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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

2011 starts today – The Era of Social Commerce is here - Solutionz Media and GuestCentric Systems partnership announced

In the "The Future of the Social Web," report released by Forrester in April 2009, by Jeremiah Owyang, a Forrester senior analyst, laid out the past, present and future state of the social Web into five overlapping eras. According to Owyang, the era of social commerce was slated to begin in 2011.

Well, social commerce is here. Today.

Solutionz Media and GuestCentric Systems Partner to Introduce Revolutionary Social Distribution Service for Accommodations Industry

Customer Engagement Platform “Cracks the Code” on Monetizing Social Networking

TAMPA, Fla., December 8, 2009 – Solutionz Media social media think tank innovator today announced a partnership with GuestCentric Systems, the premier Software-as-a Service provider for the independent hotel industry, providing the first end-to-end social media solution for the accommodations industry.

For the first time, hospitality companies will be able to use Twitter and Facebook as booking channels, versus just a way to communicate with customers and prospects, changing the distribution landscape. Now hotel operators, resorts, campgrounds, bed & breakfasts and other hospitality providers can plan, implement, maintain, drive revenue and measure results from each of their social media channels,” said Solutionz Media Managing Partner, Tiffany Topcik. “This new solution takes the use of social media marketing to a whole new level by combining proven social media strategies with the technology to drive and measure the ROI.”

“Engaging and driving business through virtual communities of over 200million users is now a vital component of the accommodations industry’s distribution strategy,” said GuestCentric President and CEO Pedro Colaco. “Our new Customer Engagement Platform is an extremely powerful, easy-to-use, comprehensive solution to build brands and increase the customer base, quality of relationships and loyalty at an affordable price while improving online revenues and lowering online distribution-related expenses.”


Topcik said that up until now, many of the smaller, independent accommodations operators have lacked the expertise and tools to effectively integrate social media marketing into their traditional marketing and distribution strategies. “The Customer Engagement Platform solves this problem by providing the functionality to manage extensive media campaigns and measure the effectiveness of promotions and ROI with a booking engine and relevant analytical tools,” said Topcik. “Our combined solution also offers channel cost analysis, monitoring and alerts, a social media reputation audit and ongoing social distribution management to insure that users avoid spamming by successfully moving their customers up the ‘social engagement ladder’.”

“Social media allows accommodations providers to know their customers intimately, anticipate their needs and service them better than ever before,” said Colaco, “and increase brand awareness, bookings and word-of-mouth referrals in the process.” He said the service is immediately available by contacting either Solutionz Media or GuestCentric.

About GuestCentric Systems

GuestCentric Systems develops and markets web services that revolutionize the way independent hotels work. GuestCentric has built a Software as a Service platform that allows independent hotels to develop long-standing relationships with guests, improve online revenues and lower expenses associated with online distribution. Through use of Web 2.0 technologies, GuestCentric provides easy-to-use tools at reasonable prices that up until now were only available for hotels with big budgets. For more information please visit www.guestcentric.com, or contact Karla Martinez at karla.martinez@guestcentric.com and +1 203 517 0715.

About Solutionz Media

Solutionz Media, founded in 2009, is a social media think tank and innovator, integrating the traditional marketing disciplines with the new array of social media tools to build brand and reputation. Opportunity assessments, strategic planning, training, facilitation and brand audits are provided by sister company, the Solutionz Group. Founded in 1996 by Chicke Fitzgerald, CEO, this business development and strategic consulting group offers worldwide resources comprised of travel industry veterans, business leaders and experts in a number of business disciplines, with special expertise in the GPS/Navigation, telecommunications, financial services and member services industries. For more information please visit www.solutionzmedia.com, email tiffany@solutionz.com, or call Tiffany Topcik at +1-(847) 224-0153 or Steve Holub at +1-(813) 716-0041

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Bootstrap Business is ready to ship!

September 3, 2009 SEVIERVILLE, TENNESSEE — In the summer of 2008, Chicke Fitzgerald, consultant, keynote speaker and author, was selected from a nationwide search to be featured in Bootstrap Business; a highly successful book series from Tennessee based Insight Publishing. The book is now available for sale (http://www.solutionz.com/publications.asp).

The book features best-selling authors Tom Hopkins (How to Master the Art of Selling), Jack Canfield (One Minute Manager), and John Christensen (FISH!). Chicke Fitzgerald, Hopkins, Canfield, and Christensen are joined by other well known authors and speakers, each offering time-tested strategies for success in frank and intimate interviews.

As the founder and CEO of Tampa-based Solutionz Group, Chicke Fitzgerald has spent the last 13 years solving business growth challenges for corporations, nurturing early-stage companies and coaching top executives and entrepreneurs around the globe.

With 30+ years in the travel industry, Chicke is a recognized authority on distributions models, whose expert perspective is frequently sought by the investment community and media. Fitzgerald is currently affiliated with the Gerson Lehman Group and has been among the top investment advisors for the internationally renowned GLG Expert Network™.

She is also passionate about helping others master the use of technology and social media to foster growth through her Solutionz Media division. Since January of 2009 she has interviewed more than 150 authors and experts on her Solutionz Live! show on BlogTalkRadio.com and on the Executive Girlfriends' Group (http://www.executivegirlfriendsgroup.com).

When she is not coaching, speaking or consulting, Chicke enjoys spending time with her family in Tampa, Florida. She also dedicates time, energy and resources to a local organization known as Real Estate Lives, mentoring displaced employees hard hit by the mortgage banking crisis and working with the organization’s leadership to build a similar model for other industries and communities to replicate.

To discuss speaking opportunities with Chicke Fitzgerald and to order your copy of Bootstrap Business, contact:

Chicke Fitzgerald | 813-925-0789 | chicke@solutionz.com or visit www.solutionz.com

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Solutionz Signs of Success series - #1 DRIVING RESULTS

DRIVING RESULTS
As you are driving down the road, there are roadsigns that guide you. Tenets of the road you might say.

They are intended to keep you safe and ultimately to get you smoothly to your destination. To get your drivers license, you have to study the signs and actually pass a test, confirming that you understand the signs of the road.

Conversely, in business, it is possible to get ahead in your company without passing an explicit test about the signs of success.

Sure, you graduated at the top of your class and got your diploma and perhaps even got your MBA. But once you move past the theory studied in university, it is rare for anyone to really stop and think about the real signs of success in business that help you on your journey to the destination of growth, profitability and a high valuation for your business.

In the course of our consulting over the last 13 years, the Solutionz Group has uncovered a series of "signs" to help you along your journey, as you work toward achieving success in your business. We would like to share these. So, this is the first in a series called Solutionz Signs of Success™. This one is focused on DRIVING RESULTS.

What gets measured, gets accomplished. What gets rewarded, gets repeated.

The first time that I heard this, I was working with AAA Mid-Atlantic on a multi-channel distribution strategy for their enterprise. Ron Gray, the head of HR, shared this with me and I was struck by the simplicity of what he had said. These are two tenets of business that are irrefutable. In fact, if you apply them to almost any area of your business, you will be amazed at the outcome.

As you look at these tenets, you may say to yourself that you are already running the company this way. I would encourage you to stop and take a look at what you are indeed measuring and whether there are things that you need to STOP measuring. Also, take a very close look at the rewards (both monetary, such as bonuses and commissions, and non-monetary recognition, such as awards and "atta boys" verbally and in annual reviews) and ensure that you are rewarding the things that you want to have repeated, both by individuals and by teams. This last bit is very important, as often the individual goals that you have put in place actually work against your teamwork goals. Additionally, individual goals often do not take into account the skillset differences between people. By putting a weaker person in one area with a stronger one in another, and measuring them as a team, you may find that you more quickly and efficiently achieve your goals.

You have to know your destination in order to recognize the signs of success along the way. Measure your progress and reward the various aspects of getting there. Success is within reach.

Relationship Lader - Rung #6 REFERRAL

One of the things you will notice about the ladder in this segment of the Word of Mouth Media discussion on the relationship ladder is that there are some new words.

As we look back on Rung #1 - SPAM, it is accompanied by the emotion that is generated by this kind of activity - DISDAIN. And even as we move up to Rung #2 - NOISE (slightly more targeted communications than Rung #1), it can still elicit IRRITATION.

Hopefully once you have reached Rung #3 and have started getting a response, you have your audience INTRIGUED. But intrigue isn't enough to keep you moving up in engagement with your prospects.

Rung #4 - DIALOGUE gets you to a place where you can distinguish true INTEREST in whatever you are offering (whether selling a product or a service, or trying to get someone to believe in you or your ideas).

A level of COMFORT results from getting to Rung #5 - CONVERSATION. This can be comfort with your product or service or just comfort with the fact that someone cares enough to fully converse with them about what they are after versus just what you are offering.

Rung #6 is really the Holy Grail for most marketers and that is getting to a place where you can actually get the client/prospect to TRUST you.

This is also where you begin to move your own needle by getting the referral for (or conversion to ) a sale. It is also the place where if you deliver against your promise in both the product or service and the whole set of experiences pre- and post-sale, then you have a great chance of this person referring you to others. TRUST is an essential component of relationship and of continued engagement.

So this is the place that you must be if you are counting on viral marketing as a core component of your marketing plans.

Stay tuned for the last rung, REPUTATION, coming tomorrow.

Chicke Fitzgerald | founder Solutionz Media and CEO Solutionz Group www.solutionz.com

Relationship Lader - Rung #5 CONVERSATION

Bravo, you've gotten past thinking that SPAM and NOISE are good ways to get sales referrals or to gain a reputation (a good one that is). You've even gotten some folks to respond to you as you comment on various articles and blogs. RESPONSE is good.

Perhaps you have taken the big step beyond 140 character communication (aka Twitter or any other micro-blogging/status update) and have become a citizen of the blogosphere.

The secret there of course is saying something that people are interested and of course, working to engage them in DIALOGUE. That gets you as far as Rung #4.

So how do you get to Rung #5, CONVERSATION?

What is the real difference between online dialogue and conversation? I would distill it down to one word - ENGAGEMENT.

You can see that I've added the word engagement to sit across from the word relationship. True relationship is built over time and quite often involves "knowing" the person, either personally by meeting face to face or by talking over the phone (or Skype). Engagement can occur with people that you don't "know" in any sense other than dialogue over the Internet.

You don't normally use the term dialogue with people that you know intimately (e.g. "I had a great dialogue with my husband Michael yesterday"). No, that is a conversation.

What we are talking about here is the degree of engagement, the degree of relationship.

Stay tuned to hear about the next rung, which requires you to also add in a large dose of trust into the equation.

And don't forget. This isn't about being social. It is about generating positive Word of Mouth.

Stay tuned for Step #6. This is where you begin to move the needle and ending up with a positive ROIT (that is return on investment of time for the social media newbies).

Chicke Fitzgerald | founder Solutionz Media and CEO Solutionz Group www.solutionz.com

The Relationship Ladder - Rung #4 DIALOGUE

You've invested a lot of time in trying to elicit a response. Perhaps the reason that you haven't been successful (yet!) is that you are spread too thin.

This week I made a major decision which was predicated by coming to the realization that I was indeed spread too thin, in a lot of areas of my life, including social media.

For those that know me well, you'll understand that it takes a lot to get me to that point, as multi-tasking is my middle name.

Getting people engaged in dialogue online is getting more and more difficult. Case in point - Groups on Facebook and Linked In. Lots of people join them, perhaps to have that "badge" on their profile so people know what they are interested in, but very few people get engaged to the point where they are actually eliciting dialogue.

Dialogue is first and foremost a function of LISTENING. You can't have a meaningful dialogue if you are the only one talking. That is called monologue for a reason. So the difference between Rung #3 of trying to elicit a response and #4, DIALOGUE is how much listening you are doing versus talking.

Is your response one that is just intended to turn the attention back to you? Or do you really care about the other person's views and their needs?

Are you an airline that sends offers to your frequent flyer list, but forget to "filter" them to their departure city and showcase the cities that they've flown over the past 24 months? That is DIALOGUE. Sending the same email to everyone about your specials is NOISE.

Get involved with what people are talking about as it relates to your products and services, your destination or the general area of your expertise.

One of the characteristics of true online dialogue is when it has more than a single cycle (e.g. a comment that may have a response, but no more interaction) or when someone else chimes in, having found value in your contribution.

To get to multiple cycles, well, that is Rung #5 - Conversation. Stay tuned!

Chicke Fitzgerald | founder Solutionz Media and CEO Solutionz Group www.solutionz.com

The Relationship Ladder - Rung #3 GETTING A RESPONSE

You fully understand that rung #1 of the ladder is spamming and you've gotten past rung #2, noise.

You get it -- that in order to really make a dent in the social grid, you have to get folks engaged. You need to get a response -- to get noticed.

In the travel industry, we have been the eCommerce Pioneers of the world. In fact, that is the name of my first book, published in 2001 But a web site isn't enough.

So as you move on to try to learn the plethora of social media tools, you now are challenged with how to get past using those same tools on the rung #1 and rung #2 level and to figure out how to get a RESPONSE.

Quite often, the first step is following the big boys, the leaders of the social media pack.

You read their blogs, you comment, you try to get noticed for your clever observations. You join Digg, Disqus, Reddit, Newsvine and others and post your comments and even check that you want to "follow the dialogue". But the transom is silent.

So you get a little more narrow and see who is Tweeting about travel, or perhaps about your destination, your property or about a genre such as adventure travel or cruising. The best way to do this is to go to http://www.search.twitter.com and search for keywords using the "hash tag" or # sign. #Barbados will yield everyone that is talking about Barbados in real time on Twitter.

Once you find the active, social media stars that are frequently posting about what you are interested in, you "retweet" their posts on Twitter. You also shift your strategy to retweeting the posts of people that you know and follow.

You comment on their YouTube videos and even venture out into doing video comments.

Perhaps you are bold enough to launch your own blog or post articles on eZine.com. You even add a Google FriendFeed to your blog to give the hordes a way to signal their response.

While you are pursuing relationship and engagement, which is better than noise,
at this juncture, what you are still doing says loud and clear, "Listen to me! I matter!". It simply isn't enough to just talk or to hope that you can elicit a response.

Getting past the response stage takes time and energy. Getting to dialogue isn't easy, but the good news is that it is possible.

Stay tuned. We're going there next.

Chicke Fitzgerald | founder Solutionz Media and CEO Solutionz Group www.solutionz.com

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Relationship Ladder - Rung #2 NOISE

OK, so now you understand that even though spamming is something you can do quickly and really quite effortlessly, it is not a wise move in social media by anyone's measure.

The next step up on the ladder is NOISE.

No one likes to be called "noisy", yet, this is typically the first step for someone who decides to "graduate" from email spamming or the social media equivalent of mindless autoresponders trying to "sell" your idea or product to whoever follows you on social media.

Noise in Word of Mouth Media™ is the equivalent of going to a party and walking from group to group, introducing yourself and spouting off whatever you want to say and walking away without even knowing whether anyone cared or wanted to learn more.

Engagement does NOT follow noise, nor does conversion.

One of my favorite authors is Sam Horn. She wrote a great book called POP! with the sub-title of stand out in any crowd. Trust me, it doesn't include instructions for how to generate "noise". What Sam does talk about is how to get from the place where someone "furrows their brow", which translates into not being very happy about whatever just happened, or worse, no "brow reaction", to the place where you get a positive response (or in social media terms, someone commenting on your post, your tweet or your video) that looks more like raised eyebrows, which signifies visually "Wow!" or "I get it!".

We'll talk more about engagement when we talk about Rung #3 - RESPONSE. Stay tuned!

Chicke Fitzgerald | founder Solutionz Media and CEO Solutionz Group www.solutionz.com

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Relationship Ladder RUNG #1 SPAM


Today's post is thanks to Travel Social Media's blog by Chicke Fitzgerald

Of all of the things that I've learned in my 6 month immersion into social media, this one is the most important. It is so important, that I'm going to break it into a series of posts, each one addressing the various rungs of the relationship ladder.

RUNG #1 - SPAM
Without any training or strategy, most everyone that wants to get across a point, get people to an event, or to somehow get them into your sales funnel, begin online at the bottom rung of the Word of Mouth media™ relationship ladder.

SPAM is not just a brand of canned mystery meat, it is what happens when you attempt to have some sort of dialogue or conversation (or what you think might appear to someone as such) without any form of current relationship.

I say current, because most of us have been building our email list (aka address book) for more than a decade. We have everyone from friends and family, to business colleagues, clients, former clients, all the way down to the guy you sat next to on an airplane in 2002, but can't even remember why you thought he was important enough to add to your address book.

We've all done it. You are in a hurry, so you send out a notice of a product launch, an event, a company announcement or even a particularly funny joke, but what you forget to do is to ensure that the person on the other end will actually (a) remember you; (b) care about what you want them to care about.

It goes without saying that this is not only not a good idea, but it is actually counterproductive on a number of fronts.
  1. You stand to alienate people that you actually care about a great deal (either personally or professionally).
  2. You don't give them a graceful way to tell you that they don't care or more likely, don't have the time for whatever you want them to care about
  3. You don't sway them to your way of thinking (they hit delete or navigate away from your post, or worse, unfriend you electronically) before they figure out what it is you really want
So, if you are on this rung, STOP | THINK | DON'T SPAM. Stay tuned for Rung #2.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Establishing your company on the social graph - Word of Mouth Media Relationship Ladder

If you are interested in how to get not only on the social graph, but to get to the top, it is all about relationships. Check out the Word of Mouth Media relationship ladder.

For more information, see www.wordofmouthmedia.blogspot.com.



Chicke Fitzgerald | founder Solutionz Group | www.solutionz.com | 813-925-0789

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Life cycles and demands on leadership



Yesterday I started a new group on Facebook for innovators. The response from industry leaders across travel, mapping and navigation has been really wonderful.

One of the categories where we are looking at getting input is in the area of leadership. Here is the Leadership Spectrum™ model, created by my friend and colleague Mary Lippitt of Enterprise Management Ltd..

Mary's theory is that at different points in an organization's lifecycle, different skills are needed.

I wholeheartedly agree. For more information about Mary's perspectives, see Mary's website.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Focus on Social Media - Distribution is all about relationship


Over the course of the last six months, I've been spending most of my time learning about the nuances of social media, or as I call it, Word of Mouth Media™.

Of all of the things that I've learned in my 6 month immersion into social media, this first lesson is the most important. It is so important, that I'm going to break it into a series of posts, each one addressing the various rungs of the relationship ladder. Throughout this post which was originally written for individuals trying to master social media, I will tie it all into the topic of distribution.

RUNG #1 - SPAM
Without any training or strategy, most everyone that wants to get across a point, get people to an event, or to somehow get them into your sales funnel, begin online at the bottom rung of the Word of Mouth media™ relationship ladder.

SPAM is not just a brand of canned mystery meat, it is what happens when you attempt to have some sort of dialogue or conversation (or what you think might appear to someone as such) without any form of current relationship.

I say current, because most of us have been building our email list (aka address book) for more than a decade. We have everyone from friends and family, to business colleagues, clients, former clients, all the way down to the guy you sat next to on an airplane in 2002, but can't even remember why you thought he was important enough to add to your address book. The same thing is true for companies that decide to use social media to expand their marketing reach.

We've all done it. You are in a hurry, so you send out a notice of a product launch, an event, a company announcement or even a particularly funny joke, but what you forget to do is to ensure that the person on the other end will actually (a) remember you; (b) care about what you want them to care about.

It goes without saying that this is not only not a good idea, but it is actually counterproductive on a number of fronts.
  1. You stand to alienate people that you actually care about a great deal (either personally or professionally).
  2. You don't give them a graceful way to tell you that they don't care or more likely, don't have the time for whatever you want them to care about
  3. You don't sway them to your way of thinking (they hit delete or navigate away from your post, or worse, unfriend you electronically) before they figure out what it is you really want
When was the last time you interacted with your customer or your prospect to learn about what their challenges are and whether you have any way to reach out to them in a meaningful way to solve their problems?

Every time you want to post on Twitter or Facebook on your company page, or your executives are posting (yes, it does matter how your executives are using social media), ask yourself whether you are adding value to your clients or your prospects. Are you solving a problem? Are you educating them on something that will make a difference in their business?

So, if you are on this rung, STOP | THINK | DON'T SPAM. Stay tuned for Rung #2.

Chicke Fitzgerald | Founder | Solutionz Group | www.solutionz.com

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Life as a change agent


Today after my radio broadcast, I was listening to a video from the TED conference of Seth Godin, talking about "the Tribes we lead".

So a few minutes into the speech Seth said, "Heretics are the ones that reject the status quo". I quickly learned that he was talking about me. I am the bird on the sign.

Heretics can't abide by the status quo and want to stand up and be counted. I actually like the term change agent better than heretic, but the notion is the same, so I'll go with it!

If you look back at my musings on this blog, I reject the status quo, that the travel industry revolves around the airlines and air travelers and that the future of technology and the future of online travel has to continue to focus on not only air travelers but vacation travel. Air travel only represents 15% of all travel in the US and only 8% of overnight travel. Vacation travel is only 8% of all travel spending. Yet we as an industry have been OBSESSED with this tiny slice of the pie and bemoan the fact that even that small slice is shrinking.

At the end of the video Seth gives out a challenge. I'll let you watch the video and then will say that it is time to stand up and be counted. Be a part of the Drive Market Tribe.

Stand up and be counted. Don't be a "sheep walker". Help me tell a story and connect the tribe. Let's lead the movement of this industry out of the "sea of same", commoditization, to an integrated world where we help people travel across town, to life events, to their next "memory" and we help people connect with information, tools and relationships.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Customer Service is at the heart of successful distribution, no matter the channel

Right now, whether you are trying to reach people through a retail location, a call center, direct mail or your website, your interaction with them - Customer Service - is what really makes the difference. Engaging your customer and building a relationship is what it is all about. It isn't just about selling them, it is about getting them to truly prefer doing business with you.

Check out what Dennis Snow has to say on Customer Service.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Solutionz Media Partners with Apical Resources to help those in transition

Apical Resource Group

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Growth Coaching and Online Reputation Management now available


Solutionz founder Chicke Fitzgerald now offers growth coaching by phone to companies and both executive and entrepreneurial mentoring to individuals. She also offers online "reputation management", which includes an audit of your current reputation status and a plan for enhancing your online presence.

If you need to grow your business or to fine tune your personal goals and/or you need to get a handle on how to use all facets of social media to best position yourself or your firm, please see the Solutionz Media site for details.


Or contact Chicke at 813-925-0789 or chicke@solutionz.com for more information.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

American Airlines view of distribution (aka she's at it again....."


As I ponder American Airlines' stated view of the future of distribution, I can't help but go back to my original analogy of distribution economics. Indulge me Mr. Arpey. And please, tell me where I have missed the mark!

Imagine if you will, a manufacturer of goods - a soap manufacturer will do nicely for this story.

For years and years, decades in fact, I manufacture my soap, focusing on the quality of my product. It cleans well, it smells nice and it softens your skin, or makes your clothes soft or makes your floors squeaky clean. I have a "frequent cleaners" club that makes people loyal to my soap, wanting to amass frequent purchaser points to use just my soap.

For years, Walmart, Target, grocery and drug stores have sold my products. Only in rare occasions, in major cities, did I have a "City Soap Store", where my own staff serviced and allowed customers to pick up the soap that was purchased by phone. The soap was exactly the same price, whether or not it was purchased by phone or from a retailer, or picked up at a City Soap Store. In fact, the US government regulated the price of soap and the sale of soap through any intermediaries.

By the 90s, the cost of labor and the high cost of the real estate in the City Soap Stores causes me to close nearly all of them, so I'm forced to rely heavily on my retail network that sells nearly 85% of my soaps.

Enter the Internet. I figure out that I could not only sell directly to the customer, but I can actually shift their behavior to only want to buy through me, bypassing those pesky retailers and the distribution costs of placing the soap in their hands for sale 7x24.

In fact, before I even retrain consumers, I think I'll just stop paying the retailers any commission for selling my soap. Yes, that's the ticket to higher profitability. The retailers will just have to charge their customers a service fee for buying my soap to make up for the lost commission. No one can be without my soap, so surely they won't mind.

But wait.... to get the consumers soap business online, I will have to discount the soap, just like other online retailers are doing. Well, I can make it up in volume. Yes, that's the ticket to higher sales.

OK, it has been nearly a decade now. Surely the consumers have learned by now, so I will now actually institute a charge to the retailers to sell my products. I do after all have the best soap in the land.

Oh, you say that with my soap used to come a wrapper that kept the soap from flaking and it used to have beautiful graphics on the box and on the bottles and now it looks just like the discount, generic brands. Well, who will notice that we have had to cut here and there over the years to make up for the loss in profitability from selling for a lower price online.

Oh, you say that the retailers are still selling over 77m of my domestic soaps and 32m of my international soaps and getting on average $380.48 per case domestically and $883.76 internationally.

Wait a minute, online I'm only getting $275.40 per case domestically and $556.71 internationally. Hey, Finance! Are we making it up in volume????

Thursday, April 02, 2009

When love affairs go wrong

No, this doesn't seem like a business blog, but it is. The travel industry and all of those involved with distribution and the technology behind it have spent the last 30 years in a love affair with the airlines and the airline traveler.

Now, like all love affairs, there have been times of spats and "break up" and the return to the comfort of the familiar.

The airlines and the air traveler have been very good to what has become a multi-billion dollar distribution industry. Online players, the GDSs, the technical intermediaries, the content companies have all benefited.

But the party is over. The love affair is waning. In private (and often in public) the airlines are heard to voice their true feelings - they want to bypass everyone and cater to the consumer directly.

And by the way, the air traveler only represents 15% of all travelers in the US and worse, just 8% of all overnight travelers. So why the passion? It has been low hanging fruit for nearly 30 years. And, it has been easy. Point to point. Destination focus. Where are you going and when.

But our industry has totally ignored that same traveler when they make the decision to drive. That's right, it is NOT a different market. Just a different decision from the same person under different circumstances.

More tomorrow. Have to get on one of those nasty airplanes to get home...... ok, it is quicker, but truly, I would rather have the time to drive through the countryside and see what our beautiful country has to offer.

Ciao.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Blitz Master on Solutionz Live! TUES March 10th 10am ET

So in the 4th quarter you pared down your staff. January and February you watched the news, watched industry trends and saw 10-15% decline in your own numbers.

It is time to shift your attention to sales. Yes, new sales. I know, the media says that no one is spending. It is time for the blitz.

On Tuesday, March 10th, Andrea Sittig-Rolf will be on Solutionz Live! at 10am ET talking about the Blitz Experience. You can tune in live to www.blogtalkradio.com/solutionzlive or you can download or listen on demand. You can also call in 646-727-2840. The show is 30 minutes long.

She is also doing a one hour workshop for the Executive Women of the travel industry on Wednesday. That workshop is free for charter EGG members and $50 for non-members. For more information, call Chicke Fitzgerald at 813-925-0789.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

TravelCom 09 - The butterfly and the chrysalis

The butterfly to the left is part of the branding for this year's TravelCom Conference, coming up on March 31-Apr 2nd in Atlanta. This year's conference is being held at the Omni, near CNN's world headquarters.

The butterfly is a very interesting symbol and in and of itself is a symbol of struggle and indeed a miracle. The process of going from chrysalis to butterfly is one that cannot be rushed and it cannot be helped.

If the butterfly doesn't struggle within the chrysalis, it's wings would not strengthen enough to let it fly when it emerges from the cocoon. Just try cutting it off and see what happens to the butterfly. Second thought, don't. Let nature's work be done.

How often, in pursuit of the symbol on the upper right hand corner of the butterfly (money, profitability) do we ignore what is in the upper left (inspiration, innovation)? And we forget that communication between each of us is key to keep the flow going.

And yes, the struggle to get out of the cumbersome chrysalis and emerge strong as the beautiful butterfly is what we are all hoping for in these times of economic challenge.

If you aren't signed up for TravelCom because budgets are tight and travel has been all but cancelled, think again. Innovation is essential to life and hard times are essential to flight. You can touch more prospects at TravelCom than you will be able to touch in a full quarter and you will get more inspiration and ideas along the way. Networking and support are vital to growth.

I hope to see you there.

Chicke Fitzgerald

Saturday, February 28, 2009

On Reinvention


For those that know me, you likely already know that I'm in the midst of what I call "near total reinvention". While I still have a passion for travel distribution, nearly every minute of every day I am now consumed with the launch of my new social broadcasting network and media company.

I still do strategic consulting in the travel industry and still run the Executive Girlfriends' Group for the Executive women of the industry, but also host 8 regular radio shows per week on blogtalkradio.com/solutionzlive. I also do 9 special programs per month for those in transition, also on blogtalkradio.com/resumelive.

So if you've followed this blog and wondered why I've been silent, that is it in a nutshell.

Once things are cooking along smoothly for Solutionz Live!, I'll get back to blogging about marrying buyers and sellers!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Global Travel and Tourism Investment - Good idea or bad idea?

Catch Richard Miller, CEO of Tourism ROI to hear his views on Tuesday, Feb 17th at 1130am ET.



Sponsored by 4CWeb.

Listen live at www.blogtalkradio.com/solutionzlive or download later.

Growth is a choice

Every day we are faced with choices. It is just like standing in front of an elevator. We can choose to press the UP button (positive attitude which breeds success), we can choose to press the DOWN button (taking everyone we know down with us into the mire) or we can stare endlessly at the panel, not making a choice. Endless inertia, better known as the status quo.

Today come up with just 3 ways to grow, without additional investment or resources.

And while you are at it, go pick up a copy of The Go Giver. It is an amazing little allegorical story about growth through giving. It will change your life. It is a quick read. Do it.

The co-author Bob Burg is on my radio show tomorrow morning (2/17) at 10am ET.



www.blogtalkradio.com/solutionzlive

Listen live or download later. We are talking about innovation through giving.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Don't miss Jake Fuller at 11am ET on www.blogtalkradio.com/solutionzlive

Today at 11am ET Chicke Fitzgerald welcomes Jake Fuller as her guest co-host on Solutionz Live!

They will talk about the state of the travel industry and will be talking about the rivalries in the GDS and online travel space.

Listen live on www.blogtalkradio.com/solutionzlive or call in on 1-646-727-2840 to ask questions live on the air. Or download after the broadcast is complete and listen at your convenience.

It isn't about product or inventory guys


The GDSs are all suffering from an inordinate dependence on airline travelers for their revenues. In most cases, 90+ percent of GDS distribution revenues are from air bookings. And the non-air bookings received are largely sourced from the air traveler needing a hotel, a car or a cruise on arrival at an airport. In my discussions with GDS leadership and the investment community alike, no argument as to these findings.

In the past, this has not been problematic, as the GDSs and agencies received a disproportionate share of these bookings and were able to maintain double digit profits. Over recent years, supplier direct bookings continue to climb as a percentage of total electronic bookings. This channel shift does not appear to be a reversible trend, even though according to ARC, the net profit from online bookings is significantly lower than bookings emanating from the travel agency marketplace (see my post on the BEAT Blog).

Recently I saw an article about Amadeus and Transhotel forming a strategic partnership to expand their hotel inventory to include consolidator inventory. Amadeus isn't alone in focusing efforts on expanding its non-air product and its inventory sources. Travelport and Sabre have had similar announcements.

But the problem isn't really product or inventory. It is the percentage of hotels that are currently booked by the GDS/agency community as a percentage of total bookings.

The reason that hotels are not being booked in greater numbers on the GDS is that 85% of all Americans drive when they travel and 52% of all business travelers. So reaching them with a "do you want fries with that" type of a transaction as an adjunct to air, doesn't work as a marketing ploy. If they are driving and you are not offering them a way to plot out their trip, start to finish by car, including what hotels they will need along the way (and for leisure, what to see and do and where to eat and shop), then you won't likely capture the hotel bookings.

It's that simple and it's that hard.

The technology exists. It is available. Don't wait until the oxygen mask drops down and you are gasping for breath to put the mask over your face.

You know how to reach me.

Chicke
oxygen masks'Rus

Friday, February 06, 2009

Waiting to Exhale - Part 2

A few weeks ago I wrote about the industry being in a state (wait.... make that the country) that resembled the metaphor "waiting to exhale". A friend recently said that she felt that the travel industry was in a state of paralysis. I then shared the "waiting to exhale" comment and said that with paralysis you can live forever without moving. Waiting to exhale has quite different consequences.

Where do you think we are?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Will begin musing again soon - This week's focus: Solutionz Live!

This week was the launch of the Solutionz Live! social broadcasting network. This is the "new new media" that you may have been hearing about. The show is broadcast using the blogtalkradio.com platform, which means that I was able to launch a complete new venture in just 2 weeks, since all I had to concern myself with was the content and the sponsorship.

Last week I broadcast 6 hours of programming for those that are unemployed, underemployed, self-employed and afraid you wont' be employed soon. www.blogtalkradio.com/cfitzgerald
Thanks to Travelport for their sponsorship of the Transition Solutionz Series.

This week I launched the new network, focused on professionals from the 3 distinct aspects of your life.
  • Tuesday was the business focus - innovation, leadership, investment insights and growth, sponsored by TrendyPrints.com and Magnetic Messenger.
  • Wednesday focused on the social side 0f professional life with discussions of social networking and faith in the marketplace. Thanks to PJ Inc. for their sponsorship today.
  • Tomorrow's show is on the personal side of professional life with four segments on life balance, wellness, giving and career transition. Thanks to the Barbados Tourism Authority for sponsoring tomorrow's show. See promo for tomorrow's show on YouTube.
www.solutionzlive.blogspot.com for more information
www.blogtalkradio.com/solutionz live to listen in live or on demand
Call Chicke Fitzgerald at 813-925-0789 for information on sponsorship

Monday, February 02, 2009

TUESDAY February 3rd Solutionz Live launches


Tuesday's Solutionz Live!
Real solutions for real life focuses on the business side of life

Nancy Widmann joins us at 10am to talk about INNOVATION and LEADERSHIP When the Sky is Falling.

At 11am Chris Dane and I will be talking about the rivalry between Carnival and Royal Caribbean in our segment INVESTMENT INSIGHTS - Investing during rough seas. For those who saw our segment on Fox Business, Money for Breakfast, this is the story behind that story!

At 1130am, welcome back to Libby Gill, who helped launch Transition Solutionz last week. This week we will turn our focus to GROWTH When the bottom is falling out. Libby will talk about how branding plays a key role in business growth.

Join us live at www.blogtalkradio.com/solutionzlive on Tuesday. Set a reminder for yourself on the site. To listen by phone and ask questions, call 1-646-727-2840. All shows are archived and you can listen to us anytime ON DEMAND. All the shows will be accessible here, so be sure to send yourself an RSS feed and follow this site.

Thursday's Show turned to the practical


The third and final day of the Transition Solutionz series featured:

  • Mark Wayman with the Godfather's Career Guide - what to do when you get whacked.
  • Anne Fry - the author of Sixty, Sexy, Sassy and Free talking about reinventing yourself
  • Lynne Waymon - the author of Make Your Contacts Count gave practical advice about all kinds of networking
  • Lauren Milligan of ResuMAYDAY talked about the importance of the resume and how to get over any bumps in the road in preparing that all important document for your career search
ALL SHOWS FROM THE SERIES ARE AVAILABLE ON DEMAND. SIMPLY CLICK SELECT THE SHOW ON THE BLOGTALKRADIO WIDGET ON THE SIDE BAR

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wednesday's lineup for the Transition Series is all about reinvention

Thank you to Wednesday's sponsor of the Transition Solutionz series:









We have a great lineup on Wednesday morning. Join us live if you can, either online at www.blogtalkradio.com/cfitzgerald
or by phone 1-646-727-3553



10am Tierza Davis - owner Pura Vida Adventures in Costa Rica - from a dot com bomb in the late 90s to surfing coach for executive women, Tierza has a story you won't want to miss.

1030am Michelle Bersell - psychotherapist and life coach talks about "Weathering the Financial Storm". Whether you are unemployed, self-employed or afraid that you may not be employed for long, you need to hear what Michelle has to say.

11am Eli Davidson - author of Funky to Fabulous - If you are tired of all of the discouraging news in the marketplace, you should put aside whatever you are doing from 11am to noon tomorrow and tune in to Eli. She will make you laugh, make you think and will inspire you to reinvent yourself.

For more information, see www.solutionzlive.blogspot.com

Friday, January 23, 2009

Complementary transition series for Job Seekers Jan 27th, 28th and 29th 10am - Noon ET

Everywhere you look there are companies laying off people. The numbers are staggering.

The Solutionz Group wants to be proactive and help those in our industry struggling with this issue.

The Transition Solutions series will be broadcast on BlogTalkRadio.com/cfitzgerald on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10am ET to Noon ET.

Tuesday's lineup:


The series will include interviews with top authors on various practical topics such as creating your own personal brand, honing your elevator speech, creating a winning resume and more. The series is suitable if you are a job seeker, if you are in a company or an industry where employment is tenuous at best or if you are an HR director or manager that is having to deal with laying off employees.




Join us live on Tuesday for the show (or have the system send you a reminder) or call in to the number provided on the show site. CLICK HERE

Please pass the word.

Chicke Fitzgerald

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

TRAVEL TRENDS - Shopping - the #1 thing travelers do

For those of you who read this blog faithfully, first, thank you. And second, I apologize that I've been AWOL.

I've been in Dallas at the Shop America Tours Global Summit. Thanks to Rosemary McCormick for inviting me to speak about the drive market, a subject which my loyal readers know that I'm passionate about.

I also spoke about the Girlfriend Getaway market and with my passion about the Executive Girlfriend's Group, you can surmise that to be a hot topic with me as well.

Put yourself in the shoes of a mall developer. You own malls all over the US.

You instinctively know that travelers spend more than local residents and further than international travelers spend more per trip than domestic US travelers. You may not know that Brazilian and Japanese shoppers are some of the most prolific shoppers.

What you may not realize, is that people who drive in their own vehicles (e.g. the core of the drive market) spend more than those who fly.

It is simple really. If you can buy whatever you want and not worry about having to buy an extra suitcase and pay an excess bag charge or worry about stuffing it into your existing luggage and perhaps exceeding the weight limit, then you will spend more with less constraints. This is a good thing.

So what is the best way to attract travelers to your malls?
  • Partner with local hotels and particularly the upscale ones with concierge services and a shuttle service
  • Add your own shuttle service to service the local hotels and convention centers
  • Put together shopping "packages" and partner with Shop America Tours
  • Advertise in publications that reach international shoppers (the UK, Germany, Brazil and Japan are great targets)
  • Participate in DiscoverAmerica.com, the US site for international travelers coming to the US (a collaboration of the Department of Commerce and the US Travel Association)
One of the other interesting things that came out of the conference for me was the validation that the drive market is NOT an economy market. In a panel of four 5 star hoteliers, they each stated that their client base arrives by car more than 75% of the time. Although I knew this to be true from our own research, Solutionz is embarking on a sponsored, syndicated study of this market, in conjunction with our research partner, Mandala Research. It is our hope that this empirical study of the drive market will break the log jam that has kept the travel industry from pursuing this lucrative market.

If you want to attract the drive market to your mall or to your hotel, I'm happy to help you do a "drive market audit of your property. If you would like to sponsor the syndicated research, please contact me at chicke@solutionz.com.

Chicke Fitzgerald

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

NEW Transition Tip Series and Live Transition Workshops via BlogTalkRadio


Today we are starting a new series on transition as a part of our Transition Solutionz practice. There are many of our friends and colleagues in the travel industry and in fact most industries that find themselves in transition, so we have decided to focus on marshaling resources to help.

For some, you've been employed with the same employer for as much as 15-20 years and finding yourself back out in the job market is a little like getting back into the dating game after being divorced from a long term marriage.

Good Morning America today had a good segment on the Top 10 Tips to Get your Resume Noticed. Let's start with that today to start our tip series and tomorrow we'll give you our take on how to deal with your own transition.

We will be announcing soon the details of our new social broadcasting network called Solutionz Live™. Our inaugural programming to kick off the new network will be a series of live interviews on BlogTalkRadio with authors and experts about transitioning, refining your own personal brand and fireproofing your career (if you are still gainfully employed).

Stay tuned for the full schedule, the new Solutionz Live blog and link to the show schedule on BlogTalkRadio.com.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Entrepreneurial Tip #5 - Test the technology first before going live


This morning I had the pleasure of being featured, along with my buddy Chris Dane, on Fox Business' Money for Breakfast.

Due to Chris' proximity to New York, he was in the studio. I on the other hand elect to be in Florida, which is replete with palm trees and 330 days of sunshine per year. Although it is only going to get up to the high 60s today in Tampa and we have yet to see the sun, it is 26 degrees in New York today, so I think I made the right decision!

Bottom line and the point of this story is that I was the "remote feed" from the local Fox affiliate.

Now Fox isn't exactly an entrepreneur but the tip I share today is one that they could have learned from this morning.

I arrived at the studio at 7am as instructed. I proceeded to the area they had set up for the remote interview (which was to be sometime between 730am and 8am), got "miked" up and got that earpiece put in my ear. Now that made me feel like a government agent for a few moments (with the curly transparent cord) which was cool. But then I found out that Fox in New York couldn't see the image. Ah well.

The technicians with the local Fox affiliate kept saying the requisite "not my problem" and New York didn't care whose problem it was as long as they could at least get me on the phone for the interview.

So at the end of all the wrangling, I did the interview by phone. It was fun, albeit very short.

My lesson for the day? I should have gotten up at 5am instead of 530am and gotten there at 630am. That would have given the local affiliate more time to work it through so they could be a shining star in the Fox network!

Chicke Fitzgerald

PS I just checked and they haven't posted the video yet. Hopefully by the end of the day, it will be posted to their video archive site. I'll let you know!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Entrepreneurial Tip #4 - Recover quickly after mistakes


No one is immune from mistakes. Whether it is totally unintentional, or whether you made an uninformed choice or you thought you were making the right decision, if you are wrong, it is really important to fess up and quickly.

Yesterday on our Executive Girlfriends' Group call, we had one of the first female pilots in the industry, Continental Captain Karen Kahn. Karen told a story about how once upon approach to LAX, she spilled some water on the instrument panel, rendering her display screen unusable. At no time were the passengers in danger, as pilots are trained to land even when instruments fail, but upon landing, Karen had a choice.
  1. She could have just ignored it and let the next pilot deal with it
  2. She could have called maintenance and told them it was not working and let them figure it out
  3. She could call maintenance, tell them she spilled liquid on the panel, fessing up to the mistake
Not only are each one of these choices right or wrong, they each have consequences.

Choice #1 is the cowards way out and is flat out wrong. Karen's job is to get the airplane and its passengers and/or cargo from point A to point B safely. But her job extends to ensuring that the entire system works smoothly and that the next time that aircraft is used, that it can leave on time and operate safely.

Choice #2 is better, but doesn't take it all the way. It would have taken maintenance much longer to deal with the problem if they didn't know what was spilled and they might have made a much more expensive repair than needed. Either way, Karen would have been remiss in not reporting the full circumstance to maintenance.

Choice #3 is absolutely the right way. Karen had just spilled water on the console. If she had spilled something sticky or sugary or something with milk or carbonation, it would have been dealt with in a totally different manner. As it was, it was a quick fix. The maintenance person was able to take a hair dryer, get rid of all of the moisture and everything was working fine. There was no delay and no costly repair.

But more importantly, if Karen had made choice #1, she would have felt guilty about it all day, particularly if she heard later about a delay on that aircraft. And anyone who knew how she handled it would have lost respect for her and not trusted her to do the right thing moving forward.

If she had made choice #2 and later heard about a costly repair on the aircraft or a lengthy delay (or both), she also would have felt bad. At that point, she would have had the chance once again to fess up, or just remain quiet, which as you can imagine, leads down the same path as choice #1.

Choice #3 left her with a clear conscience and her integrity was left intact. Her co-pilot would have still had respect for her and perhaps even more than before the mistake was made.

As I've said, we've all made mistakes. It is how we handle them that really matters. It isn't just doing what is right. It is doing it quickly and rectifying the mistake as swiftly as possible.

Corporate life doesn't always reward the admission of guilt. But you should always behave as if you are the owner (e.g. the entrepreneurial way) and that you will have to be fully responsible for the consequences of the mistake. You should also always behave as if everyone is watching. Your integrity depends on it and so does moving forward and not only recovering, but coming out stronger and better than before.

Chicke Fitzgerald

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Entrepreneurial Tip #3 - Return on Insight, the new measurement

Two in one day. Enjoy.

I loved this article that talks about the notion of Return on Insight as a new form of measurement of success versus Return on Investment (or perhaps as an adjunct so that you don't make your CFO apoplectic).

The author, David Armano, contends that you need to listen, learn and adapt and you need to do it quickly to remain competitive and to achieve profitability.




Click Here to read the article in Business Week. Follow David on Twitter @armano

Chicke Fitzgerald

Entrepreneurial Tip #2 - Pursue differentiation and pay attention to Tip #1

Differentiation. It is the manna of the entrepreneur. There is nothing more abhorrent to an entrepreneur than status quo and "same old, same old" or worse yet - commoditization.

Creating differentiation sets us into motion and is what electrifies us down to our toes.

You have to step back and read some of the great tomes on this if this doesn't resonate with you.

Blue Ocean Strategy is one of my favorites. It is about creating uncontested market space and making the competition irrelevant. Oh yeah. That is what gets us jazzed.

Another is Becoming a Category of One. Enough said.

If we sit back and continue to do what we've always done (e.g. matching the competition, lowering prices or creating incentives), we'll get what we've always gotten, or worse, our market will decline.

Another of my favorite reads is The Disciplines of Market Leaders. The tag line on the book is "choose your customers, narrow your focus, dominate your market". I have used the framework from this book in many consulting engagements to help companies achieve a true "customer centric" focus, which is at the heart of differentiation.

More tomorrow on customer centricity. See you then.

Chicke Fitzgerald

The Ecosystem is changing before our eyes

Both Orbitz and Travelocity this week announced new leaders at the helm.

Orbitz now has a technology savvy, operationally capable, marketing focused executive who is talking already about social media, which could imply new models afoot for the OTA. Orbitz had been outpaced by Expedia and Travelocity in the advertising model/social media capabilities, but does it really help them materially to do a "me too" offering to match Trip Advisor and iGoUGo?

Just weeks ago, Amadeus founding CEO Jose Tazon stepped down from the CEO role with David Jones, his number two taking the helm. Company veteran Philippe Chereque moved from his role as head of strategy to become the company's Chief Commercial Officer, replacing Jones.

Sabre puts its own COO at the helm of Travelocity, not replacing him in the Sabre organization, but instead splitting his job amongst his peers.

Is it time to go from 3 GDS companies down to two or are the firms just further tightening their belts for their private equity owners?

I am trying to decide whether this more closely resembles the astronauts running out of oxygen in Apollo 13 or is it more like Sid and his buddies in Ice Age, with the temperature around them changing, wondering if the woolly mammoth can hold on?

OTAs are now quite mature at more than 10 years old (with Orbitz being the baby of the bunch at just under 9 years old). The GDSs are the granddaddy of the industry at 30 years old on average (with Amadeus as the baby at just under 20).

Their models are old and tired and fraught with challenges as the air travel sector (whom they all depend on for as much as 90% of their revenues) contracts with the economy. Just 15% of all travel in the US is by air and just 22% of all spending is done by air travelers (according to the recently renamed Travel Industry Association nee USTA). That number isn't expected to improve anytime soon, as airlines continue to contract their networks and reduce both frequency and capacity.

Travel suppliers continue to push online shoppers to shop on their own sites, leaching business from both the OTAs (which actually makes financial sense for them) and from the traditional travel agent (which makes no sense whatsoever as outlined in previous posts), which impacts the GDS directly.

The OTAs and the GDSs must open their eyes beyond the air traveler to support the drive market, which represents 85% of all trips annually and 78% of all spending. For the 10 and 30 years that these folks have been around, the air traveler market has been sufficient and it has been good to them, with double digit margins.

With the pressures from shareholders - whether IAC and the public at Expedia, or from Blackstone and TCV for Travelport and add in the public for Orbitz, or TPG and Silverlake at Sabre/Travelocity, the OTA business and the GDS industry has to expand its horizons and realize that the ecosystem is changing.

The good days are over Sid.... the wooly mammoth IS in danger. And the air is getting very thin in the spacecraft for Apollo 13 astronauts.

Time for a change. Where will it come from?

Stay tuned.

Chicke Fitzgerald

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Entrepreneurial Tip #1 - Inspiration is a core value

Face it, getting up and going to work is hard enough when you have a solid paycheck coming in every two weeks like clockwork, paid vacation, health, dental and life insurance, 401k matching, etc. etc.

Imagine for a moment being an entrepreneur. Your life savings is safely ensconced in the company you've been building for 2 1/2 years. You haven't taken a salary for that same time and you know the meaning of the word "highly leverage" first hand.

What gets you out of bed every day?

Being inspired.

I know it sounds a bit loopy (as my friend Jane from Australia would say), but it is true.

True entrepreneurs (or serial entrepreneurs as we're often called) are known for having an "idea a minute". So we live and breathe inspiration. If we are smart, we couple ourselves with one or more detailed oriented people that can actually execute one or more of our ideas, as we frequently are bored with the execution phase once things are moving along smoothly.

In corporate life, inspiration is not generally a core value and often "inspiration squashing" is the sport of the interminable meetings and conference calls. Unconstrained brainstorming is rarely tolerated without 10 reasons why the "new, new thing" won't work.

Try a slice of inspiration tomorrow morning with your toast and coffee. For a whole day (ok, a whole hour if you can manage it), take everything off your desk. Sit quietly for a few minutes (or a few seconds for the ADD folks in the bunch) and just dream about what you would do today if you could remove all constraints.

Constraints usually entail:

  • Money
  • Talent
  • Time deadlines (quarterly SEC filings or profitability expectations)
  • Other resources
  • Competitive reaction
  • Naysayers within your group or leadership team
  • Current pricing models
  • or STATUS QUO in ANY CATEGORY
Just for that hour or that day, ban those things from your thinking and think about being:
  • Well funded
  • Growing profitably
  • Being strong and an industry leader
  • Truly differentiating your offering
  • Expanding your current products to new untapped markets
  • Building momentum in both top line growth and bottom line results
  • Having the right talent to get it all accomplished!
This is the right fodder for strategic plans. When you read a plan, you should get excited. It should make you get out of bed and RUN to work, even if you weren't going to receive a paycheck for the forseeable future!

We may be an undisciplined bunch, but having been in Corporate America for the first 18 years of my career, I can tell you with great assurance, we have way more fun! And the BIG secret..... we get more done with WAY less, much faster.

Inject some entrepreneurial spirit into your company today.

Chicke Fitzgerald

Interview on BlogTalk Radio yesterday

I was interviewed yesterday on BlogTalk Radio. I talked about the Executive Girlfriend's Group, Solutionz Group and some of the companies that we are incubating (LeisureLogix RoadEscapes.com, HotelsbyHospitals, etc.).

I am the second interview on this one hour show hosted by Jason Crouch and Ken Cook.

VIEW THE SEGMENT

Click on the segment on the right that begins with TS Elliott (no, not the dead poet). I got tired of hearing the music from the show each time I opened this blog!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

DOING MORE WITH LESS Series - Entrepreneurial Spirit

I had a very interesting call this morning with a woman who is a part of an organization that is spearheading entrepreneurial education at the high school level.

She used the phrase that the group is "electrified down to their socks" about teaching entrepreneurship as early in life as possible. I realized as she was talking that I too am electrified, perhaps even down to my toes about not only being an entrepreneur, but passing on my knowledge about what makes entrepreneurs different from people in corporate life. We are, after all, all business people. Right?

Well, partially right.

For those of you who know my daughter Kiera (aged 10), you know that she is a natural entrepreneur. She is always writing or working on some new idea. Like mother, like daughter.

In fact, as I sit in the lobby of the Omni Hotel in Orlando, I'm reminded of the day before our Disney Cruise last spring when Kiera and I were in this very hotel, side by side, working on something or other so important that we had to bring our laptops on vacation!

On several occasions I have taught entrepreneurial business in Kiera's grade school - to 4th graders and to 5th graders. And the cool thing is - they get it! They are SO practical and insightful. We could use a bit of that in adult businesses, entrepreneurial or not!

To get back to my call this morning, it occurred to me that not only do we need to teach entrepreneurialism to kids, but it might be good to come up with some entrepreneurial tips for our corporate bretheren, so as I wrap up my DOING MORE WITH LESS Series, I think I'll start a new series on Entrepreneurial Tips for Success.

I'm about to hop on a radio interview, so for now, I'll leave you with some insight on being an entrepreneur from one of the greatest, Sir Richard Branson.

CLICK HERE to see his interview on entrepreneurialism on American Express OPEN's site.

See you tomorrow,

Chicke Fitzgerald

Monday, January 05, 2009

While you are getting settled - Some Kawasaki wisdom for 2009


One of the people that I follow on Twitter and via RSS feed is Guy Kawasaki. Some of you heard him speak a few years ago at TravelCom.

While you are getting settled back at work, I'm going to provide some wisdom from one of his posts.

CLICK HERE for Guy's article on American Express Open's forum:

Ten Tiny Things Every Small Business Owner Should Do in 2009

I'll be back tomorrow with more in the DOING MORE WITH LESS series.

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