One of the biggest frustrations with computers is they are capable of so much while at the same time, so vastly underutilized.

This could be because the computer runs too slow or the software is misunderstood or many other factors,

To help people utilize technology a bit better, my company (www.WebBreez.com) has decided to start creating tutorials to guide people through various functions

To start we have four tutorials available

How to delete your temporary files and defragment your hard drive
How to use Excel
How to use Mail Merge in Word
How to create mailing labels in Word

If you would like to download these tutorials you can do so at http://lawrencefine.com/tutorials.html. There is absolutely no cost for these tutorials and you may share them with anyone you want provided you give credit to WebBreez.com for their creation

It’s our intention to keep adding more tutorials as time permits. If there are any specific tutorials you would like to see created, please let me know by using the form at http://lawrencefine.com/contact.php. The two requirements for us to create a tutorial is access to the software and also a belief there is a general need for the tutorial (as opposed to just one person)

Hope this helps!

Have a great day!


Great Leaders Surround Themselves With Great People!

One way to determine a leaders competence as well as their confidence is to look at the people around them.

A leader who surrounds themselves with people less talented than themselves is typically one who is afraid to be shown up, so they would rather look good and fail, than risking someone looking better than themselves and succeeding.

For example, if the leader hires a marketing person who knows less about marketing then themselves, what did they really get out of this person? If they hire a finance person who struggles with finance, this again is a sign of a leader lacking in self esteem and afraid to risk looking bad.

A top leader realizes they don’t need to know everything about marketing, rather they need to hire someone who knows everything (or as close to everything as possible) about marketing. Rather than knowing everything there is to know about finance, they go out and hire an expert in that field instead.

The weak leader would rather do everything him or herself (and usually let EVERYONE know it) than risk bringing in others who are as good or better at the specific task and risk look expendable.

The strong leader knows that if they surround themselves with experts in the various fields, it only makes themselves look better.

The weak leader thinks if they surround themselves with experts, it will make them look dumber.

I remember reading a quote from a long time ago which said “a genius is a person who surrounds himself with people smarter than himself”. For years I thought the quote was from Andrew Carnegie but now I can’t find where it’s from. Regardless of whom it’s from, it’s a great definition of brilliant leadership.

Obviously there are some times when it will prove difficult to do this such as when you are on a very limited budget or when you are “the expert” in a field. Even when there are budgetary limitations, there might be ways to work around them. For example, if you are looking to hire an Accounts Receivables manager but don’t have a lot of money in the budget for this position, your options might be to hire a less qualified person to do the job or to look at an incentive program that would allow you to bring in a more qualified and capable person with the agreement this person would get a percentage of the collections over a predetermined amount. The thinking here would be you have $40,000 budgeted for this position, you could pay $40,000 to hire someone with the thinking they will collect $300,000 or you could hire a more experienced person with the agreement they will make $40,000 base salary plus a certain percentage of all collections over $300,000 for the year.

The willingness to surround yourself with talented people is a sure sign you are willing to be an effective leader. How many times do you hear excuses such as “that person would never work for us”, or “we could never afford someone like that” when the reality is, no effort is made to see if there is a way to make things work.

Take a chance, surround yourself with the best you can and see how much more effective your organization can be.

Have a great day!
PS If you know anyone else who would find this article helpful, please encourage them to go to http://lawrencefine.com/blog

Great Message

Recently I was given a copy of a booklet which is basically a compilation of motivational sayings, stories and other uplifting things which was put together by Jerry West and Gary Coson (both formerly of the Memphis Grizzlies).

There are some wonderful things in this compilation but one that is early in the booklet is from the Dalai Lama and I felt was extremely well thought out. Please understand, this has nothing to do with religion or politics but just some excellent thoughts!

Instructions for Life in the New Millenium from the Dalai Lama

  1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk

  2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.

  3. Follow the three R’s: Respect for self, Respect for others and, Responsibility for all your actions

  4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck

  5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly

  6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship

  7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

  8. Spend some time alone every day.

  9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values

  10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer

  11. Live a good honorable life. Then when you get older, and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.

  12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life

  13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation.

  14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.

  15. Be gentle with the earth.

  16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

  17. Remember that the best relationship is one in your love is for each other

  18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it

  19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon

Just some excellent food for thought


Great Customer Service

Most of the time, we hear about bad customer service. This is because companies don’t put a big enough emphasis on proper training and procedures in their sales and customer support (also because people are more likely to complain about the bad than acknowledge the good)

When I decided to start this blog, one of the things I wanted to do was make it as easy as possible for people to read the posts. This meant posting to the blog, setting up a RSS feed and also allowing people to receive the posts via email. In choosing the email function, I wanted some features that would require more time to program than was worth doing myself so went ahead and signed up for the service from Aweber.

While the system itself is easy to use, prior to signing up online, I decided to give them a call to ask one question. My reasoning for doing this was to make sure that if I did have difficulties in the future, there would be an easy way to contact this company. Whether it’s via email, a help desk or a phone number, I typically will do this prior to making a purchase online. When I called the 800 number listed on aweber.com, I had the option of entering the extension of the person I wanted to contact, or I could push 1 for sales or 2 for customer support. I pushed 1 and within 10 seconds, I was on the phone with a well spoken, polite, knowledgeable person who was able to answer my questions quite easily. Too often, a company makes it difficult to contact them and when you finally do get in contact with someone, it’s someone who seems more intent on not providing information than providing information.

Since the service they were providing is what I was looking for, and since I was impressed with their sales person, I went ahead and placed the order.

One day after I ordered their service, my phone rang and it was a person from aweber. He was calling to see if I had any questions about their service and if there was any way he could help me. At no point did he try to up sell me to a more costly service or anything like that. While this is a recurring service, there was no mention of extending a contract or anything like that. Instead, they went with the approach of being helpful.

Three days later, I received a letter in the mail from aweber. Besides thanking me for being a new customer, it provided all of their support contact information. Again, there was no sales pitch involved in this letter.

The point of this post isn’t to recommend aweber.com (although if you are looking for a way to send email newsletters or automatic follow ups, I would recommend them) but rather to make you think about your organizations sales and customer support. Keep in mind, everyone is a sales person (if you aren’t selling goods or service you are selling your organization or yourself). Do you make it difficult for people to contact you? (in my case, I hate the phone so I prefer everything be done via email). Do you respond to emails in a timely manner? Do you follow up after the sale?

Too often, organizations spend all their time (and money) generating new business and they forget about the value of their current clientèle. Providing good customer service will encourage your current clients to remain with you, which usually is as valuable, if not more valuable, then the new clients you are trying to attract. Plus, good customer service will result in good word of mouth advertising which while free to the organization, can also be invaluable.

It’s a good idea to regularly check your organizations customer support. This could mean checking to make sure there is a way to contact you on a web site. It could mean calling the number you are giving out to make sure the phone line is working properly and if so, the phone is being answered properly. It could mean sending an email from a different account to make sure the email account is working properly. It’s amazing how checking on a small thing like the way email is working or the way a phone is answered can make such a big impact on an organization.

If you have any good (or bad) examples of customer service, please feel free to share them in the comments section at http://lawrencefine.com/blog

Have a great day!

PS If you know anyone else who might find this blog of interest, please share the URL with them

Management using a soccer refs thought process

Around a month ago, I was speaking with Mike McCarthy (Associate Dean of the Marshall University Medical School) and he was talking about a problem he dealt with recently involving some personnel.

Mike explained how he uses the same logic at work as he does on a soccer field as a referee. As much as I hate to admit it, this made a great deal of sense (I hate acknowledging Mike is ever correct).

In a soccer game, if the ref feels a player is a bit out of control, his first step is to go over and give the player a verbal warning. The idea is to speak with the player calmly, explain that the behavior exhibited is not acceptable and to diffuse the situation. If, after this verbal warning is given, the player continues with this inappropriate behavior, the next step is the yellow card. The yellow card is the official written warning letting the player know this is unacceptable and there is now a record of this behavior in case this happens again. If, after the yellow card is given, the player modifies their behavior and doesn’t cause any more problems, everything is fine. If, after the yellow card is given, the player continues to misbehave, the next step is the red card, which means automatic dismissal (and subsequent penalties of missing the next game as well, at a minimum).

In business, if we used this same type of process, things would run much smoother. Too often, a problem happens, the management isn’t sure how to handle it so they do nothing. Because nothing is done a small problem becomes a big problem and everything blows up. Instead, a simple verbal warning could make a big difference. If that doesn’t work, following up with a written warning (that stays in their permanent files) will let the employee know this is now serious and will be dealt with severely, if it continues to occur. Then, if this inappropriate behavior does continue, dismissal is the next step.

If management and employees know the process that will be followed, there will be no surprises.

Following the simple process of verbal warning, written warning and then dismissal will help stop a lot of problems before they occur and when they do occur, will allow everyone to know the process to follow

I could have asked Mike to write this for me but anyone who knows him knows he would write this much more eloquently than me,but it would also involve 100’s of pages and none of us have that kind of time!

Have a great day!