4 Ways America Can Win Manufacturing In The 21st Century

It’s become conventional wisdom that the last 30 years have been a hotbed of innovation, but evidence suggests otherwise. As Robert Gordon explains in The Rise and Fall of American Growth, productivity growth peaked between 1920 and 1970 and has declined ever since. Economist Tyler Cowen calls this the Great Stagnation.

Part of the reason for the dissonance is that information and communication technologies, which have been advancing quickly, make up a relatively small share of the economy — about 6% of GDP in advanced countries. Manufacturing, which makes up 17% of the global economy, gets relatively short shrift.

While all of the news isn’t bad, Deloitte recently ranked the US second to China in its Manufacturing Competitiveness Index, the fact is that we’ve lost 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000. Clearly, that’s a disturbing trend and one we need to reverse. More specifically, there are four things we need to do to ensure that we can compete in the 21st century.

1. Overcome The Silicon Valley Myth

The idea of a garage entrepreneur remains a romantic image, but not everything can developed like a software app. For advanced manufacturing especially, there are incredibly complex processes with an unfathomable number of moving parts. Each of these elements represent an opportunity to innovate, but not as a standalone proposition.

“Compared to consumer markets, industrial technologies need to check off a lot more boxes before you go from an expressed interest to a validated market opportunity,” says Ilan Gur, Executive Director of Cyclotron Road, which incubates advanced technologies.

He also points out that improving manufacturing involves a lot more than just coding software, but fundamental improvements in things like materials science and chemical engineering. “For deeper technologies, you can’t always innovate at a venture capital cadence, where you have to get big super fast. Very few of the world’s top manufacturing companies just blew up in a few years. It’s a longer term proposition,” he says.

So we need to get beyond the Silicon Valley myth that we can just leave it up to venture capital funded entrepreneurs.. In fact, if you look at just about any major component of the digital revolution — from the Internet and computer chips to GPS satellites and lithium ion batteries — early development was partially or wholly funded by the federal government. In some cases, such as Google and Qualcomm, the companies themselves started out with federal grants.

2. Build Collaboration Between Government, Industry And Academia

Beyond the technology itself, manufacturing also requires infrastructure to develop and grow. While many local governments try to lure industry with tax incentives, Mark Johnson, a former Director of the Advanced Manufacturing Office at the Department of Energy, believes that can be counter productive if it inhibits the ability to invest in local development.

“Getting bandwidth everywhere matters. Getting capital everywhere matters. If we don’t reinvest in these places, we will have a transfer of intellectual capital from the interior of the country to the coasts,” Johnson told me. He also pointed to Chattanooga as a model for others to follow. Like many other manufacturing cities, it was hit hard in the 70s and 80s, but by investing in making it a more attractive place for industry, it has experienced a revival.

One encouraging development on the federal level has been the creation of manufacturing hubs, which combine the efforts of government labs, academic researchers and private industry. At a facility I visited in Detroit, manufacturers could test new products and components in a state-of-the-art testing facility using advanced composite materials.

“Our members are looking to access unique capabilities and talent that would not be feasible within their firm and we help them minimize transactions costs in order to get that access,” John Hopkins, CEO of IACMI, the institute which runs the facility told me.

He also points out that advancing manufacturing is not just a matter of investment, but also mindset. “You have to create an environment in which people can feel confident in sharing information and insights, while at the same time protecting interests of all sides, especially with regard to intellectual property. Once you build that community, we have found that unanticipated synergies can be unlocked,” he says.

3. Addressing The Labor Shortage

One of the biggest challenges manufacturers have in the US today is an acute shortage of qualified workers. This is often attributed to a perceived “skills gap” among American workers, but evidence suggests otherwise. While it is true that advanced manufacturing requires new and upgraded skills, that is true for every industry.

In The Good Jobs Strategy, Zeynep Ton’s comprehensive study of the retail industry, she found that high performing companies invest in training — especially cross training — and make a serious effort to provide a productive work environment. So it’s possible that traditional human resources policies in manufacturing may need to be updated, especially to recruit new types of skills like data analysts.

There are, however, some deeper problems. A 2016 White House report found that high incarceration rates affects the labor participation of 6%-7% of prime working age American males. Another study by Alan Krueger found that the opioid crisis is having a deep impact and that nearly half of prime age men who are out of the labor force take pain medication daily.

So it appears that to get our economic policy right, we need to get our social policy right. Our criminal justice system regularly jails able-bodied young men for minor, non-violent offenses and opioid addiction correlates far more strongly with medical practices than with economic conditions. Both of these are eminently solvable problems.

4. Powering Atoms Into Bits

Perhaps the greatest opportunity for manufacturing in America is Industry 4.0, the marriage of traditional manufacturing with the information technology in which the US is still so dominant. Big data, advanced analytics and new computer driven technologies like 3D printing can give American industry a decisive advantage in the new century.

Manufacturers may also find organized labor a willing partner in labor implementing these technologies. Brad Markell, the Executive Director of the Industrial Union Council at AFL-CIO, told me. “As a country, we need to be doing more in technology development. American workers have the skills to leverage those technologies into a competitive advantage.”

“I’m not a believer in the robot apocalypse,” he continues. “If we are not doing what we need to improve efficiency, we are not going to be competitive. That’s why labor has been involved with automation efforts since the 1950s. The larger issue is that humans decide how the productivity benefits are distributed.”

Technology companies are, perhaps not surprisingly, even more enthusiastic. “I think we’re at the dawn of something pretty significant,” Rob Thomas, General Manager of IBM’s Analytics division told me and notes that his company is making a big push to empower industrial manufacturers and optimize their operations.

So the future can be very bright indeed. America is still, in many ways, a great place to make things. However, we need to make the right investments in basic science, translate those discoveries into actual technologies and supporting a strong, healthy labor force. We have all the resources we need. It remains to be seen whether we have the vision or the will.

Disclosure: I was previously a paid speaker at an IACMI event

It’s Time to Change the Way Your Business Communicates

The road to employee (and customer) burnout is paved with good intentions.

Here’s the problem: Almost everyone who serves customers starts out with the best of intentions. But it doesn’t take long to get worn down and burned out when you’re forced to work with tools that simply aren’t up to the task. 

Do any of these frustrations sound familiar?

• You’re forced to spend your workday using half a dozen (or more!) different platforms to communicate externally with customers and internally with your co-workers.

• You don’t have a quick, frictionless way to access even the most basic information on the customers you’re trying to service-let alone more sophisticated information like the predicted value of that customer.

• You even lack a view of what’s already been communicated to a customer, and risk embarrassment and losses:   

Agent: “Great news! I’m authorized to gift you a $10 discount code.”

Customer: “Uh…did you know that your other rep, ‘Marty,’ just sent me an identical note but saying he’s giving me a $15 discount-so I guess that means you’re saying I can combine these two?”

In my experience, most every business will strive to solve these issues for itself the best it can, using whatever technological Band-Aids and systems ingenuity it can muster-because doing so is a matter of survival. But these patchwork solutions are never very pretty; companies end up using a staggering number of different platforms in order to enable customer communications (plus a few more to handle internal communications), and a monumental number of non-integrated applications to view essential details that allow you to track and serve those customers in the first place.

An Arizona-based business, Nextiva, encountered these same challenges. In the face of this, the company, and particularly its CEO, Tomas Gorny, whose “creative impatience” (my term) is well known, grew tired of the Band-Aid approach, and the way they responded may be instructive to those of you facing a similar situation. [Note: I’ve done related work, including for Nextiva, in the course of wearing my various professional hats, which is how I got this backstory to share.] In a nutshell, they proceeded to build, from the ground up, a solution they call NextOS, which was initially intended solely for Nextiva’s use in serving its customers (the company has 150,000+ customers at present, ranging from sole proprietors to enterprise companies such as Netfix, Target, and IBM-and Nextiva’s growth velocity lands it in the Deloitte Fast 500). 

As of earlier this year, NextOS is being offered externally as well to help companies of all sizes handle what CEO Gorny calls “today’s crisis in business communications.” In Gorny’s estimation, if a company wants to thrive, it needs “a full picture of the customer,” as well as “a fully integrated toolkit when it comes to ways to communicate with that customer.” However, the tools that many companies use when they strive to accomplish this “create as many problems as they solve; they’re not truly integrated, they’re needlessly complicated, they often require extra IT staff. The resulting norm, according to our surveys and research, is that many companies use 10-15 tools for communication.”

Here are some of the business challenges that a platform solution like NextOS can help to solve:

Need: To be able to talk to customers, on all desired channels, without going through dozens of hoops. 

Solution: The ability to stay on a single screen while conversing with customers via voice, email, chat, social-whatever is the customer’s choice. Few things turn off customers today than to be told to change channels for the convenience of a brand. For an agent using a solution like NextOS, all channels can be equally convenient, with cross-channel visibility to keep everything organized and on track.

Need: To truly know your customers-to know what you’re talking when you communicate with them.

Solution: A broad view of the customer’s current situation and historical details, allowing you to resolve issues and communicate effectively. (No more redundant communications that waste the time of the customer and agent and can undermine your company’s credibility.) 

Need: To know the future value of your customer as well, particularly when deciding how far to go in compensating for service mishaps. 

Solution: Analytics that can predict the customer’s likely future state and value to the company.

Need: To know what’s going on in your contact center, and across your company, in useful detail with immediate visibility.

Solution: The ability to view, analyze, and act in real time on what’s happening at your desk and all around you.

Need:  More efficiency in the work processes that serve customers.

Solution:  Intelligently-automated workflows, informed by NLP and machine learning, for customer communications, including service resolution and marketing. For example, a damaged shipment valued at more than $200 for a customer with a high-predicted-value to the company could receive an email apology, then a telephone follow-up, then a replacement shipment and a personal gift. But a lower-value customer with a damaged shipment valued at less than $50 might only receive a discount coupon sent by email and a replacement shipment, but nothing more. Rather than having to make these judgment calls each time, what if your system could set this all up for you automatically?

*****

There are certainly other ways to slice and dice these challenges, and whatever solution(s) you come up with, it’s essential you get working on this problem now-and move on beyond the Band-Aid approach. Because a business can only truly thrive in the long run once you start working for your business rather than banging your head against the wall because your business–your day-to-day business operation, as it pertains to customer service and support-doesn’t really work.

Want To Wake Up Deliriously Happy To Go To Work? Do These 3 Things Now

How many of us sit at our desks, at a coffee shop, or in an office on autopilot, plugging away at daily tasks that feel less like the stimulating routine we envisioned and more like a daily grind.

For most of us, work equates to just that, work. It’s something we do to pay the bills, to support our families, it’s not something we necessarily need to be happy doing. But I’m here to shift your thinking. Why can’t you be deliriously happy at work? There’s no rule that says you have to settle for anything less than work that inspires you and allows you to truly shine.

Here are 3 things you can do right now to bring more challenge and fulfillment to your everyday work experience:

Define Success for Yourself: Success is a very personal thing. What motivates one person can vary drastically for another.  For me, success is spending the majority of my time focused on work or tasks that are fulfilling, leveraging my Zone of Genius, maximizing my potential and helping others in a meaningful way. Think of what your own version of success is, write it down, and make sure that your job and career is providing the kind of success that’s important to you.

Embrace who you are and pinpoint your Genius:  Your genius involves the kind of thinking and problem solving that keeps you in your sweet spot of challenge. Ask yourself “When are you in the zone?” Pay attention to those moments and identify the type of thinking that you’re doing when you’re in the zone. Isolate what that is and put a name to it, that’s your genius. Next, value it and use it as much as possible. It’s a superpower that you possess, and it’s the key to being challenged in the right way at work

Fully Leverage your Purpose: Everyone deserves to feel that their work is contributing to something that’s meaningful to them. When you aren’t clear on your purpose, you start to think you should be doing things to change the world on the weekends or outside of work to make up for the lack of fulfillment you’re experiencing in your day job. Leveraging your purpose at work will allow you to start experiencing fulfillment every day, which plays a significant role in happiness.

At a time where working on cruise control is commonplace, don’t settle for anything less than something that energizes you. Feeling challenged and fulfilled at work isn’t a pipe dream.

6 Soft Skills You Need to Land Your Next Job

Some of the most important qualities as a job candidate are the hardest ones to list on a resume.

Specific traits, beyond technical skills, are what a discerning recruiter or employer is looking for when making a hiring decision. These qualities are called “soft skills,” desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that do not depend on acquired knowledge: they include common sense, the ability to deal with people, and a positive flexible attitude.

When bringing new employees aboard, managers consider attitude as much as aptitude. Some believe you can train employees for the specific skills they need to do the job. Hiring a candidate with the right demeanor may actually be a better choice than hiring someone who is rigid, set in their ways and has years of experience.

Here are 6 tips to give you an edge at your next job interview.

Be eager to learn. Technology has ushered change into virtually every field, which means many industries are constantly – and quickly – evolving. Employers want to feel confident in your ability to adjust, switch gears and actively seek opportunities to learn new skills. Your job description is a template to follow. It’s your responsibility to continue to add value to your position through continued growth, letting your interviewer know you are ready and able to step up to the challenge.

Highlight your communication skills. How well you speak, write and listen will be revealed throughout your interactions with your interviewer. It’s important to make sure you are at the top of your game. Any written communication, even a brief email confirming your interview time, must be free of errors and casual abbreviations, with all names spelled correctly (don’t guess; double-check).

Show enthusiasm. It doesn’t mean you have to bounce off the walls with over-the-top zeal. You just have to show a genuine interest in the job, the company and the opportunity. Demonstrate this by doing your homework in advance, understanding the company mission, its history and who the company caters to as a client. In other words, show your research skills and ask questions. Body language also plays a part: sit up straight, make eye contact, smile genuinely and look alive.

Be a good listener. While it’s important to showcase your abilities, a solid interviewee knows the value of thoughtful contemplation. Don’t interrupt the interviewer or get ahead of yourself and lose sight of the conversation. Show respect for the interviewer by allowing them to finish a thought, while you process their statement or point of view and then respond at the appropriate time. Asking a question which has already been answered shows immaturity or lack of focus on your part.

Emphasize your collaborative spirit. Teamwork is part of almost any job. Employers want to know that they are hiring people who work well with a variety of people and can help bring out the best in others. Offering examples of successful collaborative efforts, both with co-workers and clients, can help let them know that you are a team player. An “it’s not my job” attitude is the kiss of death for any employee over the long term.

Spotlight Your Integrity. Being a leader is not about where you sit on the company org chart. It’s more about your ability to show good judgment, display a solid work ethic,  face challenges with calm and confidence; and show loyalty to the company, peers and the overall brand. A good job candidate must also be a good community member and trusted friend. Business and pleasure often overlap. Be careful to speak only positive words about your former employer, a business associate or a neighbor.

You Need To Prepare Your Business For The Cognitive Age

In the early 1990s, established businesses were blindsided by the disruptive force of the Internet. Even those who invested heavily in IT infrastructure soon found that they had difficulty competing with nimble new upstarts who could deploy web based applications at blinding speed.

It was with this in mind that IBM launched its e-business initiative in 1996. Although considered by many at the time to be an aging dinosaur itself — it was close to bankruptcy three years earlier — it was able to leverage its expertise in legacy systems to transform business processes and prepare its customers for the Internet age.

Today a similar tidal wave of disruption is sweeping through the corporate world — artificial intelligence — and, once again, IBM sees a big opportunity. Much like in the early days of the Internet, there is enormous value to be unlocked, but legacy systems are not set up to leverage it. It’s not enough to simply apply algorithms, you need to prepare your business for a new age.

Building An AI Application vs. Building An AI Enterprise

These days, everybody can access capabilities that would have seemed like science fiction a decade ago. Using so-called “no-code” platforms like Mendix, Zudy and Quick Base, even those with little or no technical training can pull powerful tools from places like Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft’s Azure and IBM’s Bluemix.

To understand how it works, think about a retail brokerage that wants to create an app that allows its customers to access their account information using only their voice. Employing existing infrastructure to access the account, they can pull voice recognition technology in through API’s and make it available on mobile phones or in a “smart speaker” like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home.

With just a few more clicks, the application can be connected to data API’s to access market information so that customers can find out how the the market did today. Once again, the technology is now simple enough that an ordinary marketing manager can build the app with little help from the IT staff.

However, from there things get dicey. If, for example, a customer wants to open a new account from the same app or access analyst reports, different systems come into play and these are often incompatible with each other. So if you want to truly leverage the data in your enterprise, building applications is not enough. You need to become AI ready.

Making Your Enterprise AI Ready

A typical enterprise today is sitting on a wealth of data that it has been collecting for decades, but most of it is inaccessible because it was collected for a specific purpose. For example, a retail brokerage might have different systems for customer accounts, trading, market analysis and so on.

Typically, each of these were built at different times with different technologies, so most organizations have valuable data spread across a variety of platforms and formats. Some of it is in traditional databases, some in hadoop clusters and some strewn across the enterprise in Excel worksheets. It’s all there somewhere, but getting to it can be an enormous problem.

Another issue is with data governance. Because data was collected at different times for different purposes, it is often stored in different formats. There is also often significant duplication. A customer’s account in a retail brokerage, for example, might have different versions for customer service, billing, marketing and so on. Some of these might also have collected different information, like address changes and maiden names over the years.

“To prepare for AI, you first need to build a unified and integrated data environment,” Rob Thomas, General Manager at IBM Analytics told me. “Much like in the previous transformation to a web powered enterprise, there’s no simple recipe. Every enterprise is different and needs to build its own data culture. But if you want to do AI at scale, you need to make your data AI ready.”

Data Driven Business Models

Most businesses start thinking about AI in terms of their current business model. Using basic AI applications to automate customer service, for example, can save time and improve customer satisfaction. If a customer can check on their account merely by asking, “how did my portfolio do today?” while they’re stuck in traffic, that’s far more efficient than having to call a broker.

However, Thomas sees far more potential in using AI to transform business models. To understand how, imagine a typical meeting with a broker 20 or 30 years ago. A good broker would spend some time analyzing the account history, reviewing the customer’s investment objectives and exploring options to improve performance.

The Internet streamlined this process, allowing an investment advisor to access information much more quickly. So in the process of a short phone call, she could revise her analysis based on changes in customer needs. For example, if customer informed her broker that investment objectives shifted from saving for college to saving for retirement, a new analysis could be produced in a few clicks.

With an AI powered enterprise, its the analytics itself that can be transformed. So if a customer wants to know how her portfolio could be affected by a rise in interest rates, todays systems can access not only databases, but unstructured data like analyst reports and predictive algorithms. What’s really exciting is the potential for customers to be able to query the systems themselves, using their mobile phone or smart speaker.

Take the story to its logical conclusion and it becomes clear that we’re not only talking about a change in data or analytics, but a very different kind of business. Once customers can access the systems themselves, brokers need to provide a very different kind of service. Instead of merely providing answers, they will need to learn how to coach their customers how to ask the system better questions.

Shifting The Data Mindset

Before the Internet, most large enterprises acted as gatekeepers for information. They knew much more about the performance and pricing of their products than customers and could leverage those asymmetries to juice profits. The web changed all that and businesses needed to adapt to survive.

Today, we’re in the midst of a similar transformation, but instead of information its expertise itself that is becoming democratized. Powerful analytics, combined with artificial intelligence applications that not only recognize voice and visual inputs, but indeed learn themselves, are making it possible for machines to perform tasks that were once considered intensely human.

IBM’s Thomas believes that this means that enterprises need to change the way they see data. “Traditionally data has been all about reporting on historical performance — ‘tell me what happened,'” he says. “But today data needs to be more forward looking, we to be able need to use it to predict, anticipate and advise.

That means that once again businesses will need to adapt. Just as the web made it essential for organizations to open up their data, the AI era will make it necessary for enterprises to share their expertise. But before that can happen, we first must make our data ready for it.

1 Mentor Isn’t Enough. You Need to Build a Personal Board of Advisers

Mentors can provide an inspiring source of personal and professional advice; serve as a sounding board for working through tough problems; and offer a safe space for sharing your aspirations and your fears.

Finding mentors can be tough, though, and when you do find them, no single mentor is likely to have the ability to help you in all aspects of your professional or personal life. That’s why you should consider assembling your own personal board of advisers comprised of several different mentors

Think of yourself as your own company with you at the helm as CEO (and COO). Like a company would appoint a board of directors, think of whom you can appoint to your personal board of advisers who can provide expertise that you lack, and, of course, who are both available and interested in serving on your “board.”

In an article published in the Spring 2015 issue of the MIT Sloan Management Review, three academics shared their findings from three separate studies they conducted on the topic of mentors and personal boards of advisers. The first study was a series of in-depth interviews they conducted with 64 expat professionals and managers in Singapore and China. The second was an analysis of 176 speeches by successful people who had been inducted into athletic and professional halls of fame. 

They then validated the findings from these two studies with a third study which included a comprehensive survey of 315 alumni of two Northeastern US universities. 

Their studies of the expats and “Hall of Famers” showed that they sought professional and psychosocial support from multiple people. They found that “most of the members of these individuals’ personal boards of advisers played an active role in supporting the individuals’ career and personal development. However, both the expats and the Hall of Famers also mentioned the importance of people who had passed away but continued to motivate and inspire them.”

From these three studies, they identified six types of personal board members based on the kind of support the person provided (career and/or psychosocial) and the nature of the interaction with the protege (the frequency and/or closeness): personal guides, personal advisers, full-service mentors, career advisers, career guides, and role models.

The researchers offer three recommendations for individuals seeking to build their own personal board of advisers:

1. Develop self-awareness.

“Creating a helpful board of advisers depends largely on an individual’s accurate assessment of his or her strengths and weaknesses and career and psychosocial needs and goals, along with a realistic view of how much time and effort he or she can put toward such efforts. This means that individuals should develop strong self-awareness…through journals, learning logs, and after-action reviews.”

2. Broaden membership in your personal board of advisers. 

“Like a diverse portfolio of investments, it is important to have a diversified network with personal advisory board members from multiple sources, since network diversity with both strong and weak ties is instrumental in accessing nonredundant information, is conducive to personal learning and identity development, and helps enhance psychological security and self-esteem.”

3. Allow your network to evolve and change.

“A developmental network needs to evolve over time as one’s career unfolds and one’s life changes. The fit between the individual and the network is based on two drivers: (1) an accurate assessment of one’s needs; (2) the ability to initiate and cultivate effective relationships with the ‘right’ people based on the time and effort available and the amount and depth of interaction desired.”

Why Hiring a Sales Coach Could Be the Best Business Decision You Make

Late last year, I made my best business decision yet. I hired a sales coach.

One morning after my workout I was sipping my cup of Earl Grey, reading an online story about Rachel Sheerin, owner of She Sells. I liked that she focuses on helping women in creative fields. I emailed her immediately. We met. We clicked. I signed on for a month of intensive sales coaching. Since then, my confidence has grown in every way and so has my business. 

Here’s what I learned.

1. Really get to know your ideal customer. 

The first time we met, Rachel asked who my ideal clients are. I laughed and said, “Anyone who pays well and on time.” I was surprised to not have better answer. We then talked about past clients and envisioned prospective clients. What do they read, drive or watch on TV? What are their values? We then pored over images from royalty-free photo websites Pixabay and Unsplash to find images to use on my business website. Honestly, it seemed a little much before it started making sense. 

You need to be able to spot your ideal clients wherever you go — gym, coffee shop, networking groups. And prospects need to see themselves in what you present on your website and social media. 

2. Nail your story.

In life B.R. (Before Rachel), I took for granted people’s understanding of public relations. But my ideal clients include individual professionals who may never have worked with a PR pro. I needed to better explain what PR is and why it’s important. As a lifelong storyteller — as a journalist turned PR pro — it was humbling to realize that my own storytelling needed some work. 

Take every opportunity to deliver your pitch. Try it out on your spouse or partner, your best friend, those in your networking groups. What questions keep popping up? Make sure to provide answers on your website and marketing materials. 

3. Make email work for you throughout the sales cycle.

Rachel: “Do you know about Gmail canned responses?” No. But now I have pre-written emails at the ready — with minor customizations — for every step of the sales process. I have a pre-meeting email with a short electronic questionnaire, post-meeting follow-up email, proposal and contract delivery emails and post-client email with a survey.

You might not use these canned emails every time. But they will come in handy as you stop over analyzing each email or next step. And while you should make the effort to customize these prepared responses, they do offer a sense of professional detachment. You will no longer feel like this is the make-or-break email for your next ideal client. Canned emails are a good email habit, one that can expedite landing new clients. 

4. Have a website that sells for you.

Before sales coaching, my website lacked a single call to action, except on the contact page, where I provided my contact information. Now there is one on every page.

“Hire Amy!” 

“Contact Amy”

“Learn More”

5. Ask the right questions.

These days I go into meetings with prospective clients knowing I need the answers to four questions, which you can adapt to your industry.

What prompted you to reach out to a PR pro?

What are your goals for PR?

Have you worked with a PR pro before?

What kind of investment are you looking to make to achieve your PR goals?

If you don’t get the answers to those four questions, your proposal is a shot in the dark.

That last one is the toughest. You might have to offer a range. Don’t let it rest with non-answers like “Well, I wouldn’t have any idea” or “Let’s see what you come up with.”

6. Assume the sale.

Used to be that I’d email a prospect a proposal and then check in. No urgency and, as with my website, no call to action. Now when I send proposals, I am more likely to include a contract and payment instructions, such as a customized PayPal link.

Show your prospects you are ready to get to work for them.

7. Remember: Silence is golden.

After you quote your price, “Sit back and shut up,” Rachel says. This is hard. We often want offer explanations or justifications. Don’t do it. You can negotiate later, but don’t undercut yourself from the get-go. 

Sometimes your best tactic is silence.

8. Bottom line: It’s your business.

There are no rules. It’s your business.

Your fees are your fees. It’s your business.

You can say yes. You can say no. It’s your business.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need to be reminded that it’s my business. (Thanks, Rachel.)

9. You got this. And you’re killing it.

Rachel helped me see that I am already successful. There’s no waiting for success. Sure, I want bigger and better things and always will. But right now, in this moment I am doing something great, something others dream of doing but don’t have the guts.

I’m killing it. You’re killing it.