Saturday Musings - What's Your Goal?

Saturday Musings - What's Your Goal?

My wife Roselyn and I have fallen in love with New Zealand and more specifically Queenstown which is situated in the mountains of the South Island. Looking around the incredible vistas is like stepping into The Misty mountains from “The Lord of the Rings” middle earth.....it's stunning.

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While walking around the township we discovered a hiking business that takes people on a five day walk from Queenstown, across the mountains and down into Milford Sound. For those of you unfamiliar with Milford Sound, it’s one of the most picturesque, unspoilt places on the Earth with waterfalls cascading thousands of feet into the ocean, wales, dolphins, and soaring mountain ranges. All good!

We’re pretty excited about going on the hike in just under two years’ time (we’re doing a lot of other already planned travel this year) but there’s one problem. We need to get a LOT fitter. To paraphrase Borimir from Lord of the Rings, “One simply does not walk into Milford Sound through the mountains. There’s ups, downs, river crossings and a host of other obstacles in the way.”

So we have a goal…..lose weight (which is a good thing) and get a lot fitter. Goals can be like New Year’s resolutions that are forgotten after the first week or you can choose to take them seriously.

Roselyn hiking in the fern gladeWe’ve now bought hiking boots and enough gear to make us feel a little adventurous. Our first hike was a few kilometres in the rain through a fern forest in the hills outside of Melbourne. We’re walking, riding or rowing machining every day to increase our stamina. The goal of the Milford track is inspiring us to get fit (which is always a good thing) and to get healthier.

Like our personal hiking goal every business needs to have goals to strive for. Whether it be the launch of a new product, a financial hurdle to strive for or getting a new client onboard. It’s healthy to have a target that you and your business can be measured against. In fact, I would go as far as to say that a business without a vision/goal is already in a state of decay.

So what’s the goal for your business and are you taking it seriously? Many people have lofty goals but few people actually put legs on them by taking the first steps forward. For Roselyn and I, we’re watching what we eat and doing “stuff”.

It could be that your first step is to pick up the telephone and call a perspective buyer for a domain you own. Whatever it is you need to do I can guarantee that your journey into the unknown will be like Frodo crossing the boundaries of your “Shire” and into the wilds of adventure.

Have a great weekend!

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Saturday Musings - Attracting Flocks of Customers

Saturday Musings - Attracting Flocks of Customers

About a week ago, my wife and I decided to purchase a bird bath to attract the local birds outside my study window. The bath sits beautifully atop a pedestal and is replete with a turquoise glaze to make the water that much more enticing. I know if I was a bird I would be falling over myself to have a bit of a splash.

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I had visions of a Disney cartoon where birds would be so grateful for my benevolence that they would sit on a branch outside the window and sing me songs all day. After setting the bath up I waited and waited and waited for the birds to come flocking in to enjoy what I’d provided for them. …..boy was I wrong.

Scratching my head, I thought to myself, “Maybe I need to entice them just a little bit more.” So off I went to the kitchen and grabbed a slice of bread to spread crumbs all over the lawn to attract the birds to my yard. They loved the bread but none did anything with the bird bath. Hmmmm….not good.

You would think the stupid birds would realise that I’d setup the bath for their enjoyment! What more do I have to do to get them to use it? To this day, I’ve been trying to think up new ideas to attract my avian customers to the bird bath and not one has used it……sigh……

Isn’t all of this exactly like building an online business? We spend hours with designers and programmers to get the “look and feel” just right and when we eventually launch we wonder why no one uses it.

We finally succumb to enticing customers with special offers, free giveaways and short-term discounts (eg. bread). Not surprisingly, the customers love the freebies but ignore the main offering. Eventually we convince ourselves that customers are stupid and just don’t have any idea of the value you are providing them. Can you see the similarities with my bird bath?

The fact is, the market is actually really smart. The reason why many businesses close is because they don’t have enough cash to carry them through the start-up phase of wooing customers repeatedly to their website. Modern customers rarely buy from an unknown business but will more likely buy if they continually see it….it gives them confidence that the business isn’t about to vanish.

So what do I need to do about the birds? Keep on attracting them with bread and let them get used to the bird bath. I’m just looking forward to the day when the first bird enjoys a dip.

Have a great weekend!

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Saturday Musings – Disposable Relationships

Saturday Musings – Disposable Relationships

We live in a social age where friends are quantified by Facebook and their “closeness to us” by the number of likes received. So are personal relationships really important anymore or are they something we should put on and take off like an old coat?

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When I talk to the current generation that have grown up with social media as part of the way they manage their relationships it’s clear to me that something has changed. I’ve noticed that committing yourself to an event (eg. a birthday party) is something you leave to the last minute as there may be a better offer in your news feed. Or worse yet, commit yourself and then just don’t bother to go.

I know of a teenager that had a birthday party and only two thirds of the people turned up that said they would. Of the two thirds, about half a dozen cared enough to bring a birthday present. Sadly, birthday parties are now less about celebrating someone’s birthday and more about running an event that attracts your social peers.

I may be showing my age here, but I wouldn’t dream of turning up to a friend’s birthday without bringing a gift. It seems this courtesy has deserted the current generation in their self-absorbed focus on me, myself and I.

Many gen Y’s don’t have a party in fear that their “friends” will opt to go to something else and leave them looking like a social pariah. It’s a sad fact that a person’s word to do or attend an event is secondary to their desire for self-gratification.

It’s any wonder that Jane Austen movies like “Pride and Prejudice” are still hits. The character of Mr Darcy has become a figment of a girl’s imagination as they look around at his antithesis being displayed by the behaviour of the current generation of males who are more concerned with themselves rather than the “fair maidens”.

Friendships are transitory and survive as long as they are needed. The goal here is to have lots of acquaintances (ie. friends on Facebook or Snapchat) so your social calendar is full of meaningless parties where no one actually gets to know anyone else in a deeper sort of way.

Here’s what I see is the problem with all of this. It’s through deep friendships that we truly learn about ourselves and the good and bad aspects of our character. If you hop from one person to another I can guarantee that no one will take the time or effort to have any sort of serious conversation with you. It will be all froth and bubble that’s aimed at fulfilling the most superficial of desires.

I’m not against having a good time but there’s something so much more satisfying about having time with a friend you’ve known for many years. You can sit in silence together just enjoying each other’s company, laugh about some funny story from the past or lend an empathetic ear when one of you is going through a difficult time. The current generation looks on someone openly sharing as an opportunity for a tweet to increase their own social standing….so much for confidentiality.

Close friendships are often the training ground for close relationships. If you don’t know how to have a close friendship, then how are you going to survive a lifelong commitment to a relationship with a partner? Or how about committing yourself to children? The potential end result is fractured families with devastated children. Society does it’s best to cope but governmental child agencies and family courts are bursting at the seams as the demand for their services escalates. This is despite the huge sums of money invested.

There are so many basic interpersonal skills that have been lost. I was looking at a group of six friends at a coffee shop the other day. While one person was speaking, the other five were typing away on their phones. Why bother getting together?

Many young guys no longer have any idea how to ask a girl out let alone how to have a pleasant conversation because everything is typed with emojis. LOL and ROFL have now become words as raucous and hilarious have been dropped from the vernacular. It sometimes makes me wonder whether George Orwell’s 1984 Newspeak was just a little delayed with expressions such as “double good” to mean something is twice as good as good!

There was a great scene in the move “The Intern” when Anne Hathaway’s character (company CEO) commented to Robert De Niro (Ben - who is an older intern):

“How, in one generation, have men gone from guys like jack Nicholson and Harrison Ford to... take Ben, here. A dying breed. You know? Look and learn, boys. Because if you ask me, this is what cool is.”

So who was Ben? He was a courteous, hardworking and chivalrous older man that showed love and respect to those around him. He was more concerned with serving than being served. He ended up being promoted and appreciated by everyone in the company.

The other day I attended a friend’s daughter’s wedding and the minister insightfully spoke about the different between a marriage contract and a marriage covenant. Sadly, in many respects the contract reflects many of society’s current attitudes….it’s all about my rights, what I get and receive from my marriage. In contrast a covenant is all about giving, not getting, and has nothing to do with rights.

For those of you that are thinking that you’ve escaped what allures the Gen X, Y and even Zers then think again. When you look at President Trumps behaviour of late he is more interested in the content of his next tweet than keeping confidential private discussions with world leaders. If I was the Prime Minister of Australia, then I would insist on an NDA being signed prior to my next discussion.

So is social media bad and is the current generation completely “off the planet”? Like many tools (including money) social media is not bad but needs to be treated as a tool to encourage and foster relationships around the world. It is not a substitute for relationships. A quick IM is nice but don’t expect your relationship with someone to grow solely on the back of such activity.

I’m fifty-one years old and I’m well aware there is a generation gap between myself and the following generations. What I find revealing is that when you talk one-on-one to a young person they relate many of the same concerns that I have. They long for meaningful friendships and a person who will really listen to their cares and concerns.

So where to from here? I think society is in for a number of social shocks over the coming years. When I talk to parents, many of them are struggling to relate to their teenage children and this often places stresses on all the family relationships.

In my own family, the meal table has become a phone free zone….in fact, for a long time we had a sign which said exactly that. Each night we chat (verbally and face to face) with one another, listening and laughing at the days events without constant text interruptions. It’s now become a time that we all look forward to (the fact that Roselyn is a great cook helps!) and a breath of fresh air is breathed into the almost lost art of conversation.

Have a great week!

Greenberg & Lieberman

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2017 - The Year of Innovation

2017 - The Year of Innovation

If I was to describe this year in one word it would have to be “innovation”. For a long time, the domain industry has been doing the “same old same old” with a tweak here and a tweak there but I believe this year is going to see some massive changes.

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For the last fifteen years, the domain industry has been caught in a malaise where landing pages look the same, domain market places are basically the identical to what they were and development has migrated up the content management systems version numbers. All a bit of a yawn.

While I was at NamesCon I perceived a growing sense of frustration and tension building in the air from people who wanted more for their domains. It was almost palpable. When there is a growing demand from the market then I’m a firm believer that innovative companies and individuals will seek to fulfil it.

I took a few days’ vacation immediately after NamesCon and one of the things I love to do is read. I picked up Elon Musk’s biography (Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity and Paypal fame) and was stunned by the similarities between the markets he has entered and the domain industry.

For example, with Tesla the incumbent automotive industry was a lumbering giant that was incredibly slow to adopt anything innovative. Musk steps and from nothing builds the world’s first high performance all electric production car. With next to nothing he’s built Tesla into a powerhouse of innovation that is leaving the other car companies in the dust.

The same could be said for SpaceX. Through innovation he has transformed the space industry and has the audacious goal to colonise Mars…..which brings me to my next point for the domain industry.

It’s not enough to be innovative or even meet pent up demand with innovative solutions. What is keeping me awake at night (other than jetlag) is why we are doing what we are doing? Is it just to make money or is there some vaster, bigger more all-encompassing goal? What is it that we actually do and how does this translate into an inspirational vision?

At an individual level, many of us have been so caught up with analysing statistics, trying to get the next sale or build out a website that we’ve forgotten why we are doing what we are doing? From an industry perspective, the concept of an inspirational vision seems even more far-fetched.

So why will this year be different? I’ve come to the conclusion that it has to be…..because if it’s not then many of us will die of boredom. We entered the industry as entrepreneurs and have become managers….even if we are very successful at what we do we have this gnawing internal desire to still shoot for the stars!

In the companies I’m involved in I’m looking at these big questions and then aligning innovative ideas and people behind them. My job is then to remove as many of the blockages as possible from their path so that dreams can become reality. It's going to be a really tough task but one that I hope will start to bring positive change to the industry.

Have a great weekend!

Greenberg and Lieberman

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NamesCon - The Gilmour Family Are On Their Way!

NamesCon - The Gilmour Family Are On Their Way!

As per normal, I’ve arrived at the Qantas Club in Melbourne, Australia, grabbed a coffee and now I find myself sitting down to write my regular “I’m On My Way” to a conference blog. The big difference this time is nothing’s normal, I’m not alone…..Roselyn and our two daughters are with me.

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For those of you that do a lot of business travel you’ll understand that you have developed certain habits that create a bubble of calm around you as you make your way through an airport. From the moment we stepped out of the car I knew that my bubble had been well and truly shattered.

For a start, I tend to speed through the airport, weaving my way between the elderly gentlemen on the left while slipping around the family with screaming kids on the right. My family, enraptured with the joys of taking in the airport walked at the same speed of everyone else…..let me assure you, this was a relatively new experience for me.

I’ve managed to convince my family to only travel with carry-on luggage (thank goodness) but you’d be amazed how much a young lady can pack into a case. One of the bags was “substantially” over the weight limit and it took a little bit of extra smiling and joking with the Qantas staff to let us take it on as check-on……so all was good. But for heavens sake.....did she pack lead in that bag????

For those of you that are wondering why I insist on carry-on only….the answer is really simple. When you are doing any sort of city hopping business travel if you lose your bags just once then they’ll never catch-up with you again.

Or in the case of my business partner who was traveling to London he asked the attendant if they could please send his bag through to Los Angeles. The attendant indicated they couldn’t do that and he replied, “You managed to do it last time.”

So after briefing my family about how to ensure we all end up in the high speed line through security we got stuck with a Jetstar plane grew jumping the line, several families who believed that a stroller entitled them to first place (got to get myself one of those) and a number of airport staff that thought it was funny to make everyone wait while they went through the body scanner. One of them even kept forgetting to take stuff out of his pockets and pretended he’d never done it before.

After taking the leisurely stroll through the concourse (I was gritting my teeth) I couldn’t help but listen to the three ladies in tow ooohing and ahhing about the different sites along the way. It then dawned on me…..I’ve done way too much traveling and lost most of the joy and excitement of international flying. I’ve become a grumpy business traveller that complains about what other people think is wondrous.

So I decided to turn a new leaf. Now that we’re in the Qantas Club I’m going to have fun…..and as can be seen by the selfie above it’s looking good already. So watch-out NamesCon the Gilmour family are on their way and we plan to have a great time!

See you all soon!

Lieberman and Greenberg

Michael

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