Thursday, June 26, 2014

Snatching the Pebble – InfoComm 2014

InfoComm 2014 is now my favorite InfoComm of all time.  Although InfoComm 2010 is a close second, since it is the year that I won Educator of the Year and that I saved a stranger from choking to death at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse by using the Heimlich Maneuver.  So, how did 2014 beat 2010?  2014 is the year that Grasshopper snatched the pebble from the Master’s hand.  At InfoComm 2014, I watched my daughter present her first (of hopefully, many) seminars at InfoComm.  She helped with a panel of experts on AV/IT Security.  Now, I may have a slightly skewed opinion, but I think she stole the session.  Below is the lesson I learned from her and one I think we can all take something away from:

It was during the Q and A portion of the presentation and one of the attendees asked a very pointed and compelling question.  The question had to do with why they should go through all of the trouble and added expense in offering IT security in their bid response when it isn't specifically asked for in the RFP and none of the other respondents are offering it.  The question led toward the conclusion that responding simply adds expense and complexity that burdens the cost and doesn't offer return on investment (in terms of increased profit).  Each of the panel members gave great technical responses having to do with the need for IT security and the responsibility technology providers have in this area.  But, my daughter Amanda’s answer was in the form of an analogy that at first didn't seem to fit.  Amanda started off talking about as a U.S. Marine, when two Marines are competing for the same spot in a unit (or a promotion) they are put in the middle of a circle of Marines.  These two Marines are left to grapple it out (wrestle).  The winner gets the job (promotion).  Amanda then brought the analogy home.  She asked “why not think of IT Security as your choke hold”.  IT Security is your move to “choke your competition out” so that you win the job.  Wow, it took breaking it down to a simple wrestling match, to remind me that when all is said and done we are competing for work.  It is not a simple equation of determining whether or not we are making enough margin or not, but whether we can “choke out” the competition.  After all, it will come down to you losing or you winning; you can choke them out or get choked out.

This brings to light a bigger issue that we need to be reminded of - How would you define your competition?  If you use words like: healthy, friendly, play well together, not really in the same business, etc. than you are sadly mistaken.  If you believe your competition is healthy or friendly you are confused.  We as competitors may be cordial and professional, but it is competitive.  We need to always think in terms of winning and losing.  Sure, play fair, do what is right, but win.  Play to win.  Choke out your competition and the only way you can choke out your competition is to have a winning (choke out) move.  This week we taught some people how to make IT Security their (choke out) move.  It doesn't matter what your move is.  Just have a move and do it better than anyone else.

You must play to WIN! 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Do What You Love, Love What You Do!

This past week I was one of the luckiest workers in the world.  Why?  I was doing what I love and I was doing it for a living.  Life is good.  It helps that I am married to a perfect woman and that I love my wife and kids.  It helps that I am a grandpa to the most awesome little grandson in the world.  But, last week all of the stars aligned.   Last week I was also doing what I love for work too.  This past week was the inaugural training event for grAVITation TECHnologies, LLC.  I was reminded what I really love doing and what I believe I was meant to do - training.  I love helping others advance their careers and to grow in their knowledge in AV/IT technology and business matters.  It probably helps that I am a ham and I love an audience.  Being somewhat technically savvy and a fairly good communicator and a wannabe comedian makes training my sweet spot.

What is your sweet spot?  Are you doing what you love?  Are you doing what pays a fair wage?  Are you doing what you can do better than anyone else?  If you can answer all of these questions with YES, than you are in your sweet spot.

I am grateful to Pro Sound and Video in Florida for helping to remind me where my sweet spot is.  This class was full of 20 awesome professionals that helped to bring out the best in my training technical abilities, communication skills, facilitation expertise and strong passion for training.  To them I say a huge THANK YOU!!!  Pro Sound and Video in Florida (and Los Angeles, CA) is a full service design-build audiovisual, communications and collaborative technology integration firm that provides solutions in entertainment, travel and tourism, corporate, government, house of worship and sports complexes.  This class was made up of an awesome team of people from Pro Sound and it was a great group to spend my first event back in the training saddle with.  I strongly recommend Pro Sound for your upcoming integration projects.

Finding your sweet spot

Doing what you love:  This is not just limited to the one thing that you think you were meant to do or the one thing that you dream about.  It does not have to come to us like American Idol contestants or actors that are finally discovered after waiting tables in Hollywood.  This can be that thing that just brings you peace or makes you feel complete and/or content.  What is it that allows you to feel well rounded and like you are contributor?  It can be the thing that answers the question, do I feel good and happy about what I do?  It takes a lot of work to find what you love doing.  You have to try many things to really find the things you are good at and that are good to you (those are usually the things you love).

Doing what makes a fair wage:  You don't have to make big money doing what you are doing, but it should be fair.  Are you making a comparable wage to what others make in this field and can you live comfortably doing so?  You should not have to sacrifice too much to do what makes you happy.  It would be counter to the goal if you have to sacrifice your way of living for happiness.  Happiness is balance and therefore requires a fair wage.  There are ways of finding the right wage for doing what you love by adding things you love as added responsibilities to what you currently get paid well for or vice-a-verse, adding things you get paid well for to the things you love doing.  It does not have to be an all or nothing.  I was a sales person for a long time and I loved it only because I was able to incorporate a lot of training into my sales techniques.  Because I could do both, I was paid fairly and was happy at what I did.

Doing what you do better (or different) than anyone else:  You will be able to do what you do best for a long time and remain happy at it for a very long time if you are doing it different (and add value) or better than anyone else.  You need the competitive edge to do something for a long time and make money at it.  If you can't compete at what you love it will have to remain a hobby and if you are trying to do a hobby for a living it can become very expensive.  In business if you don't know what you competitive edge is, you can't win.  If you want to do what you love for a long time, know how you do it better or different than anyone else and focus on that.  If you have ever been through my training you would likely agree that I do it like nobody else.  My training sessions are very unique.  I can almost guarantee that you will have fun,  That is my competitive edge.  If it comes down to it, I will educate you better than most AND you will have fun doing it.  I am, after all, (as one dear friend puts it) the "2010 Edutainer of the Year" (His spin on InfoComm Educator of the Year).

Bottom line is I love what I am doing and this week I was reminded of that.  I re-caught the bug and I am back 100% training and consulting.  Why? Because I love it!  I am one of the lucky ones who gets to do what I love for a living.  Now hurry up and book your training with grAVITation TECH so it stays that way!!!