One of the things I love about the World Wide Web is the ability to track down your favorite poem, book, or movie simply by entering keywords into a search engine. Here's a poem that I have posted next to my desk:
Sometimes, oh, often, indeed, in the midst of ugly adversity, beautiful
You awake in wonder, you awake at half-past four,
Wondering what wonder is in store.
You reach for your clothes in the dark and pull them on, you
have no time
Even to wash your face, you have to climb Megunticook.
You run through the sleeping town; you do not arouse
Even a dog, you are so young and so light on your feet.
What a way to live, what a way...
No breakfast, not even hungry. An apple, though,
In the pocket.
And the only people you meet are store-windows.
The path up the mountain is stony and in places steep,
And here it is really dark -- wonderful, wonderful,
Wonderful -- the smell of bark
And rotten leaves and dew! And nobody awake
In all the world but you! --
Who lie on a high cliff until your elbow ache,
To see the sun come up over Penobscot Bay.
-Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
Thursday, March 30, 2006
One of the things I love about the World Wide Web is the ability to track down your favorite poem, book, or movie simply by entering keywords into a search engine. Here's a poem that I have posted next to my desk:
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
I started work on a request today on change management, an area I’ve looked at often in previous incarnations as a librarian for an HR consultancy and as it is something we all have to face, it might be interesting to see how the “experts” think it should be done. Many of our established clients are faced with the reality of shifting gears after years in the business, perhaps they can put some of these ideas to use. Here are a few direct lifts from sites explaining change theory.
Change Management 101: A Primer
Fred Nickols 2004
Fred Nickols of Distance Consulting provides an overview but succinctly boils down some basic strategies:
Four Basic Change Management Strategies
Four Basic Change Management Strategies
People are rational and will follow their self-interest — once it is revealed to them. Change is based on the communication of information and the proffering of incentives.
People are social beings and will adhere to cultural norms and values. Change is based on redefining and reinterpreting existing norms and values, and developing commitments to new ones.
People are basically compliant and will generally do what they are told or can be made to do. Change is based on the exercise of authority and the imposition of sanctions.
People oppose loss and disruption but they adapt readily to new circumstances. Change is based on building a new organization and gradually transferring people from the old one to the new one.
Factors in Selecting A Change Strategy
- Degree of Resistance.
Strong resistance argues for a coupling of power-coercive and environmental-adaptive strategies. Weak resistance or concurrence argues for a combination of Empircal-Rational and normative-reeducative strategies.
- Target Population.
Large populations argue for a mix of all four strategies, something for everyone so to speak.
- The Stakes.
High stakes argue for a mix of all four strategies. When the stakes are high, nothing can be left to chance.
- The Time Frame.
Short time frames argue for a power-coercive strategy. Longer time frames argue for a mix of empirical-rational, normative-reeducative, and
Having available adequate expertise at making change argues for some mix of the strategies outlined above. Not having it available argues for reliance on the power-coercive strategy.
This is a classic double-edged sword. If the organization is dependent on its people, management's ability to command or demand is limited.
Conversely, if people are dependent upon the organization, their ability to oppose or resist is limited. (Mutual dependency almost always signals a requirement for some level of negotiation.)
Change Management Learning Center
Sponsored by Prosci
2005 Best Practices in Change Management
Benchmarking report411 organizations share best practices in change management
Key report findings:
- The #1 contributor to project success is active, strong and visible sponsorship throughout the project. The top obstacles to successful change are employee resistance at all levels: front-line, middle managers, and senior managers and inadequate senior management sponsorship. Employees want to hear messages about change from two people: the CEO and their immediate supervisor - the message they want to hear from each individual is very different.
- When asked what they would do differently next time, most teams would dedicate resources to change management.
- The top reason for employee resistance is a lack of awareness about the change.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Every once in a while, one of our centers gets a call from a reporter. That was the case last Tuesday, when the 2002 SURVEY OF BUSINESS OWNERS (SBO) came out with the release of the Final Estimates of Business Ownership by Hispanic or Latino Origin. It showed that the Hispanic-Owned Firms: 2002 in the Albany area actually dropped in relation to 1997, though the population had increased.
Complicating the story further was the fact that the the 1997 data were in SIC, while the 2002 data were NAICS-based. Also, the definition of the Albany metro area changed. The Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY MSA used to include Albany County, Montgomery County, Rensselaer County, Saratoga County, Schenectady County, and Schoharie County. The current definition, however, excludes Montgomery County.
There's a new beast in the Census terminology, though, the Combined Statistical Area. The Albany-Schenectady-Amsterdam, NY CSA includes the newly configured Albany-Schenectady-Troy Metropolitan Statistical Area, the Amsterdam, NY Micropolitan Statistical Area, the Glens Falls, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area, the Gloversville, NY Micropolitan Statistical Area, and the Hudson, NY Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Micropolitan? If you REALLY want to know the definition of all of these terms go here.
Regardless, Amsterdam, NY Micropolitan Statistical Area is Montgomery County; Gloversville, NY Micropolitan Statistical Area is Fulton County; Hudson, NY Micropolitan Statistical Area is Columbia County, NY; (Glens Falls, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area is Warren County and Washington County).
This was SO convoluted that, uncharacteristically, I ended up speaking to the reporter myself, the results of which are found here. Generally, though, we prefer to remain the background, trying to make our advisors look good.
N.Y. Leads Boom in Hispanic Business, according to Hispanic Business magazine.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Demographics is at the heart of nearly every question we answer at the RN. To do so, we have several tools at our disposal, including several from New Stragetist Publications.
I recently learned of a blog now being published by this publisher on the subject of demographics. It's called DemoMemo, and can be found here. Its primary author is a woman named Cheryl Russell, who also once worked with the late, lamented magazine American Demographics. It's updated nearly every day, and is filled with references to demographics - sources, data, interpretations, etc. - that are quite interesting and bound to be useful not only to librarians, but to your clients as well.
Friday, March 24, 2006
The New York State Small Business Awards are presented annually to honor outstanding small businesses.
Awards are presented to the Small Business Person of the Year (last year's winner-Frank S. Falatyn, President and CEO of FALA Technologies, Inc.); Small Business Advocate of the Year (last year- Raymond M. Nowicki, managing partner of Nowicki & Co.) ; and Small Business Not-for-Profit Organization of the Year (last year- Staten Island Economic Development Group)during a ceremony which recognizes the exceptional achievements of the award winner.
All completed applications are considered. The governor may also designate candidates for honorable mention. Any small business is eligible for nomination.
Applications for the New York State 2006 Small Business Awards are available here. The deadline is April 30, 2006. For more information, please contact the Small Business Division of Empire State Development at 518 292-5220.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Besides doing reference, each librarian is responsible for various other duties. I update the web site and this week that has focused on the upcoming U.S. - China Trade & Business Development Conference in Albany. Logos have been added for various organizers and sponsors, the agenda has been tweaked, and a PDF questionnaire was posted this morning. I added a Times Union article that highlights the conference in the news section. And you'll notice a direct link to the conference details on the homepage. If you haven't already registered or passed on the details to some of your clients, please visit the conference web site.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
So, I started with the idea that I would highlight the issue of finding venture capital for start-ups after reading a brief article in the April issue Entrepreneur Magazine entitled All Aboard? By C.J. Prince “Is your company’s concept so cutting edge that investors won’t touch it? Here’s
how to get their attention- and their money.” The article suggests taking proactive steps while waiting to hear from VCs and sweetening the deal. The Entrepreneur site also has many other articles on their site relating to raising venture capital,
But, while looking for tidbits on brand new ventures finding investors I happily ended up on Paul Graham’s website who wrote Hackers & Painters among other titles. I got caught up reading How to Fund a Startup, Nov 2005 and got sucked in. Mr. Graham is also a partner in Y Combinator, which is described as a venture firm focusing on software and web start-ups. Paul Graham, an essayist, and program designer and it seems, all-round big-head. Besides an impressive background, he is a good read. Honest, funny, and straight-talking
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Ranking tables are charts that rank states, counties and places by a variety of criteria. Some examples are the percent of:
You can find this information on the Census page.
A couple notes: the 2004 ACS covers only places with 250,000 or more people. Future surveys will cover smaller geographies.
Here's the Census press release on the topic from last month:
Carolinas Lead in Mobile Homes
South Carolina leads the nation in the percentage of houses that are mobile homes (18.8 percent), followed by North Carolina (16.8), New Mexico (16.6), and West Virginia (16.0). At the bottom of the list are Hawaii (0.2), New Jersey (0.9), Rhode Island (1.0), and Massachusetts (1.0). The information comes from the 2004 American Community Survey available in American FactFinder.
Among cities of 250,000 or more people, Mesa, Arizona leads the way in percentage of mobile homes at 12.3 percent, with Tucson next at 7.7 percent. Among counties of 250,000 or more, three in Florida head the list: Polk (28.4), Pasco (27.6), and Lake (24.8). Hidalgo County, Texas (22.5) and Manatee County, Florida (19.0) round out the top five.
You can find this table by coming to FactFinder, selecting "get data" under American Community Survey, and then selecting "Ranking Tables." You'll find an extensive list of tables with rankings on many subjects for states, counties, and places.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Back on January 30th, I posted a bit about a dubious company calling itself "SBA Express". Among other things, the post warned against "phishing," a common method of conducting fraud by e-mail scammers.
However, a recent article in the New York Times talks about a new form of cybertheft. Here's an excerpt:
"In some countries, like Brazil, [phishing] has been eclipsed by an even more virulent form of electronic con - the use of keylogging programs that silently copy the keystrokes of computer users and send that information to the crooks. These programs are often hidden inside other software and then infect the machine, putting them in the category of malicious programs known as Trojan horses . . .
These criminals aim to infect the inner workings of computers in much the same way that mischief-making virus writers do. The twist here is that the keylogging programs exploit security flaws and monitor the path that carries data from the keyboard to other parts of the computer. This is a more invasive approach than phishing, which relies on deception rather than infection, tricking people into giving their information to a fake Web site."
This is yet another reason to remind clients - as well as those on your campuses who administer your computer system - to update constantly the antivirus software for your machine. While it's not a cure-all for this & other cyberattacks, it's better than doing nothing.
To read the rest of the article, go here. NOTE: You'll need to register with the Times' Web site (if you haven't already). It's free and painless.
ALSO - A representative of the Anti-Phishing Working Group is quoted in the article. Their Web site can be found here.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
We are often asked to do research on a particular franchise. Recently, I learned of a resource for franchise offering circulars (UFOC). In NYS, the client may call the Office of the Attorney General to find out if a certain franchise is registered with the state. If so, the client can obtain a copy of the franchise offering circular on file, but must pay for the photocopying costs. Now, the State of California has scanned the franchise offering circulars and makes them freely available through the Web via the Cal-EASI Database: http://www.corp.ca.gov/caleasi/caleasi.htm or http://184.108.40.206/caleasi/pub/exsearch.htm.
This morning, I typed 'Juice Zone' into the company name field of the Cal-EASI Database. The results showed a Franchise Registration on file. By clicking on that 'Franchise Registration' link, I could then view a list of available documents - including the Offering Circular. Most (or all) of the documents are in PDF format which requires Adobe Acrobat Reader. Also, the Offering Circulars can be quite lengthy and take a while to load (the Juice Zone circular is 144 pages long). On a technical note, the Cal-EASI Database works best with Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or later or Netscape 7.0 or later. Next time your client is interested in a franchise, check the Cal-EASI Database to obtain a copy of the offering circular. Note that the franchisor still has to register with the State of New York. Each state has its own requirements regarding disclosure for franchises or business opportunities.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
The Man Who Said No to Wal-Mart
Issue 102 January 2006 by Charles Fishman
“Every year, thousands of executives venture to Bentonville, Arkansas, hoping to get their products onto the shelves of the world's biggest retailer. But Jim Wier wanted Wal-Mart to stop selling his Snapper mowers.”A good article about how one guy took the long view, understood his company’s own mission and stayed true.
Charles Fishman also writes the Wal-Mart Blog, on the Fast Company website.
This entry I found interesting. I have wondered with the huge backlash against Wal-Mart and (at least in my part of the world) the desire to support local business instead of national monoliths, how Wal-Mart would respond, if at all. In this blog Charles Fishman tells how Wal-Mart does seem to be responding to the market and how no-one is picking up the story. I imagine people feel it may be too soon to congratulate them when there is so much else wrong with how they do business. But it does seem that Wal-Mart is beginning to address some issues that many consumers have.
In TheStreet.com’s article: Nat Worden 3/8/2006, Worden describes Wal-Mart’s latest efforts to respond to their shoppers:
“Wal-Mart's senior vice president of marketing, Stephen Quinn, said the retailer would have more than 400 stock-keeping units of organic foods in its stores this summer at the kind of low price points that have long been the company's bread and butter.”With the growing number of books, articles and films on what Wal-Mart is doing wrong, it seems the giant is waking up.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
I got an e-mail from a business, Brand Identity Guru a leading Corporate Branding and Branding Research firm, located in Boston, Massachusetts, which is trying to sell its services. Can't speak to that, but there is some common sense in the introduction:
What Is Corporate Identity, Brand Identity & Brand Image?
1. Corporate identity:
Corporate identity is a company's visual presence, which involves the corporate logo and design strategy for corporate marketing collateral. Corporate identity does not encapsulate brand identity, which is best defined as the soul of your company. However, a corporate identity may, and often does, reflect a brand identity. But some ad agencies, marketing companies and graphic design agencies would have you believe that brand identity is the same thing as corporate identity and that changing a logo or design strategy will change the brand identity. However, this is not the case. There are many intangible factors that weigh in on a brand identity. Such cosmetic changes can help a brand identity by making it evident to customers that a company cares about its appearance, but that's about the extent of its power. A corporate identity does, however, need to evolve with the times. Failure to do so can negatively affect a company's brand identity, but care must also be taken to not overly revise the presentation of a brand, lest customers be concerned about the state of a company. Corporate identity, along with organizational culture, product quality, service reputation, features, benefits, performance and value, are some of the key factors of brand identity.
2. Brand Identity - it's the essence of your company:
Brand identity is the complete package of a business to its customers. It includes the company's service reputation, product quality, features, benefits, performance, employee's and value. It is the summation of all these things, which create brand identity.
3. Brand image:
Brand Image is the market's perception of your brand identity, which may or may not coincide with your intended brand identity. Companies must work hard at the daunting task of getting brand identity and brand image to align or hire a true branding company.
A branding company can show you how success starts with the brand identity. Do you have a branding strategy? Are your employees aware of it and able to be ambassadors for your company's brand during interactions with the outside world? Are you making the most strategically sound decisions for your brand? Do you know your customer's perceptions of your brand?
If your answer is no to any of those questions, take the first step in being able to answer yes to all of them and success.
The Brand Strength Challenge
We dare you to measure the strength of your brand. Of course you must be completely honest with your answers. Take the test, you may learn something about your brand that you were unaware of:
Related Branding Articles:
What is branding
The aiuthor modestly notes: "Scott White is a very enthusiastic speaker and has the gift of being able to explain the principles of branding in a compelling and entertaining manner so that people at all levels can understand."
We have discovered that when you call the SBDC offices and you use some of the menu items, they may not work the first time. For instance, when you dial my extension, or the Research Network's, you may get a message suggesting that it is an invalid extension; it is not. You may experience a similar problem when using the name menu.
I recommend dialing the same extension number again, or try the name menu again.
Our technical support people are aware of the problem and are trying to identify the cause.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Mary Hoffman pointed out to me recently the Tech-Based Economic Development Resource Center. This Web site features a searchable database collection of 3,700 reports, written by government, industry, foundation and private sources on a wide variety of subjects.
These subjects include entrepreneurship, small business, manufacturing, information technology, and several others. You can search by topic, geography of origin, date of publication, author, and/or keyword. You can combine these fields in a search to find more precise content (for instance, a search combining "New York" and "small business" yields a 2002 report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York called "Small Business: Big Challenge - A Survey of Small Firms in Upstate New York"). Links to the Web site of the original report are provided.
This is a handy tool when doing prep work for legislative visiting/testifying, or preparing responses to RFPs, or the many other policy-driven aspects of our work.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Several new real estate web sites have emerged. I found Zillow particularly of interest. In a Newsday article, columnist Meghan Daum succinctly describes what the site will do for you: "When the address of almost any home in the United States is typed into the system, Zillow provides an estimate of the market value of the property, the most recent sale price of that property, the approximate square footage, the values of the neighboring homes and a satellite photo of the whole street. " Zillow isn't quite perfect yet as it is still technically in the beta phase. My own testing showed that my parents' house was estimated at $100,000 more than recent sale prices of other homes in the neighborhood, but the site is adding more data every day.
Sites like Zillow and others could affect the real estate agent profession. In New Scotland, New York, the assessor's office has recently reassessed every home in the town. That data - including a photo of the home, square footage, ownership, recent sales and full value - can be accessed with a click of a mouse. No longer do you have to visit the town clerk's office to look up comparables - one of the services offered by a licensed real estate agent. The World Wide Web could ultimately change the way we buy and sell homes.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Every once in awhile I come across a site that is so helpful I don't even want to pull anything down for a request, I just want the business owner to go there directly. This is one of them. While I have used it to pull off a piece of information, I think it is a resource food entrepreneurs should be familiar with. The Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship at the New York State Food Venture Center is a wonderful resource for food product manufacturers. It is a concise site but with very practical information.
For instance, the listing of Small Co-packers and Commercial Kitchens is a good place to start for those looking to get started and includes packers of Kosher and gluten-free products.
They offer a page on developing a business plan for the specialty food marketer as well as a brief guide to getting a product to market; a list of trade group links and agencies; a flowchart of sorts describing the process of product development and information on required product analyses for particular foods.
They produce an electronic newsletter with industry news and entrepreneur profiles. Cornell Extension is helpful in many areas but this is a favourite. And of course they offer their advisors with expertise in all stages of product development.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
By Alan Sharpe
If the most important part of any business-to-business direct mail package is the list, how can you be sure that you have a good list before you drop your money (and your reputation) in the mailbox? Answer: Ask the right questions before you rent that list.
1. Who is on the list, exactly? Knowing makes all the difference. So make sure you can select names by job title or function.
2. What is the source of the list? Is the list a compiled list, where names and addresses are compiled into a list from directories, newspapers, trade show registrations and other public sources? Or is the list an opt-in list (such as subscribers to a particular trade publication, or buyers from an online store)? Lists of names that are compiled from phone books and directories usually age more quickly than names from opt-in lists and usually produce more undeliverable mail.
3. Are the names on the list known buyers? The best B2B lists contain names of business people who have bought your product or service or one like it, regardless of how they bought it (online, by mail, retail).
4. How recently did they buy? In the trade, we call this recency. Prospects who bought a product or service like yours recently are better prospects than ones who purchased years ago.
5. How often do they buy? We call this frequency—how often someone buys. Naturally, someone who buys your product or service often is a better prospect than someone who buys less frequently.
6. How much do they spend? We call this monetary value, and it's the third component in the standard test of mailing list quality—recency, frequency, monetary value. Buyers who spend the most are the best prospects for your mailing.
7. Are the people on the list "direct-mail responsive?" Sometimes a list owner or list broker will know if the names on her list respond to direct mail offers. A good example would be a catalog merchant who would know the percentage of names on his list who buy through the mail.
8. How fresh are the names?Some business-to-business lists decay at a rate of 25 percent a year. In other words, at any given time, 25 percent of the names on a given list will be incorrect. Ask your list owner or list broker how often they update their list.
9. When was the list last cleaned? List owners "clean" their lists by comparing them against the postal service’s National Change of Address file. Ask how often this is done.
10. How often is the list rented? If the list is rented often, it is likely a good list (but one that contains names of prospects who may have been inundated with offers like yours). If the list is rarely rented, it is either no good or it contains a highly specific group of prospects that no other business except yours wants to mail to (not likely).
11. Who else rents the list? Do your competitors rent the list? See if you can find out!
Article written by Alan Sharpe, president of Sharpe Copy, Inc., a B2B direct mail copywriting agency.
Article posted on the Melissa Data website.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Last week, I did research for a client who was interested in demographic & economic performance for a city outside of New York. I used some traditional in-house & Web-based resources to generate a response. However, in my e-mail this morning, I was reminded of another source.
The Milken Institute releases its Best Performing Cities report every year, and the 2005 version has just been released. The report ranks the 200 top-performing large cities, as well as the top 179 small cities, based on an index of its own creation. The index is heavily influenced by such factors as job growth, wage growth, and what it calls "high-tech GDP growth".
The highest ranking NYS large city on the list is Poughkeepsie (my hometown), with Albany-Schenectady-Troy ranking second (where I currently live). Just a coincidence.
To read the whole report, go here.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Earthquakes aren't simply a west coast phenomenon. Apparently, since 1737 New York State has experienced 6 earthquakes over 5.0 on the Richter scale plus 4 others ranging V to VII on the Modified Mercalli (MM) Intensity Scale (see the list on pages 27-28 at http://www.nysstatistics.org/yearbook/04/data/O_1.pdf). The North Country has experienced the majority of the significant earthquakes - most recently on April 20 and May 24, 2002. Alaska and California, however, have experienced the largest earthquakes on record for the U.S. And worldwide, the deadliest earthquake on record took place January 23, 1556 in Shansi, China with a death toll of 830,000.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
A brief article on CNET News.com explains the difficulties of a truly global economy. US companies are facing restrictions as to what the content of their websites can contain…and feeling the strong reaction to their complicity at home. Here are a few views of the issues:
February 17, 2006
Time to Export Your China-Based Website
Posted by Teresa Ciulla @ 02:54 PM
“According to proposed legislation that's scheduled to be introduced shortly in Congress, nearly every U.S. company with a website located in China will have to move it elsewhere or its executives could face prison terms of up to a year… The bill, currently titled the Global Online Freedom Act of 2006, was drafted by Rep. Christopher Smith (NJ-R) in response to recent
reports of censorship in China by some of the major internet players, including Yahoo!, Google, Cisco and Microsoft. If passed by Congress, the CNET article says the bill "would dramatically change the business practices of corporations with operations in China, Iran, Vietnam and other nations deemed to be overly 'Internet-restricting.' "
Google Praised, Chided for Sanitized Site
By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN Associated Press Writer SHANGHAI, China
“For Internet companies doing business in China, a piece of a booming market has not come without compromises. A series of episodes showing that the companies were bending to the restrictive demands of Beijing -- filtering words like ''democracy'' or ''human rights'' from Chinese versions of a blog product,...”
Wed Feb 15, 2006
Congress grills Internet execs on China policies Reuters.com
By Joel Rothstein and Paul Eckert
“U.S. lawmakers lashed out at Google Inc. and other prominent Internet companies on Wednesday, with one Democrat questioning "how your corporate leadership sleeps at night" because of the companies' alleged complicity in human rights abuses by the Chinese government.”
Internet management in line with world norms
By Li Hong
“Web executives and sector experts at the seminar said that keeping out "illegal and harmful" information from the Internet is a common practice worldwide. "China's overseeing Internet content is in tandem with world norms. Many big websites in the world have explicit written rules on deleting or editing netizens' messages that they deem abusive, defamatory, offensive, obscene, or in violation of a specific law," said Professor Ming Dahong, of the Journalism Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.”
Wednesday, 15 February 2006
China defends internet regulation
BBC News: Asia-Pacific
“Government official Liu Zhengrong said western criticism of China's internet censorship smacked of double standards. He also said no one had been arrested just for writing online content. According to a BBC correspondent in Beijing, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, these assertions contrast sharply with a number of recent cases. Several people are reported to have been jailed in recent years for posting information on the internet deemed subversive. Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist, was last year jailed for 10 years for sending foreign-based websites the text of an internal Communist Party message.”