In the past, you could discover a brand just by searching through the Yellow Pages. Entrepreneurs started their companies’ names with “A” or “AA” just so they’d come first in each category. Today, a company name must do more than appear first alphabetically; it must convey a powerful and memorable image. Creating a fantastic business name is a crucial step toward building and growing your brand. A memorable name connects with customers and sticks with them.
Here’s the dilemma for small business owners: hiring a pricey business-naming firm or branding company isn’t realistic. We have to figure out the perfect name for our company without the help of a big-budget advertising agency. And even if you spend a mint to develop a company name, there’s no assurance that customers will embrace it. FedEx is a terrific example of crowd-sourced branding. Founded in 1973, the goal of this powerful and respected brand was to provide a service that was needed in the pre-fax business community: overnight document delivery. Originally named Federal Express, the company was not affiliated in any way with the government. Perhaps its original intent was to suggest that it was an arm of the post office and somehow “federally” associated. This may have been its first naming error. Customers eventually found it easier to simply call it “Fed Ex.” The name stuck. In 2000, the company bowed to its customers’ higher wisdom and made the nickname the new brand name. Smart move for FedEx, which did over $42 billion in 2012 and has 300,000 employees. It’s a true success story. Do you think it would have dominated the market with a name like “AAA Shippers”?
In my lynda.com course Sales Skills Fundamentals, I show how creating customer value—and embracing your customers’ values—will be the most powerful drivers to selling. But how do you prompt someone to stop by your store, call you up, send you an email, or fill out your website contact form? The company name you create influences whether or not customers connect with you.
Projects have a lot of moving parts—objectives to achieve, tasks to complete, people to manage, and more. When those parts interact as smoothly as a Swiss watch, everyone involved with the project is happier: the customer, stakeholders, team members who do the work, and project manager. Here are five tips to help any project run more smoothly.
1. Start by identifying what the project is really about.
Like starting your day with a nutritious breakfast, figuring out the point of the project makes everything that follows work better. Focusing on the right goal from the beginning of the project makes it a lot easier to deliver what the customer wants at the project’s end. I can’t say it any better than Yogi Berra did: “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.”
Some project goals are obvious—for example, getting a raccoon out of your pantry. But for most projects, you need to chip away to uncover the goal and the other elements that define the project.
Prezi, if you haven’t heard yet, is the hot new presentation tool that’s sweeping the screens at events like TED and SXSW. It’s an alternative to boring PowerPoint presentations, it’s free to use, and you can present live or host your presentations on Prezi.com for the world to see.
While Prezi’s zooming and panning features bring your presentations to life, using video can add even more richness, engagement and meaning—and it’s simple to do.
Two ways to add video to a Prezi
You can add video to your prezi in two ways: link to a video on YouTube, or upload a video file directly from your hard drive and embed it into your prezi. In both cases, the video player is placed right on your canvas, and you can resize and place it wherever you like in your presentation.
Many of us understand the importance of investing money to make more money. A consistent investment strategy can help you gain a steady financial footing.
Do you have a similar plan to invest time in your professional development? Do you have a strategy to invest a little time to increase your value at your workplace?
I recommend these four steps to invest time in your professional development:
First, determine how much time, on a weekly basis, you are willing and have available to invest in your professional growth. For most people, somewhere between two and five hours a week is appropriate. Whatever you feel is appropriate, schedule that time in your calendar and set it aside as sacred.
Second, choose your area of focus. Pick an area where you don’t have responsibility yet or have yet to prove yourself. For instance, let’s say you’re a marketing assistant and want to become a marketing director. You may begin studying topics essential to becoming a marketing director and determining what types of projects and topics marketing directors initiate and manage.
Third, select your course materials for your area of focus. What do you need to study to reach your goal? As a lynda.com member, you have a wealth of classes to choose from in several areas. You can also create multiple playlists of courses that interest you and prioritize them to set learning goals. You might invest in relevant books and trade magazines or consult your local library for resources. You may also research software and company systems related to your desired position.
Fourth, make a commitment to deliver an assignment. Go to someone you know and respect and tell them what you are working on. Make a concrete commitment not only to the assignment, but also to a particular due date. Doing this will strengthen your personal commitment. It will also get the other person on your support team and possibly as an invested mentor.
These four steps are just a starting point for your professional growth. What other suggestions would you offer to help others invest in their own career? What actions have you taken that have helped you in your own career? Please comment on this page and I look forward to talking with you.
We’re excited to kick off a five-part professional development series this week designed to help you cultivate the traits of an invaluable professional. With the help of author and business coach Dave Crenshaw, we built the series around five tangible goals: developing your abilities, becoming a student of your profession, focusing on the activities that bring high value to your company, improving your professional networking, and positioning yourself as a leading expert. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a new hire, this series is designed to help you unearth your full potential to contribute, innovate, and add value to your organization—right away and in the future.
The first segment of Dave Crenshaw’s Invaluable series, Invaluable: Unlocking Your Abilities, focuses on putting together a personal action plan that allows you to harness your natural talents, match your job responsibilities to those talents, and assess your performance. With an overarching focus on self-improvement, Dave shows how to develop yourself so that you can provide genuine and ongoing value to your organization.
Why not make 2012 the year you become the asset your organization can’t live without? Leave us a comment and let us know your aspirations for the coming year.
For more on Dave Crenshaw’s Invaluable series, watch out for these four upcoming installments:
February: Invaluable: Developing Your Business Savvy
March: Invaluable: Making Yourself Irreplaceable April: Invaluable: Building Professional Connections May: Invaluable: Becoming a Leading Authority
I recently had the pleasure of presenting all the content we hope to publish for you in 2012 to our content and production teams here at lynda.com. It was a wonderful opportunity to talk in broad strokes about our teams’ collective vision for the future. If you’ve ever given a high stakes presentation in front of a large group, you know that while giving presentations is a great opportunity, they can also be quite daunting to prepare and deliver.
At the outset of my planning I found myself scrambling to remember the presentation skills I learned long ago. (Oh yes, I briefly longed for my college Public Speaking 101 notes and those mortifying VHS tapes of class speeches on global issues.) After sitting for a little while with presentation anxiety, I decided to turn to the same library that would be the subject of my presentation.
Browsing the lynda.com Online Training Library® as a member on a mission, I quickly found that our courses empowered me to compile and deliver a compelling and visually interesting presentation for my peers. It was exciting to find help waiting for me—and comforting to learn from the very authors I have the pleasure of working with each day.
In case you’re curious (or madly preparing for your own end-of-year or look-ahead presentations), here is my presentation learning-path that helped prepare and inspire me.
1. Duarte Design, Presentation Designer: Wanting to start with a good dose of inspiration, I turned to our Creative Inspirations documentary on Duarte Design. The opportunity to see how the pros create compelling presentations armed me with just enough confidence to think that maybe I could pull this off. It was here that I realized the lynda.com Online Training Library® could empower my presentation.
2. Effective Presentations (2006): After thinking about big picture, I needed some specifics, which is precisely what I found in Effective Presentations (2006). This course is one I’ll define as a classic. Built in 2006, it still has the power to inspire today. Chapter two on Mission, Goals and Story is the one that helped me organize my ideas more clearly.
3. Excel for Mac 2011 Essential Training: With my ideas taking shape, I needed to dive into some data to learn more about lynda.com viewing statistics, including, how often courses are watched, what courses are watched, and what members would like to see published in the future. This required me to brush up on my Excel for Mac 2011 skills, which helped me easily navigate lots of data with speed and efficiency.
4. Keynote ’09 Essential Training: With growing confidence backed up by numbers and solid data, I was ready to start putting my story for 2012′s business content into Keynote. Enter Keynote ’09 Essential Training, which helped this long-time PowerPoint user convert easily to the new interface and features. Pretty soon, I was tooling around with master slides, backgrounds, fonts, and styles.
6. Time Management Fundamentals: As the week went by and I got busier with this presentation, I noticed that I could easily lose track of minutes or hours if I didn’t keep my time in check. So I decided on another quick visit to Time Management Fundamentals. Dave Crenshaw reminded me that switch tasking wasn’t worth my time and that I needed to focus in on my most valuable activities, including that presentation.
7. Effective Meetings: As I started to wrap up my presentation and prepare to deliver it, I wanted to check in with Dave Crenshaw again on Effective Meetings. What would I need to know in order to get the most out of our all-day planning session? I wasn’t disappointed. The principles of successful meetings helped me determine a note-taking strategy and the best way to absorb exciting new information from my colleagues.
8. Pitching Projects and Products to Executives: Finally, the night before my presentation, I wanted another dose of inspiration and confidence to get me ready for the next morning. Pitching Projects and Products to Executives helped me develop that confidence and focus-in on conveying my story with powerful intention.
As Effective Presentations (2006) reminded me, an estimated 30 million presentations make their way in front of an audience every day, so I was in good company as I prepared to sell my ideas up, down, and sideways. I was also, it turns out, in good company when I turned to the lynda.com Online Training Library® for the tools and inspiration necessary to communicate more effectively and make a memorable impression.
I hope you’re well on your way to developing lynda.com learning paths that work for your needs and your schedule. Please share your inspiration below; we love to hear from you!
Interested in more?
• All business courses on lynda.com
My name is Bonnie Bills, and I’m Associate Program Director for lynda.com’s business channel. We’re on a mission to offer more courses that will help our members succeed in business, whether your business is a one-person operation or a large enterprise, whatever your field, your title, your skill level, or your operating system.
I’d like to share a bit about our plans here, and I invite you to share your ideas in the comments:
Microsoft Office. The most widespread digital tools for business are the Microsoft Office applications. To help our members develop their Office skills, we have more than 175 hours of training, covering the Office 2003, Office 2007, and Office 2008 for Mac applications. We have something for every skill level, and we will be releasing more intermediate and advanced courses on Office 2007 in the coming months. We’re also gearing up for the release of Office 2010, and we are extremely excited to bring some great new authors and fresh approaches to the latest release. Check out our preview courses on Office 2010. (more…)
In Product Photography for E-Commerce, designer Dane Howard shows how to take professional-looking photographs that showcase products and build buyers’ trust. Using a practical approach, Dane covers objects from collectible coins to real estate, and the lessons can be applied to just about anything that can be sold online.
When it comes time to capture images in the studio, Dane discusses how to select a camera and other equipment on any budget. He shares his favorite tips and tricks for getting the most out of camera angles, backgrounds, and scene lighting. He reviews image editing basics, such as cropping and retouching photographs, and explains how to take a presentation beyond a 360-degree view with the integration of rich media.