Friday, July 26, 2013

Let's Party Like its 1999!!! Be sure to invite the right people...

   "...Party over, oops, out of time." That was my 1999.  Omega, my company, was about to grow well over 100% in revenue, coming in around $1.2M for the year. We'd only started in October of 1996 with a credit card and an idea. It was a bit like running fast downhill, sort of a controlled fall. Or, at least you try to maintain that illusion of control so you don't crash and burn.

   As the year had begun I found out my family (spouse and I) was also about to grow by over 100%! Triplets were on the way. Certainly exciting news. Something that required some thinking considering the demands of the business, trying to occasionally exercise, and have some semblance of a personal life.

   So I did what any business school, professionally-trained accounting and finance graduate would do when faced with a multidimensional complex problem. I pretended it wasn't actually happening.

   On August 3, any hope of maintaining my "bubble" was burst. Three very small and noisy creatures emerged from my wife. They were tougher than any client. Terrible communication skills. Either quiet, or screaming. Unable to form consensus, one would want food at midnight, another at 2am, then - (why not) 4:15am as well. Home became a nightmarish parody of a B&B with 24-hour room service, and some extraordinarily demanding celebrity clientele.

   Meanwhile the company kept pumping along. Growing in leaps and bounds, though much more civilized than home. People that were selected for their ability, and their ability to work together. It was an essential element of keeping the place together. There were so many people squeezed into the office that one person had to accept that the coffee machine would be on their desk. The head of IT shared an office with me. When I say we were "in it together" it is quite literal.

   You may be asking, "Why didn't you get more space?". A great question. We were trying. Boy were we trying. But it was "dot-com" days. Everyone was partying like it was 1999. Except the dot-com people often had VC money and a bank line. We had a credit card, a factoring company, and a balance sheet that would have embarrassed the Zimbabwe. Thus, the reception from potential landlords was less than welcoming.

   We finally did get more space. We finally found a landlord that would take us in. The kids finally started sleeping through the night. We got rid of our factor and found a bank that would lend to us. We even had a break room. Sometimes I'd just splash out like that. Even had free coffee. That's just how I roll.

   We partied like 1999 all right. It was non-stop insanity. By the end of the year we were less than four years away from being sold. It wasn't on anyone's mind. There was no time for big "end game" thinking, we were in triage mode. Not to mention we'd begun development of some cutting edge technology for the investigative world which we'd launch around the kids first birthday. (see link at bottom of page)

   Looking back, that was a defining time for me, and most of the people at Omega Insurance Services. Many of whom I still maintain contact with. We had a fantastic team, and we did amazing things. It was inspiration, adrenaline, camaraderie, and some organization tossed in where needed to fill the gaps.

   Many of those people have gone on to pretty awesome things. There were quite a few entrepreneurs in the pack, with several people starting firms within the insurance industry, and others going off into unrelated fields. It was, as I mentioned, an extraordinary group of people. I'd love to tell you I did it. That it was my incredible genius that made it all possible. But that, my friends, would be a lie.

   Like all successful parties, it takes a great group of people, with the right chemistry to make for a memorable evening. We did party like it was 1999, for about seven years.

   Luckily I sent the invitations to the right people.

   The kids are soon 14. That project is ongoing.

    Alphabet Success, your personal step-ladder to success.  To buy, click here. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Leadership through laughter. Or why fun is profitable. (or at least fun...)

   There is nothing quite so therapeutic or disarming as a laugh. Some of our best ads use them, and many of our fondest memories are of a good shared laugh. But too often offices are like quiet libraries where laughter is,well, not very professional or even plain old dead. Why?

  During the course of running Omega Insurance Services into the Inc. 500 twice, I would say there were very few days that passed where we didn't all bust up laughing over something. Now given the size of the company, not everyone was always there, but it was in "our blood". The place was wired for levity. For fun. Why?

   Because a) It is free. It cost nothing to have a fun work environment. You might have to be at the end of the joke at times. If that's the greatest pain you every feel, lucky you. b) It loosens people up. This is a huge advantage. People who are not worried about their next move relax and get the job done, instead of spending an inordinate amount of time worried about their "image". c) It is infectious. People like to be with fun people. Customers feel it, prospective employees feel it. It ends up permeating the company. Why does that matter?

   It matters because all those things lead to a better bottom line. You'll make more money if people are enjoying themselves. They're not spending time complaining, their not sitting worried about their job, or some goofy gossip. They're working and enjoying themselves. Most importantly, to me at least, is that if you aren't having fun, I reckon you should examine your choice of career.

   Perhaps this is a matter of philosophy. But if you look around at the best companies, I dare say that the one's that stay on top do it with a combined commitment to excellence and fun. Even if it turns out to give you the same bottom line, isn't it more enjoyable to be in a place that's a little loose, where smiles prevail?

   It's your business or career, and your life. Why not enjoy it?

    Alphabet Success, your personal step-ladder to success.  To buy, click here. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Next Level...Or How I Screwed Up By Focusing on Delivery First.

   Frankly, I am disappointed. In myself. With a little more planning, I could have had a much more professional web site from the onset. But the book was ready, and I know that my "skill set" is also in order, so the thought was, "go for it". Onto the Amazon site, and "click".

   This is somewhat problematic however. People now expect a smashing level of professional marketing heaped upon them when they look into something new. I did not and do not really offer that at present. But if I had to do it over again, I would have "launched" everything together. That would have allowed everyone to have a consistent experience, and likely made me look better. Even if my book, my "vital stats" and abilities were unchanged.

   What I would NOT do is focus an endless amount of time on getting lot's of slick graphics working and then throw the proverbial "Hail Mary" when it comes to the book, or being able to speak with people about its contents. This is, in my mind, a troubling trend. Too many beta products with finished product marketing flying out the door.

   So, while I have a modest amount of regret for not giving you more sizzle, I think in the long-term, content will trump presentation. And I will, nonetheless, be bringing a high level of game to the presentation side shortly.

  Time for a bit of Yellow Zebra. Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

In Defense of Antivation, and a way to profit from it. Yoo-hoo Microsoft...

   You don't have to be a technophobe to experience some dismay at the seemingly constant barrage of changes and alterations to technologies and programs that have become part of our daily discourse with the world. Let me tell you a secret...I want my antivation!

  Just when you feel the initial joy of mastery, the technology is re-engineered to be more user-friendly. Gasp! This puts us in the unenviable position of having to discard some hard earned work and begin anew. While I am hardly opposed to personal growth, having companies with whom I have formed a relationship kick dirt into the hole I was digging is a little annoying. Antivation please.

   This got me thinking. There must be an emerging market for some technological stabilization. With the baby boomer generation growing older, and in many cases already a bit impervious to change, this is a major opportunity. Microsoft could hang onto the code for Windows 7, for instance. Have a team tightening the code, making the software faster, more reliable and secure, and clawing away at consumer feedback on ways to simplify the whole experience. Then charge annually for licensing (fixed)  and support (a la carte), which I think will be a huge profitable growth area, with boomers aging. Um, antivation?

   The underlying technology need not suffer. As we inevitably move to 128-bit tech and onward, there would be plenty of room to make the program optimized for the new environment. Innoantivation?

   Frankly, I could apply this logic to phones as well. My Samsung Galaxy 3 is a joy. Love it. But I am curious what else of true value can be offered that would make me want to migrate to a new phone. Using the camera as an example, I only need 8 megapixels. The photos I shoot with the phone are capturing moments. Issues of pixelization etc, are not likely to factor in to me moving to a "new model." It handles e-mail, texting, web interaction, and a host of things I am only now unearthing. "Waiter, I ordered ANTIVATION, not innovation. May I please have the old version?"

   My central point is that with a large generation cohort getting to the "get off my lawn" stage of life, perhaps a new market is upon us. Antivation. Companies make the technology we're already used to better, (much cheaper development than "new and improved") and more reliable. If they want to expand the memory of the hardware model and increase the processor speed, great. Just don't fiddle with the basic design and interface. And, by all means, send me an annual bill to allow me the privilege of locking in my comfort zone.

   While I have not done any formal market research on this, frequent lunch and dinner chats with folks lead me to believe this is not some fanciful idea. It is a new bona-fide market. (In fact, at a recent dinner in Stockholm I listened to a smart, young university student questioning the same issue.) And I think it is growing, with a group of people who will pay the annual fee NOT to learn a new technology. 

   Before you (if you haven't already) dismiss me as being against progress. Think again. Innovation is NOT just what happens in the Silicon Valley, it is also how we use that technology in our life. Users frequently find novel, unexpected uses for technologies. But like everything, these need time to emerge, Burying the user side of the equation under your well intention, but unneeded, upgrade, is frustrating and actually counterproductive. I'm asking the large companies to engage in ANTIVATION both to accommodate what I think is a growing market of "what the hell is this" consumers, and an existing group of tech savvy people who would happily tweek the heck out of your existing app. Both of whom I guess would pay an annual "tick" not to be forced into re-engineering the technological ecosystem they've built for themselves.

   It certainly merits some thought. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Need a Little Inspiration...?

Many people think the hardest part of anything is finishing. Not true. Most people never get started.

What is also true, is that the second place most plans fall apart is when they face adversity or failure. Usually this is not an issue of the plan itself, but rather the determination of the person trying to implement the plan. Things rarely go the way we want in life. It is easy to be battered into a sort of incremental submission.

Personally, I think that happens to an awful lot of people. Most kids I grew up with, and most I meet today have big dreams, big plans for their future. But somewhere along the line, they get the fight beaten out of them. It could be a parent who tells them to get “their head out of the clouds”, or it might be friends who, while well intentioned, don't want to see you leave them behind. Even for those with the courage and resolve to overcome the “battle” with family and friends, get ground down by circumstances, and one too many failed attempts at their dream. Eventually, they get so “worn down” that success looks like paying the bills and hanging onto the job they hate.

But that isn't always how the story ends.

In April 1961,  I arrived, at least in breathing form, here on our lovely planet. Unlike many people, there were much more than two people involved in my continued existence. My biological parents, who put me up for adoption, my parents who three short months after I was born took care of me as their own, and the nuns of Our Lady of Victory, who though I don't remember them, handled the three month gap. Given my lack of self-sufficiency at that point, I thank them all for getting me started.

One of my mom's favorite stories was about the ride home from the orphanage to their home in Akron. Mom had on a pearl necklace which apparently I fiddled with constantly. She always mentioned that, as well as the fact that I laughed quite a lot. That latter part hasn't changed much over the years.

You may wonder, well this is all a little interesting, but not really what I showed up for Tim.

The back story to my adoption is a tale of remarkable determination and grit.

You see, my adoptive mother could not have children. Now that, is not, in and of itself, especially unique. Many people adopt children for the very same reason. But my mom found out about her inability to have children the hard way.

My mom was pregnant four times before she tried adoption. All four were either stillborn or died shortly after being born. That alone would have put most people in a mind to forget the whole idea. Not my parents. Her and my father looked into adopting at a local agency. If they could not have their own, they would adopt a child.

Of immediate concern to the authorities was why this woman, my mother, was unable to have children. They came to the determination that, after a few tests, she had a blood disease or abnormality (later learned to be Lupus). Upon reaching that conclusion, they decided to reject my parents application to adopt as my mother was seen as “high risk”. OK, this is about time to say, well, maybe we can get a dog, or a couple of them even. Not my mother.

Afterward they had a lengthy chat with their family physician. He was aware that my mom had something wrong with her blood. But he nonetheless suggested they conduct another blood test, just in case they'd missed something. He took my mother's blood and sent her and my father home.

In the meantime he did something which can only be described as beautiful, reckless and amazing. He also took his wife's blood, and sent it for testing in lieu of my mother's which he knew would never pass testing. His wife's blood was fine. But since it was submitted with my mother's name, she was now “fit” to be an adoptive mother. At least according to her blood.

Fearing being called out locally, they headed to another adoption center they had heard about. There they found a receptive audience who agreed to put them on the list. In those days it was a list you actually were likely make it through, as adoption was not nearly as widespread as it is today. Their name accepted, they headed back to Akron to wait.

In what I have to guess was late June or early July of 1961, they got a call that the adoption center had a baby available. They were warned, that the child had “large eyes”. Undaunted they made the trek to the center and had a look at the “Big Eyed Baby”, and yes that was me.

We never chatted about it, but apparently I was insufficiently “Big-Eyed” to prevent them from saying “sure, we'll take that one”. A couple of weeks later in mid-July, they once again made the journey from Akron to the adoption center. This time they had something to take home. That being me. Yahoo!

That was incredibly lucky for me! If they had not gone through all those trials and tribulations, I might have ended up virtually anywhere. Instead I had an incredible set of parents who, in spite of my efforts to the contrary at times, managed to turn me into something resembling a normal human being. And apparently I sort of “grew into” my eyes.

Thus, in part, as with most success stories, a big part of mine was a matter of incredible timing, luck, and maybe even “big eyes”. But the absolutely biggest part of what got me into a position to succeed was my mother and father's determination to just keep looking. If they had given up, I may never have been afforded the opportunities which came to me later in life. In addition, that attitude of determination was infectious. Obviously not inherited genetically, I developed a tenacity that has yet to leave me.

The quotes, the one liners, all the cliches about “staying the course”, well they are true. Occasionally someone gets remarkably lucky, but more often, failure is the road you will be driving on far longer than you want, if you hope to succeed. Now, you better be adapting along the way, and learning from that failure, otherwise you’re not a failure, you're a fool.

Failure is the road you will travel to success. Just be sure to take the correct exit. If you have trouble finding it?

Just Keep Looking.

 Alphabet Success, your personal step-ladder to success.  To buy, click here. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Social Media Maladies...

   We have a problem. Or rather, there are some folks with a problem. They have latched onto the social media universe without first addressing their existing condition. A complete disconnect between their marketing and their operations.

   As an example: Nobody expects velvet glove treatment from Ryanair (an European budget carrier). They don't promise it, and they don't deliver it. You get: a seat, take off, and landing. Everything else is pretty much an add-on. While sometimes people moan about it, they haven't really broken their promise. We might find their handling a bit akin to that of an aggressive shepard, but that is us just not being used to their model. Once you accept the model, as promised, you understand it. And as they would like tell you, "take it, or leave it." They do take off and land, and they make money. Pretty simple. 

   I use Ryanair. I am never disappointed. The conditions are known to me in advance, and I accept them in exchange for a great airfare, and often, the avoidance of a connecting flight. In relationship terms: We have an understanding.

   It is much, much worse to splash out money on all this touchy feely social media blather being concocted without the people writing it having an in-depth understanding of the service or product they are writing about. As an "Elite" member of a couple of  "conventional" airline programs, and a very frequent traveler, there is ripe territory here for examples.

  This fresh off the press at Lufthansa's Twitter feed:  "It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life... And I'm feeling good" Really? Well, I am a customer and I am not. Where are my missing air miles? The one's I wrote you about in April. Did they go missing with the "new dawn"?

There has been plenty of communication with the Lufthansa Miles and More program. I have had a few problems with flights where I doubled checked that my number was on file and still did not get credit for the flight. OK, stuff happens. One example: On April 20th of this year I contacted them with information about miles missing from one flight segment, on a two segment ticket. The e-mail promised: "We received your feedback with the number COM-1187086 and will start the processing immediately." I hate to be predictable, but you might already gather it did not happen, even though I sent them a copy of the boarding pass. 

Subsequently I wrote them again, and was promised an answer in 30 days. When I responded (with a bit of anger) that it had already been requested before, I got this automaton response:

"Thank you for your enquiry.

The processing of your request could take up to 30 working days (excluding weekends and holidays) and we trust that we can count on your patience. 

Kind regards,

Miles & More Service Centre

   The main point is the cavernous disconnect with their positively chirpy Tweet and the reality of dealing with them after using their service and simply asking them to credit an account as promised. With reference to the above mail - "Um, maybe you cannot count on my patience, it left the building." Sadly, and they likely know this, I have limited other options, but I have left them for protracted period before even though it is a massive hassle to do so
  Obviously I am angry. Why? Because they didn't do what they promised. If there was no Miles and More program, I wouldn't have a single thing to complain about. The flights were fine, I got where I needed to, the Lufthansa personnel on board were pretty good. But execution extends to every promise made. If you doubt this, try it out in a personal relationship.

   That needs to be thought about in every communication. Social media or otherwise. You are telling us who you are, and what you are going to do for us. Frankly, the ability to fix areas of disconnect is an opportunity to really shine. All companies, like people, make mistakes. Fixing them quickly is what can make you look great. But when you resort to auto-feed response, that's a broken promise. Especially problematic when dealing with someone who is using your service often enough to worry about your loyalty program. 

  It's not rocket science. Communication follows execution, and they MUST be connected.

  Still no miles.  :-(...

  Mack Morrison sings it best in "Return of the Mack" 

   "all this time you said that i love you 
   you lied to me 
   yes you did yes you di-i-id 
   you lied to me 
   all this time you said that i loved you 
   you lied to me 
   yes you di-i-id..."

     Actually a good song, to finish this up, the video actually has a jet in the opening sequence...LOL....anyhow, here's the video.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Secret Sexy Life of Plankton....

   Well, that is my take on the sensation of being a new author on the market. I'm a lonely plankton, floating in the ether of the internet, hoping to somehow get noticed, to be the sexy plankton, a plankton hottie. But most likely I am  "looking for love in all the wrong places..." The world of search engine optimization, and trying to get noticed on here, or Amazon, or anywhere is frankly a little daunting. Probably because I have never "ridden this bike" before.

   In a room of people or one on one, I am ready to rock and roll. That matters not one iota online. The e-world is impervious to charm. It is a world of key words, algorithms and getting the right placement that taps into those same formulas. There are some similarities to "normal" life, but the way to the goal line isn't clear. Frankly, a lot of people say they know the way but I'm not so sure that they really know. Because if they really knew how to stay in a top ranking and maintain visibility, why give the formula away?

   It is like stock trading. The advice is pretty worthless. Because anybody who really knows how to run the market printing press isn't going to tell you. They'll use it to make a few billion, buy an island and say bye-bye. Or in the instance of Buffett, most folks don't have the testicular resolve to sit out the ups and downs of Mr. Market.

  But just like a small kid (or plankton), I have as good a chance as any other plankton. So if I try to be smart, and have a plan that works, and adjust it as I go along, I should end up with a book that more than my immediate circle of family and friends has heard about. Otherwise I may get to do some whale watching.

  From the inside.

  Have a great weekend.


  The Sexy Plankton aka Tim of the future bestseller "Alphabet Success"

  ps - available today....for the cost of a Starbucks latte.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Way to Go Microsoft! (and other tech companies).

   In a NY Times article today, it was outlined how Microsoft is now restructuring to be more like Apple. Hmmm...that's interesting. Microsoft (up 28.45% over 12 months) is playing follow the "leader with Apple (stock down 27.12% over 12 months. What? Hey, they're flying off a cliff, let's go too....Bon Voyage.

   Microsoft has been the company that Apple never managed to be. Apple had a great last run under Jobs and he made some amazing contributions before he left us, and that effect seems to linger a bit, but I would say the party is over for Apple. They turned a tech company into a consumer products firm with the hip factor of a night club. That's great. But as someone who lived in South Beach for ages, it isn't a model you'd want to count on long-term. Fashion is fickle. Very fickle.

   Why not give in on some non-core businesses where they have been banging their brains against the wall to the tune of billions? I know search is important, but I think Google has pretty much ended that discussion, at least as far as Microsoft's own internal development potential is concerned. An acquisition - maybe, but I think they are in a vapor lock on internal development.

   Moreover and more importantly, Microsoft can, with a modest effort, hang on to their highly profitable desktop/laptop OS ad infinitum. (or at least for a very long time). Why not focus on integrating some of their "old" Windows 7 software into a increasingly faster and faster, as well as more stable platform. People thought I was nuts when I was scrambling in December to latch onto a couple of high powered Windows 7 64-bit laptops. Why?

   Because I knew they were playing the "let's fiddle with the interface"game with Windows 8. Sure enough they blew that to pieces.

   This brings me to my central thesis.While I know that there are a never ending array of new tech products coming to market offering yet another alleged incremental benefit, those benefits are starting to seem mighty thin. It seems to me that perfecting execution of what they have been offering is a far superior and profitable plan. In addition, it would allow third-party developers to actually catch up, and clean up their offerings.

   My dream? An actual interconnected world where I can easily interact on my TV with my PC and Phone. Some of this is available, but much of it is still subject to painful "not as advertised integration". With every iteration of the "better interface" comes a host of bugs, and connectivity issues. Not to mention trying to figure out where everything went from the former interface. Phone, PC, tablet, the issues remain the same.

  Why does any of this matter? I'm just a retired business guy, albeit only 52. Well, I was one of the first to buy a PC when they came out at in the 1980s. People actually came to see my double 5.25" floppy system from Radio Shack. Wow. Then I did the unthinkable and got a 20Mb hard drive. A Ferrari at the time.

  I understand technology. Maybe not as a programmer or system manager, but it isn't scary to me. When something new arrives, I like to see what it has to offer. In short, not a Luddite.

   But there is a MASSIVE wave of baby boomers who will be wanting to use the internet, and their PC etc. and there is a pretty substantial amount of revenue there. Will  someone wake up and realize that they view the PC about the same as a screwdriver. It is a tool. The problem is it is a tool that keeps morphing into something new, and their desire (anecdotal but likely true) to continually adapt to new is fading. Steady and reliable is going to be BIG.

  So instead of launching Windows 8, 9 10 or whatever, try making 7 as elegant as possible. You can charge people an annual subscription for ongoing support and development of that program and my guess is that they'd jump on it. If Microsoft wants a new division, I suggest LEGACY OPPORTUNITIES. Yes, keep innovating, but remember that folks are (even some much younger than me) getting weary of learning a new phone, a new OS interface. Just make the one you have UNBREAKABLE. The profit in this will far surpass the continual effort to develop a system that will have great specs. If memory serves, that's rather the point of running a business.

  Improving, and streamlining existing OS code and apps isn't nearly as sexy as launching a new "idea' (with the shelf life of raw chicken in the jungle). But it is a puzzle as worthy of figuring out as any. And I'll stand by my assertion that it is a much more profitable path to chase. Any takers out there in Techville?

You don't get any points in life doing things the hard way. - Tim Fargo

   Let's dispel a little myth. Working hard is NOT the key to success. It may be an ingredient, but it isn't the main one. If sheer hard work was the KEY, then the people doing physical labor would be billionaires. Last time I checked it wasn't quite working out that way. It's no slight against the people who choose that path. But it is a choice.

   If you are really after success, it would be wise to define it. If you only have your current location in your GPS, it is going to have some trouble directing you. You must have a destination, and to my way of thinking, you also need to set some parameters for getting there.

   For example, one of my key parameters was FUN. To me, having to pursue a dream while being miserable is not success, it is torture. Even if there is a nice pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow, who wants to toil and sweat all the way there? If it is true that life is the journey, not the destination, then you better be pretty focused on enjoying the ride.

    Alphabet Success, your personal step-ladder to success.  To buy, click here. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

FREE at Last, Free at Last!!!

   Today is the day! Download "Alphabet Success" from for absolutely zero, zip, nada. That is a solid, budget oriented way to begin the day.

   Then you'll be ready to power through the book, and harness the its forces to gain freedom for yourself.

   Not much to add. "Alphabet Success" by Tim Fargo. Download it at

  Oh, and do me a "solid" and pop a nice review in there after your done gaining your new "super powers".

  Contact me at or

   Happy reading!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Drums Have Stopped and the Journey has Begun....

This just in! The moment I have been waiting and working for quite a long time now.

This is the opening sentence of an e-mail I just got from

"Congratulations, your book "Alphabet Success" is live in the Kindle Store and has been enrolled in KDP Select. It is available* for readers to purchase here. "

The beginning of this book began over ten years ago. I was driving across the Howard Franklin bridge and thought it would be kind of cool to create a book that used the alphabet to convey some simple, yet powerful insights into success. 

After a variety of events, including the sale of a business, the usual personal things that happen, and the distraction of having suddenly had my dream come true, I finally got around to finishing the idea.

Today is the day. 

Needless to say, I am one very very happy guy.

ABC - Always Be Committed. I knew I would finally finish this book, and now it is finally out for the world to see. Will it succeed as a "book"? That is my next application of the principles in the book.

After all, if a guy who promotes success can't get people to buy his book, well, that'd be pretty lame.

But that isn't going to happen...

    Alphabet Success, your personal step-ladder to success.  To buy, click here. 

Why Facebook? Why?

   Well, I can't resist a jab at Facebook. In an effort to boost the "social media" around the book, I turned to their site, and decided I'd go ahead and make an investment, albeit small, to get things rolling for "Alphabet Success".

   It was NO problem finding places to sign up for paid advertising for a business page. They scream at you from every conceivable direction. So like a good customer I put in my details, and then submitted them for approval. Bing! Approved. On to the next thing...

  Stop! Why are you posting and signing on for this from a foreign land? (Sweden, which is obviously part of the axis of financial evil) What is the nature of your business on the site? Etc...  It was like a TSA experience gone awry. Honestly, if I had known the level of hassle, I wouldn't have bothered. I'd rather deal with Google where, based on past experience, nobody is sniffing around me like a rabid animal.

  But I digress. When you are lucky enough that someone gives you business, it should be a pleasurable, smooth experience. Ideally ended with a lovely thank you. Bringing us back to DEF - Don't Ever Forget - To Say Thank You. Part of that thanks is being easy to deal with whether in a personal exchange or online.

   Facebook gets a F in executing this concept.

   To make things a little balanced, let's take a look at another behemoth, American Express. A big company with a serious presence in my wallet.

   Over the weekend, one of my pre-set fraud alerts went off from my American Express Business Card. This is a card which actually doesn't see a lot of action for some travel reward seeking reasons. So it was pretty easy for me to spot that the charge was BS. Someone in NY was buying (or trying to) concert tickets since they have a cash value.

   Fast forward to my call to American Express. Everything was handled smooth as silk. Card replaced, charges declined and washed away. Parting words, "Thank you for your patience Mr. Fargo in dealing with this today. Is there anything else we can do for you at American Express?"  Classy, and followed up quickly with an e-mail confirming the conversation.

   Based on my experience yesterday, yes there is something American Express can do for me. Conduct a hostile takeover of Facebook and teach the youngsters to remember who keeps the lights on. The site does have wonderful reach, but so did MySpace once upon a time.

   My thanks to both organizations for making it so easy to find reference material for the topics in my book.

   Don't forget to get your copy of "Alphabet Success" at Only $3.99. You can borrow it for free if you are a Prime Member! Thanks in advance for your order!  :-)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Success is Not Laying Next to the Road...JKL - Just Keep Looking!

   The title of this post should state the obvious. But often people seem to equate success with having made a left turn onto the proper street. That would have saved me several years of experience.

   Want to get what you want? How hard are you willing to look for it? The road to success, in whatever form it may take for you, generally has a number of potholes and obstacles. If it were a straight smooth road,  the road would be much busier.

   So, what can you do to make ensure your arrival at your destination? Keep moving. Even when you don't feel like it. Keep moving.

   This is the whole point of the chapter "Just Keep Looking".

   A quick example: I wanted to get a US Bank - Club Carlson Premier Card. As a frequent traveler, the card has some significant benefits that I wanted. But alas they refused my application. I then tried calling and making a fuss, speaking to supervisors etc. Still, no change, the answer was NO. In the spirit of my entry, and in keeping with my personality, I opted to contact their Private Banking group.

   Now I do realize, that not everyone is a potential Private Banking client. However, I am, and I know enough of the jargon to essentially get across that if they ever wanted a shot at my business, they might want to reconsider their position on my application.

   Mission accomplished!

   While it might seem like a lot of effort, it wasn't more than a couple hours of total work. By getting the card I qualified for some special privileges that saved me about $3,000 on hotel rooms I'll be staying in over the next couple of months. While I do value my time pretty highly, getting a quick $1,500 a hour seemed reasonable enough as compensation.

   If you want something, you need to be willing to JLK - Just Keep Looking. Bags of money are not going to be laid outside your door for you. You need to have an idea of what you want, when you want it, and how you might get it. But you better be willing to be flexible if you want to succeed. The road is also rarely straight.

   But JLK! Just Keep Looking! You'll get there, if you persevere and are creative.

   Go to it!

Friday, July 5, 2013

In Frustration, Find Inspiration

   Arrhhhhhggggg! The feeling of frustration is basically the intersection of an expectation with a different reality. Provided your expectation is reasonable, you may have discovered an opportunity.

   For instance, you are trying to order something and you simply cannot find a person in a company/ies that is remotely helpful. If whatever you are ordering is something related to a hobby, or interest, this may be a golden moment. If you can end up as the supplier of goods for that field, assume it is some art related hobby where there are other interested parties likely suffering the same frustration, it can be a fast track to a great business, or side-business.

   It is easy to dismiss these situations as just another annoyance, but always remember that under the lack of service or an available product is an opportunity.

   Use the energy you would normally devote to concocting an elaborate curse upon the company giving you fits and think of how you might benefit personally from their lack of ability to essentially do their job.

   One ore two things will come out of this: a) you will refocus some negative energy in a positive direction and or b) you will discover an opportunity to make your hobby a money maker. Beats the concocting of curses.

   When you realize that your daily encounters with incompetent people are actually a fertile field of opportunites waiting to be seized, your frame of reference changes. People placed in the wrong position, and frequently, companies that have been unchallenged for so long they have simply stopped trying. The latter is a truly fantastic opportunity.

   So, the next time you see a situation begin to unfold that has the potential to make you crazy remember MNO - Make Notes and Observations. Turn frustration into opportunity.

   By using MNO (Making Notes & Observations) you can turn a otherwise bad day into pure gold.

   Start writing!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Appreciate the clients you have!

We work hard for new business.  But are we as appreciative of them once they have been around? Often the old are neglected in favor of the new.
This is time consuming and expensive.  Especially when the long time client says goodbye with a nice chunk of profits.
A few years ago I had my entire private banking relationship with one institution. My thinking that better to be loyal with leverage than having a variety of anemic relationships. 
They stuck me with a low balance charge on an account that I simply forgot to wrap up. I asked them to waive the fee of about $25. So, I walked with every last cent.  My estimate is that my relationship was worth AT LEAST $5,000 per year in net income to them. 
People lose loyalty when they are not valued.  There were no major demands on my part aside from avoiding an occasional fee. My credit card and deposit business was making plenty for them.
The absolute worst part? Nobody (not even the banker assigned to my account) asked why I left, no question from a manager. One person asked. The teller who paid out some small closing balances to me.
Frankly I wanted to stay.  But by the time the poor woman asked my new bank was already funded and providing great service and certainly making money from me.
Don't Ever Forget - to say thank you. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

NSA, Edward Snowden, and a bit more about honesty...

Forget the political aspects of this if you possibly can.

Is Edward a traitor? Well, given that I have only seen what has been presented in the news, which hardly rises to the level of evidentiary rules of a courtroom, who knows?

Has my own government been a little short in the honesty department? Yes.

Now, you might ask "Aren't you also drawing your conclusions from the same news you mentioned just a second ago?" Kind of, but the overwhelming effort to paint this guy as an evil worm and the myriad of press with elected members of our government droning (pardon the pun) on about the damage he has done sort of tells me that he hit a nerve.

That our President owned up to the program after the fact seals the deal. They lied through omission.

This blog is not the place I want to debate policy. But I think it is fair to say that whether or not the PRISM program is worthwhile we deserved to know about it from the people we hired when we elected them.

How does that belong in a blog about success? Because Congress has terminally bad ratings. There are not many people who trust anything a politician says. Now this is not exactly new ground, as their has always been a bit of a barrier between what will get you elected and what you can get done.

However, the lack of honesty and transparency has lead to the decline in their ratings on both sides of the aisle. If someone was elected on the principal that they would do something, they should go down fighting for the principal or promise they set forth.

Second and of equal importance, my fellow U.S. citizens deserve to know what portion of our civil rights are given away in an effort to protect us. The government is NOT the boss. We are. You don't hide things from the boss. Sometimes the truth might be hard for "the boss" to hear, but it still must be told. Honesty isn't only what you say, it is also informing those you work for of things that they will even potentially consider important.

ABC - Always Be Committed. Yes, even if you were elected.

 Alphabet Success, your personal step-ladder to success.  To buy, click here. 

An old video of mine, with the same message I've been droning on about.

The video is a bit longer than I'd like. But at the time, which I was burning plenty of waiting for United Airlines to get to me, one of their Silver customers (apparently just a cow with a special luggage tag), it was a mere drop in the proverbial bucket.

It is probably nothing you haven't experienced. But it is the "lesson" I will be droning on about this month. Keeping promises and preserving your reputation.

In another airline related episode, I was on hold back in the late 90s with Delta. Part of their hold message was "At Delta we know your time is valuable". After you have been on hold for over 30 minutes, that "concern" seems more than a little hollow.

ABC - Always Be Committed!

Promises, Progress and Reputation.

What promises do you make, either implicit or explicit to your clients, loved ones or co-workers?
(T H I N K    A B O U T   I T)
Do you keep them? Do you try to exceed their expectation? Do you make an effort even when it is hard or the prior promise is one you'd rather forget about?
(T H I N K    A B O U T   I T)
If you answered YES: Congratulations. You have made a valuable first step toward getting what you want.
If you answered NO: Think about the feeling you get when you are disappointed. You should be feeling that now. You have failed yourself.
In the end, the keeping of promises establishes your reputation. Reputation is a bit like virginity.Once it is gone, it is rather difficult to regain.
ABC - Always Be Committed. You Promised. Now Deliver.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Start at the beginning...repeat as needed.

A personal note from me:

First, thank you for coming to the website. You have a choice how to spend your time. I appreciate you spending some of it with me. I hope that you find the experience worthwhile, and if not, take the time to let me know how I can better serve you. That is, after all, the point of  the website. To help you get closer to your dreams or however you define success.

Alphabet Success - the book.

The idea for my book, this blog and everything around it began, amazingly, over ten years ago. But one thing or another kept standing in the proverbial path. Now we have clearance. Prepare for takeoff.

Today's Note - with a regrettable thanks to the disappointing performance of so many companies I deal with for providing me with such a surplus of potential examples of what NOT to do.

So, what's the big deal about my little book. Well, there are a myriad of examples I could provide.

Let's just say I think that most businesses make their lives (such as they are) harder than they need to be. This is why my subtitle is "keeping it simple".

When I started Omega Insurance Services in 1996, my vision was to create a nationwide insurance investigative firm that provided consistent results. A great deal of things went into making that happen. Some, but not all, of which are alluded to in the book. But at the center of every business success is the execution of delivering a promise or series of promises.

We arrive at the topic of chapter one - ABC - Always Be Committed.

This is where most businesses come apart. The plumber who shows up late (fail to deliver as to time). The airline that advertises at great expense how much they care, and then has personnel that  treat you like livestock headed to slaughter at the airport. The technology company that sells you their "user-friendly"wireless router that requires you several hours to set up. The events that leave you at the end of the day with that vacant look in your eyes.

Now, you might fairly argue, as an executive of a company this is one of the listed examples, that things do sometimes go wrong. OK, that's fair. Which bring us to the second level of failure. Not making it right when it accidentally went wrong.

This time, I'll begin with a positive example. I order an amazing amount of stuff from Amazon. Not only in the U.S., but also the UK as well as their facility in Germany. As such, it is hardly surprising that things have, on occasion, gone wrong. Late delivery, or something screwed up in the shipment (missing or broken). It is a very low percentage, but it does happen. When it does, Amazon makes fixing it very very simple. Their service is very user friendly. They do have some policies that prevent them from accepting your two year old toaster as a return, but my experience has been nothing but exemplary.

Contrast that with a recent experience with DHL. I was trying to track down an inbound shipment that seemed to have gone missing. I had my tracking number and all the sort of information you learn from experience you better have to get answers. In an effort to ensure I have a paper trail, I nearly always opt for e-mail exchanges with people. So, I asked them about a package that  in their own system was shown (correctly) as being destined for Poland.

Here is their response - directly cut and pasted from the e-mail:

Dear Mr. Fargo,

thank you for your request.

Please be informed that after the shipment has left Germany, the local post of UK (Royal Mail/Parcelforce) is responsible for delivery and data transmission, not DHL Germany. 
For questions regarding the delivery please contact your local post in UK.

Kind regards,

H. Hollstein

DHL Vertriebs GmbH & Co. OHG
Weidestr. 122 d
22083 Hamburg

Telefon 0228 28609898

Wow! Rather than even look into it, this person did not even attempt to find out about my package. Since I wrote to their German facility in English, he/she apparently just assumed it was a shipment to the UK. It merits mention that repeated attempts to sort this out with them were equally fruitless, this just happened to be the most comical response.

For your viewing pleasure:

Fortunately, the shipper was Amazon who credited me for the entire order, including shipping, and will apparently have someone figure it out. I wish them luck.

So what is the moral of today's story?  Do what you promise, and if you screw up, fix it. When we make promises to clients we must keep them. Even if it means being out of pocket and taking a loss. The bad will generated by the actions of many companies are only overcome when they are the only option for a certain item or need. That is an increasingly rare situation.

Always Be Committed. Not when it suits you. Not when it is easy. Make it happen. You promised. Now you must deliver.

All the best,

Tim Fargo