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02 Aug


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Business Planning

August 2, 2010 | By | No Comments

First, good news/bad news:  Today the National Bureau for Economic Research officially declared that the “Great Recession” (the longest recession since the Great Depression”) ended in June 2009.  If everyone wants to go  out and spend again like it is 2007 again that would be fine with me!  The bad news:  The last double dip recession was in 80-82.  In July of 1981 they declared the official end to the 1980 depression as July of 1980.  July of 81 turned out to be the month that the second dip officially started.   The uncertainty is certainly wearing on us all, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

Fall is the time to start planning for next year.  This quarter my HTG peer group decided we all would take on the task of creating a brand new business plan from scratch, using the methodology of Verne Harnish, the “Growth Guru” and noted author of “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits”.

When our group chose this task, I think i groaned out load.  For one thing, this type of introspection and planning is just not my cup of tea.   For another, like many of you, my time in 2010 has been spent working “in” the business rather than working on the business, doing my best to keep sales going during these tough times.  The last thing I need to do is take time away from sales for strategic planning, I thought.  I’m glad to say that I was wrong.  I put off my homework for step one until 9 pm the night before it was due.  Once I started the exercise, I actually found new energy.  It was refreshing to take a step back and look at things from a new vantage point.   I enjoyed the process and woke up the next morning excited for our group conference call.  If you’ve been stuck in a rut this year, make some time to stop and put your business owner’s hat on!

Our first step in this process is to define your core values and beliefs.  This is the way you see the world; the guiding principles that determine how you run your business and make decisions.  While your “vision” for the company may change over time, and certainly your mix of services provided will change as you adjust to your market, your core values NEVER change.  They are part of your core makeup and keep you on track.  I’ll list my core beliefs below.

Next is to define your company vision.  Most companies already have a vision statement, and if you don’t you should.  Your vision is the picture of what you imagine your life and business to be when things are exactly the way you want them.  Your vision should inspire your employees to execute this blueprint every day.

The last task in our first step is creation of a BHAG.  This is a Big Hairy Audacious Goal that looks down the road 10-30 years.  This BHAG connects your core values and gives you a target that will be hard to achieve.  Some examples of successful BHAGS:  In the 1960s, Nike’s BHAG was “crush Adidas”.  In the 1950’s, Sony’s BHAG was “Our name will be as well-known as any in the world, will signify innovation and quality, and ‘Made in Japan’ will mean something fine, not something shoddy”.

I’m still tweaking our vision and BHAG, and will share those later.  Here are our core values & beliefs at Network Innovations:

Innovation – we know there is always a better way to do something and are determined to find it

Passion – we believe in ourselves, we take pride in our work, we care about our clients, and we LOVE what we do

Integrity – we are honest and fair in all that we do

Teamwork – we are fair and expend all efforts to help our peers, our clients and our community

Service – we execute each day by putting others first

Amy and I are busy putting the finishes touches on our Walk for Food Allergy which is this Saturday at 9 am in Shawnee.  For more info, click here:   Nate’s walk page.

For more of my rambling thoughts, check out my blog.

26 Jul


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Newsletter Blog: FAAN

July 26, 2010 | By | No Comments

This year Amy and I are chairpersons for the FAAN Walk for Food Allergy in Kansas City.  FAAN is the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, and food allergies are a growing problem for children all over the world.  Amy and I are involved in support of our son Nate, who was diagnosed with a fatally severe peanut allergy in 2008.

A few quick facts:

  • More than 12 million Americans have a food allergy
  • Between 1997 and 2007, the prevalence of food allergies among children increased 18% to reach over 3 million children
  • Food allergies result in more than 300,000 ambulatory-care visits among children in the US annually.

If you know anyone with a food allergy, please have them contact me about our walk, Saturday September 25, 2010.  To donate in support of our cause, visit Nate’s walk page and click on “Support Me”.

For more information about FAAN, visit

For more of my rambling thoughts, check out my blog.

29 Jun


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Windows 7: Ready for Primetime

June 29, 2010 | By | No Comments

Windows 7 has officially been shipping for 8 months now, and as support for Windows XP winds down, it is time to consider an upgrade.

First, a little background:  NO ONE hated Windows Vista more than I did.  I suffered through Vista for quite some time, and it was a drain on my productivity.  We held back and I’m sure we sold less than 5 copies of Vista total.  When Windows 7 was released, I was skeptical to say the least.

However, when I installed Windows 7, I was blown away.  My laptop  booted very quickly, and I could once again hibernate my laptop each night and not reboot for days (just like good ole XP)!   Windows 7 quickly spread throughout our office, and everyone loves it.  Even Marty, and we never did convince him to install Vista.

In the months since, we’ve installed Windows 7 for many clients, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.  Windows 7 is absolutely an improvement over Windows XP, and should be considered.

In general, Windows 7 will run about as well as XP on a given machine.  If you have a newer PC, add some RAM and simply an upgrade will be fine.  As always, if your PC is older, it’s probably best to purchase a new PC preloaded with Windows 7.  Here are some of my favorite new features:

Do more and wait less—improvements that can accelerate boot time, sleep and resume, and overall PC performanceGet quicker access to your stuff – Pin applications to your taskbar, and they are always available with one click.  Even better – JUMP lists allow you to right click a pinned app and immediately see important files and your recent history

Quickly find what you are looking for – Windows search is lightning FAST, and simultaneously searches your files and e-mails.  Results come up in seconds

Manage open windows easily – maximize and resize apps simply by dragging – easily snap two applications side by side for comparisons.   Hover over a pinned app to see previews of all open windows and switch between them

Manage devices more easily – Manage printers, cameras, storage devices and such from a consistent interface.  If you have a laptop, you can designate a default printer by location – so when you print at work, the document goes straight to your office printer, and at home, it goes to the home printer, automatically.

Security – Windows 7 is the most secure version of Windows ever.  Besides overall security improvements, Windows 7 contains encryption technology for your files and folders.

XP Mode – Got a legacy app that you can’t give up?  Access it via the free Windows XP mode.

We’ve found Windows 7 lives up to the hype in the real world.  It’s more secure, more efficient and allows you to be more productive.  If you have questions about Windows 7, give us a call today.  To read more, visit Microsoft’s Windows 7 page.

26 May


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Chiefs trip to Whiteman

May 26, 2010 | By | No Comments

As Head Captain of the Kansas City Chiefs Red Coaters, today I got to travel with the team to Whiteman AFB to meet with members of the 509th Bomb Wing (B-2 Stealth Bomber) and their families.  Whiteman is home to about 5,000 people including spouses and children, and has over 750 airmen deployed at this time.  What an amazing experience to spend time with these brave people and their families.

The visit to Ft. Leavenworth was made possible through the Chiefs partnership with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation through its Return the Favor campaign.  We traveled with Todd Haley, Matt Cassel, Thomas Jones, Brodie Croyle and several other members of the Chiefs offense, as well as Chiefs Hall of Famer Deron Cherry, NFL Hall of Famer Bobby Bell and several VFW executives.  As the bus pulled on base, the players were fired up to get out and meet the military personnel and their families.  The Chiefs players took pictures, signed autographs and answered questions until everyone was satisfied.  They literally had to drag the coach and the players back to the bus when it was time to leave.   In an address to the troops, Chiefs head coach Todd Haley said “We just want to return the favor to all of these women and men who make the ultimate sacrifice so that all of us as Americans can live the life that we live.  They do a great job and we’re grateful to them.”   Later, he added “You always hear comparisons between football and these guys, which are totally unfair.  They are playing real life; we’re playing a game.”

The Chiefs actually spend a lot of time during OTAs making visits and appearances like this.   I’m proud to be a part of such a first class organization.


21 May


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Social Media – Newsletter Blog 5/21/2010

May 21, 2010 | By | No Comments

May marks the 19th anniversary of Network Innovations!  For a technology company, that’s a pretty good milestone.  I started with NII in 1992 when I was 17 years old, so this year also means that I’ve been here for 18 years or more than half of my life.  This seems like a good time to thank you all for supporting us for all of these years.  All of us at Network Innovations realize we are lucky that we get to wake up each day and work with such wonderful companies.  We love being a part of your team, and we’re glad that you’re a part of ours.  Stay tuned for more details, we’ll have a big party next year for our 20th.

I got some great comments from last month’s newsletter, so I must have touched a nerve with the Social Media topic.  Social media is certainly changing the way we will all do business in the future, but “experts” in this area are hard to find.  We will all have to figure this out together.  If you are interested in social media, you MUST watch this video –Socialnomics by Erik Qualman.  I promise after you see it once, you’ll immediately watch it again!  There is more information and additional videos on his website.   See our newsletter for an introduction to social networking.  Let me know what you think!

For more of my rambling thoughts, check out my blog.

01 May


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Welcome to my Blog

May 1, 2010 | By | No Comments

I guess it’s time I start my own blog.  Certainly there are several blogs that I keep tabs on, and I hope that mine will have some value for you.  I am NOT a professional writer, so I will be using my conversational, casual style – journalism majors avert your eyes!

I spent this last week in Dallas in meetings with my Heartland Technology Group peers.  HTG is a group of 250 IT companies from across the US, Canada, UK and Australia.  We break into groups of 12 non-competitive companies, and we serve as each other’s Board of Directors.  We meet for two full days each quarter, and this was my 6th quarter of participation.

I must say, this experience has been life-changing.  Rather than being a business owner out on an island, I have 11 great friends that know exactly the challenges that I face every day.  We share best practices, help each other with challenges, and give unselfishly to each other in the spirit of the Go-Giver (more on that another day).  Finally, we hold each other accountable to set and meet our goals.

HTG sees to it that we have not just a vision and business plan, but all 4 plans necessary for a successful life:  A Life plan, a Business Plan, a Leadership Plan and a Legacy Plan.  I’ve benefitted more from my peers than I can put into words.  If you feel alone out there running your business, search out a peer group or simply another business owner.  I’m happy to help or answer questions.  We’re all in this together!

20 Apr


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Google Alerts – Newsletter Blog, 4/20/2010

April 20, 2010 | By | No Comments

With Social Media finding its way into every business and aspect of life, do you know what’s being said about your company online? If not, you should. Instant collaboration tools like Twitter and Facebook allow news to spread quickly, both good and bad. There may be people praising your company or writing about good things you are doing and wouldn’t you like to know that? The flip side is that there may be some negative things being said and you certainly want to know that and have the opportunity to respond before your reputation suffers, fairly or unfairly.

Google has a free app called Google Alerts that will watch over your online reputation. It only takes a minute to setup and you can receive a daily message with links to every place your company has been mentioned on the web. Besides monitoring your own company, you might setup alerts for some of your key partners or competitors – this is a great way to stay in the loop and gain a competitive edge. Also make sure you establish alerts for your key clients and prospects, and watch for an opportunity to give them a pat on the back. They will certainly appreciate it. Give it a try, you’ll be glad you did!