Posts Tagged ‘Business’

Robroy’s occupation

Friday, October 28th, 2011

When Robroy arrived in Baltimore about 20 years ago, I had no occupation.  No one would buy the stories I was writing.  Late nights at Funks Democratic Coffee Spot in Fells Point, I made new friends who argued passionately that the wealthy corporations were corrupting the government, wiping out the arts and oppressing the masses.

So I think I understand where Occupy Baltimore is coming from.  It made me mad when I read yesterday that our Mayor said she wanted to avoid a “violent exchange” with them.  I decided to see for myself what’s going on.

First thing I noticed, walking among the tents downtown, was how much my vantage point has changed since Fells Point. Certain aspects of the protest made me feel confronted.

For example, a guy held a sign that said: “From my corner office, everyone looks so small.”

That’s weird.  You know, I actually have a corner office now.  My writing studio is near the top of the Bromo Seltzer Tower.  I’m right where he says I should not be, yet people don’t look small to me.  As a matter of fact, they are paramount.  I want to know their stories.

I asked him why he felt that way.

“It’s ridiculous that the big corporations get huge tax breaks and pocket the money,” he said.  “The government should force them to reinvest in jobs.  Unemployed people like me need help.”

These are hard times.  The job market changed fast.  It used to be that you owed your employer 40 years and in return they owed you a rewarding career, health insurance and a pension.

Now what do we owe each other?

For me, it does no good to blame others.  I discovered I am the author of my problems.  Just as I am the author of the solution.

It keeps me occupied.

Your take?

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Got any stories?

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

One of Robroy’s favorite things to ask a CEO is, “Got any stories?”

After a couple of decades of listening to their replies, I’ve finally made an important distinction about story-tellers.  The good ones teach us something about themselves.  And the great ones teach us something about ourselves.

Imagine having the ability to do this with your clients and employees.  To help them learn more about themselves by the stories that you tell.  Imagine the bond of trust, appreciation and loyalty you’d develop.

“Does that really work?” you ask?  Well, let’s see what we can learn from five Baltimore CEOs who, by Robroy’s definition, are great story-tellers:

1. Greg Cangialosi, CEO of Blue Sky Factory, never was a sales guy, and yet sold his business for millions of dollars.

2. Bernie Dancel, CEO of AscendOne, realized that, unless he helped others, they would never be free.

3. Marty Mintz, CEO of Northern Pharmacy, withstood large, faceless competition to keep the corner drug store open for its 70th year.

4. Myra Norton, CEO of CommunityAnalytics, had to experience great sorrow before coming to trust her team.

… and, finally, a lesson from the past on what not to do:

5. Captain Isaac Emerson, CEO of Bromo Selzter, advertised a headache remedy for troubled marriages, while building monuments to his own failed marriage around Baltimore.

As for me, I’d say I learned that I am human.  I’m afraid of being misunderstood.  I’m afraid of losing business and losing love.  I’m afraid of having my loved ones die.

But I’m not afraid to go for it all, anyway.

How about you, boss.  Got any stories?

See Robroy LIVE!  http://bit.ly/qhmqek

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A portrait of the writer as a young man

Friday, July 8th, 2011

At the Marketing Excellence Awards dinner last month, I met a rising senior from a local university who reminded me of me.  I’ll call him Ernie.

Ernie has no clue what he wants to do when he graduates. I asked what he’s passionate about, and he said writing short stories and falling in love. I asked why.

“To me, falling in love is like writing in dreams,” he said. “It’s so beautiful. It’s so true. Then you wake up, and it’s gone forever. And you realize you never really had it.”

I was impressed. When I was his age, I could not even have come to an event like this, due to the fact that my only tie still had ketchup on it from the last Valentine’s Day.

“Kid,” I said, “you should be a copywriter.”

“No way,” he said. “I only write from the heart.”

“That’s great,” I said. “Stay true to what you know. There’s no reason to give that up, ever. Keep writing from the heart, no matter what you’re writing.”

He said, “Right,” and looked away, bored.

Exactly as I would have done.

What about you?  What advice would you give a young person who reminded you of you?  Leave a comment below.

(And while you’re here, have another Robroy.)

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Robroy in 3D

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Strange things online do happen.  Sometimes blog characters step right out of the screen, onto the conference room floor, smiling and telling stories.

Next week in Baltimore, Robroy will do just that.  It would be great if you can join us.

My talk is about how to use the power of story-telling and story-listening to sell better.  Here are some take-aways:

  • How to hear the prospect’s story
  • How to help them tell their story
  • How to apply the Story Wheel in your business growth strategy

Get registered here.  It’s Tuesday, March 8th at 7:30AM.  All blog personnel will return to their screens by 9:30.

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Granny on the roof

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Every time I drive by, I get a kick out of the corner drug store in my neighborhood in Northeast Baltimore City.  I love how they’ve adopted a marketing stunt from auto repair shops of the 1950s.  Not a car but a motorized wheelchair sits on the roof of Northern Pharmacy.  It’s as though some hotrod granny overshot the parking lot, climbed down, did her shopping, and forgot where she’d parked.

I recently had a chance to interview the owner, Marty Mintz, for a story in the Baltimore Business Journal.  Here’s the column.

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Time-traveling, business class

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Last month, in my column, I wrote about my entrepreneurial grandfather, Roy Macdonald, Sr.  The best part was, the day the piece appeared, a lot of people emailed me to tell me about their own grandfathers.  The kind of men they were.  Their values.  The work they did in their prime.  It was as if a time-traveling grandfather convention had come to town.  Everyone had a story.

What’s yours?

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Robroy for president

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Since I started blogging, I’ve come to think about our country differently.

The politicians like to segregate us into red states and blue states; red states for Republicans, blue states for Democrats. But I’ve got a different view.  Thanks to Google Analytics, I see green states and yellow states.

For example, here’s a report from a blog entry I recently posted, showing where all that week’s traffic to my site came from:

Yellow means nobody in that state visited Robroy’s blog.  Green means they did.  Darker green means more visitors came from that state.  It makes sense that Robroy had the most hits in Maryland, my home base.  But I can’t understand why they don’t like me in Texas, where I always kiss the babies.  If this were an election year, I’d be nervous.

My fellow Americans, keep reading Robroy.  Because if you do, I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from California to Maine, the people will rise up and reclaim the promise of our destiny, and out of the polluted haze of partisan confusion, a greener day will come.

Thank you.  And for those who sneezed, God bless you.

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Here we are in the future

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Marty McFly: Do you know where Riverside Drive is?
Sam Baines: It’s on the other end of town, a block past Maple. East end of town.
Marty McFly: A block past Maple? That’s, uh, that’s John F. Kennedy Drive.
Sam Baines: Who the hell is John F. Kennedy?

In the movie Back to the Future, Marty McFly takes a time machine back to a transformed but strangely unchanged period in time in which he and his parents are together as teenagers in their old hometown. His unique perspective as a time traveler gives him wisdom.

Isn’t that sorta what’s happening now with social networking?

The boom in popularity of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, etc., has people connecting and communicating by the hundred-millions all over the world, bridging gaps in time as well as geography.  Sometimes the connection can create quite an impact.  When you’re back in touch with your first crush from 3rd grade, for example, you gain something and lose something, softening the lines between present and past, work and personal life.  You open yourself up to a new perspective.  You have careers now.  Kids.  You want to say goodbye to the past, but somehow stay connected and build on what you’ve learned together.  Like Marty did with his folks.  Social networking makes that possible.

For business owners, there is opportunity here. Chances are, some of your employees are linked with potential customers and don’t even know it. With a little guidance, they may discover, for instance, that their aunt is the CFO of your competitor’s biggest client.  Wouldn’t that be an interesting lunch meeting?

Of course, there are dangers. You could miss out on the opportunity to connect, as Marty nearly did at the end of the movie, and stay stuck in the 20th century: “You’re late,” Doc scolds Marty, as the lightning intensifies around them. “Have you no concept of time?”

delorean

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