows for the use of your content but delivered sequentially, successively and in a multi-media manner best suited to the user’s style.  Interactive assessments and accountability trackers instantly reward progress.   Tying results to an incentive or recognition program to enhance visibility and encourage participants via social media has big impact.

When you put a new consultant into a training system immediately, they not only learn the product, the selling system and the business opportunity but they learn that your company cares enough to provide the tools necessary to be successful.  They are much more connected, confident and likely to have earlier personal and economic success which naturally leads to obtaining that next level in the consultant life cycle.

Direct Selling Mastery Group
http://www.directsellingmasterygroup.com

Please take a quick survey and let me know how you are using training in your organization.  I’ll post the results here in the next couple of weeks.

Thanks!


A Mentor…Me?

It might sound strange, but I fell into mentoring out of pure frustration.

I’m a technology geek.  I just get it.  I understand computer systems, programming, infrastructure, troubleshooting, the whole works.  (I can bet some of you are already glazing over at the thought, but stick with me here.)

I inherited an interesting mix of staffers on my first official information technology job.  There was a tattooed uncontrollable systems engineer, a very young girl (she looked 12) that worked the night shift in the call center, a helpdesk technician that spoke massively broken English and 600 beleaguered and belligerent users.

Despite it all, I was ecstatic.  This was my first team and I was determined to help drive the most fabulous technology into the organization, show off my genius to the (male dominated) executive management team  and make everyone’s life just a “push button” dream.

Uhhh….well.   Reality check please!  This was a fortune 50 company, and that my friends, comes with all the bureaucracy and political back stabbing, in-fighting and ladder climbing you could ever want.  Instead of the “push button” dream I had created in my head, we were more like the Three Stooges, running frantically from place to place, bumping into each other and falling over our own feet.

One of our first major failures was when our phone switch went down.  When a phone switch goes down for a large customer service call center, it’s a M-A-J-O-R event.  Our technology was old, we didn’t have a contract and we were inexperienced.

Armed with the enormous phone switch technical manual, and a six-pack of diet Pepsi, I grabbed the call center girl, Lisa, shoved her into the switch room and locked the door.  (I locked the door so the restless natives couldn’t get in, not so Lisa couldn’t get out!)  I looked at the terrified Lisa and she looked at me.  I said….”We can do this.”

We cracked open the book and went from page to page.  I showed her how to troubleshoot.  How to take the information you know and keep refining and adding on until we hit the issue.   In the comfort of that switch room, she engaged.  She was sharp and got it.  She kept asking questions, making me think and I asked her questions, making her think.  Together, we narrowed in, found the problem and solved it.

When we walked out of the switch room exhausted but pleased,  Lisa was standing tall.  That was the day I knew she had a spark and a burning intelligence that needed a comfortable environment in which to light the fire.  She needed confidence.

For 5 years, I worked with Lisa to help her with systems administration, troubleshooting, switch programming and even switch installation.  With every project, she gained confidence and was able to stand on her own a little more.   She went from shy self-proclaimed “worker bee”   to strategic project manager and engineer.  I watched her go from hiding in the back of a room for a meeting to sitting at the table next to the big boys and holding her own in technology discussions.

Admittedly, there were a few moments along the way that I just wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her screaming “You are SMART, You are CAPABLE, you can DO THIS!”  I would wonder why I would have to say it over and over again.  Even though she knew it on the inside, she needed to hear it out loud.

Lisa is a professional Telecommunications Engineer today.  She didn’t KNOW she could understand switch technology.  She never thought she could.  That’s where I was able to help.  I showed her something she never thought she could do.

I never specifically set out to mentor Lisa, but just fell into it.  In our male dominated environment I certainly never HAD a mentor so never really considered that it might be a good idea to BE one.  But since my experience with Lisa, I truly value helping provide the confidence that allows someone to step into their zone of genius a little faster than they may have done otherwise.

Consultant Survivor

An old post….considered an “oldie, but a goodie!”   😉

So, you know how the show Survivor works??  Well… I got voted off the island last night.

The company that I was consulting for, in a bold but not unexpected move,  fired their CIO three weeks ago.  They immediately followed up with assessing and letting go of the myriad of high priced consultants one by one.  To set the stage appropriately, the now former CIO believed in a bizarre brand of “healthy competition” and hired multiple consulting firms to support (aka “fight over”)  the same projects.    There were at least 9 consulting and professional services organizations and no less than 20 consultants engaged in 3 projects for a $300m company.  That doesn’t include the 30 or so full time staffers.  (If anyone in the industry is interested, email me and I’ll tell you who all the firms were.  It’s good for a chuckle.)

In the first couple of days after the Chief made his unceremonious exit,  2 consultants from the LT tribe got cut and happily ran like hell to get on the next plane home.   The ones left behind were silently relieved and openly envious.  A few more days went by and DB and Associates got cut….a few more days after that and the TC tribe went home…..then a couple of the Q tribe just left on their own, knowing it was only a matter of time for them…. and then SS got tossed….. one by one….until only one consulting firm and two lowly consultants were left.

In the final hours….it was down to just John and I.   I pondered the irony.  I had previously begged and pleaded with my bosses to get me off the account and send me anywhere else….yes, even New Jersey.  But they wouldn’t budge.  There was much unnecessary laughter and comments about how I had to “take one for the team”.   (I never forgave them for that by the way.)   But now it was all different.  I wanted to be the last one standing triumphantly hoisting my 60 page IT Strategic Roadmap in the air.  I was relatively confident and knew I had the better skill set and experience for what they needed ….but alas, I also knew I was weak in the “relationship” department.  I tried to remember who I had pissed off last and how that might impact my chances.  Who did I need to take to lunch to atone?

In the final moments, John (brilliant in his own right) won out with better alliances and relationships.  I was overjoyed and pissed off in equal doses.  “Be careful what you wish for John!” was my final taunt as the elevator door closed on my last trip to that crazy building (which I swear was built to signal alien spaceships).

Despite it being a completely miserable 9 month experience, I guess I should be happy that I made it to the final tribal council.  Maybe I’ll get to do the talk-show circuit and then come back as the nemesis on the final challenge or as a judge in the next season.

Oh, the joys of consulting!

Paying the Bills (not.)

Paying the Bills (not.)

The Process

1.  Sat down to pay bills (ugh.)

2. Opened the computer and scanned email.

3. Saw some interesting Linkedin updates and clicked over to check.

4. Saw an interesting Twitter from an interesting person on Linkedin so clicked over to check that.

5. Twitter had an interesting reference to a cool iPad app… of course now have to go check that.

6. Open iPad and download the app. (Flipboard)

7. Read an article on Flipboard about the top ranked iPad apps for the week.  (All games…blah….)

8. Read an article on top ranked Android apps for the week.  (AHA!)

9. Find a new “must have” Android app.

10.  Use Google Goggles on the Android to take a picture of the bar code from the article on the iPad (yes…using Android to take a pic of the iPad screen.  Feels deliciously sacrilegious.)

11.  App immediately is found and directly downloaded to the Android (COOL!)

12. Now running the app (Antennas) on the phone to identify the location of all cell towers in my vicinity.

Summary: 

That was the COOLEST PROCESS EVER!!! 

But…..  was all that necessarily a good thing?  What did I really accomplish other than getting distracted from my original goal of paying the bills?   Will I ever get that wasted time back?  Will I actually pay my bills before I run out of time?  Does this speak to my inability to focus on a task at hand and the easy way I am compelled to participate in and to even relish any distraction?  I seriously have to consider whether this is a perfect example of what causes my younger staff members to be so constantly distracted and unable to accomplish even some of the simplest things.  And if that’s really the case, how do you harness the power of this multi-tasking, distracted behavior and use it for being productive and generally creating “good” in the world?  

So coming back around, it just begs the philosophical question…is this “technical gadgetry and social media” stuff, really such a good thing in our lives?  Does it improve productivity in any way?

Thinking long and hard.  My bills are on autopay.  So yes.  This is DEFINITELY THE COOLEST THING EVER!!  😉