Archive for June, 2010

Can You Shut It Off?

It was time to leave for my mini-vacation with my husband to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. As we were leaving he looked at me and said,  “I will leave my computer behind if you do.” He has a Droid and I have a Blackberry so neither of us thought twice about the decision to leave the laptops behind. This would be as good as time as any to test our technology dependency.

When we arrived at the airport security check  it felt odd not having a laptop to worry about. There was a strange feeling wondering if I made the right decision and a close call to a full-blown panic attack.   What would I do at 5am as I sip my coffee? My daily routine includes checking email, reading Facebook postings and Tweeting until the rest of the world awakens! I immediately reminded myself that I packed two books: Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal and Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, CEO,

I have been accused of having a technology addiction with a compulsion to never shut it off. Yes, my family affectionately calls my Blackberry the Crackberry but I seriously made myself a promise to let the blinking red light not interfere with my mini-vacation! You must know that my son was house/pet sitting with his wife who is nine months pregnant, I have a daughter that lives on her own in NJ and a son in the Air Force who may receive deployment orders any day. Ignoring the blinking red light was not an option. Ignoring the light only meant  checking to be sure the message is not from one of my kids and ignore the rest.

To keep my family and friends updated on my whereabouts I used foursquare.  Posting my checkins to Facebook allowed me to share my fun with my network. To my surprise I was able to collect five new badges and ousted the Mayor of Houston’s Park ‘N Fly!

My Blackberry was very handy when I posted the following video asking my network if I should follow the other tourists into “The Cave of the Winds” traveling 175 feet deep into Niagara Gorge. Should I be a follower to the bottom of the gorge and sport a brightly colored poncho and not so fancy footwear traveling on wooden walkways to the “Hurricane Deck.” Once arriving at the deck I would be expected to  jump underneath the rushing water. My vote was “no”, why would anyone want to 1. wear a plastic colored poncho 2. almost ugly foam sandals 3. jump into a tropical storm and hope to live to tell about it? Only seconds after my post  I received an overwhelming reply of “Yes” votes and a “I dare you.” It was the “I dare you” that did it and I’m here to tell you I lived through it and it shouldn’t be missed.

Can you shut it off? Well, apparently I still need to work on it but I believe I didn’t let technology interfere with my mini-vacation and used it to enhance my experience.

In all seriousness here is a link to an article about Tech Addicts. Tech Addict: When You Can’t Switch It Off It’s worth reading to be sure you are not one!

My recent blog post for Franchise Business Review:

Any business leader understands the importance of customer satisfaction. An unhappy customer can impact your business especially in the world of social media. The reverse is also true. A very satisfied customer will provide positive feedback and sing praises of products or service delivery.

Employee and franchisee satisfaction should not be underestimated either. Businesses that focus only on getting new business while ignoring the needs of their employees and/or franchisees can be detrimental. Good leaders share information with their team. They share the good, the bad and the very ugly. A good leader shares what motivates them and strategies for the future. They involve the team and work together on the strategic plan.

As a franchisor leader I will admit it’s not always easy reading satisfaction surveys knowing what the franchisees are thinking. I encourage honesty about the quality of the support, training programs, communication, competitor analysis etc. I believe there is great value to open communication and working toward a common goal managing and building a successful system.

A few things to remember when conducting satisfaction surveys as a franchisor:

  • Use an outside party that understands how to put the survey together
  • Use a system which such information can be gathered simply (preferably electronically), confidentially and accurately.
  • Be sure the questions cover all topics: training, support, marketing, operations, communication, relations and financial projections.
  • Dedicate time to read the results!
  • Keep the communication open before and after the survey

Years ago, as a franchisee my biggest complaint was the lack of communication in our franchise system. When I joined the corporate team I made it my personal mission to correct that. We have a policy that each franchisee must receive a call once a month from someone on the support team. We communicate via group calls or individual one-to-one calls. The entire system knows that I am always open and many have my cell number and don’t hesitate to call or text when needed. They respect my personal time and may send an email on the weekend knowing it will be retrieved by my blackberry and I will respond accordingly.

As a potential employee or franchisee ask if the organization has conducted a satisfaction survey. If so, ask if the results available to you.

Quoting Franchise Business Review, “Satisfaction is everything! Franchisee satisfaction is about bottom line results. It is about improving system-wide performance and driving higher revenues and profits for both you and your franchisees.”

Franchisee Alan Oppenheimer

Is  your brand/company likable? Can  someone follow your brand/organization on LinkedIn?

The new social plugin Facebook button “Like”   allows visitors to make connections to your webpage and share content with their friends on Facebook.

Here is a quick video Facebook did on the new social plugin, click here A blog post by Lauren Indvik “Facebook Like Increases Referral Traffic to Blogs by 50%” can be found here

Test the “Like” button by  visiting the COMPUTER EXPLORERS blog page by clicking here

The new “”Follow Company” button on LinkedIn can be found on the upper right side of the Company Profile.  Once you follow the company you will receive updates of new hires and company profile updates. It is extremely easy to follow a company.

Test it by visiting the COMPUTER EXPLORERS profile   found by clicking here

COMPUTER EXPLORERS is socially PluggedIn are you?

Last week I presented at the International Center for Entrepreneurial Development (ICED) Executive Conference. The attendees were franchisees (owners) of the other brands under the umbrella of ICED: Kwik Kopy Printing, Franklin’s Printing, The Ink Well, American Wholesale Thermographers, Parcel Plus and Kwik Kopy Business Center.

My presentation was: Inbound Marketing (social media).  When first invited to do the presentation my initial reaction was to decline. I know this brand and I also know that most of the owners are very hesitate to get involved with social media. Then I considered it a challenge. What is the saying, “If you make it here you can make it anywhere?” I decided if I could take on some of the most successful but challenging individuals in the print industry and educate and excite them to at least consider social media then I will have the confidence to take on the next challenging group.

In the front row to my right  sat a doubter of social media. To my left was a skeptic. Way in the back sat the  cynic making eye contact. It’s amazing how far a presenter can see and spot eye roll. I will admit the entire audience was polite but vocal about their viewpoints. I was comfortable with the exchange of questions and the answers I provided.  I received the courteous applause at the end and several attendees came to the front to ask a few questions and seek advice. I sincerely believe and have heard that many “saw the light.”

The real win came late yesterday when I received an email from the doubter announcing he has a new Facebook page and working on his LinkedIn profile. The skeptic updated his LinkedIn profile. And the cynic, well I think it will take time to convince him. I have lots of time, patience and I love a good challenge.

I haven’t read all the evaluations yet so I can’t declare a total win but I am humming “I am king of the hill, top of the heap … “

Thomas Scott with Brand Journalists published the following news release. After only a few minutes it was appearing on the internet by various news wires!

Your Kids Need to Play More Video Games  in Class!

Deb Evans wants to see your children play video games in the classroom.

Actually, she wants your kids to experience what video gamers call an ‘epic win’: she wants them to solve problems they didn’t think they could solve using creative thinking and innovation so they have regular learning breakthroughs.

“When people think of video games, they think of lethargic kids staring at computer screens,” said Evans, CEO of Computer Explorers, a Houston-based technology education franchisor. “The reverse is true: video games teach kids that creative thinking and problem solving can win most scenarios and solve most problems. When kids learn to innovate, they have learning breakthroughs; innovation is the key to helping an entire generation of kids perform at higher levels.”

Computer Explorers uses specially designed video games, robots, 3-D worlds and other cutting-edge technology as part of its TechStars program for grade school kids. The franchise teaches extra-curricular classes at schools all over the country and in five foreign countries, often incorporating technology education into after school programs and summer sessions.

These classes are making a difference in traditional schools that can’t always keep technology current or afford to staff specifically trained instructors. Evans is not alone: educational experts including Jane McGonigal, a PHD researcher with The Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, CA, are making the case that video games belong in the classroom and that we have to innovate the way we teach our children if we want to catch up to other countries.

“We want to teach American children how to learn and we are achieving a learning breakthrough one child at a time,” said Evans. “If we do it using technology that makes kids hungry for learning, everybody wins.”

About Computer Explorers
Computer Explorers is a franchise system that makes a difference: it helps children fill the gap in traditional education by using creative technology to teach critical thinking, creative problem solving and to reinforce math, science, reading, and social studies readiness skills. Computer Explorers has was founded in 1983 and teaches over 25,000 students a week through 68 franchise locations in the US and five foreign countries. For more information and franchise opportunities, visit

How do you handle a hard day when it appears you have satisfied no one and accomplished even less? Do you have days when it’s easier to be angry at the world than happy? I will admit I do.

But it doesn’t take long when my mood is changed and I’m reminded that if I don’t control my emotions it will control me.

Viewing a video of the COMPUTER EXPLORERS classes in action and the enthusiasm of our franchisee, Bruce Bertan helps!

Receiving  the iPad also improves the mood! I will admit that I have enjoyed taunting some of my professional friends that we have an iPad and to date they do not. I’m excited to see if the iPad will change how we do business. Our plans are to have curriculum writer Roz Shafer develop lessons to use the apps of the iPad for classroom use. Several of the COMPUTER EXPLORERS franchisees have their iPad and are anxiously awaiting to start the program in their local community. Kathy Muller, Director  Sales and Training Development plans to share her thoughts on ways to use the iPad for sales presentations.

I started my day grumpy and angry at the world. I am leaving on a much better mood  with the iPad in hand to explore how I can use it for my large group presentation later this week!