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Vinay Patankar

Vinay Patankar is the founder of Process Street, and the author of Abstract Living.

You can find out more about Process Street by visiting http://process.st

Vinay Patankar
You can connect with Vinay Patankar on:

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People

The Currency of Social Value

When we say the word currency most think of money, foreign exchange, ice grills or the $ sign in Ke$ha’s name. But currency is simply a medium of exchange. Coins, notes and plastic are just one form.

Time, mobility and authority are a few other forms of currency. But today I want to talk about a currency called social value.

Social value is an interesting concept – most people know it exists but few have quantified or qualified it.

Social value is what gets you into a night club, it’s what lets you dodge a ticket with the police, it’s what attracts a large crowd to your party and it’s what gets you the girl.

Social value is not only useful in social situations it also helps greatly in the world of business.

What is Social Value?

Social value can come in many forms and different people will value different forms. Below are a few:

Offering Positive Emotions by Being:

  • Fun
  • Interesting
  • Engaging
  • Exciting
  • A good listener
  • Empathetic

Offering Physical Stimulation by Having:

  • Contacts
  • Knowledge of interesting places
  • Knowledge of interesting activities

Offering Vicarious Status Through:

  • Fame
  • Power
  • Education
  • Good looks
  • Belonging to a certain ‘class’

By now you probably agree that at least a few of these can bring influence at some level. But notice none of them are material? No yachts, platinum credit cards or diamond rings – things associated with the currency of money.

So what do you do with social value?

Social value can be traded like any other currency. It can be traded for different forms of social value, for time, money, authority etc…

Examples:

If you have certain contacts that can get you into a cool party, you could ‘trade’ access to that party for the time of someone who brings interest and humour to the night.

Or if you have fame or power, you could trade that for time by having others complete menial tasks in exchange for ‘being in your presence’.

How does that Help in Business?

Social value is too big of a topic to break down in a single post but here are two examples of business use.

Situation 1: You want someone’s time

If you want someone’s time (a form of currency), you will need some form of currency to trade. Of course you could forcefully ‘take’ someone’s time by cornering them in a meeting room and chewing their ear off, but more than likely this won’t end productively.

Money will work if you want to buy something and they are providing a good or service. Authority will also work but only with people who report into to you.

But what if you are trying to sell something, gain advice or want free media exposure? Offering social value may be your only option. If you can display to the person you will be funny, interesting and a good listener who will implement the advice given – chances of booking that meeting are higher.

Situation 2: You want someone’s money

I want you to think like a middle manager in a Fortune 500 company. You have a $1 million pa budget, small change for a fortune 500. With your budget you need to purchase goods, say software and office supplies. Both software and office supplies can be obtained through many resellers, all selling the exact same product for very similar if not identical prices. So why would you choose one supplier over another? You’re not even spending your own money.

The answer is: whoever gives the most social value

The salesman who takes you out for drinks and shows you a good time. Who brings you to events and introduces you to new, useful contacts. The salesman who makes you laugh or always has the latest on your favourite sports team. That’s who you’ll buy from.

So what do I do Now?

Social value is something you should always have in mind. Are you taking more from an interaction than you’re giving? If so, you may be pissing someone off.

If you call someone to ask for help understand you’re taking a currency off them (time) and be sure to try and give some form of currency back, either now or in the future. This will ensure a healthy relationship.

What about Friends?

Glad you asked.

The currency ‘exchange’ changes greatly with close friends. Through spending time with someone and building shared experiences the exchange starts happening over longer periods of time, years instead of minutes. This is a good thing don’t worry. Please don’t stop doing favours for your friends because it’s not a fair trade.

That being said, it’s still something to keep in mind. Large inequalities in currency exchange have been the downfall of many relationships.

Pay it Forward

I learned this term the other day from reading Colin Wrights book: Networking Awesomely. Paying it forward is offering value without seeking value in return. If you’re always out giving any form of value (including social), chances are you will receive some back somehow somewhere. Colin goes into depth on this subject talking about how to give value without seeking return but at the same time not being taken advantage of.

This was a brief overview of social value. Social value is used in every relationship from romantic, family, friends & business. It’s used everyday by everybody. It’s not something that one should try and manipulate but understating its value (!) and being aware of how you interact with the world may come in useful down the line.

Have you experienced the value of social value?

Share!

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Technology

Emailing Awesomely – The Definitive Guide to Email Structure

Email is, and has been for some time an important form of communication. There are lots of tips out there on how to write emails for achieving specific outcomes. There was a great post recently on how to contact market leaders and there are many blogs on how to use email as an effective sales tool. But what about for those circumstances that are too ad-hoc, that you may not see direct value from or just don’t seem important? How do you construct your emails then? Do you have a set format you follow? Do you even need to worry about how you construct them? I think yes.

I feel every single piece of communication I have with anyone is important. Unless they are friends of more than a few years you really should be following a ‘standard’ email format for EVERY email. This is not just with business either, but with every contact you make. Whether you are talking to your accountant, looking to rent an apartment or buying a fish you should follow your standard format. Your standard email format will vary depending on who you are, what you do and what kind of first impression you’re trying to give off, in other words, your identity.

There are a few reasons I recommend having a structure to how you write your emails.

  • It gives you a fall back format if you’re unsure how to handle that particular kind of email
  • It makes your email writing quicker as once you get the hang of it, you wont have to think about how to structure your email before you start
  • And most importantly: It gives the reader an idea of what kind of person you are

Letting people know your identity, what you do and how you can help is super important. You NEVER know when someone you speak with could open up a new opportunity for you. The guy selling the fish could be your next client or boss.

You are definitely going to write many more emails (or waves) in your life, so its fair to say that writing a good email is a necessary skill and one you should take care of – if you haven’t already.

You may also be interested in this: Top Chrome Extensions for Email Optimization

What is a Good Email?

In my day I’ve had many an email discussion with people from all walks of life. Working as a recruiter, and now as an Entrepreneur means I’ve made first contact with people from the strange to the successful. I’ve had conversations with students, scholars and salesmen with clerks, caterers and CEOs and with bankers, builders and beauticians. Out of all the types of people I’ve had email conversations with, there are few that project a professional, educated and articulate image in their writing. It’s not because they’re uneducated or can’t articulate their thoughts, it’s because they don’t put in the effort or don’t think it’s important.

As a high level rule, bankers and salesmen are the best email writers. And they should be, they get trained on how to write an email. CEOs are fairly hit or miss, as are most senior managers in large non-white collar industries. Everyone else, well, they usually suck. This is good news for you tho because it makes it easy to stand out from the pack.

A good email has many variables including your identity, who you’re contacting and why you’re contacting them. But there is a constant that flows with all well written emails and that is structure. How you structure an email says lots about your personality and thus should be taken into consideration with EVERY email you write. Not just first contact.

How to structure a good email?

Below is the general structure for a well written email. I will explain in detail below.

  • Greeting
  • Pleasantry
  • How you got their details, call back and reason for email
  • Body Topic 1
    • Situation
    • Benefits
    • Call to Action
  • Body Topic 2
    • Situation
    • Benefits
    • Call to Action
  • Body Topic n
    • Situation
    • Benefits
    • Call to Action
  • Closing line
  • Signature

Greeting

The greeting is simple. If you know their name “Hi NAME,” or “Dear NAME,” will suffice. If you don’t know their name (in the instance of contacting some businesses or a seller on craigslist open with a simple “Hello,”

Pleasantry

You should ALWAYS follow with a pleasantry after your greeting. EVERYTIME without fail. Ingrain this into your fingers so that you naturally spit it out with each email you write. There is no reason ever why your email shouldn’t have a pleasantry. Even if you are criticising someone (which you shouldn’t do over email anyways) you should still have a pleasantry to give them the sandwich effect. You will never have anything to lose by adding in a pleasantry, you will make people more inclined to read the rest of your email, you will soften criticism, and will hit the positive emotions of a few. Most will simply ignore it, but for two seconds if your time, its definitely worth it.

Pleasantries can include the following:

  • I hope you’re well
  • I hope all is well
  • I hope the day/week is treating you well
  • I hope all is well since we last spoke

Once a conversation has started:

  • Thanks for that
  • Thanks for getting back to me
  • Thanks for your response
  • Thanks for your quick response

This is also the line where you can start to display some of your personality and identity. You can add in your super-awesome-fun-exclamation-mark-loving personality or your polished articulate self.

  • I’m super excited you got back to me, thanks!!!

or

  • Thank you kindly for your prompt response, it is most appreciated.

How You Got their Contact Details, Call Back and Reason for the Email

This portion of the email will vary depending on the purpose of the email and how you know the person. Use your common sense to determine what to put here but here are a few points that should cover most circumstances.

How you got their contact details

This is only necessary at the start of a conversation. But adding in a line such as “I found your details on xyz website or social media platform” gives the reader a sense of where you are coming from – this is important for first contact.

Call Back Content

If you got their contact details at a networking event, party or some other scenario where you had an interaction of some sort, built some rapport and made plans to stay in contact – this is a great place to add in what I call call back content. If you spoke about a sporting event, a ski trip, kids, whatever – add a few lines in this portion of the email. This will firstly help them to remember who you are and further built rapport. It will also give them some content to bounce off making it easier and more enjoyable for them to respond.

Reason for Email

A reason for the email should be included in every new conversation, even if you’ve spoken to the person before.

  • I wanted your opinion on xyz
  • I have a proposition/opportunity I think you may be interested in
  • I have a few things I think we should catch up about
  • I have an update on xyz project or report
  • I have some news I think you should hear

This should be brief as you will explain it further, but should give the reader an idea about what they’re in for. This is important when contacting busy people. Also, if the email has multiple topics (discussed below) outline them here.

“I wanted to give you an updated on xyz project and see if you were available to catch up with George on Tuesday”.

You may also be interested in this: Process Street the Ultimate Business Productivity Tool

Body

The body should be broken into three parts.

  • Situation
  • Benefits
  • Call to Action

You need to repeat these three parts for every topic in your email.

Situation

This is what is happening, the reason for the email in more detail and what needs to be done (basically what most people write in a normal email).

“I’ve just received the report back from John and we need you to look over it. It shouldn’t take too long, just need you to check the final figures and make sure the portions that relate to your team are worded correctly. We need it back by lunch tomorrow”

Benefits

The father of self help Dale Carnegie in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People states the only way to make someone do something is to make them want to do it. Unless we are communicating with friends, chances are we want something out of every email we send. The way you make people want to do something, is by explaining the benefits. You can always find a benefit for why someone should do something.

In the above example “I’m sorry for the short timeframe, but BOSS MAN is coming down hard on me to get this finished and your section is the last one we need.” – The benefit here is that he will either avoid getting in trouble by BOSS MAN if he does this on time, or he will get emotional gratification for getting you out of trouble with the boss.

Most interactions will have some kind of mutual benefit. If you’re trying to get a job, buy, sell or share something, chances are you have some type of value to offer. If you’re really stuck for a benefit you can always “owe them one” or “buy them a beer”.

Don’t forget to highlight the benefit.

Call to Action

Once you’ve told them what needs to be done, and what they’re getting out of it, you need to put in a specific call to action or next step.

In the above example: “Please confirm via email that you will be able to complete this for me by lunch tomorrow. If I haven’t heard from you by 4pm today, I will give you a call.”

Here are some other examples:

  • Please contact John on this number at this time
  • Please send this report here on this date
  • I will call you at 4pm on Monday to come see the fish
  • Please start this as soon as possible, I will call you on Tuesday at Lunch to see how things are progressing

This step assigns accountability, adds a timeframe and a specific follow up action to get things moving straight away without additional emails back and forth.

Remember: rinse and repeat these three steps for each topic in your email.

Closing Line

This is a simple line, almost a second pleasantry. Something like:

  • Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or issues
  • I will follow up shortly to check your thoughts
  • Thanks so much for helping me out with this
  • I look forward to your response

Signature

Finish off with your signature. This will include some kind of a:

  • Regards
  • Kind Regards
  • Thanks
  • Cheers

Plus your name and additional contact information such as phone number, website, social media profile etc.

Check out Wisestamp – an awesome free Firefox Plug-in that adds HTML signatures to any web email client such as Gmail. It includes integration and cool little icons for blogs and social media profiles.

Adding this information is important because if you’ve made a good impression in your email and sparked some curiosity it allows people to go off and find out more about you.

Conclusion

This may seem like lots to integrate into every email you write, but as I mentioned, having a structure for your emails will actually increase the speed you write them once the structure is internalised. Having this kind of structure will also give people a strong first impression. Not only that you are kind, formal, structured, put in effort and courteous – but the body will be a relief for people who deal with large volumes of emails as it is telling them exactly what needs to be done. There is nothing more annoying than receiving an email that you need to respond to asking for more information before you can action it.

I hope this helps you build an email structure – personalised to your own identity – that will lead to rewards in the future. Remember, some people will not remember when you write an email well, but they will certainly remember when you write on badly. So make it a habit to write awesome emails!

Categories
People

Networking Awesomely Review

The other day I read a book by Colin Wright called Networking Awesomely. Colin lives a truly abstract lifestyle as a location independent professional, moving to a new country every 4 months as he runs his design studio remotely. The country he moves to is decided by the readers on his blog Exile Lifestyle. In this book, Colin talks about the lessons he has learned about networking and meeting new people as he travels the world.

Review

Networking Awesomely is a guide to networking in the new world. It encompasses old school networking strategies, new school technology and a touch of awesomeness. A book perfect for both newcomers and veterans alike Colin philosophises, deconstructs and simplifies networking from every angle. A strong message to rethink the boundaries between your lifestyle, friends, business colleagues and even sexual partners – this is a book not just on networking but on life. For the more experienced you will receive at the very least a number of handy tips to network in common (and some uncommon) situations plus a refresher on many of the important life lessons once learned.

Colin incorporates lifestyle design, social dynamics, the concept of value, frames of reference and more to help build confidence, attractiveness and social skills – turning you into a natural networking machine. But don’t let the big words scare you as Networking Awesomely simplifies the lot making it an easy read for all. With stories, humour and a cheeky attitude it will be tough to put this down once you start. This book wont leave you dreaming about what could be either. Colin delivers many “do it now” tips including advice on fashion, social networking shortcuts, email scripts and business card design to get you networking awesomely right away.

Another interesting aspect to the book is the input from other bloggers. Not only is this empirical evidence of Colin’s ability to network but gives extra spice to the material. You will hear from many new world networkers about their approach, thoughts and successes from networking.

We all (should) know networking delivers exceptional value in all areas of life. A small investment to improve this skill is a no-brainer. It only takes one person to change your life. Buy it now!

You can check out the book here.

Categories
Travel

Backpacking in New York: Cheaper than you Think

backpacking new york

New York is an amazing city. Its somewhere I’ve always wanted to go and last month got to visit for the first time. My interest in business and finance kept it high on my list plus the fact it is the most used movie and TV backdrop – I’ve seen so many movies set in NYC its like I already knew the place.

There is LOTS to do in New York. Like seriously heaps. So much that I would guess 99% of New Yorkers have only done half, if that. Not only is there lots, but there is a great range, something to fit all ages, budgets and tastes.

Seeing how I visited New York as part of a larger trip, I didn’t get the rich and glamorous experience I dreamt of. I was on a budget and the expected expensive price tag of the city was somewhat of a concern. But to my surprise, it wasn’t as pricey as expected.

Below is a breakdown of my expenses while in NYC. (All prices in USD)

Transport

image

I flew into New Ark airport, which is a total dump airport in New Jersey. This airport scared me… New Ark is a hassle to get out of, but the transport is still cheap. Catch a bus for $2 then a two trains into Manhattan on the PATH train network (the subway that connects Manhattan and Jersey City) which costs $1.75.

If you’re planning to spend some time in New York, stick $10 on a Metro Card which will give you access to the NYC Subways. You get a $1.50 bonus deposit and wont have to worry about buying a ticket for the next few days.

The NYC subways are the shit (in a good way). Best transport network for a backpacker ever. They cost $2.25 a trip, there are stations every two blocks, they run all across Manhattan and the other 4 burrows 24 hours a day! Its very comforting to know you can run around the city at ridiculous times in the morning and not have to worry about how you’re going to get home.

(super cheap tip: once inside the gates of the subway station, there is no way of telling if you have paid or not. Late at night some of the side doors to the stations are open and you can walk straight in. I found this by accident as I ran for a train and someone was walking out of the door)

Accommodation

Land is the hot commodity in New York. When people say this city is expensive, they are talking about the land (and thus accommodation). There isn’t an inch of unused space. Hostels as usual will be your best bet. I stayed in a Hostel on the Upper West Side next to Central Park on Manhattan Island for $25 a night. About a 20 min walk or 5 min Subway ride to the bottom of Central Park where ‘downtown’ starts. This included a bed in a 10 bed dorm, shared bathrooms, free towels and a free continental breakfast (which I didn’t wake up in time for once..).

With this as your minimum, you can go up to thousands of dollars a night. But for example a small double room with ensuite and TV in Greenwich area can be found for about $100 per night.

Food

Food can be found everywhere for fairly cheap. There are your standard fast food options, pizza by the slice, pita (doner kebab) and hot dog stands and 24 hour sandwich-convenience-beer stores on every corner. Expect to pay $4 for a slice of pizza or hot dog, $5 for a pita wrap, $8 for a fast food meal and $3-6 for a sandwich.

For a healthier option, check out a wholefoods store. Wholefoods is a grocery store that focuses on healthy eating. But they also have a buffet and large eating area (in most stores). There is a salad, cold, hot, soup and desert bar. With over 100 options of different, pre-prepared healthy foods to choose from. You can mix and match what ever you want and they charge you $7.99 per pound. I found one of these stores half way through my stay and returned every day.

Drinks

image

Alcohol in New York (and America in general) is surprisingly cheap. If you buy from any type of corner store or supermarket, expect to pay less than $1 for a local beer. You can go even cheaper if you hit the malt liquor ‘40s’. That’s the same price as like, Thailand…

Drinking in bars can be more expensive. Head down to some of the trendy areas like Soho or Greenwich and expect to pay $5-8 for a pint. More if you’re clubbing in the Meatpacking District. But there are still some good deals to be found. If you’re on a tight budget, consider searching for the student bars. I was staying near Columbia university and found bars that had house beers for $3 a pint, $2 during happy hour. I hear there are similar steals near NYU.

On a side note, beware of going out in New York. It seriously is the city that never sleeps. You will find busy places every night of the week and can find yourself in a pattern of sleeping at 5am.

Sights

image

There are lots of free sights in New York. $2.25 on the subway will get you to most of them. Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, Staten Island Ferry, Liberty State Park (a few dollars to get the ferry over to the statue), Coney Island board walk, Times Square, Grand Central Station, Wall St and the New York Stock Exchange.

A trip up the Empire State Building to both floors and an audio guide (well worth it) will set you back about $45 and a Broadway show will cost $60-100 depending on the day and show.

The next items on your agenda should be to pick a few of the 200+ museums. New York has the most museums of any city in the world and some of the greatest collections of…. everything. A must is the museum of Natural History. The last hour is free (4:15-5:15pm I think). I went in with the plan to run through it quickly in the hour and see at least half. Upon entering I asked the lady at the front what the recommended time is to see the museum, her response: “3 days”… The place is MASSIVE. So it might be worth paying to spend a day there if you have the time. Make sure check out the dinosaurs. Biggest collection of dinosaur bones in the world.

I can’t go through all the sights in New York. There is shopping, sporting, arts, food, history and much much more. It really depends on your taste, time and dimes.

A small budget is no excuse for missing the grand New York City. You may not get the ‘celebrity’ experience but there is still plenty to do and lots to see. A must if you’re in that part of the world.

If you found this article helpful, please share using one of the buttons below. Thanks!

Categories
People

Overcoming Failure, Adversity & your Parents by Harry Potter Author

Takeaways:

  • You don’t have to let your parents influence your direction in life “There is an expiration date on how long you can blame your parents for pushing you in the wrong direction”
  • Failure is OK
  • Think about all the positives in your life
  • The value of learning from your failures and experience against the value of learning from school
  • A reminder on how lucky we are to live in a democratic society
  • The importance of giving back

Watch Video

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement from Harvard Magazine.

Categories
Technology

Blog Moving to Abstract-Living.com

As you can probably tell from the title,  I have decided to move my blog (wordplaywithvinay.com) to Abstract-Living.com. If you’ve noticed anything weird going on here over the last day or so, this is why.

I decided on this move for two key reasons:

Personal Branding

I created this blog to document my changing lifestyle and to build my personal brand. I’ve been reading lots about personal branding over the last couple of years (great simple resource to get you started is Colin Wright’s free eBook – ExileLifestyle.com). One thing I’ve found about this blog is that the domain isn’t very receptive to any keyword… there are some famous Indian dudes named Vinay and there is no way I am competing with them. Plus the domain doesn’t really give any feel to the type of blog I am trying to represent.

I have changed my personal branding page to a Posterous page with a domain of my full name vinaypatankar.com. This is already ranking second under my LinkedIn account and above my FaceBook page. I did this as more of an experiment but it seems to have paid off. I now control about half the front page of Google for the keyword “Vinay Patankar” – this blog ranks 43.

Its true that I do have a unique name which makes it easier and I was lucky that my domain wasn’t taken but its still nice to know that the front page is basically controlled by me. We are all going to have more and more of our lives posted on the internet. It is already becoming normal for potential employers to Google you. When I applied for the TEDxBKK event (which I was accepted for but couldn’t make it to) they asked me for a public online profile. Its happening so you better get used to it. At some point, some person / organisation / institution is going to post something about you on the net, be assured of it. If that happens to be a negative comment having control over the front page of Google may save you lots of stress.

Building the Blog

This hasn’t really been a serious blog. I’ve been traveling extensively and had other projects to work on. As mentioned above it was more of a personal branding thing. I have however decided to make a move to build this blog into something a little greater. It took me a while to decided exactly how to brand what I was interested in writing about. A sort of combination of travel, lifestyle design, technology, life hacking, social hacking, personal development and loads of other things. But I decided that I’m interested in these things because I am on a quest to build myself an abstract lifestyle. A life that is different form the standard template of life. A life of travel and exploration. Of failures, leanings and successes. A  minimalism empire builder. A life where I can drink with the rich, eat with the poor and dance with the nasty. A life of EXPERIENCE.

Abstract-Living will be about the things I learn on my journey of experience. Glad to see you here! M7TETTS8W5UV

Categories
Technology

Tools to Build you a New Life

I came across a post about a week or so ago by Rob at http://thelifedesignproject.com. Its an excellent collection of all the resources he’s found since starting his Lifestyle Design journey. The list includes books, blogs, and tools both functional and research based.

There are heaps tools way to many in my opinion to hit at once so I wanted to highlight a few that I like most and add in a few I use that he didn’t mention.

My Favourites:

Evernote: This tool is amazing. It allows you to manually enter notes from your PC, iPhone, Blackbery or Web Browser in voice, photo or text. It then syncs all your devices together and stores them on the web. You can search, tag, group and do a whole bunch of stuff. There is a plugin for Firefox so you can dump straight from web pages, great of off-line reading. It also has image scanning capabilities to scan text from photos of business cards or receipts. You get a free 40mb upload per month, which is loads if you mostly use text but can fill up quickly if uploading high-res images or voice.

The Google Suite: I’m not going to go through all the Google tools, but if your not using them, use a fool! Gmail, Docs, Analytics, Adwords, Calendar, Apps, Webmaster Tools, Reader, Picassa etc… I’m sure there are plenty of resources on how to make the most of these tools. They will save you loads of time and stress. Check em out.

The Four Hour Work Week: This book simply kicks ass.

Elance/oDesk: Outsourcing sites. Ebay’s for services. I haven’t tried oDesk, but I hear good things.

My Additions:

Dropbox: Dropbox is an application that creates a folder on your computer where you can save any kind of file. It then automatically syncs everything in that folder to the web, giving you a real-time backup of your files. You can access these from any web browser or from your iPhone. This app really gives me peace of mind and the great thing about it is once its installed, you don’t have to do anything! Its just like using your documents folder. plus you get 2 GB of storage for free!

Shopify: I currently run my online store using Shopify. Its a great site, really (relatively) simple to use and removes the most difficult and technical aspects (besides finding customers!) of running an online store. It has great support, loads of marking help, integration with many apps and tools such as Google Website Optimiser and Google Product Search.

LinkedIn: I talk about LinkedIn here and here. Its a great tool for personal branding, networking and marketing.

Amazon Kindle: This thing is awesome. Its an eBook reader. It allows you to store 1500 books and download new books from Amazon in over 100 countries. Bookmark, highlight and take notes, its a library in 6″. And its really easy to read. I don’t like reading books on a computer, but this is like a normal book. You can also read pdf’s and word docs on it. There is lots of hype around the iPad becoming a Kindle killer, but the iPad has 10 hours batter life and the Kindle has 7 days. Hard to compete if you want to use it to read books and not watch YouTube videos.

What are your favourite tools?

Categories
Business

How to Take a Phone Message… The Abstract Way

I’m assuming some people reading this are going to be like “wtf? does he think I’m an idiot and don’t know how to take a phone message?” but you would be surprised how many people absolutely suck at taking phone messages. Coming from an industry where the phone is king it’s amazing how many people in my office couldn’t take a decent phone message…. And seriously, it’s not that hard but it’s such an important skill to have and an effective message can make or break a deal.

There are 3 elements to a message:

  • Name
  • Contact Information
  • Reason for call

These elements are non-negotiable. If you want to add additional elements to the message, feel free, but the BARE minimum should be the above 3 points.

Name:

The persons full name, with spelling. MAKE SURE YOU GET THE SPELLING of both names! To make sure you have spelt it correctly, repeat the spelling back to them or ask them to spell it for you then repeat the spelling to confirm it is correct. This is so important and there are few things more annoying than “please call Dave on 111-222-3333”.

Contact information:

Phone number and company (or relationship to the person they are calling, friend, sister etc..). Again, make sure you repeat the phone number. You could also consider taking a secondary number (land line) and an email address.

Reason for call:

This is the big one that people usually let slide. But it’s amazing how much of a difference it can make knowing why someone is calling. If someone has started working for me and one week later resigns, and I get a call from my client saying that the person I placed has just resigned, I sure as hell want to know about it before I pick up the phone and call them back. The reason for the call gives the person who has to return the call a chance to prepare before they pick up the phone. A chance to call other people first and find out what is happening so you are not walking into a bear trap!

Delivery:

There are a number of ways to deliver a message. In my experience, the two most common are hand written and email. But I can envision social media could be a pretty good way to take messages also. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn could all be used.

My messages are always taken in email. As soon as I pick up someone else’s call, I open a new email and make the subject line “message”.

I then structure it with the above 3 points. Below is an example.

There are a few of short cuts I use, but before you start using them make sure the people you are taking messages for know what they mean. I think these are made up, I’m not sure. But you can make short cuts for certain functions that relate to your job. Off the top of my head here are a few:

RYC = Returning your call

PCB = Please call back

JE = Job Enquiry

MC = Marketing Call

Inv = Invoice related

You get the picture…

The benefits of email (besides saving the environment) is that its highly visible, instant, doesn’t get lost and is traceable. If you write your message on a post-it note or loose piece of paper then 2 hours later the person you took the message for comes up and says – why didn’t you give me that message? There isn’t much you can say in your defense.

Sorry if I hurt anyone’s intelligence with this post.

What’s the most annoying message you have ever received?

Categories
Technology

The Coolest Bachelor Pad Toy Ever!

Recently I was in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics. It was great, the city had an excellent buzz and lots of records were smashed. Canada won the most gold medals for a Winter Olympics ever, not just for the host country. They won their first gold in Canada. And of course beat the US in men’s Hockey to take home the gold. Possibly the biggest sporting game in North American history.

But aside the actual games, there was lots of other cool stuff happening. I mentioned in my earlier post about the houses showing off loads of cool virtual stuff. This was in conjunction with sponsors Sony, Acer, Panasonic and Samsung. Some of the biggest names in electronics and gadgets.

This brings me to the coolest bachelor pad toy ever. In the Russian house, which was a converted Science World, they had one of the coolest gadgets I have seen to date: Behold the floor projected indoor football field. (I don’t know who makes it or what it was called, but I assume it has a cooler name)

I’m disappointed with the turnout of my photos of this thing. It was quite difficult to catch as it naturally projects shadows, but it was seriously cool.

It’s a projector, mounted to the ceiling that displays a football field, with goals at each end and a ball in the middle. A camera (presumably infrared?) is mounted next to the projector to track interactive movements with the display. Basically, if you kick the projection of the ball on the ground, it will move. No controllers, no battery packs, no broken vases.

It’s so simple, but I can easily imagine having hours of fun with that thing. It’s like twister on steroids. Straight to the top of my Amazon (if I ever settle down again and live a normal life) wish list.