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What I've Learned in Business So Far...

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by Artisan Fan, Mar 1, 2011.

  1. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    Well I thought I thought I might press my luck and share some accumulated wisdom with some friends here since some seemed to like the consulting discussion.

    Each day or so I will try to share some wisdom from my nearly 30 years working with businesses as a banker, CRO, risk consultant, and marketing consultant.

    My hope is that this information might prove valuable to those of you working with Fortune 2000 companies.

    Remember that this advice is free and that sometimes you get what you pay for. [​IMG]

    Alrighty then. Let's get started.

    Some great books in business:

    Blue Ocean Strategy - Great way of thinking about business growth.

    Made To Stick - Best book on business communication ever.

    The McKinsey Way - An introduction to effective consulting.
     
  2. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    Looking for Great Jobs 1. Fans (people who will recommend you highly) beat grades and firm prestige all day long. 2. LinkedIn Profiles smoke resumes in the race of candidate attention. 3. Intellectual Engagement is the best way I know to get a great job. By this I mean the common sharing of cool and well thought out ideas. 4. (Related to #2) A Personal Network is one of the most valuable things I know of. Taking the time to cultivate and keep in touch with that network pays huge dividends.
     
  3. Blackhood

    Blackhood Senior member

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    This thread could quickly become a useful blog.

    Salutes and Thanks AF.
     
  4. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    Some thoughts on selling solutions with PowerPoint: 1. Simpler is better. 2. Tell a story by describing your clients pain, what the solution is, exactly what you are going to do and why they should hire you to do it. 3. Pictures and charts are worth a thousand words. 4. Any PPT slideshow in excess of 28 slides is a form of torture. 5. Include a "tagline" at the top of each page that summarizes briefly the key point(s) on that page. 6. Anything below 14 point font size is unreadable. 7. Use high contrast lettering because often the client's projector will have out of spec colors. 8. Try to keep "key components" to less than 3 in total count. It makes things easier to remember. 9. If presenting with a group of people from different areas of the company, build a unifying framework to tie everything together in a cohesive way. This is often easier said than done but done well looks like true "thought leadership" and clients LOVE that. 10. Tie everything you are proposing to a client's pain points AND their own business metrics.
     
  5. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    This thread could quickly become a useful blog.

    Salutes and Thanks AF.


    You are most welcome. Thanks. [​IMG]
     
  6. joelmthw

    joelmthw Senior member

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    +1 on great thread. subscribed.
     
  7. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    This will not be as valuable to some here but wanted to put some spin on the usual excellent fashion advice here. Thoughts on a business wardrobe for client business meetings:

    In today's business world, nothing is so versatile as a good "power suit" and a quality but serious sportcoat. Belive it or not but often my Kiton suits stay at home and my sport coats go on the road with a quality pair of slacks. I meet with many senior leaders now and things are just not that formal any more, except for law firms and investment banks.

    Good and comfortable leather shoes are essential for meetings.

    Riva cotton or other thin high quality shirts are essential for travels to warmer weather.

    Travel with 1-2 spare shirts.

    Buy a good versatile all weather jacket like the Loro Piana Horsey Jacket. Good for rain, snow, and cold evenings.

    Avoid travel, if at all possible, to Chicago and Minnesota in Jan or Feb.

    Be wary of Delta's multiple course Business Elite meals. Before you know it you are a size 36 waist.

    Consider a Marriott rewards card - great hotels, reasonable in price, and the points accumulate.

    Need a luxury hotel? Kimpton is awesome.

    Wear driving loafers on the plane - easy to take off, comfortable, stylish. Change into better leather soles when you get there.

    Invest in either a good pair of IEMs or headphones and an iPod. Helps beat the travel blues with so many flight delays these days.

    Pack like a road warrior - a list of essential items, an extra change of clothes, but no more than you need.

    Store a good book and movie on your laptop in case you need to kill time beyond what the iPod can do for you.

    A "rollerboard" suitcase is not sexy. It is, however, the most functional luggage I know of.

    Ballistic nylon is also not sexy. It is the most durable thing I own.

    If you are well dressed, people will ignore the rollerboard and lack of leather briefcase.
     
  8. ramuman

    ramuman Senior member

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    This thread could quickly become a useful blog. Salutes and Thanks AF.
    Yup, just like his consulting thread. Thanks AF for the suggestions - I was gonna ask you for travel tips when we grab lunch, but this thread works too. [​IMG]
     
  9. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    More thoughts on travel... If you have a business meeting in another city, arrive the day before. Travel the day of, while it may impress your firm's CFO, is fraught with risks, danger, and extreme fatigue. Use the subway when in NYC and London. Cheaper but more importantly often faster. Allow more time than you think since there may be lines at the token machines. Resist the temptation to meet friends the day before a meeting. Late drinking takes an increasing toll as one ages. It takes a toll on mental sharpness no matter how young you are. Spend lots of time thinking about the client meeting especially this: Who will be at the meeting and will all the "stakeholders" I need for approval be in the audience? Often a key person will send their whole team. It can be better to reschedule and get the key person. The theory is that their team can relay the information back to the senior manager. The practice is somewhat different. Keep asking yourself if you got the client's "pain points" correct and if your solution answers their pain. If this isn't right then the meeting is not going to be worth your time. Better yet, ask the client in advance of the meeting is you got their pain points correct. That is the best insurance.
     
  10. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    Research any internal or external meetings by using LinkedIn or Google or both. The more you know, the less you need.

    The more you know about a person and their business and their personal interests, the more engaging and prepared you are.

    If there is one thing people value more than money or love, it is time. Show people you care about their time and you will gain friends.

    If you bring value to someone you may gain an internal "champion" who can cheerlead your idea or business plan.

    A wise and super successful salesperson once told me that he likes to bring 1-2 "gifts" to each and every meeting. A "gift" can be an idea or something of direct value like insight into their business for a client. This is extremely effective in my experience.
     
  11. GusW

    GusW Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I would add...

    Get in the habit of traveling with simple workout clothes and sneakers. There are few better ways to adjust to the time, changing sleep patterns and the stress of travel than with a workout.
     
  12. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    I would add... Get in the habit of traveling with simple workout clothes and sneakers. There are few better ways to adjust to the time, changing sleep patterns and the stress of travel than with a workout.
    Yes, good one Gus. AF approved addition.
     
  13. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    Those Euros you got in Paris will be worth almost nothing in London. Sterling still rules.

    That Eurostar train that goes between Paris Nord and London? Fantastic.

    Visiting Paris or London or Milan or any other major city? Nothing beats a local to help you find the genuine best places and meal values.
     
  14. eddievddr10

    eddievddr10 Senior member

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    ding! ding! ding!
    Awesome thread thanx AF!
     
  15. ramuman

    ramuman Senior member

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    Those Euros you got in Paris will be worth almost nothing in London. Sterling still rules.

    That Eurostar train that goes between Paris Nord and London? Fantastic.

    Visiting Paris or London or Milan or any other major city? Nothing beats a local to help you find the genuine best places and meal values.


    Do you have more tips on traveling within a city? I received a lot of tips on credit cards, airline programs, etc. to use from friends and folks at the company, but not much on local travel...even from home to the airport in Atlanta. [​IMG] By default I'd just get a Breeze/BART/MTA/yada yada cards when I go into a city.

    I tend to save the reloadable ones from cities I've been to, but many have crappy subways that aren't too useful...so do you have any additional suggestions on rental vs. cabs etc.?
     
  16. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    Do you have more tips on traveling within a city? I received a lot of tips on credit cards, airline programs, etc. to use from friends and folks at the company, but not much on local travel...even from home to the airport in Atlanta. [​IMG] By default I'd just get a Breeze/BART/MTA/yada yada cards when I go into a city.

    I tend to save the reloadable ones from cities I've been to, but many have crappy subways that aren't too useful...so do you have any additional suggestions on rental vs. cabs etc.?


    In Europe I tend to use cabs but since I go to Paris and London a lot, I use the subways there. I just walk in Milan for the most part. I tend to keep a MARTA card for Atlanta and a MTA card for NYC.

    I live in the Atlanta burbs so I drive to our airport on the south side of town. The subway can be useful but I find the AC is spotty and the train is slow. I'm too busy for slow subways. It's a good 45 minute ride from the North Springs station to the airport. Plus, my company reimburses $0.52 or so on the mileage.

    I did leave out one important thing:

    The Zagat Guide is more or less accurate in every global city I have been in. I buy one for each city.
     
  17. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    Paying for things overseas:

    1. Use an Amex card.

    2. Have a debit card for backup. Note: European debit cards have a smart chip so your SunTrust or BofA card may not always work in things like token machines, etc.

    3. When traveling in APAC, I got card fraud flagged while in Tokyo. What happened was the algorithm saw my legitimate Japanese charges and thought I may have been the victim of identity theft. It was a freak thing but a hassle. Took the bank two days to figure it out. Moral of the story? Always have a second or third funding option. Travelers checks are handy in an emergency.

    4. Buy as much as you can in advance. My last trip to paris, I bought the Eurostar tickets online. Very convenient.

    5. Currency exchanges? A racket. Often the ole Amex or pre-trip exchange will save you money.

    Domestic travel funding:

    6. I have a second checking account just for business travel in the U.S. Works well.

    7. Find out who your firm's car rental provider is and get a preferred card. Saves a lot of hassle and time. If things get sideways, there is a lot more than can do to keep your business and fix the problem.
     
  18. ramuman

    ramuman Senior member

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    I think if we keep AF away from CE, he's full of amazing and insightful info [​IMG]. Also, a theme I've heard is keep an Amex with a Visa 'backup'...does that sound right?
     
  19. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Senior member

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    I think if we keep AF away from CE, he's full of amazing and insightful info [​IMG].

    [​IMG]
     
  20. mintyfresh

    mintyfresh Senior member

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    Paying for things overseas: 1. Use an Amex card.
    +5 I worked overseas in Europe for a few years and AMEX offers the best customer service for those who do a lot of traveling. Before you travel, just let them know where you will be going, and you will have no issues with preemptive id-theft protection.
     

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