Changing Tracks

2013_bcom_lassonA recent study found that millennials in this country, between the ages of 18 and 30, switch jobs on average every two years. By comparison, members of Generation X typically spend about five years with each employer, and baby boomers spend about seven, according to the study. There are ostensibly many variables to be considered, including how one defines both career and change.

People change careers or jobs for several reasons, which are beyond the scope of this article. Here are my seven strategies for individuals confronted with this reality:

Up-skilling: Tapping a trusted mentor will give you an objective reality check to assess your professional situation and suggest new directions. If you have a specific career change that requires additional training, identify what that training is. How much will it cost, where do you obtain it, and how long will it take? For some, the investment of time and resources will be significant. Some training will merely require obtaining a skill or certification.

Stepping back: It might be necessary to take a step or two back. This will often be in terms of compensation. To do this will likely require buy-in from family members as well as financial assistance. Hopefully, the potential payoff will be improved compensation or overall quality of life. This will require a decent dose of humility, often setting aside previous accomplishments in exchange for an entry-level opportunity doing something new.

Networking: Always develop and maintain your professional and personal networks. You never know when they will come in handy.

Portable skills: Portable skills are taking what you’ve learned and showing a new employer or sector how they can be of value here and now.

Flexibility vs. focus: While these two terms sometimes mean the opposite of one another, career changes need to make them complementary. New situations will always require change. This could mean stepping out of your comfort zone, geographic relocation or logistic and scheduling adjustments. Focus means not just offering to do “anything” for the new employer. Propose specifics on how you will leverage your portable skills to add value to the organization.

No baggage left behind and that you are in the game: You must show that you have moved on from your previous job, employer or career.  This means both literally and emotionally. No (potential) employer wants to hear about things in your rearview mirror that are disconnected from the new job. This includes complaining about the past or waxing nostalgic about it. Furthermore, through your evolving knowledge base, skills and interests, you must be able to demonstrate that you are relevant to your new career.

Self-promotion and entrepreneurial spirit: When networking, whether on your resume and during interviews, you need to be able to communicate those accomplishments in which you played a role. When striving for visibility and name recognition, it is not the time to be overly humble.

Elliot D. Lasson, Ph.D., is executive director of Joblink of Maryland, Inc.

When Making a Sale Might Not Be Logical

Which triggers more sales, emotion or logic?

Conventional marketing wisdom would lead us to believe that more customers make purchases based on emotion. But according to a study of 311,000 people, conventional marketing wisdom is wrong. This study, illustrated in Doug Hall’s “Meaningful Marketing,” shows that 44 percent of people are actually left-brained and follow logic and reason in their decision-making. Only 28 percent are right-brained and guided by emotion. The remaining 28 percent are whole-brained and use both logic and emotion to guide them.

Knowing this, sales can be approached from three vantage points:

•To left-brained individuals through logic and reason

•To right-brained individuals by building relationships

•To whole-brained individuals with a hybrid solution encompassing a little of both.

You won’t know immediately whether logic or emotions will guide your customer’s buying decisions. Unfortunately, there is no left/right/ whole brain scanner for customers.

It’s up to you to determine with whom you’re dealing by listening closely to potential customers.

Tips for selling to left-brained customers:

• Use Comparisons: Make side-by-side comparisons between your products and services and those of your competitors.

• Recognize how smart the customer is: They’ve done their homework and deserve acknowledgement.

• Don’t duck a punch: Left-brainers can usually see through a smoke screen.

• Be prepared and on time: Think old-school sales. Dress appropriately, stay on topic, and be ready to answer tough questions.

Tips for selling to right-brained customers:

• Build a relationship first: The hard no-nonsense sell won’t work.

• Be passionate, energetic and enthusiastic: Regardless of what you’re selling, how you sell it is important.

• Know their personal likes and dislikes: Right-brainers like to share their thoughts and their stories. Pay attention.

• Use emotional hot buttons: Appeal to their desire to look good, save time and money.

Whole-brained individuals are people who can see both the logical and rational side, as well as feel the emotional aspects of a situation. They can quote the specs, but then decide they simply don’t feel right about the color. You need to be able to appease both sides of the brain to these folks.

Tips for selling to whole-brained customers:

• Show both the rational and the emotional: Provide the facts while also relating on an emotional level. Be flexible.

•  Follow their lead: Whole-brainers look at how a product works, but they also envision how it will make them feel in the future. Give them your feedback.

• Be honest: Stand behind what you know, and be open about what you do not know. Whole-brainers can see through false promises and sales pitches.

• Use testimonials: People buy for all sorts of reasons, which will show up in testimonials. Some buy for logical reasons, some for emotional reasons and some for both. Testimonials can lend credence to all sales decisions.

If you know how your customer’s mind works, you’ll vastly improve your chances of making a sale.

Jon Goldman is president of Brand Launcher and a board member of Jewish Entrepreneurial Trust (JET). To learn more about JET or to get involved, contact info@jetbaltimore.org.

‘Slow and Steady Wins the Race’

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David Nevins is
celebrating 30 years as head of his own company.

David Nevins admits the public-relations industry has evolved dramatically over the past 30 years. With the advent of social media, high-speed Internet and the 24-hour news cycle, a public-relations firm has many more bases to cover to get its clients sufficient exposure.

Nevins, 58, sat down recently with the JT to discuss his firm, Nevins & Associates, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, the state of the media and his recent selection as president of The Center Club.

JT: How did you get started in the public-relations/marketing industry?

Nevins: I thought I would get into higher-education administration. My first job was at Towson University as an assistant to the president. He
encouraged me to get a master’s
degree in higher-education administration. Ultimately, I ended up as the school’s marketing director.

What came next?
Joseph Meyerhoff recruited me to do marketing for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. After working for both of those high-profile organizations, I had several people approach me about going into business for myself. Two members of the BSO board promised me their business. Nevins & Associates was born, albeit without an associate initially. I haven’t looked back. Today, we have 17employees, and many have been with me almost since the beginning.

How have you persevered during the tough economic times?
I had a friend who once said, “Every decision they made was perfect. Unfortunately, the world kept changing.” I think that applies to us. We’ve been incredibly fortunate. We never grew too quickly — I’m a conservative investor. We believe that slow and steady wins the race, which has allowed us to persevere during down times. … That strategy has served us well for 30 years.

How has the industry evolved in the past 30 years, especially with the advent of social media?
The execution has changed, thanks to social media and computers. The Internet and the speed of communication have dramatically changed the game. What hasn’t changed is an organization’s goals and objective. We stress with almost all of our clients … traditional media outlets. People have not given that stuff up. They have added to it. The Internet has not replaced the newspaper; it has enhanced it. The Baltimore Sun and the Baltimore Jewish Times are no longer in the newspaper business; they are in the news business and still very valuable in the community.

On top of that, we’re also about Facebook and Twitter and blogging and email blasts. But these are enhancements, not replacements, of traditional media.

I think the combination of an older guy and a bunch of younger employees serve our customers well, because we make sure we don’t miss anything and use a comprehensive strategy to achieve their business objectives. I know the importance of social media in the world today, but I have experts to take the lead on it.

Does being a smaller company make it easier to adjust with the times?
Absolutely. We are lean and mean.

Are you still enjoying the ride?
The whole business has been great, and the best part is that I’ve been able to combine my work with my interests, such as education and politics including the chance to sit on the University System of Maryland Board of Regents.

What does it mean to be the newest president of The Center Club?
I’m a big believer in networking. You can’t do anything on your own in this world. You want to develop champions for your cause, and we all need mentors; those who think they don’t are just flat wrong.

The Center Club is Maryland’s premiere social organization that promotes the business community and economic development in Baltimore. It has 2,000 members who represent the area’s largest companies, as well as young, upwardly mobile business, political and educational leaders.

I view it as a great honor to work with an outstanding board of directors, made up of the region’s top leaders, and to advance the club. Obviously these are challenging times for any organization like that. When I was recruited to the BSO, Mr. Meyerhof took me to The Center Club and I looked around and saw this incredible view of Baltimore and liked what I saw; I even saw Mayor [William Donald] Schaefer dining there that day. Now 30 years later, I’m the president of the club, which is special to me. There’s an opportunity to make it bigger and better.

What would you tell others seeking a similar path as a business owner?
I didn’t start Under Armour with 6,000 employees, but I have 17. It’s a misnomer to say that I or anyone in my position are our own bosses. Frankly, we have 40 some clients, and they are all our bosses. In many ways, we have way more bosses than others do. … At the same time, I have a responsibility that I never forget. I have 17 people who depend on me and this business for their well-being. And … I rely on them.

I feel the pressure every minute of every day, but it’s not a burdensome feeling because we enjoy what we are doing.

Ron Snyder is a local freelance writer.

Do You Know What Your Customers Are Saying About You?

brian_sacksShould you care what others are saying about you? And, if you know, what do you do about it?

These are all questions that you must know the answers to if you want to make sure you are successful in today’s world. Your reputation follows you everywhere, especially online.

Recently, a friend of mine shared this story. He has been visiting the same repair shop for over 30 years. He has three cars and each of them needs regular maintenance and service. He needed new tires, so he went online to do some research. In his mind, he was going to determine what kind of tires he needed, get an estimate of the price, and then have them installed at his usual repair shop. He went to Google and typed in “tire.”

Since Google already knew your location, it will automatically provide you with the closest businesses, which in this case was the shop he intended to go to. He was shocked by what he saw — numerous nega-tive reviews. He read the horror stories of past customers. Even though he’s never had a bad experience, he didn’t feel the same anymore. So instead of going to his usual store, he purchased all four tires from a national chain for a total of $932.43.

The bad news for this repair shop was not that they just lost a $900 sale, they also lost him as a customer — all of his future business.

Here is some food for thought:
• 62% of people read online reviews before making a decision to buy.
• 72% trust these reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
It doesn’t matter if it’s true. It only matters that your customers, and
potential customers, see it as true.

Here is what you can do about it:
1. Find out what people are saying about you. We’re offering JT subscribers a free evaluation report. Visit mywebreputationreport.com.
2. Start managing your reputation.
3. Start monitoring what is being said about you online.
4. Start creating systems that generate five-star reviews.
5. Market those five-star reviews on all of the influential sites online. You must have at least 10 reviews for a rating to appear.

Brian Sacks is a mobile marketing expert with over 26 years of direct response marketing experience. He is the co-founder of Trackable Response, Inc., a mobile and web design marketing firm based in Catonsville. Trackable Response built JT’s new website. Learn more at trackableresponse.com.

Is Your Business Worth a $100,000 Investment?

Even if you’re not seeking funding and have no plans to sell, you still want your business to be investment-worthy. Here’s why:

An investment-worthy business is an asset. It produces a better product, gives you more freedom and generates more buzz among your followers. If you can’t convince someone that it’s worth it to invest $100,000 in your business, there is something wrong. If your business is not an asset, you’ve got a glorified job.

Here are six strategies to make your business investment-worthy (with the help of Kevin Harrington, an American entrepreneur and business executive who has appeared on the American TV show “Shark Tank”).

Illustrate transformation. Just like the popular before-and-after photos you see for weight-loss products or for acne treatments, you need to be able to illustrate how your product or service makes a transformation.

Show drama in your presentation. Can you visualize your idea? I use what I call the Sharpie test. If you can’t draw it on a piece of paper, then what you are selling will not be crystal clear to potential investors.

Have proof of your concept. Is there research or clinical studies that support the claims that your product or service works? We’ve all heard commercials stating that “four out of five doctors agree” — now you need to have some evidence from those four doctors.

Include testimonials. No one believes the promises they hear on commercials anymore. Therefore, you need a reason to believe. This is where testimonials are so important. They are, in essence, real people and real businesses giving your products and services validation.

Highlight the strengths of your leadership team. Technology notwithstanding, business is still about the people behind the logo. In fact, many investors bet on the jockey.

Make sure your business is scalable. Investors want to see that a business has growth potential. If you’ve already peaked, the value of the business will diminish. Look for ways in which you can re-launch your business to show growth potential.

You don’t need to be an expert sales person if your business is worthy of investor interest. Like those impressive hardwood floors and granite countertops that you put in your home to increase its value, your business can be an asset if you know what would make it appealing to investors. Growth potential, strong leadership, solutions to problems, and a business that gives customers a reason to believe are among the selling points that add value.

Even if your company is not about to be acquired by a corporate giant, you still want your business to be an investor-worthy asset because creating value enhances your brand, and because customers are drawn to something of value.

Jon Goldman is president of Brand Launcher and a board member of Jewish Entrepreneurial Trust (JET). To learn more about JET or to get involved, contact info@jetbaltimore.org.

Understanding the Language of Investing

Recently in the community, I hosted a financial awareness breakfast for community youth ranging in age from 18 to 30. The program was held at the newly renovated Knish Shop party room and was an eye opener for those in attendance. The seminar covered such topics as saving for retirement, and the time value of money. Better than timing the market is time in the market.  Along with guest speaker Neal Lee of Advisors Asset Management, we conveyed to all in attendance the importance of financial responsibility and planning for the future, from an early age.

An outcome of the seminar was the request for more education on the financial planning, as well as to enlighten and prepare others, regardless of age and wealth, with a quick reference of some key terms and definitions. Below are just a few of the most common terms you may hear.

Asset Class:  Used for categorizing different types of investments. There are basically three asset classes:  stocks, bonds and cash.

Asset Allocation: The process of selecting and blending investments from different asset categories to reduce investment risk and reach long-term investment goals.  This refers to how much of your money you put into stocks, bonds and cash equivalents.  Proper allocation keeps your money spread over different types of investments, so if one particular type is struggling, the other types could still be doing well. Although it will diversify your portfolio, asset allocation does not protect against fluctuating markets or uncertain returns.

Diversification: The process of deciding what mix of investments to own within each asset category. Diversification helps you spread your investments out even further. Owning stock in companies from a wide variety of industries, for example, puts you in position to see possible benefits from moves in different sectors of the economy.

Dividend: When a company decides to share profits with investors, it usually pays a dividend to stockholders. The company’s board of directors decides when these payments are made, and how much they’ll be.

Exchange: A system for the organized trading of securities. There are several major exchanges in the United States, including the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange and Chicago Board Options Exchange. Several regional exchanges throughout the country also trade securities.
Over-the-counter (OTC): A highly sophisticated communications network on which dealers trade securities that are not listed on any exchange. All government bonds and all other nonlisted stocks and bonds are traded on the OTC network.

NASDAQ: An electronic information network that provides brokers and dealers with current price quotations on many actively traded over-the-counter securities.

While understanding these terms should help give you a good start, there is plenty more to learn about the world of investments. Another great way to educate yourself is to speak with someone who is well versed in the language. A financial advisor can take the time to explain what everything means, and help you make decisions about how to meet your own personal needs.

Harry Spar is a financial advisor with Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Member SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer and a separate non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

First and Lasting Impressions

2013_bcom_lassonOne of the adages that has become a mantra of mine is that “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Portraying oneself in a professional, reasonable and polite way is really a minimum for creating an effective professional persona.  During the summer months, many students are seeking out internships or requesting informational interviews.  Of course, making a positive impression is not limited to students or young people.  Regardless of age, educational level or years of experience, these same tips apply. First impressions are hard to shed. And keep in mind, the impression you make on one key professional connection, will likely be conveyed to others.

The following are my five social skills, for in-person and digital, which will help put you on a favorable track.

1. What’s in a name?: When making a cold call to someone whom you have never met, always introduce yourself by name to the other party.  Jumping into just saying what you want is not a soft opening.  Sort of like knocking on a door before walking in on someone.  Yes, I know that everyone today has Caller ID.  But, it’s not perfect. And besides, the goal here is not just for the person to know your name (or the name of whomever is paying for your cell service), but to put your best foot forward. In some cases, your elevator speech will come in handy.

2. TMI? Don’t be all over the place.  Get to the point and stick to content that is relevant to your objective or “ask.”  In most cases,
your life story and any challenges you might be having at the moment are usually not of relevance to professional contacts.

3. Emails: At the start of the email, always use the recipient’s name, either first name or title, followed by last name at the beginning of all emails.  Use a subject line and make sure that you have not recycled an old email for convenience reasons just to snag the person’s address.  If this is a new context, first introduce yourself and indicate a context including anyone who may have connected you.  Your email address should be professional and neutral and your first and last name should appear in the from box.  Before you hit send, make sure that all proprietary, personal, extraneous or potentially embarrassing content at the bottom of your email is purged.  It goes without saying that spelling errors, grammar mistakes, formatting abnormalities, or an overly informal tone might not play well here.

4. Be punctual: This applies to in-person meetings or phone calls.  First, it’s about respecting the time of others.  Secondly, it gives the other person a sense of when you will show up if he/she goes to bat for you and recommends you for an interview.

5. Be gracious: In most cases, you are asking for something.  In all cases, you are being given time. Respect that time and recognize it with your gratitude, during and after. Leave any sense of entitlement for that person giving you a job or referring you to others, at the door. After a meeting or phone consult, it is always good form to send some sort of appropriate follow-up email or phone call. Doing this will convey your gratitude and is somewhat normative professional behavior. But, more than that, it will help to put you back on the radar screen of that person, moving forward.

Elliot D. Lasson, Ph.D., is executive director of Joblink of Maryland, Inc.

Har Sinai VP Graduates From ACHARAI

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Joseph
DeMattos

Joseph DeMattos, president and CEO of the Health Facilities Administration of Maryland (HFAM) and first vice president of Har Sinai Congregation in Owings Mills, graduated from the ACHARAI Fellows Program at the Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Institute in May. ACHARAI’s mission is to enable community leaders to be more informed, thoughtful and effective in the Jewish community.

Komrad Is Health Professional of the Year

The National Alliance on Mental Illness, Metropolitan Baltimore recently bestowed Dr. Mark Komrad with the Frances J. Lentz Mental Health Professional of the Year Award. This award is given to a mental health professional who reaches beyond the requirements of his or her profession to improve the lives of consumers and their families.

Dr. Komrad received his award on July 18 at the organization’s annual meeting and awards dinner

Kernan Hospital Now UMD Facility

Kernan Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Hospital will be known as the University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopedic Institute, reflecting its growing prominence in innovative and collaborative research to advance patient care, strong ties to the University of Maryland and continued commitment to the highest-quality patient-focused care.

The hospital specializes in advanced rehabilitation services and state-of-the-art technological and surgical approaches to help patients recovering from trauma and stroke, as well as spinal cord, brain and other injuries.