Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Never stop innovating!

Paul, the other half of Serious Vanity Music (who also happens to be my husband), is an avid bicycle enthusiast. I've stopped keeping track of how much money we've saved in the last several months due to his replacement of the car for short trips, like to our neighborhood market. I, on the other hand, enjoy an afternoon ride on my single-speed around the block, but am less inclined to use it for longer distances (he keeps saying this will change once my endurance is up, and I'm hoping he's right!).

Still, my feelers go up when I see anything bike-related in the news, so I got extra-excited to show him the new concept bikes featured at (thanks to The Park Bench for the link).

Looking at these designs are really inspiring. They may not always be practical, but they are always interesting. I mean, what could be more basic than the design of a bicycle? Yet, every year, designers, engineers, and inventors always find a way to come up with new innovations that take that basic design to a whole new level, whether they have a user in mind for the end product, or are just trying to prove a design point.

How can this apply to your business, be it a product or a service? Are you taking your concept to the next level, challenging yourself, your craft, or your design? What new end-user could you attract with a new take on an old favorite?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Some great words from Brian Tracy!

I recently discovered some great Brian Tracy finds at, of all things, a rummage sale. So for a less than a cup of coffee, I attained some great personal and business development tools. You can't beat that!

I wanted to introduce you (if you weren't already aware of his work) to this prolific speaker and motivator.

Intrigued? Check out Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. I found it to be a great starting place in his huge library of work.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Quantity to Quality and Accountability Partners

I really love this series with NPR's Ira Glass because it can apply to not only journalism or broadcasting, but ANY creative or business field.

Essentially, to obtain high quality in your work, you must first emphasize quantity. You must practice, practice, practice! The more you do something, the better you get at it.

I also love the encouragement here to find an accountability partner. This person can be a friend, a colleague, or someone else in another business that you're returning the favor for! I've seen the concept of accountability partners work on so many great levels in both business and art. It's definitely a motivator!

So, without further explanation, enjoy!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Power of Asking; 7 Ways to Boost Your Business

I love, love, LOVE Jack Canfield, (his book The Success Principles(TM): How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be is a constant reference), and wanted to share with you today a really great article he wrote about the power of asking. In most of our cultures, it's not something we're encouraged to do, but really, it's the only way to get what we want! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

The Power of Asking; 7 Ways to Boost Your Business
by Jack Canfield

The gift called “asking” has been around for a long, long time. One of life’s fundamental truths states, “Ask and you shall receive.” Kids are masters at using this gift, but we adults seem to have lost our ability to ask. We come up with all sorts of excuses and reasons to avoid any possibility of rejection.

Yet the world responds to those who ask! If you are not moving closer to what you want, you probably aren’t doing enough asking.

Here are seven asking strategies you can implement in your business (and in life) to boost your results and your bottom line:

Asking Strategy #1: Ask for Information

To win potential new clients, you first need to know what their current challenges are, what they want to accomplish and how they plan to do it. Only then can you proceed to demonstrate the advantages of your unique product or service.

Ask questions starting with the words who, why, what, where, when and how to obtain the information you need. Only when you truly understand and appreciate a prospect’s needs can you offer a solution. Once you know what's important to them, stay on this topic and find solutions for them.

Asking Strategy #2: Ask for Business

Here’s an amazing statistic: after giving a complete presentation about the benefits of their product or service, more than 60 percent of the time salespeople never ask for the order! That’s a bad habit, and one that could ultimately put you out of business.

Always ask a closing question to secure the business. Don’t waffle or talk around it—or worse, wait for your prospect to ask you. No doubt you have heard of many good ways to ask the question, “Would you like to give it a try?” The point is, ask.

Asking Strategy #3: Ask for Written Endorsements

Well-written, results-oriented testimonials from highly respected people are powerful for future sales. They solidify the quality of your product or service and leverage you as a person who has integrity, is trustworthy and gets the job done on time.

When is the best time to ask? Right after you have provided excellent service, gone the extra mile to help out, or in any other way made your customer really happy.

Simply ask if your customer would be willing to give you a testimonial about the value of your product or service, plus any other helpful comments.

Asking Strategy #4: Ask for Top-Quality Referrals

Just about everyone in business knows the importance of referrals. It’s the easiest, least expensive way of ensuring your growth and success in the marketplace.

Your core clients will gladly give you referrals because you treat them so well. So why not ask all of them for referrals? It’s a habit that will dramatically increase your income. Like any other habit, the more you do it the easier it becomes.

Asking Strategy #5: Ask for More Business

Look for other products or services you can provide your customers. Devise a system that tells you when your clients will require more of your products. The simplest way is to ask your customers when you should contact them to reorder. It’s often easier to sell your existing clients more than to go looking for new ones.

Asking Strategy #6: Ask to Renegotiate

Regular business activities include negotiation. Many businesses get stuck because they lack skills in negotiation, yet this is simply another form of asking that can save a lot of time and money. Look at your vendors and suppliers and see if there are areas where you can be saving money. Just ask.

All sorts of contracts can be renegotiated in your personal life, too, such as changing your mortgage terms and rate, reviewing your cell phone plan and requesting a policy review with your insurance agent. As long as you negotiate ethically and in the spirit of win-win, you can enjoy a lot of flexibility. Nothing is ever cast in stone.

Asking Strategy #7: Ask for Feedback

This is a powerful way to fine-tune your business that is often overlooked. How do you really know if your product or service is meeting your customers’ needs? Ask them, “How are we doing? What can we do to improve our service to you? Please share what you like or don’t like about our products.” Set up regular customer surveys that ask good questions and tough questions.


Some people don’t enjoy the fruits of asking because they don't ask effectively. If you use vague language you will not be clearly understood. Here are five ways to ensure that your asking gets results.

Ask Clearly
Be precise. Think clearly about your request. Take time to prepare. Use a note pad to pick words that have the greatest impact. Words are powerful, so choose them carefully.

Ask with Confidence
People who ask confidently get more than those who are hesitant and uncertain. When you’ve figured out what you want to ask for, do it with certainty, boldness and confidence.

Ask Consistently
Some people fold after making one timid request. They quit too soon. Keep asking until you find the answers. In prospecting there are usually four or five “no’s” before you get a “yes.” Top producers understand this. When you find a way to ask that works, keep on asking it.

Ask Creatively
In this age of global competition, your asking may get lost in the crowd, unheard by the decision-makers you hope to reach. There is a way around this. If you want someone’s attention, don’t ask the ordinary way. Use your creativity to dream up a high-impact presentation.

Ask Sincerely
When you really need help, people will respond. Sincerity means dropping the image facade and showing a willingness to be vulnerable. Tell it the way it is, lumps and all. Don’t worry if your presentation isn’t perfect; ask from your heart. Keep it simple and people will open up to you.

© 2008 Jack Canfield

Jack Canfield, America's #1 Success Coach, is the founder and co-creator of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get your FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at:

Monday, June 16, 2008

Rehearse and Re-Rehearse!

Back in college, I kept a great log of my guitar rehearsal time. It kept me on my game, and was the metrics for a little friendly competition between other players. It wasn't necessarily required, but I knew my professors and instructors preferred that I keep track of what I was doing.

Jump ahead more years than I'd like to admit, and I'm still keeping a rehearsal log. Whether it's guitar, voice over, or practice with an ensemble, the only way to not only stay crisp at your craft, but to continuously improve AND be prepared for any job that comes up, is to do the drills. Add a little challenge every day with something you haven't tried before, and hit 'record' to test how you do. It's one of the biggest benefits to being a studio owner!

BUT...rehearsing isn't just for us audiophiles. Any business has its moments in need of preparation. Do you give presentations, regularly conduct meetings, or do direct or phone sales? These all require scripts and skills that can definitely benefit from rehearsing. If you want to practice in front of an audience that can give you constructive critique, check out your local Toastmasters, or have a little houseparty of your most trusted friends and family.

Here's a great quote, from Publilius Syrus (1st century B.C. Roman author): “Practice is the best of all instructors." I've had some great teachers and mentors, but without practice, none of their teachings would have changed my life. I take these words very seriously.

So get your calendars out, get to practicing, and watch your skills soar!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

For my fellow guitarists...

Here's something you may want to get involved in. It's called the Second Strings Project, and it finally gives US something to do with our old, used guitar strings (besides fill up landfills), while at the same time keeping creativity and hope alive in portions of the world where otherwise it my die!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Do you have The Answer?

I can't help but share some of the great products and resources I come across (even though I should probably keep them all to myself!). Right now I'm in the middle of The Answer: Grow Any Business, Achieve Financial Freedom, and Live an Extraordinary Life. Now, I'm not shy about endorsing authors John Assaraf and Murray Smith's company OneCoach, which I'm also a member of, but I would highly recommend this book even if I wasn't. This book has been billed as "The Secret for Business", and fans of that book and/or film who want to go to the next level with their businesses will not be disappointed. It's an MBA in hardback form, outlining the right steps to take, in the right order, from "inner work" to action steps in any industry.

I'll be keeping it in the sidebar as well, so you can easily grab yourself a copy!