Thursday, January 27, 2011

improving the technology of me

Wow, this year is shaping up to be a killer year for wireless and not just Wi-Fi. I entered this arena professionally as many tech-folks did in as a type of Systems Engineer (SE) around 95-96. While the tech was a blast, in good times and in bad, over the last 5 years or so I started to move towards “the dark side” sales and biz dev. I can even remember swearing I would never do it! Honestly, I just didn’t see those processes being conducted that well and I thought I could make a difference. I still love getting my hands dirty and do so on occasions but there are some phenomenal people out there getting it done, just take a look at any of the great blogs I follow and you will see what I mean.

Perhaps the most interesting thing I’ve seen out of the gate this year and maybe least talked about is the “strategy” businesses are taking and the pursuit for “wallet share” in the Wi-Fi biz space. So, *strategy* is pretty straight forward and I will come back to that but this wallet share stuff is/has taken center stage to a certain degree. Wallet share is another uber-used biz term that loosely translates to the seller’s perceived piece of the buyer’s actual pie, so for companies that are selling; bigger is better. But how is that done effectively where both parties “mutually” benefit? Well, that’s where strategy comes in, I guess. Wi-Fi has become a huge enabler and while the technology is doing its part in maturing businesses are franticly looking to differentiate their Wi-Fi or their solutions or their services for more wallet share. I kind of chuckle when I think about it, having recently left a large three letter manufacturer/VAR that was just getting into full swing with this initiative. While I agree with the business principles of this term I disagree with most practices of it. Being more on the services side now and basically in start-up mode, we really see the need to help partners and customers help themselves. Doesn’t that just make sense? If I’m your friend or neighbor and I knew everything about home improvement and you needed your house painted, should I come over and tell you the chemical compound of every kind of paint that you can and should use and the environmental impact it may have expecting you to want to hire me to paint your house because of how much I know, and then laugh when you run to The Home Depot to buy the paint to do it yourself? Ugh…  I have a little story…

Last year I got REALLY sick. I was in travel mode pretty heavily and while hopping trains in and around NYC when it was pretty cold out I came down with not one but three things that nobody ever wants. At the same time I had come down with swine flu, Pneumonia and bronchitis. I was as close to death as you can get. But when I started pulling out of it and during one of my doctor visits the doc told me that my cholesterol (LDL) was seriously off the chart (just north of 200) and I needed to get on Lip-a-whatever immediately. At 43 and being pretty healthy it just sounded so bogus. I mean the mess with getting sick and now this? Well, I made the decision to pass on the meds and told the doc that in 30 days I will finish being sick and will get my cholesterol back in check. He laughed a good laugh and asked me to reconsider. When I came back and he reviewed the results of the latest test with me that came in at around 110 he didn’t laugh. The next one was even better. He then said my PSA (it’s a prostate test they do with blood work, if your 40 or + and not getting it ask for it!) was pushing close to 2. This is like no-joke BAD. I was almost scheduled for a biopsy. Nooooo way. I said give me 30 days. He literally went off on me telling me not to play around with this. Long story short I came back and my PSA score had gone down to about a .7. This he said, “never happens”. This time he sat me down and wanted to know what I did so he could advise other patients. Nothing magical on my part was done just some common sense eating, supplements and plenty of exercise. The thing is I know my body (practically speaking, I am NO expert on health) and what I needed to try before just giving in and taking all the meds they said I needed. **PSA ALERT: I am in no way discrediting professional caregivers or medicine but simply sharing some personal convictions I had at that time, (I love my doctor!).

So the point of this story is this:

  • While we think we know what’s best for others or our customers it may not be what they want, need or even the best thing for them, for the long term.
  • It takes more than just great knowledge of a technology or product to seal any deal.
  • Time is irrelevant when making the right decisions. It’s what we do in that time that is.
  • Businesses may boast but people believe.  If we want people to believe in us as a business (or a professional) we need to listen and learn so that we may advise others, well.

Yes, some of this may sound a little cliché but I think it’s up to business leaders and professionals to instill a strategy of intelligently connecting, relating and truly understanding the needs and conditions of our partners and customers. Then with integrity and good character enact, or better yet, impart your knowledge and wisdom (yes, there is a difference) with humility to or with those you support and see what a difference that makes! I can tell you from experience, I have been referred to from “not the sharpest tool in the shed” to “the smartest guy in the room” and everything in between. None of that (really) helped me get anywhere or open a bunch of doors. When looking for a “strategy” or how to capture more “wallet share” try this approach.  I will close with that.

I’m very interested in your perspective? What do you think?

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