Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Ad4! Radio Show Countdown

Only 1 week until the kick-off of the Ad4! Radio Show. We're very excited here at Ad4! about the show and many of the cool guests who have already committed to appearing. 

If you want to hear discussion about marketing strategies for small business, tune in Thursdays from 8 - 9 AM on WTKI 1450 AM - 92.9 FM Huntsville and WEKI 1490 AM - 94.7 FM Decatur. You can stream the show live on your computer at Once our new website is completed, you'll be able to download the podcasts directly to your smart phone and list to us on the go.  

The show will focus on communication and marketing strategies and using the popular tools available for small business to drive customers and ultimately revenue. It's all about the bottom line. If you're marketing strategy isn't helping you create more customers, more sales, more income, it's not really working for you. We'll talk about the what, why, and how of marketing. We're basically giving away our secret sauce. To get it, just listen to the show. 

We still have a few sponsorship slots available, so if you're interested, let me or Felica know. 

Connect with Chris on  Google+  LinkedIn  Twitter  Ad4!

Monday, December 24, 2012

This Meeting Is Wasting My Time

We’re talking about meetings and using them to efficiently make decisions and manage your business.

So how do you use your time more efficiently during meetings and become more productive? The easiest first step is to have an agenda. Know before the meeting what you want to accomplish. For regular meetings, like a weekly staff meeting, the agenda can become an agenda item. You can determine what will be discussed during the next meeting and how much time you will allocate to that topic. Then, by assigning a timekeeper to keep track of time and a gatekeeper to keep the discussion within the bounds of the agenda, the meeting can stay on track and on time. At the end of the allotted time, the entire group can decide if the topic needs to be allocated additional time or if enough discussion has taken place to move forward.

For less formal meetings, you can effectively do the same thing with the entire group acting as gatekeepers. This function is a key role in making meeting time more efficient. You probably have an individual in your organization that talks on and on about whatever comes to mind once he gets the floor. You can prevent this by having an understanding by the whole group that you’re going to try to be efficient and not allow any one person to hijack a meeting.

Another key ingredient in effective meetings is doing your homework before the meeting. If you’re supposed to investigate a topic and be prepared to present it to your meeting group, then do it. Nothing is more frustrating than showing up for a meeting about a specific topic from someone, who forgot or just didn’t have time to get their research done. That wastes everyone’s time.

Got a thought about making meetings more effective? Why not share?

Connect with Chris on  Google+  LinkedIn  Twitter  Ad4!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Ad4! Radio Show

We have been working for several months at Ad4! on hosting our own radio show. We've finally worked out the details and are excited to announce that we'll start on January 3, 2013. The show will air on Thursday mornings from 8 - 9 AM on WTKI 1450 AM - 92.9 FM Huntsville and WEKI 1490 AM - 94.7 FM Decatur. You can stream the show live on your computer at're also working on a new website and will have the broadcasts available for download when the new site is ready. 

The show will focus on communication and marketing strategies and using the popular tools available for small business to drive customers and ultimately revenue. It's all about the bottom line. If you're marketing strategy isn't helping you create more customers, more sales, more income, it's not really working for you. We'll talk about the what, why, and how of marketing. We're basically giving away our secret sauce. To get it, just listen to the show. 

We still have a few sponsorship slots available, so if you're interested, let me or Felica know. 

Here's the official Press Release if you're interested. 


HUNTSVILLE, AL, December 20, 2012 - Ad4! announced today the launch of the Ad4! Radio Show on WTKI 1450 AM / 92.9 FM Huntsville and WEKI 1490 AM / 94.7 FM Decatur. The show will air on Thursday mornings from 8:00 AM until 9:00 AM beginning January 3, 2013. The show will be hosted by Chris Gattis with regular appearances from Felica Sparks and other members of the Ad4! Group. The show will focus on communication and marketing strategies. “We’re very excited about the show,” said Gattis, “we’ll be giving away our secret sauce; all you have to do is listen.” 

Ad4! founder, Felica Sparks, said “the show is an opportunity to highlight trends in the industry, teach the techniques of creating and implementing a marketing strategy, and show off some interesting work being done by our clients.” During the first quarter of 2013, the programming schedule will concentrate on the popular promotion vehicles available to business such as video, smart web applications, and social media. “We’re going to start by showing how to use the current tools from PR to social media to ultimately drive revenue. More importantly, we’ll discuss why these tools are changing the way marketing is done in the digital age and why small businesses must adapt their tried and true methods to the new standards,” explained Gattis.  

Ad4! is a strategy and communication services boutique. We work with a network of the best artists, videographers and programmers allowing us to use top shelf talent on your project. From blogs to billboards, Ad4! delivers relevant marketing communications essential in today's dynamic and competitive market. Our emphasis on research, analysis, and strategy will set you apart from your competition and allow better market-based decisions. From start-ups and family-owned shops to multi-national manufacturers and defense contractors, Ad4! helps define and implement a marketing strategy that effectively communicates your brand promise and grow your business. Ad4! Communication that counts!

# # #

If you’d like more information about Ad4! please contact Felica Sparks at 256-426-2718 or or visit

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Meeting Value Calculation

During December, we’re talking about meetings and how to be more efficient with your time and more productive. Sometimes, you just have to meet. Email and texts and so forth can be very effective, but sometimes you need to look each other in the eye and discuss things. However, if you think about the cost of meetings, you’ll hopefully be more sensitive to the true cost of that time.

Let’s say you you’re the president of a company and you have a staff meeting every Monday with your team. You include the VP of Sales & Marketing, the CFO, the VP of Operations, the IT manager, the customer service manager, and your admin who takes minutes. Have you ever thought about the cost of that group of people sitting around a table for an hour or three? Well, let’s do a little calculation. These executive and their annual and effective hourly pay rates are listed below.

Position                                            Annual Salary                        Effective Hourly Rate
President                                $175,000                               $84.13
VP of Sales & Marketing            $150,000                               $72.12
CFO                                        $150,000                               $72.12
VP of Operations                      $135,000                               $64.90
IT Manager                               $115,000                               $55.29
Customer Service Manager          $78,000                               $37.50
Executive Admin                        $42,000                              $20.19
Total                                     $845,000                            $406.25

So a two hour Monday morning meeting costs $812.50, at least from an effective rate. So the president should be thinking about his time and the time of his staff and whether or not the meeting effectiveness is worth $812.50 PER WEEK. If you meet every week, that’s an effective rate of $21,125 per year, just in staff meetings. You’ll need to be pretty darn efficient to make that investment in your business.

You and your team may not make the kind of salaries that this group makes, but you still have a hefty combined hourly rate for meetings of several people. Next time you’re in a meeting at your company, do a quick calculation and determine if you’re getting the best efficiency out of your meetings and if you’re solving problems and making good decisions worth the total cost of your team’s time.

Got a thought? Why not share?

Connect with Chris on  Google+  LinkedIn  Twitter  Ad4!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Oh no, not another meeting!

Meetings can be such a waste of time. You tend to sit around while other people waste your time blowing hot air about things that don’t really impact you. I find that many times, people just schedule meetings so they have someone to listen to them yak on and on.

In one of my previous lives, I spent lots of time training project and quality teams how to be effective, and most of that had to do with how to run meetings. We would take a group of people from the plant, give them some team training, and set them to work fixing all sorts of production related problems. These are the people who are closest to the problem and they frequently have the best solutions for fixing them. The real problem is that the management doesn’t generally care what the line workers think, so these guys are used to keeping their mouth shut. We found that by forming a cross functional team of plant guys, with just a corporate facilitator to keep them on the right track and help them with the process of process improvement, they got all kinds of great work done. We put them in charge of their own destiny and as a facilitator, my job was to keep quiet and just make sure they followed the improvement processes. When they came up with a solution, the facilitator would help them prepare a proposal to the president’s staff that they would then deliver. If their idea made sense, and they usually did, the improvement plan was approved and budgets allocated. It was an awesome process and very empowering for the workers. Of course, you have to believe that your workers are more than just a pair of hands for a process like this to work.

But back to meetings. One of the process improvement tools we taught was to be effective in their meetings. Take minutes, have an agenda, a set time, and all that good stuff. They came to the meetings prepared to discuss their topic in the allotted time, they made a decision, and moved on. The meetings were quick, to the point, and very effective.

For the next few weeks, we’re going to explore some topics relative to meeting efficiencies, cost of meetings, and how to use them to your advantage. If you have some thoughts, please be sure to share.

Connect with Chris on  Google+  LinkedIn  Twitter  Ad4!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Do Connect or Don’t Connect?

Do you connect on social media with only those you personally know or with any real person? I was involved in a networking discussion recently and this topic broke. The group was about evenly split between do or do not connect.

Personally, I connect with most anyone that wants to connect, that I deem to not be a spammer. But I get the side that doesn’t want to connect with people they don’t personally know. I think the real question is why are on social media in the first place? If you’re there to chat with your friends, share family photos and connect with old classmates, then why would you connect with people you don’t know? You wouldn’t. But if you’re participating in social media to meet new business partners, find customers, network, and other general business principles, then you want to be connected with as many people as possible. The more people you know, the wider your marketing message is spread. In addition, if you’re trying to create opportunities for introductions, the more people you know the better the chances you have of getting connected.

So, do you connect?

Connect with Chris on  Google+  LinkedIn  Twitter  Ad4!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Black Friday tops $1B

Black Friday shoppers made lots of business owners happy this year spending an estimated $1.042 billion, according to a report by comScore. In store traffic was down just under 2%, which means that shoppers were opting for cyber shopping in their PJs rather than camping out in them on parking lot asphalt. Amazon was the biggest winner and with Apple coming in 5th. 

So how will this affect Cyber Monday? Estimates are for a bumper day today coming in at $1.5 billion. That's a lot of iPads and eBooks.

Will you shop online today or did you brave the crowed on Friday? I'm unlikely to do either, but I'm not your typical shopper.  

Connect with Chris on  Google+  LinkedIn  Twitter  Ad4!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Connecting with Customers…The Old Fashioned Way

I recently read an article by Craig Chappelow in Fast Company suggesting that, before the internet, we were able to ‘connect’ with our customers without the use of Facebook and other social media gimmicks. Every time he walks into the dry cleaners he is inundated with “Like us on Facebook!” signs and requests from store employees hoping to better connect with him.

That got me thinking about this issue of ‘connecting’ with customers. Does the social media craze make it easier or harder to ‘connect’ with your customers? I keep using the quotes because I’m not sure how connected, really, we ever get with social media. In the best cases, companies post information and hope to receive feedback of some sort from their customer base. If their fans like what they see, hopefully they’ll share with their ‘friends’. If they don’t like, they’re sure to share with their ‘friends’. It can be a dangerous game. We have the same issue with ‘friends’. Are they actual personally known and liked individuals, or just connections? That’s a subject for next time.
Frankly, I’m not sure that interaction with social media is really connecting. I think of connecting as a more personal issue. I had direct interaction with an employee of a company that made me feel good. THAT’s connecting. To the extent that social media engages me directly with a person, I can get that same good feeling. Frankly, I don’t get any warm and fuzzies from a process or computer controlled ‘conversation’. Wow, there’s lots of air quotes in this post. And that’s the point, actually. Does social media really connect us to a business? I’m not sure it does.

If you are a national company with business operations in say Seattle, Houston, and Savannah, how do you connect personally with a customer in Memphis? I don’t know either. It was much easier in 1968 when you pulled into the service station and the Esso man, in his uniform, came out and put gas in your car while cleaning your windshield. He then asked if he could check your oil. And because you went there every week for fuel, you became personally acquainted with him. He asked about your mother after her operation and your son’s baseball team, which he probably sponsored. That was a connection. He took great pride is giving you excellent service. The gas was almost an afterthought.

The lesson here is, connect personally with your customers whenever possible. Duh!  The hard question is, how do we use other means, social media included, to better connect with our customers when we can’t see them eye-to-eye? I’m not trying to suggest that social media is a bad solution, all things considered. I’m trying to get some ideas for helping people get better connections with their customers. The kind of connections that give you a good feeling about the business that makes you want to go back again and tell your real friends how great they are. Posting a sale flyer on Facebook isn’t going to get that done.

If you have some ideas, drop me a line or post a comment.

Connect with Chris Gattis on  Google+  LinkedIn  Twitter  Ad4!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Veterans Day Concert

Join in the celebration to honor our veterans on Sunday, November 11th at 5:00 PM at the First Baptist Church, 600 Governors Drive, Huntsville. The FBC Orchestra will host a FREE concert of American music including our version of Salute to the Armed Forces, a medley of service anthems in honor of our veterans. 

Visit for more information.

Monday, October 29, 2012

15 Minutes Won't Cut It

Hurricane Sandy is pounding the East coast and forecasters are expecting that part of the country to be without power for several days after the storm passes. This is a great time to discuss disaster preparedness. Not a sexy topic, I know. But an important topic if you own a business.
How would a loss of power affect your businesses financial performance? I suspect it would be difficult. During the April 2011 storms and subsequent power outage, many businesses failed, or failed shortly after. We're in the middle of one of the most severe recessions in modern history. Many businesses are in a frail financial position, losing a weeks worth of revenue just might be the straw that broke the camel's back. 

I talk about disaster planning every year about this time. Let's concentrate on physical damage this time. What would you do if the building that houses your corporate offices were destroyed? How would you rebuild your computer systems? What about your employee files? Do you even know the phone number of your insurance agent? Do you have the proper coverage? Now's the time to find out. 

This year, why not review your insurance coverage and confirm that you are properly covered in case of a physical loss. If you have 15 minutes worth of coverage on your business property, you're probably not going to be happy when it's claim time. There's a difference between business coverage and personal coverage. If you have business property, get your coverage from a business insurance provider. You're local personal insurance brand can probably provide some coverage, but it's unlikely to be what you really need.

Sit down with a business lines insurance broker and discuss your needs. Make sure to review your auto coverage for proper limits. A standard auto policy is not going to work if you're using your vehicle for business. You'll discover this when you have an accident and your business laptop is destroyed and your insurance doesn't cover the loss. Don't find this out the hard way. Discuss your business and personal risks with a commercial lines broker and get the proper limits on your personal policies and secure the proper policies for your business needs or get the additional coverage added on to your personal policies.

The point is, you don't really understand your risks if you don't have the conversation with a professional. There are several commercial line insurance brokers in town. I do business with a couple and would be happy to give you a referral if you need one.

Connect with Chris on  Google+  LinkedIn  Twitter  Ad4!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Joy of Cancer

I had sort of a big anniversary this past week. October 16, 2012 marks the 1-year anniversary since my prostate cancer surgery. As I look back over the past 18 months, that period of time that I've known that I had cancer, I can't help but feel exceedingly blessed. At church yesterday we were talking about the Gifts of God, joy in particular. The whole experience ran through my mind and the feeling of joy that I felt throughout the pre-surgery event played out in my mind. I knew I wouldn't be able to get it out of my mind unless I shared it here. 

I didn't talk about the anniversary to anyone, almost letting it pass without me realizing it. Tuesday was just another day. I've never really focused on the cancer. Even when I first 'knew' I had a problem, I only focused on using the situation to be a better disciple. Not because I'm an awesome person, but because that's what God instructed me to do. 

One day in early 2011, God told me I had cancer, but that I would be okay. It was really that simple. I was working in my home office and I had a voice in my head, plain as day. The part that I found remarkable, was the feeling of peace that overcame me. No fear, no flashes of life passing before you eyes, just peace. It was weird and awesome at the same time. I immediately prayed for courage. In my own selfish way, I didn't want to walk around in fear every day. As I prayed about my situation, it became clear to me that God would use this experience to help me spread His Good News. I've never hidden the fact that I'm a Christian, but I've never worn it on my sleeve either. I've never been very comfortable talking about my faith. I'm not much of a Bible reader, I can't quote scriptures. I've never spent any time in Bible study as an adult and frankly I'm not very knowledgeable of the actual scriptures. What I do know is that God is very much alive, and I see his Hand in my life frequently. 

But back to the joy. 

I didn't talk about my cancer to anyone until it was confirmed with tests and pricks and more tests. I knew my wife would be afraid. She didn't have the underlying peace that I had. The spouse is always in the worst position. You can't do anything about but fret.

As I started to tell my friends and ask for their prayers, a funny thing happened. People I barely knew and some I didn't know at all, started sending me well wishes and telling me that their family or Sunday school class or bible study group was praying for me. My mom and dad would relay greetings from people they knew telling of prayers of support. One of my dear friends hooked me up with one of her friends who was in pharma sales for cancer products so we could talk about treatments and so forth. It turns out that we had a bible study instead and he quoted me all the right scriptures and he prayed over me in a way nobody ever had. We never discussed drugs or treatments. It never came up. He 'knew' that's not what I needed. Another friend and mentor sat down with me on the steps of the choir room at church and just talked to me in way that I knew was coming straight from God. Another friend even bought me soothing and comforting music on iTunes to listen to while I recovered. Of course, all my friends were very supportive, but in particular, it was the well withes from people I didn't know that really struck me.

How do you know God is working in your life? One way is when people you don't know tell you that they love you and are praying for you. Wow! The joy that brings could never come from man. For the past year or so, I've been walking around in peace with a joyful spirit. And, I think as a consequence of my joyful spirit, I've been blessed with several new opportunities that have been extremely fruitful. My business is strong, I have an awesome wife, and I've never had a better relationship with God. My life is good. I've been blessed.

So, one year after my surgery, I'm still fighting off some straggler cells trying to take root in me. I've been on medicine that is supposed to keep the prostate cells from absorbing testosterone, on which the cancer feeds. I feel no less certain today than I was 18 months ago that God was using this experience to train me to be a better disciple. And with that I'll share what, through this experience, has become my personal motto:

Hebrews 12:1  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings to closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Thanks to everyone who has lifted me up and prayed for me this past year or so. The power of your prayer and love is strong. I am forever grateful.

Connect with Chris on  Google+  LinkedIn  Twitter  Ad4!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

E-Center Incubates 153 New Jobs in Decatur

In my circles, we're big supporters of business incubators and technical assistance providers. Here in my home market of Huntsville, Alabama, we have several organizations that provide start-up support for commercial and defense related businesses. The Women's Business Center of North Alabama and the Small Business Development Centers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Alabama A & M University all provide coaching and training to hopeful entrepreneurs. We don't have a true incubator in Huntsville that brings in start-ups, provides mentoring and coaching and other start-up assistance and then sends them off into the world to succeed. In Decatur, my good friend Larry Waye is the Executive Director of the Decatur-Morgan County entrepreneurial Center which is trying to do just that. 

The E-Center has just celebrated it's 2nd anniversary and published a press release to celebrate their impressive early success. Among their bragging points are the creation of 153 new jobs and payroll revenue of $4.7 million. I've included their entire press release below. If you have an opportunity, stop by the E-Center in Decatur and introduce yourself to Larry and see the good work that the folks in Decatur are doing. 

Decatur’s E-Center Celebrates 2nd Anniversary
With Impressive Jobs & Revenue Report

The Decatur-Morgan County Entrepreneurial Center is celebrating a milestone this month: its 2nd Anniversary.  According to Larry Waye, Executive Director, “We are excited to be celebrating our 2nd anniversary and proud of all the E-Center has accomplished in such a short time.”
The E-Center has much to celebrate and some pretty impressive numbers to brag about.  Waye said, “As of the close of September the E-Center has helped create 153 new jobs in Decatur/Morgan County through our incubation process, which reflects new payroll revenue of $4,775,000.00.”  
According to the E-Center’s annual report, the 153 new jobs are located in 22 new start-up businesses and 11 growing and relocating companies.  “49% of the jobs are held by people living outside the City of Decatur,” Waye said, “but located within Morgan County. Our one-on-one counseling/coaching sessions have exceeded the 200 mark.”
The E-Center’s building, which consists of 40,000 square feet of office and warehouse space is at 65% capacity and houses a variety of businesses. Waye added “We have added two new tenants in the last month and a third one moving in on November, 1. This will continuation of our growth process.”

About The Decatur-Morgan County Entrepreneurial Center
The primary purpose of the E-Center is to encourage, enthuse and empower new and small businesses as tenants and non-tenants of the E-Center facility and to ensure successful start-up and continued growth.  The E-Center is located in close proximity to the Tennessee River, Rail service and the Interstate system.  The E-Center has a first-class Training Room available and its communications solutions enable quick adaptation to market changes and increase productivity through speed and innovation.

If you'd like more information abour the Decatur-Morgan County Entrepreneurial Center, please contact:

Larry Waye, Executive Director  
Decatur-Morgan County Entrepreneurial Center                                                                                                                        
1629 Fourth Avenue SE
Decatur, AL 35601

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Be Unreasonable in Your Expectations

What are your long-term goals for yourself or your company? Are they going to be easy to achieve or so big that you don't currently see a way to accomplish them? Why not go big?

Let's face it, you're unlikely to be more successful than your wildest dreams. So why not have great big dreams? What's the worst thing that can happen? You fall short, you don't make it all the way to the top? I suspect for many people, it's the fear of actually achieving those dreams that keeps them from dreaming big. Fear is an insidious foe. It sneaks up on your dream and squeezes the life out of it. Don't let that happen to you. 

Dream huge audacious dreams filled with success and providence. Draw a picture of your dreams and think about how success will feel, and smell, and taste. Write down these feelings and refer to them frequently. If your success takes place in a company of your creation, what does that company look like? Draw an organization chart of that successful company and use it as a road map to success. As you start growing your company, erase your name from some of the blocks and insert your partners and employees into the squares. 

I believe the act of writing down a goal is a transformative act. The mere act of writing it down has a tendency of setting the goal in motion. You've written down goals before. And I'm guessing you've had good success with this simple act. So why not do it again, but in a bigger and more definitive way? 

Create some big, unreasonable expectations, form the dream around them and turn the dream into a goal. You've just taken the first step to success!

Connect with Chris on  Google+  LinkedIn  Twitter  Ad4!

Monday, September 24, 2012

What's your story?

Do you have a story that needs to be told? Did you create your business from nothing and build an empire or at least something cool? Maybe you have a personal story that you'd like to share or a personal hardship that you need to share. 

I now have five books to my credit. The first one was the hardest. Not that it was hard to write emotionally. In fact, writing it was an awesome experience. It was a book of stories about my brothers and me growing up in Huntsville in the 1960s. Every story ignited a flood of memories and great feelings. I enjoyed every minute of it. It was a book that started out as a project with my dad to digitize our old family photographs. Some were in photograph form and some were slides. I took the old black and white photographs and started scanning, cropping, and trying to improve the image with color correction and other image enhancement tools. After doing this for a few months, little by little, I decided it would be fun to write funny captions under the pictures and assemble them into a booklet form. Before I knew it, I was writing whole stories. One thing let to another and I wrote a whole book. 

My other books are all business related. I wrote them for different purposes. The first one was a resource for start-ups. The second and third one were more for money. The fourth was mostly for business development purposes. I co-authored two of the books with my partner at Ad4!, Felica Sparks. 

We have put together packages to help others get their story out. Whether you have a business story, a personal story, want to get a load off your mind or generate credibility from being a 'published author', we can help you make it happen. We have professional management, editing, graphic artists, web guys, public relations, and marketing strategy. If all you need is a professional cover and a little editing, we've got you covered. If you can't write a lick and need the whole package, no problem. 

Huntsville is rich with stories of biology, music, religion, history, space and just about every other field imaginable. If you have a story, give us a call to see if we're the right partner for you. Contact me at or 256-425-8787. And check out our press in The Huntsville Times.

Connect with Chris on  Google+  LinkedIn  Twitter  Ad4!


Friday, September 21, 2012

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

...or how to keep from spending your time chasing shiny objects down rabbit holes!

If you made it to the September Valley Business Network luncheon at the new Madison Holiday Inn Express, you heard me talk about Visioning Success. One of the keys to success it keeping a Singularly of Focus. As entrepreneurs, we generally have many opportunities to consider. I get asked to review business plans, look at ideas, get pitched on a plan or idea. It's usually very easy for me to take a pass at those opportunities because they don't seem viable, they require too much cash, or I don't understand the technology well.  Another reason I can easily pass on these opportunities is they typically just don't interest me. If you're going to start a business, you should have a little passion for the enterprise. It takes lots of time and energy to get a business off the ground, so it's nice if you actually have interest in the idea.

In all these cases, it's really easy for me to immediately say no. But in some cases, the idea is viable, the cash flow turns quickly, the technology is easily understood and I really like the idea. In those cases, I still need a filter for determining which ideas to dig into further, without wasting a huge amount of time chasing shiny objects down rabbit holes. That first filter I call my Rules for Success. I've written about this before, but since I spoke about this last week, I caused me to update my rules. I like to review my rules every couple of years to tweak my rules based on my new knowledge, where I am in my life and that sort of thing. Being on the downhill side a prostate cancer and recovery from surgery last October, I thought this was one of the 'where I am in my life' times that required a rule re-tweaking. Since I did that last week, I'm going to share my newly tweaked rules with your here.

Chris' Rules for Success

1.       Give glory to God in all you do.
2.       Never gamble with things you can’t afford to lose.
3.      Decide what’s really most important, and never lose sight of it.
4.      Define the end result. Make a plan and take action.
5.      How you think is everything.
6.      Don’t do business with dishonest or unpleasant people.
7.      Surround yourself with the best people and professionals.
8.      Create value for others in every relationship.
9.      Never quit learning.
10.   Remember The Golden Rule.

I review all opportunities based on my Rules and if it can't pass this test, I don't look back. The only way to do something that doesn't pass my rules is to change the rules, and I rarely do that. I tweak the words from time-to-time, but I don't really change the them hardly ever. 

Do you have rules for success? If so, why not share them here.

Connect with Chris on  Google+  LinkedIn  Twitter

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Law Firm Marketing

Ad4! announces the release of Law Firm Marketing, the second collaborative business book by Felica Sparks and Chris Gattis. Following the December 2011 release of Marketing Plan Template, Felica and Chris apply their marketing strategies model to the legal profession. “We were doing research for a lawyer client and it just hit us; lawyers really struggle with their marketing,” said Gattis. “When we looked for successful marketing strategies for attorneys, we just didn’t find much. We knew we’d hit on a great application for our marketing strategies model.”

Law Firm Marketing uses the firms’ proprietary market strategies program that is used successfully with local and national clients. “We just applied our model to lawyers. Most of them are afraid of looking negative or hurting their reputations, so they just do nothing. In today’s competitive environment, that’s not a good option” said Felica Sparks.

Law Firm MarketingHow to Promote Your Law Firm Without Looking Like an Ambulance Chaser

Law Firm Marketing and Marketing Plan Template are available at Amazon.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Are you more productive at home or the office?

I read an article recently about a large Chinese call center company that did an experiment with it's employees (no, not that kind of experiment!) letting them try working from home. They assigned half of their employees to continue working in the office and the other half worked from home. They found that the home working employees were more productive than the office working employees. Plus, the employees didn't have to commute to the office saving money on gas, work clothes and so on. The company found that the home working employees were 13% more productive. 9.5% of that productivity came from fewer sick days that were taken and 3.5% from actually taking more calls per hour.

Two very different conclusions from this: 1) people are less likely to be 'sick' if they work from home. Even if you do feel less than optimal, if you're at home, you can still get most of the work done. 2) I'm not at all surprised that people get more work done at home. Maybe it's not the same for everyone, but I like the quite atmosphere without all the phone calls and general office interruptions. I work at home and am very productive when I'm there for extended periods of time. 

Some folks are very distracted by the home atmosphere. I spoke to one friend who said she could never work at home. She'd be too tempted to do laundry or clean house. Ha! I'm never tempted by that. When I'm in my home office, I work. I have way more to do each day than I can possibly do anyway, so I have to prioritize and do the most important stuff. I never actually get to the bottom of the stack of things I'd like to do. Once the actual paying work is done, there's marketing and promotion work that awaits. 

Some people aren't as self-motivated as others. They perform better in an office environment where their surroundings are controlled. Is it tempting on a nice fall day to hang out on the patio in the sunshine and watch the birds and read a book. Sure. But that doesn't pay the bills, so you work. 

Do you have any tricks for staying on task and being more productive? If you do, why not share them with us?

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Monday, September 10, 2012

How does company culture impact your success?

A 2012 Deloitte study "Culture in the Workplace" as reported in Inc. magazine reveals interesting findings about workplace culture. The study suggests a strong correlation between company culture and workplace success:

  • 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success
  • 83% of executives and 84% of employees rank having engaged and motivated employees as the top factor that substantially contributes to a company's success
There were additional stats that suggest that executives and employees don't necessarily see eye-to-eye about whether their company has a great culture.

There's no denying that company culture is a big draw for a company like Apple. This awesome company culture allows Apple to have their pick of the tech world talent. Is their corporate success a result of that great talent pool? No doubt about it. Having a visionary leader is a good thing, but it's the actual employees that create the products and services, not visionary leaders, dead or alive.

Company culture, at the other end of the scale, can be a killer for attracting top talent. I've known many companies with a poor company culture  that can't hire the quality of employee that they need. Success suffers and the better employees who always have options, leave. The organization that's left is just a shell of what could have been. 

What's the state of your company culture? Do you actively work on improving the environment and creating a place where the best and brightest want to work? Or do you assume that an awesome company culture will grow itself? Well, it won't. You have to be proactive in creating an environment where employees are engaged and feel empowered. I've said for years that employees just want an environment where they can take pride in their work. But that's a lot easier said than done. It requires an owner or manager who can  create goals and set objectives, then get out of the way and let employees do their job. A company with a micromanaging owner or manager can never have a company culture that truly engages and motivates employees. By definition, a micromanaging owner sucks the life out of workers.

What are some of the basic things a business owner can do to create a great company culture? 
  1. Stop micromanaging your employees. If an employee can't do the job, get one that can. If they can do the job, let them do it. It sounds so simple, but it's amazing how many owners and managers think they are the only ones smart enough to do the work.
  2. Do your own job. As business owner, your job is to set the direction, create goals and objectives, hire good people, and set the example for customer focus. Do your job and let your employees do their job.
  3. Hire the best employees you can afford. Another trait of micromanagers is their tendency to hire average to below-average employees. Most times, a micromanager is afraid of having an employee appear smarter or better able to do a particular task.  In reality, the best managers know that awesome employees do awesome work and make you look great.
  4. Make employees feel like an important part of the process. Nothing kills motivation like corporate processes that make employees feel like what they do has no bearing on the bottom line, or customer satisfaction. 
  5. Listen. When employees make suggestions for improving processes or products, give them an opportunity to express their thoughts. Give the employee an opportunity to develop the idea and/or do a feasibility analysis.
This is by no means a complete list. In fact, creating a great company culture is not so easy. If you have some other ideas, why not share them.

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