Wednesday, September 10, 2008

An Airplane Rant

The problem with airlines is they take advantage of you when they can and all with a smile. I wanted to change my flight arrangements last minute because of a business trip. I had 2 different airlines that I was working with. United and Southwest. Southwest was much better, but both were ridiculous.

First, the United story. Tomorrow I'm flying from Omaha to Denver, to Jackson Hole and back on Sunday to Omaha. I'm in California right now. I'm scheduled to get back into Omaha at 1 AM and leave at 6 AM. I figured, why not just fly to Denver and catch the 2nd flight. Or, why not just fly to Jackson Hole direct from California tonight and fly back to Omaha on Sunday. I called United to discuss "options". I was willing to pay some fee for the change in fair. Guess what the best "deal" they could get me? An increase of $1500!!!! Why, because everything had to be rebooked on same day fares. The entire trip. Event though 3 out of the 4 legs were the same if I caught the plane in Denver, the whole trip needed to be rebooked. Even if I made it to Jackson Hole on my own, the Sunday trip back had to be rebooked as a 1 way fare! What a joke. The nice guy in India that I was talking to, Neil, was very pleasant the whole time, but could do nothing. When they have you over a barrell, they sure stick it to you.

Second, Southwest. So, I'm sitting here in Orange County airport waiting for my 6 PM flight to Vegas to catch the 8 PM flight to Omaha. I had an idea...what if I caught an earlier flight to Vegas and had an 4 hour lay over there instead of OC? I could at least make a quick trip to a casino and have a little excitement. So, I went to the Southwest coutner and asked if the 4 PM flight was available. It was. I also expected to pay a change fee, I did. It was going to be $49. Perfect. But, since I was also going to Omaha, she had to rebook the entire fare and it turned out to be $195. I said I'm just wanting to go early on an plane that isn't full and it costs about the same as the whole original ticket. They said not an option. We have to rebook the whole trip. The lady was nice, and 2 other people I asked because I didn't give up, but the answer was still the same. Moronic!

So, here's my solution. Airlines should offer reticketing memberships. If you purchase an annual membership, you're allowed to rebook at any time provided there is room on the plane and pay a small incremental fee, not the new fare. The only problem will occur when there isn't room on the plane, then you're just out of luck. But, if they can accodate you, and your a paying rebooking member, then you can rebook at a flat fee, not the current ticket price. Sounds too simple doesn't it. They can charge different memberships with different priveleges and this may become an additional profit center and customer retention tool.

Let me know if you have any good ideas for the airline industry to improve their value and service to us helpless flyers.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Does the Omaha Chamber support Entrepreneurs???

As we were filming a video on Mortgage Pledge and its history we realized it has a great tie into Omaha at many levels. We thought as we took it national it would be great to have an Omaha leader speak about it to really help give Omaha some kudos. So we asked the Chamber to have Dave Brown speak in our Mortgage Pledge launch video. We thought it would be a good thing for Mortgage Pledge and Omaha to have him participate because of the ties between the two. This was an excerpt from the email we sent him with our potential talking points:

  • Mortgage Pledge
  • The idea came from my year with the Leadership Omaha program. That program strives to get local leaders more involved in the community. I decided to use my entrepreneurial talents to come up with a way to create sustainable giving streams for any community through Mortgage Pledge.
  • Omaha is a city with great ties to philanthropy. The Omaha Community Foundation has agreed to facilitate the giving for Mortgage Pledge nationwide.
  • Mortgage Pledge is an example of social entrepreneurship inspired by community involvement. Mortgage Pledge and Omaha can be catalysts for more social entrepreneurial ventures.
  • Something along these lines would be good. Not certain what else might work.
This was the Chamber's response:

  • David Brown and his assistant, Alecia, asked me to connect with you about the videotaping request. I am trying to do research and I'm hoping you can help. I'm sending to all of you because you're listed on the various emails. Unless I am missing something (and I might be), David doesn't seem to know anything about this project. The email traffic I've seen doesn't have enough information for me to suggest he participate in this project - only a few comments about social entrepreneurship. I am not sure what you need from him, the purpose of the video production or why you want him to participate. I did check out the Mortgage Pledge Web site and have talked briefly with Sarah Boyd at the Community Foundation.

  • Based on what little information I have now, I'm not comfortable with David's involvement in a video and will have to decline your request for participation at this point in the project.

  • Karla Ewert
  • Vice President-Communications
This was my response:

  • Karla, I am a little upset with your response for the following reasons:
  • 1 I am an Omaha business person trying to start a grass roots business in Omaha. I would think the Omaha Chamber of Commerce would be in support of such a venture because of the potential benefit to Omaha. Especially a venture that has the potential national reach and recognition.
  • 2 I developed the idea for Mortgage Pledge initially during my time with Leadership Omaha, a Omaha Chamber of Commerce program. It was there I gained an appreciate for Community Leadership and the idea of giving back to communites.
  • 3 We reached out to David for an opportunity to promote Omaha in our Mortgage Pledge launch video. So that Omaha could be represented properly as a city that supported Social Entrepreneurial ventures, community leadership, and the new venture creation.
  • While I understand that David's time is valuable and that promtion of a fledging start-up Omaha Social Entrepreneurial Venture may not be a top priority, it is these very types of companies that fuel our local economies and make jobs for our city.
  • I have been a member of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce during my tenure as founder and President of Homesmartz. In fact, we were recognized by the chamber as the 7th fastest growing company in Omaha just a few years ago. Although at the time, David was not at the Chamber, I would think members there would still recognize the fact that I've been involved in business in this community for quite some time.
  • Although I disagree with your assessment of whether David should be involved or not, I will respect your decision. Mortgage Pledge will be a successful Omaha venture with our without the support of the chamber.
  • Joe Frost
  • Chief Go-Giver
So, does the Chamber support Entrepreneurs or am I just a little sensitive? Please let me know.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I live in La La Land

So, someone just told me that some people think I live in La La Land. I'm wondering if that is a good thing or a bad thing. I know it was meant as a bad thing from the person that said it, but I'm wondering if I'm bad for appearing as if I'm in La La Land. I'd like to hear what you think.

Here's why. I choose to have a completely, freaky, positive attitude about most everything. Even in the face of many obstacles and challenges, I choose to believe in the dream - the vision - that everything will work out for the best. I don't let bad things weigh me down. I shrug off doubt and criticism. I choose every day to focus on the positive. To be happy even when I'm unhappy. I think I may be narcisistic and/or I have a large ego to be able to do this.

Now, what this does is make people think that I don't care about the obstacles and challenges. That I don't take them seriously. That I'm not focused on reality. That I'm avoiding the day to day issues. That I live in La La Land. Well, they may be correct.

But is it a bad thing?

I don't know sometimes, but I do know I feel better every day focused on a brighter future and enjoying the happy things in my life than dealing with the bad things and worrying about what the future will bring.

Am I crazy? They say mental illness begins in your early thirties. I might be delusional. I might be overly optimistic. I might be in La La Land (is that how you spell it?).

Let me know your thoughts. I'll dismiss them if they're critical and enjoy them if they're enabling (that's the other thing I was told today - that people around me enable me to live in La La Land).

Sunday, August 17, 2008

GivingReturns: The new Giving Returns

GivingReturns: The new Giving Returns

The new Giving Returns

I had what is sometimes called an AHA moment last Friday talking/tweeting with Jeff Slobotski (@jjsnyc on twitter). It goes something like this:

Giving Returns could become an online community for people interested in collaborating on Social Entrepereneurial Ventures aka Creative Capitalism aka Social Ventures aka Cause Marketing or what I call Community Capitalism - businesses that integrate a giving component in their plan. But, it would be more than just a blog - a social network and profit center with profits going back to the investment in Community Capitalist projects.

The online community would allow for people to share ideas about their business and the community aspect to it. It would be completely open source so those that shared would get feedback and ideas from anyone interested. The collaboration would lead to improved ideas and utltimately could help with implementation and execution.

Giving Returns could request that any idea/business that benefitted from the community would give back to Giving Returns. One idea is that Giving Returns could become an angel fund of sorts for Community Capitalists to go to for seed capital on their ideas. Giving Returns would then take a piece of the equity in hopes of creating larger returns eventually to the fund for future investment.

Giving Returns would be a grass roots social network made up of individuals that cared about Community Capitalism and wanted to make a difference.

Questions - what type of site should it be ... blog, wiki, Ning, other?
How would we get the word out to quickly and simply?
Should it be non-profit or for-profit?
Should we promote and sell community capitalist products/services -
Any other feedback or thoughts?

I hope we can get some momentum around this new ideas with @jjsnyc, @dustyd, and @secos taking the lead so we can get something new out to the public soon!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Rest of the Go-Giver Story

Time does fly by. I had every intention of more regular posts on the Go-Giver 5 Laws of Stratospheric Success. But, here I am feeling guilty and not being able to sleep because I haven't posted anything in awhile. There's a lot I haven't been able to do lately that is also keeping me from sleeping. Nonetheless, this is my opportunity to continuing to Give Back by making the time to blog. So, I've summarized the 5 laws below and will wrap up my take on the last 3 laws.

1. The Law of Value:
Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than take in payment.

2. The Law of Compensation:
Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.

3. The Law of Influence:
Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interest first.

4. The Law of Authenticity:
The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.

5. The Law of Receptivity:
The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.

I wrote about my applications of Laws 1 and 2 in my prior posts. Now, I want to share my applications and results from Laws 3, 4, and 5.

Over the last 6-8 weeks I've been working with Insured Title Agency in St. Louis and Tampa Bay to launch Mortgage Pledge in their markets. I've had the opportunity to be in a position of influence by speaking to many groups of Realtors, Mortgage Companies, and other Affinity Partners in these cities. I've taken this opportunity to not self-promote myself, Mortgage Pledge, or my agenda. Rather, I've taken this opportunity to help Insured Title Agency's business develop in these markets. My approach has been simple. I'm hear for you. You tell me how I can help you utilize Mortgage Pledge to enhance your relationships and your business. I've also taken this approach in our group meetings by sharing the story of Tom's Shoes with all the participants. Law 3 in action. The response has been terrific and the excitement about Mortgage Pledge is building as a result.

I've also been modifying my presentation on Mortgage Pledge to each group by adding more stories about my personal experiences and motivations for starting Mortgage Pledge. The feedback from the participants has been terrific. In fact, based on one of the Insured Title Agency reps in Tampa, I even revised my company's values to include the value of Sincerity. In a discussion with Kerry in Tampa, we determined that this is the core principal behind the success of Mortgage Pledge. Sincere members of the network believing in the concept of giving back as a means to enhance their communities and their business. She noted that when I presented my stories, my sincerity is what excited her most about the program. Law 4 in action. The result has been a stronger message and buy in.

Finally, the most amazing things have been happening with Mortgage Pledge recently. Robyn in St. Louis had an opportunity to talk with Senator John McCain about Mortgage Pledge. This came about because of a discussion with the owner of Tom's Shoes. Tom's Shoes has expressed a firm commitment in being a partner with Mortgage Pledge to work together to co-market and grow both our cause-based businesses. Greenwala and Mortgage Pledge are in discussions about co-marketing our cause-based businesses together. Mortgage Pledge has an opportunity to present to VISA about a national affiliation...and I fully expect this type of Karma to continue. Law 5 in action! The results speak for themselves.

Go-Give and experience it for yourself!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Go-Giver Law of Compensation

In my last post about the book, The Go-Giver, I mentioned I was going to implement the 5 laws of Stratospheric Success over the next 5 days beginning with the Law of Value.  Well, I started Friday and skipped Saturday and Sunday, so I'm revising my commitment to the next 5 "business" days.  Tomorrow I'm going to focus on the Law of Compensation:

Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.

I have an opportunity to meet with a real estate team tomorrow morning about Mortgage Pledge and then spend the rest of the day with my family at an EO Nebraska family event.  I'll let you know how my commitment to serve works in a future post.  But now, I'll share with you my experience regarding Law 1 on Friday.

On Friday I had 3 business meetings and I set out to implement the Law of Value.  I have to be honest I struggled thinking how I could give more in value in these different meetings.  1 was a meeting with co-workers on a Real Estate project.  1 was a meeting with prospects on a Mortgage Pledge opportunity, and 1 was a meeting with a banker that I needed money from.  How do I give more in value in each of these different meetings where I'm a co-worker, sales person, and prospective borrower???

Well, I'm not sure I succeeded 100% in giving something of more value to each party, but by preparing myself for each meeting with this outcome in mind, I found myself looking for ways to give value, rather than focusing on more selfish outcomes.  It reminded me of an old sales lesson I learned called "the Ben Duffy" approach.  You can find more details in this article, Win Win Selling, along with other great sales tools I learned years ago that still work. 

Ben Duffy was a salesperson that was trying to land a big Tobacco account (yes cigarettes).  Well, rather than focus on putting together his sales pitch and presentation to Wow the prospects, he sat and listed all of the questions that he would have if he were the prospect.  He then took the time to answer each one honestly and completely.  The next day before the meeting, he shared his list of questions and answers with the prospect and ended up winning a multi-million dollar account against much larger, more seasoned, advertising agencies.  In the end, the prospects told him it was his approach of putting himself in their position and leading with his list of questions and answers that set him apart.  In my opinion, Ben Duffy's empathy, is an example of the Law of Value. 

Let me know what you think!