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I try to write about three times per week. Most of it is pretty good and will probably help you grow your business. If it doesn't, then I probably can't help you.

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

Keys to Efficiency

posted this on Friday, August 16, 2013 at about 8am.
Corey Smith House

In 2007, I built my own house. I decided that I wanted to be the general contractor and do a lot of the work myself. I had never built a house so it was quite an experience. In fact, if you've read my first book, you'll know there are many applications of building this house to many other areas of business and marketing.

I hired a framing crew and timed them to start as soon as the foundation was ready to go. They drove in on a Tuesday night at about 5pm and started working by about 5:20pm.

The work these men performed was very different from the expectation set by reality TV today. There was no arguing, no worrying and no backbiting. They just got down to work from the first moment they arrived until the job was done.

I had the opportunity to help them one day. I took time off work and arrived when they started one day at 7am. We worked until close to 10pm with only a short break for lunch and dinner. Given I'm normally an indoor type of guy, you can imagine I was pretty tired after a full day of this hard labor.

What impressed me the most about their work was how well they worked every job that needed to be done. Too often we see that a job is beneath someone. It might be picking up the trash or sweeping the floor. It might be running an errand or filing papers. In their case, there was nothing that was too menial. They simply jumped in when something needed to be done and did it.

There were only four of these framers (an occasional fifth helped them out) and they worked hard and fast. They didn't run or even seem to rush but they all knew their role and took care of things when something needed to be done. They understood the principle that it was always their job and they did it.

This experience working with this framing crew taught me a valuable lesson. If your team works together, knows their part, isn't too proud to help in every area of need and is willing to work hard, you'll have amazing results.

In this case the result was a fast framing of a home that turned out great. When we had the inspection the punch-list took a total of one hour to complete. Now, six years later, we still love living in the house.

Oh, and my real job on the day they asked me to help? To stay out of the way unless they specifically asked me for something.

Corey Smith and his wife are the proud parents of five wonderful children and live in Meridian, Idaho. He is the president of Tribute Media, a Meridian based Web Design & Marketing Agency.

He is the author of two books, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter." You can learn more about his books here.

Interested in having Corey speak for your organization? Need help building or marketing your organization? Want to tell Corey how cool you think he is?

It's always your job

posted this on Friday, August 2, 2013 at about 7am.
do it.

Years ago, I travelled quite a bit for work. I would find myself in cities large and small and, because it was someone else's money, I would stay at nicer hotels than I do now that I have to pay for it myself.

Another indulgence when travelling was that I would get an ice cream sundae every night. Sure, it wasn't good for my figure, but I sure like ice cream.

One time I was at a show at the Moscone Center and staying at the San Francisco Hilton. On my way back to the hotel, I figured I'd stop at the diner in the hotel and take a sundae back to my room.

What followed was a very interesting conversation. When I told them I wanted it to go so that I could take it to my room, the hostess denied me service because it was the job of the room service union to let me eat in my room. The union she was apart of couldn't serve me.

That's my job

I was so taken aback that I questioned her more. I even tried to get my sundae by saying, "Ok, then I won't take it to my room." To which she replied, "But now that I know you are taking it to your room, I can't give it to you."

I was really shocked and I must have looked it because she followed up by saying, "We just can't do someone else's job. It wouldn't be right. You wouldn't want someone to do your job, would you?"

I had just come from a show where I was doing everyone's job and everyone was doing mine. We didn't have the option to wait for someone else to do it.

When I went to the concierge to complain, the attitude was, "Well, yeah, that's how it goes."

In battle when the boots hit the ground, the best laid plans go out the window. Imagine if the soldiers all threw up their arms at that point and said, "Sorry, it's not my job!"

When people start a new business, what would happen if the owner simply said, "No, I don't think I'll call that upset customer because that's sales' responsibility?"

The best leaders in history were never afraid to get their hands dirty. They never worried if it was someone else's job to get done. They only worried that the job got done. If someone else didn't step up, they stepped up.

All my life, I've taken the attitude that it is my job. If I don't do it then I assume it won't get done. I try to instill that attitude in my employees and I am proud to say that they tend to do a great job. If they all waited until someone did their job instead of making sure things got done I can't possibly imagine how our business would grow. If our business doesn't grow then their profit sharing check would be much smaller than it should be.

It's always your job. If something doesn't get done, it's your fault. Don't wait for anyone else.

Oh, by the way, that was the last time I stayed at the San Francisco Hilton.

Corey Smith and his wife are the proud parents of five wonderful children and live in Meridian, Idaho. He is the president of Tribute Media, a Meridian based Web Design & Marketing Agency.

He is the author of two books, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter." You can learn more about his books here.

Interested in having Corey speak for your organization? Need help building or marketing your organization? Want to tell Corey how cool you think he is?

Follow Instructions or Lose

posted this on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at about 9am.
job expectations

Recently, we posted a job opening on Craig’s List for an internship. We realized that one of the challenges of using an intern is the fact that, by nature, they do not have the skill set they’ll need to really do the job well. When hiring an intern you look at a meager résumé and a simple cover letter then hope that you bring someone on that can provide enough value to help your business.

We’ve learned, from the past, that sometimes it’s easier to train people to be successful in our organization than it is to hire people with the right skill set to begin with. There is simply so much more to an employee (or a person, for that matter) than the technical knowledge they possess. An internship is a great way to identify the raw talent your employee will need to be successful at a much lower initial financial risk.

With our job posting, we decided to include a little test to see how well our prospective interns would follow instructions. We knew that posting a paid internship that required no experience would generate quite a few résumés. We knew that we needed to weed through the candidates without taking too much time.

The test was actually pretty simple. Like most tests in life, we didn’t tell anyone it was a test. We wanted to see who would follow instructions not knowing the first interview depended on it. A real test of skill is being great when you don’t know someone is watching.

At the end of the job posting, we had a paragraph that indicated the three things needed for submitting the résumé. They were:

  • Send an email with the subject line of “Web Intern” to a specific email address.
  • Include a paragraph of why you want to be an intern for a Web company.
  • Include your résumé in a Word .doc or .docx format.

Just because someone couldn’t follow these instructions is not necessarily an indication they would be a bad employee, but it might be an indication they don’t read and comprehend a job requirement for one of our clients. We simply can’t afford going back and forth with an assignment until someone finally gets it right.

In only one week, we received over 50 submissions. 15 of them didn’t get the subject line correct or didn’t attach the résumé in the right format. 2 of those 15 didn’t do both. We had at least 15 not do a very good job indicating why they wanted to be an intern for us (if they did at all).

Interestingly enough one of the best submissions was by a very talented young lady who is only a junior in high school and I could see the only reason we couldn’t hire her is that her school schedule may conflict with our long-term goals.

The most amazing experience I had was with an applicant that actually argued with me via email as I was trying to help him learn from his mistake. I was so amazed; I decided to post here the conversation (via email) that he and I had.

One of our first submissions was from a young man that was finishing his “core classes” to transfer to a four-year university. His extraordinarily long intro in his email was full of all the reasons he would benefit and not how he could help us be successful but the most telling was the fact that he didn’t attach his résumé because, he “lost the flash drive with [his] résumé on it” so he linked to his awful website. My response:

Thank you for your interest in our Web Internship Position. We will not be contacting you for the next phase as you didn’t following the instructions in the posting. You should have recreated your résumé and included it.

To this, he replied:

I just figured that I was “going the extra mile” I didn’t think it was a negative thing, as I have been told by job center employees that web portfolios are the way to go with Web Development postions.

At this point, I finally actually clicked on the link and it was a very poor excuse for a Web portfolio. So, I simply replied:

They might be wrong

So he decides to keep trying to get his résumé in. Rather than admitting he made a mistake, he continues to blame others:

So there is no chance I can re-apply the right way, since I was given information that is a fallacy from a state agency?

I feel for the guy at this point but mostly because he either wasn’t taught correctly or he wasn’t paying attention and I decide to give him the benefit of the doubt:

I’ve already spent more time on this than I’d like but I hope you can see some future opportunity.
I’m sure the agency didn’t give you the wrong information but your assumption is that you should have chosen to not follow their advise but to follow the instructions. The instructions of the submission request always come first and foremost. The agency doesn’t have any idea what my expectations are they can only give you general guidelines.
You indicated in your response that you seemed to understand the requirement but chose to ignore it by pointing out that you lost your drive but that I could see it elsewhere. When you are submitting your résumé for consideration, you must understand that hiring managers see many for each job posting. If you don’t follow instructions, they will make a judgment based on that.
I recommend that you spend a considerable amount of time working on your résumé. You need to get it into Word format and polish it until there are zero mistakes. Department of Labor can help you with that.

My favorite of all responses was his final response:

I would like to see a world where a person gets hired based on their computer skills and not a tiny mistake on a resume, considering that makes more sense for the said job, and as for communications skills, this right here is communication. I’ve just never ever not gotten an interview based on a communication mistake concerning how to apply. Usually the person emails me back and tells me to fix it and re-apply, and doesn’t say you did it wrong and now your done. Ill leave you alone now.

I restrained myself from responding:

I would like to see a world where job applicants follow instructions.

The moral: Follow instructions. You never know when it’s a test.

13 Lucky Tips to a Better Job Interview

posted this on Friday, August 12, 2011 at about 11am.

I had the chance to offer a student of a local college a mock interview for one of her classes. She was a graphic design student so I also had a look at her portfolio. I was a bit rough on her because, as I told her, I wanted her to have the opportunity to flounder when it didn’t matter for a job so she could be better when it did matter.

At the end of the interview, she asked me to provide feedback… I’m glad that she was required to do this for her sake because too often we miss golden opportunities to gain insight that will help us increase our performance.

Right now, it’s a little hard for some people to get a job (hello pot, you’re black). It’s made harder now partly because of the economy but more so, in my opinion, because we are a bit out of practice. Too many people had worked so long in environments where it was easy to get the job in the first place and now find themselves out of work. Then, instead of really practicing, people just wing it. They don’t wing it because they are necessarily lazy (though some are), they wing it because they don’t know how to practice.

I decided to give this student some keys to a successful interview. These thoughts are my own and I am sure that others will have opinions (which I encourage written below as a comment). This is what I look for.

  1. Know exactly what you want and why you want it. If you focus on your primary objective (not getting a job but what you love to do) you’ll find that your conversation will be much easier. Everything in your résumé, portfolio and dialog should speak to your passion. Why you do what you do and why you want to do what you are seeking will naturally make you more compelling.
  2. Taylor your résumé to the job you are looking for. When I read a résumé, I don’t want to see multiple goals. I want you to focus on what it is that you are qualified for. If you don’t know before the interview, you better do your research.
  3. Do research on your company. Be prepared to ask a question about a recent blog post the interviewer wrote, print an article from the newspaper about the company with notes and questions written on it, have a list of questions that make it obvious you did your homework.
  4. Have a pad of paper and a pen in the meeting. At the beginning, ask if you can take notes and write notes on what is said. I hate interviewing someone when I am not sure what I am saying is of any meaning to them. Take notes on the responsibilities that you’ll need to fill.
  5. Come prepared with questions about the company, about the position and about your proposed responsibilities. Remember, it’s a two way interview. If you treat the interview as a date and really try to get to know what the expectations are, you’ll not only better understand how you can help solve their problems, you will be able to determine if the job is a right fit for you.
  6. Practice. Practice. Practice. It is natural to be nervous. Just practice with your friends and family. Have them ask you very hard questions so that you can figure out how to answer them. Learn what those questions are from other interviews that you’ve had (you should have been writing these down in your notepad). If you practice them, the second time you are in an interview and need to come up with an answer, it will be easy - or at least easier.
  7. Focus on your strengths. However, focus on a way that doesn’t seem braggadocios. The easiest way to do this is to talk about how your strengths will help the company and not why you are great. For example, don’t say, “I’m so go good at this piece of software.” But instead say, “My skill in this software will allow me to help your company in this way…”
  8. Focus on solving problems rather than spitting out facts abut you. Ask questions that allow you to identify the problems the company has and focus your answers on addressing those. Be careful not to sound like you have an answer to each problem. If you go too far, you’ll sound like there is nothing to learn. You have a lot to learn… more than you realize. But, you also have a lot to offer.
  9. Your résumé needs to be perfect. No misspelled word. No missing period. No grammatical mistakes. It must be focused on results and not on that tactics that you have used. The formatting needs to be spectacular and the focus needs to be on why you are perfect for the particular job.
  10. Dress the part. In fact, dress better than the part. Act like you want it. You are asking an employer to take a risk on you. You want this employer to give you money just for doing work and not providing results. You need to take this seriously and show that you are the right fit for the job.
  11. Develop a 60-day quick start plan. A simple one-sheet that you have indicated what you’ll want to accomplish and what you think you’ll need help on during this introductory period. Leave room for you to take notes so that you can show flexibility in adjusting your plan with the new information that you receive.
  12. Ask the interviewer how you did. Ask for honest feedback. Be prepared for the answers that make it hard. Help them understand that you are always looking to improve and say something to the effect of, “should we both choose that this is not a right fit for whatever reason I would like to be better prepared for the next interview I have."
  13. Above all, be professional. Use a professional email address. Use professional languange. Use professional examples.

I’m sure that there are other thoughts I have but this should be helpful to get you started. They are not hard things but will take time to master.

One thing that you should help you on your way is watching this brilliant video by Simon Sinek. It’s brilliant and I promise if you embody these, your interview will be far more successful.

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