Category Archives: Business

Saving receipts nightmare over? Maybe.

receiptsI’m so excited. I just found a way to keep track of money painlessly!

I hate looking for receipts and figuring out what they go to, what they were for.. and where they should be filed.

But wait…

I just read over at techiemania.com about a new service called ShoeBoxed that will freakin’ ORGANIZE YOUR RECEIPTS for you!!  You just mail the stuff in their postage paid envelope and they scan it and provide a bunch of different ways to make the stuff available to you.

I’ve not tried this system at all.. so I can’t say I’m recommending it, per se.  I’m definitely gonna try a 30 day free trial.  I’ll report back when I know more.

However, one of the very cool things they suggest (and to do this you don’t need their service at all!):

Take a picture of your receipts with your camera phone! How cool is that. You always have it with you anyway. The picture is at least a pretty clear record of what you spent. I’m thinking if you just want to remember how much you spent at the grocery store, just click the bottom line.  If it’s more complicated, I’ll click it more than once if it won’t all fit in one pretty reasonably sized picture.

They have an iphone app that, I suppose, will send them the info in the right place and it would be part of your collection of stuff.  If you’ve used ShoeBoxed, or when you do, please comment back here.  I think this could be really big!

The Art of Saying “No”

no-entryI read a great piece by Whitney Hess over at A List Apart (a great site, as they say, “For people who make websites” and I say, for people in business in general!).  From her article: No One Nos: Learning to Say No to Bad Ideas.  Part of her article was take-aways from the book The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes
by William Ury.  I particularly like this one:

The shorter it is, the stronger it is. Pascal famously said, “I wrote you a long letter because I didn’t have time to make it shorter.” The longer the argument, the sloppier and less well-thought out it appears.

My son had a science teacher in high school who once told me, “Tommy conveys more information in fewer words than any other student I’ve had.”  That’s a great life skill. (Perhaps not so useful when the assignment is for 5 pages and the topic’s been covered—fully—in 2… nevertheless…)

When a person is talking, and trying to say “no,” they are often looking at the other person’s body language and interpreting it, judging it. So they use more words to soften the perceived blow of the “no.”

But maybe the receiver of the “no” is just thinking, “Whew, I didn’t want that anyway.”  or “Thanks for seeing that what I said I wanted isn’t what I really wanted.”   When you judge the reply before you get it, you may cut off the outcome you actually want.

And the argument gets muddy and frustrating for both parties.

You don’t have to answer every request as it’s made. Even in direct conversation you can say, “Wait a minute, I’m thinking about that.”

The request could be totally bats. But if it’s made by your boss or a client or a prospective client,  consider the tone of your reply.  There is a fine line between blunt, and maybe rude, and wishy-washy mamby-pamby whatever-you-want-dear kind of reply.

So here’s the advice:

1.  Decide what you want at the end of the conversation. Do you:

  • want the job, but you don’t want to be micromanaged?
  • just plain don’t want to work with that person?  or
  • The job really is too bats to be considered.

If you want the job but not on those conditions, keep the former in the front of your mind. Don’t worry about details that don’t effect that result.

Say the job is “Fly off this roof to the ground.” Don’t just say, “That won’t work.” Even when you know it won’t.

How about, “That won’t work because people have no wings. ”  Or skip the that-won’t-work part and go directly the thing that WILL work. “I’ll meet you out front.”  Then take the stairs.

2.  Plan a way for the other person to save face. Give them some way out of the end of the converstation. Pass back a request for clarification or a negotiation over the project. “What do you want to get out of my flying off the roof?”

3.  No matter what, be polite.  You don’t know when you might need that person again. AND you don’t know who that person knows!

4.  Keep your eye on the prize, so to speak. Decide what you want to be the outcome. Then steer the conversation that way.  It’s not manipulative in a bad way. If the other person really doesn’t agree with you, they’ll let you  know.

And maybe, if you can’t get the negotiation to the result you want, you’re better off not working with that person anyway.

Guy Kawaski in Fast Company

I love Guy Kawasaki.  I heard him speak at an ICF conference years ago.  The talk was amazing, based on his book, The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything. He said some really useful stuff, like:

  • 32 point type on PowerPoint slides, and make there be fewer slides in any presentation (AMEN, brother!)
  • But MY favorite?  How to make my Tivo jump forward in 30 second blocks instead of the factory installed 10!

I follow him on Twitter. I’m not a fanatic user, you understand. But when I’m sitting with nothing to do, I can count on Guy Kawaski’s tweets to be interesting, useful, or funny.  AND there are plenty of them.  If, as he says, the purpose in his tweets is to drive people to his website, Alltop.com, well, it works with me. And that, for those of us who understand that no one cares what we just watched on TV, is the purpose of it all, isn’t it? Check out the interview with him in Fast Company, called “Guy Kawasaki on Twitter Brawls, Authenticity, and How He Plans to Win The Influence Project.”

Here’s part of what made me think:

Look at my Twitter stream, it is almost all links, and I tweet out every tweet four times, eight hours apart. So I quadruple my links.

I’m like CNN. Some people read my tweets at 8am, some at 5pm. They’re not going to go back eight hours and look at what I tweeted. All my effort is about finding interesting links. I have a very interesting feed. Some of it is useful, some of it is educational, some of it is inspirational and some of it is downright funny. That’s the value of following me.

Business and South Park

Funny man photo by vnyberg found on morguefile.com If you’re in business for yourself, or even if you just (as if, just!) get to make business decisions for your company, you gotta take the inspiration for progress where you can.

Some times those sparks come in odd places.

Check out this article by Amber Conrad over at InsideCRM : “25 Things I Learned About Business from “South Park” What the comedic cartoon can teach you about navigating the business world.”

South Park is not for everybody and most certainly not for children. (Sheesh, if teachers in the 80s thought the Simpsons was bad!)

But often buried outrageous stories is some hint of something important. That’s one way that comedy works. The joke starts with a story that the audience expects will have a certain progression. But when the unexpected happens and yet, it seems logical, well, people laugh.

I learned that from Basil White‘s Comedy Workshop at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD.

If you’re a fan of South Park or have a slightly off kilter sense of humor, check out that post.

And if you’re not a fan, please don’t hold it against me!