Archive for January, 2010

Remarkable Franchisees

I know I spend a great deal of time bragging on my franchisees but I just can’t help it! COMPUTER EXPLORERS is a system of independent business owners who work hard to grow their business, committed to quality technology education in their communities and work as a team to grow the system.
Last week I posted a press release to PitchEngine about Jen Morack’s momentous 20th anniversary with COMPUTER EXPLORERS. The release received hundreds of hits which is impressive but more importantly it received great feedback and congratulatory notes to Jen and COMPUTER EXPLORERS.
Charlie wrote: “Congratulations! this speaks volumes not only for Jen Morack but also for Computer Explorers. To be able to adapt in the rapidly advancing field of technology over the past twenty years is a true accomplishment. Not only has this program adapted but it has also raised the bar on childhood education.”
Carolyn posted: “Congratulations to Jen! Such dedication is a rare thing in this ever-changing world. This clearly demonstrates Jen’s belief in the product as well as her unique abilities as a franchisee. Just think about how much technology has changed and grown in the past 20 years and how much change and development it demanded of Jen and Computer Explorers. Extremely impressive! Jen should be very proud of herself and Computer Explorers should be honored to have her. Congratulations once again!”
To celebrate Jen’s anniversary I traveled to New Jersey to attend  local camp expo that she was participating in. The event was a great success with the help from Jen’s staff and local franchisees!  Franchisees Linda Darwish, David Rhodes and Laura Graham-Leonard visited the expo to congratulate Jen and/or help with demonstrations. Laura spent a few hours demonstrating some of our TechStars programs working with children programming BeeBot or bowl with ProBot. Patty Titen, Manager for COMPUTER EXPLORERS Monmouth County has worked with COMPUTER EXPLORERS since 2002 and attended the expo to meet parents and explain the programs offered in the area.
Jen’s teacher Tracy delivered an album filled with photos and messages from local families and directors. Another teacher, Mrs. Jay along with her sister and two cousins worked with Green Screen curriculum. The took lots of pictures of families and children super imposing them into Sesame Street with Big Bird and cast. Jackie a teacher and manager for Jen brought her 13-year-old daughter  to dress as CT the COMPUTER EXPLORERS turtle mascot and greet children passing out delicious logo cookies. 
As I visited the camp booths and met representatives I don’t think any had the level of activity, excitement, enthusiasm and passion that the COMPUTER EXPLORERS booth contained. Don’t get me wrong, they had dedicated people that were working hard to promote their programs but we had a remarkable group of people. Seth Godin writes about remarkable people in his book Linchpin. He says, “People are not products with features, benefits, and viral marketing campaigns, they are individuals. If we’re going to talk about them, we’re going to discuss what they do, not who they are.”
 I can only speak for myself when I say I am thrilled that Jen is a franchisee.  She is just one of many remarkable franchisees in our system and I recommend that you visit the location page of the local franchisee in your area to learn more about them, their team and the programs they offer.

I have spent a great deal of time  working on my IFA (International Franchise Association) presentation on “Ideas to Increase Online Visibility and Drive More Traffic for Free”. It is an honor to be one of  the four panel of experts. 

The panel consists of: Philip St. Jacques, Partner, GMLV/St. Jacques, Bill Zinke, Chief Marketing Officer, Tasti-D-Lite, Grant Kreutzer, Franchise Recruiting Director of Jack in the Box and me! Our goal is to knock the socks off the audience. Our presentation will deliver three ideas they can be implemented to drive online visibility for FREE.

My part is to explain how COMPUTER EXPLORERS implemented a social media tool kit. Sharing how as a technology provider, I am constantly faced with the challenge of staying educated on the newest technology offerings and opportunities. As a business leader I strongly believe I need to embrace social media and use it to help drive the franchise to success.

As a parent I was never successful with comments “do as I say and not as I do” or “do it because I said so”. It was no surprise the same attitude would not be well received as a franchise industry leader either! There are a few simple steps to success.

Step one – before rolling out an idea it is imperative to believe it in on a corporate level. Understand all the opportunities. Embrace it 100% and be ready to support successfully.

Step two comes after the corporate team engages heavily in social media. Everyone is confident with the content and tools before sharing with the system.

Step three is to design a kit that is divided into a variety of sections to give participation. For example:

  • Why social media?
  • Social media channel overview
  • Building a social media footprint
  • Growing your following

COMPUTER EXPLORERS social media kit provides a simple to use 30 day step by step process. Time involved is 15 minutes to 60 minutes a day. It depends on the person.

As I continue to build my own social media footprint I stretch myself a little further each week. I set goals to not only read but contribute to blog posts, accept invitations to be a guest blogger, post customer reviews on Amazon, network and continue to build confidence that I have contributions that will interest followers.

I’m not a shy person in face-to-face settings so why should I be shy digitally. I have enjoyed building my social media footprint. If my contributions in social networking makes a difference for just one person then it encourages me to continue. The rewards I receive in return are priceless!

I have something to admit. I played hooky from work yesterday. I felt I deserved a day to myself to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. I learned quickly that I don’t always get what I want!

It started with not feeling well over the weekend. A beautiful Texas weekend with opportunities to sit in the sun to read a book, wash my car (my favorite pastime), play with the dogs, etc. Since I wasn’t feeling well none of that happened and I spent the weekend doing nothing! Monday morning arrives and physically I felt better but with lots of negative attitude. I felt cheated out of a day to myself. My team has heard me say on many occasions that if “you made the decision to come to work then you  made the decision to give 110% to your job”. I only had 10% to give so I played hooky.  The plan was to do all the fun things I didn’t get to do on the weekend.

My plans quickly disappeared when I turned on the faucet and very little water came out. The  motor to the water pump died! No water pump…no water! I immediately called the well company and they promptly arrived at 3pm. They arrived as quickly as they could and stayed as long as necessary to replace the pump. They were a very service oriented company and I have no complaints despite the wait.

So my day of hooky turned into a day of work from home. I answered emails, worked on my IFA (International Franchise Association) presentation, wrote an article for our newsletter, etc. I spent the entire day working  in my pjs (no water…no shower…no WAY I was going to work or anywhere in public).

When I returned to work today I was commit 110% to make it a good day. I had a full day which consisted of calls with franchisees, a conference call with COMPUTER EXPLORERS Curriculum & Program Development Director Cyndee Perkins and our UK international master licensee, IFA planning with techie guru BJ Emerson, a social media discussion with the social media queen herself Gini Dietrich, met with Lorri Wyndham and Charmayne Redd to brainstorm conference awards and so much more!

To top off the end of a very productive work day I arrived home in time to wash my car and play with the dogs!

I am so glad that today when I woke up I was ready to give 110% to my job. In return, I received 150% from everyone I worked with!

You can’t get much work done at 10% and a negative attitude. I believe that it is just as easy to share and spread a positive attitude as it is a negative one. I don’t play hooky much but I’m confident that when I do everyone benefits. I always return with 110% commitment and lots of attitude (positive that is).

Pants On The Ground

There are days after a particularly bad day at work I need a relaxing evening with an entertaining tv show. Last week American Idol Larry Platt with his song “Pants On The Ground” did that for me. If you missed it live you have probably seen it replayed  on commercials and/or on YouTube. It’s priceless and so is Larry.

So why did I have a particularly bad day? A lie. A small lie told to me by a peer. No one will lose their job over the lie. Revenues will not be lost.

What was lost due to the lie was my respect and trust for someone with authority.

Wikipedia: To lie is to state something that one knows to be false or that one does not honestly believe to be true with the intention that a person will take it for the truth. A liar is a person who is lying, who has previously lied, or who tends by nature to lie repeatedly – even when not necessary.

Whether you are a girl scout leader, leader of a small team of people or a leader of a large corporation. In my opinion it’s vital that every leader have at the very least the following five qualities.

  1. Integrity
  2. Consistency
  3. Dedication
  4. loyalty
  5. Respect

Larry’s song refers to people “lookin like a fool with yo’ pants on the ground”. It’s funny and entertaining.

If you are a leader that crosses the line and does not have the values above then Larry is singing about you!

My Tweep (Twitter Friend) Julio Varella  had a very convincing blog post  “You have to comment on other blogs”. I totally enjoy reading various blogs daily so it’s been easy to post a comment. But what I haven’t paid attention to is my blog and let time slip by without a post!

Social networking has taught me a great deal. It’s easy to access and I have met some wonderful people. I spend a few hours each day  reading email, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.  I believe social media should not replace attendance to local networking events.

IFA (International Franchise Association) is the world’s oldest and largest trade group representing business strategy. Its members are franchisees and franchisors in more than 75 industries, from auto repair to weight loss, daycare to travel agencies and much more. IFA contacted me in December 2009 and asked that I consider hosting the Franchise Business Network regional meeting in Houston (HFBN). I didn’t hesitate to accept  and the first quarterly meeting was held at our campus this week.

The topic for the meeting was “Social Media – Why It’s Important”. Our presenters were Lorri Wyndham and Edie McRae. Lorri did a great job providing the group with an overview of how COMPUTER EXPLORERS  has embraced social media. Edie’s presentation Non-Marketing: The power of connecting through conversations was well received. One attendee said, “I was hesitant to attend and others learn how little I know about social media. I have learned so much and ready to implement some great ideas”. 

As Edie pointed out very clearly Why should you care about social media?

  • BECAUSE 3 OUT OF 4 AMERICANS USE SOCIAL TECHNOLOGY.–Forrester, The Growth Of Social Technology Adoption, 2008

You can learn more about Edie on Twitter , Facebook, blog or LinkedIn

Hosting the first HFBN meeting was a great practice run for Lorri and me before our BIG panel presentations at the IFA 50th anniversary convention in February!

It’s January 1st and as expected every Blog, Tweet or Facebook message that I read today is about resolutions and setting goals. I don’t usually announce New Year’s Resolutions because I tend to set unrealistic goals and then I am disappointed when I don’t meet them. It’s not to say that I am different from anyone else who wants to lose weight, work less, spend more time with family, etc. I do want all of those things and will do my best eat healthier, relax in the evenings and travel to see my grown kids! I will continue to start my day on a positive note and work hard to build COMPUTER EXPLORERS to be the leading Technology Education Franchise. It’s time to rejuvenate our business and refresh our offerings and I am anxious to get started as soon as possible.

I may not have specific resolutions but I do have plans for 2010. I want to be a better person and strive to reach my full potential.  I spent 2009 finding interesting people to connect to through social networks and found great industry leaders in the blogsphere and subscribe to their posts. Today I organized my RSS feeds, emails and actually unsubscribed to many newsletters that I have lost interest in. Now that I am prepared to manage my social networks I am ready to connect personally. I have scheduled phone calls with individuals that I have communicated with on social networks but not spoke to before. I plan to add responses to blogs instead of just reading and moving on.

In 2010 I want to take advantage of the business networking groups I belong to. Most have monthly or quarterly meetings and for one reason or another I could not attend in 2009. This year I will take advantage of the great opportunities to meet new people and the possibility of developing  lasting relationships. I cannot only learn from new contacts but plan to share my own expertise.

I look forward to the COMPUTER EXPLORERS conference. My goal is to help franchisees  focus on the 3 R’s of Business for 2010: Relax, Refresh and Rejuvenate. We are connected through new and unpredictable ways by technology and always enjoy getting together in real-time.

I don’t want the most positive thing about 2010 to be that it is no longer 2009. I am anxious to learn more and grow both professionally and personally in 2010. To those of you that subscribe to my blog please reach out and let’s get to know one another better this year!

Happy New Year and best wishes for great success!