Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Solutionz Live! on FAITH - Dondi Scumaci, A Softer Strength

This on demand audio series is a part of the Executive Girlfriends Group Vignette Series. Chicke Fitzgerald interviews Dondi Scumaci. The original live interview was 5/10/13.

In A Softer Strength, Dondi Scumaci shows you how to live a life that is motivating, inspiring, and that brings you into a full realization of God’s purpose and plan for you. She highlights six approaches that will increase your inherent talents and develop the spiritual strength that leads to victory.

New Lifestyle Internet Radio with Solutionz Live on BlogTalkRadio

You were designed for success in all of your roles. Your work as a mother, mentor, professional, leader, or volunteer should be challenging and inspiring. Start now; your opportunities are waiting!

Dondi Scumaci is an international speaker, author and expert in professional and personal development. Known for high energy seminars that produce dramatic results, Scumaci’s workshops are designed to deliver solid, actionable disciplines for employees and executives alike. Her best-selling book Designed for Success: The 10 Commandments for Women in the Workplace empowers women to be more effective, successful and satisfied at work.

Scumaci’s signature 10 commandments, designed to mentor women, are a result of a seasoned business career spanning more than 20 years, including tenure as director for two top U.S. financial institutions. In 1995, she founded an advising firm, where she currently serves as president.

To order her book click HERE
Dondi’s website is

For more information about the Executive Girlfriends' Group see:

Monday, December 30, 2013

Solutionz Live! WORKPLACE - Jeanne Meister looks ahead to The 2020 Workplace

This on demand audio series is a part of the Executive Girlfriends Group Vignette Series. Chicke Fitzgerald interviews thought leader Jeanne Meister. The original live interview was 4/20/12.

Ten years ago Google was operating out of a garage, Apple was in the skids, and the founder of Facebook was in high school...

What a difference a decade makes! The 2020 Workplace takes you to the future, yet is anchored in the leading edge talent practices of today.

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The 2020 Workplace reviews the seismic shifts in play today that will affect the future:
  • Changing demographics, including five generations in the workplace
  • Globalization and how talent can be accessed anywhere in the world
  • The emergence of social technologies that democratize information and change the role of leadership.
Jeanne Meister is an internationally recognized leader in creating innovations in the operation and management of an enterprise learning function. Jeanne’s expertise spans the development of a best practice corporate university to the creation of innovative social networks for learning.

Jeanne’s websites are
To order The 2020 Workplace click HERE
For more information about the Executive Girlfriends' Group see:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Solutionz Live! on INNOVATION - Debra Kaye, Red Thread Thinking

This on demand audio series is a part of the Executive Girlfriends Group Vignette Series. Chicke Fitzgerald interviews Debra Kaye. The original live interview was 4/19/13.

Create products and services your consumers can't pass up--without the high cost of development.
Debra Kaye explodes conventional thinking about innovation and provides an approach that anyone or any business can use to expose the crucial links among observations, experiences, facts, and feelings that on the surface do not seem related--but are--to uncover fresh, brilliant insights.

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In Red Thread Thinking, Kaye shows you how to weave originality from disparate information and turn it into a product or service that can shake up the marketplace--and your business.
A mold-breaking system, Red Thread Thinking sharpens your innovation skills and can assist in problem solving, whether preparing a talk, pitching a project to your colleagues and boss, managing staff in a more productive way, or taking business to a new level.
Debra Kaye is a global innovation and trends expert specializing in brand strategy and innovation for consumer businesses. Her clients have included Apple, Mars, Colgate, McDonald's, American Express, Kimberly-Clark and many more. A frequent commentator on American Public Radio's "Marketplace" and contributor to Fast Company, she is partner at the innovation consultancy Lucule and former CEO of TBWA\Italy.
Debra’s website is
To order her book click HERE
For more information about the Executive Girlfriends' Group see:

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Solutionz Live! on SUCCESS - Margie Aliprandi, How to Get Absolutely Anything

This on demand audio series is a part of the Executive Girlfriends Group Vignette Series. Chicke Fitzgerald interviews Margie Aliprandi. The original live interview was 4/3/13.

When Margie began her career in network marketing, she was a junior high school music teacher and struggling single mom.  Her business now spans 29 countries with a team of over 250,000 worldwide.  She achieved a 5 figure monthly income within a year and millionaire status within three years.

Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Solutionz Live on BlogTalkRadio

Margie was the first in her company to achieve the top rank of Crown Diamond. She has received every possible award in her company, including International Distributor of the Year three times.  She is  the visionary behind the “1000 Moms Making $1000 and Making A  Difference” campaign which seeks to empower women to make a difference  in their own lives, while making a difference in the lives of others.
Margie brings her unique perspective and heart for the network marketing profession, and has built a reputation for combining time-tested business-building strategies with a keen understanding of how to build a successful business in the 21st Century. Her ability to inspire with her real life experience “in the trenches” makes her a powerful and sought after trainer.
Margie’s website is
To order her book click HERE
For more information about the Executive Girlfriends' Group see:

Friday, December 27, 2013

Solutionz Live! on HAPPINESS - Stephanie Staples, When Enlightening Strikes

This on demand audio series is a part of the Executive Girlfriends Group Vignette Series. Chicke Fitzgerald interviews motivational speaker Stephanie Staples. The original live interview was 7/27/12.

Stephanie Staples has created a book that balances laugh out loud humor with excellent insights into human psycho-social growth and behavior. Readers will not only be entertained by Stephanie's stories, they will be invited to examine their own "enlightening strikes," while learning concrete, useable strategies for happier lives.

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Stephanie is a talented Professional Speaker, Certified Life Coach, Keynote Speaker, Motivational Speaker and offers Motivational Retreats for those people who are ready to take their lives and careers to the next level.

Stephanie has founded three businesses (two successful - one a nightmare, you can’t win them all!) and is a multiple nominee for Winnipeg’s Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award (always a bridesmaid - never a bride!), most proudly she is the founder and owner of Your Life, Unlimited.
Stephanies’s website is

To order Stephanie’s book click HERE
For more information about the Executive Girlfriends' Group see:

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Taking off the balance of the holidays

The Fitzgerald Family - December 24, 2013 Tampa FL
I would like to thank all of you that faithfully read the Think Tank blog and from our house to yours, with you a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous and Happy New Year. 

It has been a great year for Solutionz and we look forward to sharing our thoughts about innovation, leadership, growth and giving back with you in 2014.

If there is a topic that you would like to discuss, drop us a note at

For the balance of the year we will be publishing the best of Solutionz Live! radio broadcasts. 

Solutionz Live! on LEADERSHIP - Susan Spencer - Briefcase Essentials

This on demand audio series is a part of the Executive Girlfriends Group Vignette Series. Chicke Fitzgerald interviews Susan Spencer. The original live interview was 9/14/12.
After Susan Spencer graduated Villanova Law School she joined a large Philadelphia law firm and worked as in-house counsel of the Philadelphia Eagles. After several years handling all the legal matters at the Eagles she was promoted to VP and General Manager–the only woman to ever hold all three positions with a professional football team.

Five years later, after the team was sold, she started her own food distribution company. Within three years her company was doing ten million in sales.

Discover Business Internet Radio with Solutionz Live on BlogTalkRadio

Briefcase Essentials, Susan’s first book, has received the Axiom Award as one of the best business books of 2011. Briefcase Essentials was written to share her stories about working in male dominated industries and describe how she used 12 natural talents that all women possess, to succeed in a business world that is currently dominated by men.

She currently owns a meat trading company, hosts a radio show (Business Buzz) on Women’s Radio, is a guest lecturer at UNLV’s School of Entrepreneurship, and is a blogger.
Her series of articles about women’s issues and professional football have been featured on, The Huffington Post, and among others. Susan is a featured lecturer, and provides commentary on numerous sports radio shows. She also finds time to mentor young entrepreneurs.

Susan’s websites are:

To order Briefcase Essentials click HERE

For more information about the Executive Girlfriends' Group see:

Twisted Thinking - #4 Marketing the Product versus Marketing to the Customer

Today I want to talk about what happens when you get tied up in product centric marketing versus being customer centric.

I will use the travel industry as the primary example, because it is the most blatant violator of this principle.   The industry is obsessed with the air traveler to the exclusion of nearly everyone else.  

There are 1 billion overnight trips taken in the US annually.  Just 15% of those trips are by air.  Yet nearly 100% of all travel websites (and most travel agencies, with the exception of AAA) focus on that 15%. 

To be fair, there are many travel sites that sell non-air products - case in point Hotel sites, Car Rental sites and Cruise sites to name a few.   And each of them would say that they market to the traveler.

But pick any one of your favorite non-air sites and you will see that they assume that you magically land at your destination, versus helping you get from where you are to where you want to go.   They begin and end with their product, not with the traveler.

So quite simply, if you elect to focus on your product, versus how to get your target client to you to enjoy your product, you may be missing a huge part of the market.  In the case of the travel industry, you may be missing up to 85% of your target audience. 

Back in September I wrote about the sport shoe industry and what would happen if they had remained focused on the market their product was originally designed for - the professional athlete, versus realizing that everyone who has feet were their market. 

Yes, professional athletes were a key market for Nike and Adidas, but it was only when they branched out to soccer moms, kids and truly the man on the street that the sport shoe industry really took off.

What is your focus?  Is your thinking twisted?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Twisted Thinking - #3 Focus on the Lowest Price versus Channel Profitability

This is the third in a five part series on Twisted Thinking.  The reason for this series is to help organizations see the madness in their current thinking and how short term thinking doesn't produce long term, sustainable growth.

Today's twisted thinking - always offering the lowest price as a path to profitability, undercutting every other channel partner that you have engaged to sell your product.

The first in the laws of stratospheric success as espoused by my heroes and friends, Bob Burg and John David Mann in their book The Go Giver, is the Law of Value.  That law states that "Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.".

We talked about that a little on Day 1 of this series when we talked about the insanity of airline pricing. But what I want to talk about today is the issue of focusing on offering the lowest price versus looking for the best channel in which to sell your product(s) profitably.

I have written about Direct Distribution (aka Channel Bypass by suppliers) extensively in the past, so I won't go into great detail, but the essence is this.

If you only look at the cost of distribution (i.e. commissions, segment fees, booking fees, transaction fees) and not at the revenue being garnered from a particular channel, you will not make an informed decision based on the profit that you can make from each sale.

This is simple math.  The amount that is charged for the product, less the cost of sales is your gross profit.  Direct Distribution is NOT free.

It is twisted to think that you can charge the lowest price, get everyone to come to you directly and actually win (e.g. have sustainable growth and profits).    You are likely leaving significant money on the table and that my friend, is Twisted Thinking.

Disintermediation is not something to aspire to if you haven't done your homework on your unit profitability by channel.

Stop following the crowd.

My mother used to encourage me not to "bite off my nose to spite my face".  While at the time, I likely didn't really understand what she was talking about, I get it now.  Over the past decade, I have watched travel suppliers do this repeatedly.  Not only do they undercut their distributors, but they withdraw product and send cease and desist letters regarding their marketing efforts and in extreme cases, they take them to court.  Now that is twisted.

My mother was anything but twisted.  So if you don't want to listen to me, I encourage you to listen to her.  She was a wise woman.

Tomorrow, Twisted Thinking will look at CRM and personalization.

Stay tuned.

Solutionz Live! on STRATEGY - Chris Chopyak - Picture your business strategy @chrischopyak

This on demand audio series is a part of the Executive Girlfriends Group Vignette Series. Chicke Fitzgerald interviews Chris Chopyak. The original live interview was 5/24/13.

Picture, plan, produce! Visualize your way to business success!

Strategic Illustration—the proven method for helping team members engage, align, and devise creative solutions to business problems—is now at your fingertips. 

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Picture Your Business Strategy reveals how anyone can use visual tools to illuminate root causes of problems and devise strategies to solve them. Creating visual images of problems helps people focus, fosters collaboration, increases group energy, and drives creativity. The book provides practical lessons on strategic illustration you can use to drive positive results on a consistent basis.

You don't have to be an artist to "draw" your strategy. All you need is a vision and Picture Your Business Strategy. 

Christine Chopyak is a senior partner and co-owner of the business management consulting company Alchemy. She is a skilled consultant and strategist who uses a variety of methodologies, best practice, graphics and deep listening to elicit ideas, solutions and innovation from people and their organizations.  Her approach and insights result in a dynamic environment where high energy, best-practice and system practicalities create opportunities that both clients and stakeholders are enthused to deploy.

With over 18 years of business planning, consulting, public participation and stakeholder engagement, and systems background, Chris’ clients include multi-national Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, municipalities, county governments, trade associations and school systems.  She has designed processes for and with multiple industries including finance, technology, pharmaceutical, consumer products, large consulting businesses, petrochemicals, agriculture, publishing and education industry as well as oil and gas, aerospace and hotel industries.  With a specialty in large group facilitation (150+) and cultural integration Chris enjoys the challenge of large systems and small teams in diverse, multi-cultural and international settings. 

Alchemy: the Art of Transforming Business is a business strategy consulting firm that makes a profound and sustainable difference in the world. They collaborate with our clients using state of the art business tools, innovative experiences, skilled facilitation and strategic illustrations™ that result in outcomes most companies and organizations dream of.

To order Chris' book click HERE

Chris' website 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Twisted Thinking - #2 Passwords are the bane of my existence

Bane means a source of persistent annoyance or exasperation.  That describes passwords to a T.

Instinctively I know that passwords are here to protect me.  I do. 

But I now believe that behind the scenes there are a group of particularly diabolical programmers that get perverse pleasure in simply denying me access to things that I can't imagine anyone else on earth caring about stealing. 

Case in point - my kids grades.  Who would want to get access to my kids' information?

Their school just switched to a new platform called RENWEB.  I use it on a daily basis to access the info on my kids grades, homework and schedules.  Now I'm sure it is a perfectly good company, but here is my beef.  Not only do they ask my login and my password, but they ask for my Division Code.  This, by the way isn't my code, it is something that is only meaningful to them and of course it is impossible to remember.  On top of that, on their mobile app, they don't auto-populate those fields or give me a chance to just remain logged in.  So every day I have to go look up their blasted Division Code.  Argh. 

OK, my bank is another story.  I wouldn't want people accessing my banking info.  But my bank assigned me an account code that once again is only meaningful to them and I can't change it.  It isn't even terribly secure, as it is a four letter word (no not one of those).  I then have to remember not only my login and my password, but I also need a special code that is auto-generated on the fly by another app on my phone.  You have to catch it within 25 seconds or it won't match what the bank shows.  And of course if you mess up three times in trying to remember which password you used for this system, it locks you out and you have to call.  Some stranger then resets it.  How secure is that?

And then there are the sites that won't allow you to use special characters in your password or those that will only allow you to set up a password that has at least one capital letter, numbers and multiple special characters.  They make it impossible to have a password that you can remember, so guess what?  You have to write it down somewhere.   I'm pretty sure that defeats the purpose.

Let's not forget those that make you change your password every 45 days and then they won't let you use any of your last 10 passwords.  ...Really? 

Oh and the impossible cycle of password resets where you go an enter the information, they say cheerily that they have sent you an email to ******** and then you go to find it, click it, reset the password, go back to the login and the darn thing won't work. 

And my favorite is my hosting provider, who doesn't have password resets on ANYTHING and if I can't remember it, I have to call him.   What is he thinking?


Passwords are indeed the bane of my existence.   But I can't live with them and I know that software providers and online sites can't live without them. 

And those twisted programmers probably can't help themselves, poor dears.  

Solutionz Live! on ENTREPRENEURIALISM - Sherry DeMao - Me, Myself & Inc.

This on demand audio series is a part of the Executive Girlfriends Group Vignette Series. Chicke Fitzgerald interviews Sherre DeMao. The original live interview was 9/21/12.

Me, Myself & Inc. is a must-read for any entrepreneur who wants MORE … more business … more success … more time … more money … more satisfaction … more out of life. And an absolute must for anyone who is continually trying to make Work/Life Balance work … because it doesn't. Work/Life Synergy does!

This interview will change your entire way of approaching your business, your goals, and your life!

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Sherré captured the real-life success stories of how other entrepreneurs from all walks of life and types of businesses overcame challenges in building their businesses and their lives. Synergized insights include Sara Blakely of Spanx®, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s, and John and Bert Jacobs of Life is good, Inc. 

Sherré is founder and Chief Marketeer of SLD Unlimited Marketing/PR, Inc., a full-service marketing consulting and strategy firm she established in 1984. Sherré helps owners of startup and small to medium-sized companies become more savvy managers and marketers by providing innovative operational and marketing guidance, solutions and services.

Sherre’s website is
To order Sherre’s book click HERE
For more information about the Executive Girlfriends' Group see:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Solutionz Live! on SUCCESS - Ekaterina Walter - Think Like Zuck @ekaterina

This on demand audio series is a part of the Executive Girlfriends Group Vignette Series. Chicke Fitzgerald interviews Ekaterina WalterThe original live interview was 3/15/13.

Make Your Mark in the World with the Five Success Principles of the World-Changing Social Media Site.

If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world.  Facebook accounts for one of every seven minutes spent online.  More than one billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook.

There’s no doubt about it. Mark Zuckerberg’s creation has changed the world. Literally. Facebook has singlehandedly revolutionized the way more than one-seventh of the world’s population communicates, engages, and consumes information.

If you run a business or plan to start one, you’re probably asking yourself the same question organizational leaders worldwide are asking: What did Mark Zuckerberg do right? 

At long last, the answer is here. Think Like Zuck examines the five principles behind Facebook’s meteoric rise, presented in actionable lessons anyone can apply—in any organization, in any industry. Written by social business trailblazer Ekaterina Walter, this groundbreaking book reveals the five “P”s of Facebook’s success:

PASSION—Keep your energy and commitment fully charged at all times by pursuing something you believe in
 PURPOSE—Don’t just create a great product; drive a meaningful movement
 PEOPLE—Build powerful teams that can execute your vision
 PRODUCT—Create a product that is innovative, that breaks all the rules, that changes everything
 PARTNERSHIPS—Build powerful partnerships with people who fuel imagination and energize execution

Packed with examples of Facebook’s success principles in action—as well as those of Zappos, TOMS, Threadless, Dyson, and other companies—Think Like Zuck gives you the inspiration, knowledge, and insight to make your own mark in the world, to build a business that makes a difference, and to lead your organization to long-term profitability and growth.

Ekaterina Walter is a social media innovator at Intel. A recognized business and marketing thought leader, she is a regular contributor to Mashable, Fast Company, Huffington Post, and other leading-edge print and online publications. Walter has been featured in Forbes and BusinessReviewUSA and was named among 25 Women Who Rock Social Media in 2012. She sits on the board of directors of Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) and is an active member of the Thunderbird Global Council at Thunderbird School of Global Management.

To order Ekaterina's book click HERE

Ekaterina's website is

Twisted thinking - #1 Airline pricing takes the cake

This is a new series on Twisted Thinking.  Now we could go a lot of places with this topic, but it is intended to show what happens when companies (or entire industries) get too focused on themselves and on short term profits and don't think about the long term value of customer intimacy and providing true value. 

Hands down, airplane pricing has to be the single best example of twisted thinking in the history of man.  It takes the cake.

Where else would you:
  1. Discount your product if people will take three different airplanes (with three different crews, fuel for each one for three different take offs and landings and potentially three GDS segment fees) to get to their destination.  Oh and three planes back as well, so multiply everything by two.  
  2. Conversely, charge them more if they take a non-stop to their destination - your lowest cost option.
  3. Penalize your best customers by charging them more for aisle and window seats, when you could just offer the infrequent traveler a discount on the center seat and retain the good will of your regular customers. 
  4. Charge the people sitting in the same row (assuming 3 seats on either side) on your plane up to six different prices for the same exact product, knowing full well that they may talk to one another and be upset with you.
  5. Not give a refund if a passenger has to cancel his/her trip, even though you know can resell that seat.
  6. Similarly, if the customer only needs the outbound and does not need the return flight, keeping 100% of the airfare.
  7. When redeeming frequent flyer points, make it easiest (fewest points) to take the 2 leg connection.  That's right, take a seat on three airplanes in each direction vs one, when those seats could have been sold to someone else.

 If you did your homework on the last series, you will have already read the Go Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann and you will know that absolutely everything about this violates the first law of stratospheric success and seriously compromises several of the other laws as well.

If airlines insist on getting paid for every individual element of service, that diminishes the value of the entire experience, as they have not given more in value than they have taken in payment.

On the law of compensation, airlines definitely serve a lot of people.  How well they are served, if simply judged by getting them from point to point safely and on time, is a matter or record, judged by the Department of Transportation.  

Their influence however, is much less than it could be, if they were abundantly placing the interest of their customer's first.  Southwest has mastered this and even though they are now on par with most airlines on pricing, they still give off the "love" vibe that is at the company's roots.  The employees love working there and it shows and their customer love that Southwest has shed a bit of the status quo of the industry and that everyone seems to have fun when they fly.

Being authentic is something that many airlines have forgotten.  When they say that they care, they have to really care.  It has to show in your pricing policies, your service and in the attitudes of your people.

On the final law, while at a corporate level being open to receive doesn't seem to fit, I would suggest that the airlines need to at least receive this bit of advice.  Buy the GoGiver for the entire executive team.  See how you can reshape your Twisted Thinking on pricing.

At the risk of sounding like Jeff Foxworthy, I leave you with this.

If something makes you scratch your head, it just might be Twisted Thinking.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's blog -  Passwords - the bane of my existence.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Solutionz Live! on JOB HUNT - Molly Wendell - The New Job Search

This on demand audio series is a part of the Executive Girlfriends Group Vignette Series. Chicke Fitzgerald interviews Molly Wendell. The original live interview was 9/28/12.

Don't waste days, weeks and months following the job search "rules." Learn how to take charge and get offers for the work you love at the price you're worth. 

Most job search "experts" have never endured the pain of an extended job search. For two years and three days Molly Wendell, a former Vice President of marketing, lived it. It wasn't until she fired the "job boards" and quit following the rules that she figured out what really works. In 90 days, she secured 60 meetings and received 30 job offers. With a Black Belt in job search and the battle scars to prove it, Molly's strategies for landing your next great position are the most innovative and important you will encounter today.

Popular Work Internet Radio with Solutionz Live on BlogTalkRadio

Molly spent 15 years in sales, marketing and business development in the high tech industry — which included 10 years at IBM Corporation. After her last position as Vice President of Marketing for a technology consulting firm, she found herself looking for a job via the traditional method of sitting in front of her computer and sending off resumes. After 21 months and only one serious job offer (for a position she wasn’t interested in), Molly realized there had to be a more effective way to find a job. That way was to simply get out, meet people and have interesting conversations.

She quickly fine-tuned her job-networking strategies — and the results were astounding. In just 90 days she was able to secure 60 meetings with key decision makers at companies, resulting in more than 30 job offers for positions never posted. By using her refined networking techniques, Molly was successful at landing the job she wanted in a field she had no previous experience or connections.

It was through this process that Molly developed a network numbering in the thousands and learned first-hand the winning strategies in the game of networking—strategies she now regularly shares in interviews with news outlets and with executives nationwide.

Molly Wendell is the President of Executives Network. Known as the "Job Whisperer," Molly has a knack for figuring out what you're supposed to do in life, and connect you with people who can help you land faster. Molly holds an MBA from the University of California - Irvine, and a BS in Marketing from San Diego State University. 

To order Molly's book click HERE

Molly's website 

Molly's blog is 

Top 25 Shows from Solutionz Live

 1  Jan Yager- FRIENDSHIFTS: The Power Of Friendships 
 2  Kelly McDonald- Crafting the Customer Experience 
 3  Martha Heller- The CIO Paradox
 4  Brett Blumenthal- A Whole New You
 5  Reyna Grande-The Distance Between Us: A Memoir
 6  Nan Kirsten Forte-Travora: A New Model in Travel 
 7  Karen Wright- The Complete Executive
 8  LouAnn Lofton-Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl
 9  Erika Andersen- Leading So People Will Follow 
 10  Kendra Lee-The Sales Magnet 
 11  Porter Gale- Your Network Is Your Net Worth 
 12  Restaurateur, Kathy Sidell- "When I Met Food”
 13  Joan O. Wright- UP-Pursuing Significance 
 14  Molly Wendell-The New Job Search
 15  Sherre DeMao-Me, Myself & Inc.
 16  Ekaterina Walter-Think Like Zuck
 17  Chris Chopyak- Picture Your Business Strategy
 18  Diane Sieg- Mindfulness Matters: Health, Happiness
 19  Susan Spencer- Briefcase Essentials
 20  Stephanie Staples-When Enlightening Strikes
 21  Edie Weiner-FutureThink: How To Think Clearly...
 22 Margie Aliprandi How to Get Absolutely Anything
 23  Debra Kaye- Red Thread Thinking
 24  Dondi Scumaci- A Softer Strength
 25  Laura Bell-Claiming Ground: A Memoir

Friday, December 13, 2013

Stay tuned for our new series, starting Monday: Twisted Thinking

Throughout life, we have moments that we realize that our thinking has been twisted and we find a need to get "straightened out". 

Once that happens, we see things with amazing clarity and quite frankly, we can't imagine how we could have seen things through that twisted lens.

On Monday, I'm going to start a series on where we get "twisted". 

The end of the year is a good time to ponder those things and to make the new year a little clearer and straighter.

Stay tuned.

Chicke Fitzgerald

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Solutionz Live! on SALES TOOLS Kendra Lee, author of the Sales Magnet

This on demand audio series is a part of the Executive Girlfriends Group Vignette Series. Chicke Fitzgerald interviews Kendra Lee. The original live interview was 2/22/13.

Many of you may be entrepreneurs who started your own businesses and were forced into sales to be successful. Or you were dragged into selling reluctantly because your job role changed. Some of you, like me, actually chose to make the move because sales sounded more exciting and lucrative.  Click below to listen to the interview with Kendra Lee.

Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Solutionz Live on BlogTalkRadio

Regardless of how we all got here, we're in sales with personal goals that require us to find prospects to achieve them. But where do we find those people? Most sales training programs begin with, when you have a lead or as you begin your sales process. Short of telling you to make cold calls, they don't provide any advice on how to go about getting the leads you need.

Kendra wrote this book as a resource for you in attracting prospects from your list of small and midsize companies. It includeds loads of tips, techniques, and examples you can use to successfully draw prospects to you.

Kendra Lee is a Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencer for 2012. She is a Prospect Attraction Expert, president of KLA Group, and author of the award-winning book Selling Against the Goal and The Sales Magnet. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group helps mid-market companies break through tough prospecting barriers to exceed revenue goals. Ms. Lee is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and events.

Kendra’s website is
To order her book click HERE
For more information about the Executive Girlfriends' Group see:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

PROFITABILITY - The holy grail

Today's blog is the last in a 10 part series on the Entrepreneurial Puzzle.  Today's installment is about PROFITABILITY

For the first blog in the series on the IDEA, click HERE.   To read part 9 on the GIVING BACK, click HERE.

Unlike the holy grail, there is nothing mysterious or elusive about profitability.

Spend less than you make.  

Truly I could stop this blog right here and trust me, I was tempted to do just that, because it is just that easy and it is just that hard.  Plus, it would have been just a tad funny....

1.  The first step on the path to profitability is to build revenues

If you are not in a position to hire a full time sales or business development person, there are amazing resources available on the Internet on every topic imaginable, including sales.  So if you need to learn some things that you could do on your own to build revenue, YouTube is a great place to start.

One of my favorites about building revenue in a B2B (business to business) venture are short vignettes from Andrea Sittig-Rolf, the Blitzmaster @TheBlitzMaster.   Another is the Go for No channel, by Andrea Waltz and Richard Fenton +Goforno.   Both of these resources are amazing and give you really practical ways to get over your fears (which by the way are totally normal) about sales.

If you are in a B2C (business to consumer venture), you will want to search for resources on driving traffic (online) and about attracting customers.  If you have a website for consumers, don't overlook partnering with someone that already reaches your desired customer base to see if they could simply partner with you.  This is called B2B2C.   

2.  Price wisely

Pricing your product in such a way that your hard costs are covered is also essential.  This is true whether you are selling a physical product or a service.  That is not to say that there is not a time for discounting to "seed the market", but this cannot become the norm.    

It is also critical to know your competition and how they price their product.   If your costs are substantially lower, you can elect to undercut their price.  But be aware that if their pockets are deeper than yours, it is easy for them to play that game, potentially driving you out of business. 

Regarding pricing, years ago I remember Bob Crandall of AA say that you are only as smart as your dumbest competitor. 

If you don't know how to price your product, then you need to go back to steps 2 and 3 and ensure that you know how much people are willing to pay for the need that you fill and ensure that your plan has specific revenue projections.  You must k

3.  Measure, Measure, Measure - KPIs are your best friend

What gets measured gets accomplished and what gets rewarded gets repeated.  

The other thing is to make sure that your metrics are profitability oriented.  Many companies measure revenue, but they do not know their cost of acquiring a customer or the cost of delivering the service.

Figure out your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).   Build yourself a dashboard that keeps track of those metrics on a regular basis.  For online businesses, you may need to look at the dashboard daily (or if you are fortunate... hourly) or you may only need to measure monthly. 

Year over year comparisons are important as your business matures.  Also, you must know your business seasonality, as month over month comparisons can be misleading without taking that into account.

4.  Don't try to do everything on your own.  

I fight this battle daily with my new venture.  I am the quintessential do-it-yourselfer.

I have finished building phase 1 of my product and I would love to just go ahead and hire everyone that I need now to get revenues flowing.  But if I do that, I must choose the investment route, taking in outside money and that is not the path I have chosen at this juncture.

But I know from experience in previous ventures that if you need help, you can look for people who have the skills that you need.  Tell them your story and your vision and see if they are willing to help in some way.  Not everyone needs to be hired full time.

Some will defer billing for equity or simply for deferred payment.  Others will barter.  You may even find someone that you could even partner with, who is willing to contribute their skills, or someone who would be willing to serve on your advisory board.

Look for complementary skills to your own.  If someone is recommended to you, take the time to vet them carefully.

5.  Set aside time to work ON your business
In closing, the most important advice that I can give entrepreneurs is to make sure to schedule time to work ON your business versus working IN your business.  Take time to plan, to set goals and to ensure that you are meeting those goals.

Thanks for joining me for the Entrepreneurial Success Series.   

Stay tuned.

Monday, December 09, 2013

GIVING BACK - An important part of the Entrepreneurial Success puzzle

Today's blog is the 9th in a 10 part series on the Entrepreneurial Puzzle.  Today's installment is about GIVING BACK.

For the first blog in the series on the IDEA, click HERE.   To read part 8 on the INVESTMENT, click HERE.


In January of 2008 after a frustrating day of meetings with a particularly difficult client, followed by getting a speeding ticket on the way to the airport, I stopped in the bookstore at the airport, passing time due to a delay in my flight (but of course).   

On the corner of one of the tables, was this little book.  It was almost literally calling to me.  The book was small and was billed as "a little story about a powerful business idea.".  

Lord knew I could use some power in my life at that time, and a new business idea, as I had just had my first "spectacular" business failure. 

So I picked up the book and headed to my gate.   I started it the minute that I boarded the airplane and as we pulled up to the jet bridge in Tampa, I closed it, finishing the last chapter.  I realized that I didn't even remember taking off.

A year later, I started a new radio network known as SolutionzLive!, where I interviewed authors and experts on the topics of Innovation, Growth, Leadership, Entrepreneurialism and Giving.  On my launch show about giving,  I interviewed John David Mann, one of the co-authors and chief storyteller.  Weeks later, I interviewed Bob Burg on the impact of giving on innovation. 

I had spent the last year trying to sell the technology assets of a failed venture.  Of course, now I was being met with not only a personal economic crisis after three years without income, but the country's crisis was also in full swing, which meant that capital had all but dried up.  Consulting opportunities were few and far between as well, with companies just trying to survive, putting their growth plans on the back burner.  It wasn't looking good.

Doing the shows was a much needed respite for me, allowing me to personally recharge, garnering amazing insights from some of the country's top business authors and also expanding my network in ways that people only dream of. 

Back to the book.  For most of us, all of our lives we have heard that we need to be "go-getters" to be successful.  This book turns that theory on its head and suggests that only the "go-giver" can truly succeed.

The Go-Giver tells the story of an ambitious young man named Joe who yearns for success. Joe is a true go-getter, though sometimes he feels as if the harder and faster he works, the further away his goals seem to be. And so one day, desperate to land a key sale at the end of a bad quarter, he seeks advice from the enigmatic Pindar, a legendary consultant referred to by his many devotees simply as the Chairman.

 I would try to describe the principles, but it would be best to have you hear it from storyteller and co-author John David Mann.   You can download this 30 minute interview by clicking on the image to listen to at your convenience or you can listen now:

This book has changed the way that I think about giving and about business and even about business success. 

If you don't have time to listen to the interview, make sure to order a copy of the book.  

Tomorrow we will close out this series and talk about profitability, the ultimate yardstick in
measuring business success.

And don't forget to subscribe to the Think Tank.   Thanks for visiting.

Chicke Fitzgerald, philanthropreneur

Stop the madness: If airlines owned and operated a trendy restaurant

In looking at my most popular posts, the venerable "If Airlines Sold Paint" always ranks in the top 5 posts.  It was written by Alan Hess, who is now the President at Hess Travel in Salt Lake City.  

I decided to write a new one with a new twist.   

Making a dinner reservation with a trendy restaurant  ...

Customer: Hi, I'd like to make a reservation for dinner for next Friday.

Restaurant: What time would you like to have dinner?

Customer: We would like to arrive at 7pm.  It is our anniversary.

Restaurant: Great. How many in your party?

Customer:  4
Restaurant: You are confirmed.   And by the way, if you will take just a moment to “check in” on Foursquare and leave a tip or like us on Facebook, you will get a coupon for a free bottle of wine that you can use next Friday to help celebrate.   And I'm going to put in a request for our corner table that has a great view.  Just get here a little early and ask for our General Manager Monica.
Customer: Wow! Thanks. That is great. I’m going to tell everyone I know about you! My boss is planning our department Christmas party and I will make sure that he calls you!

Restaurant Agent:  Tell him to ask for Monica and she'll be glad to help arrange it.

Making a dinner reservation with a trendy restaurant owned by an airline ...

Restaurant Agent:  Airline Trendy Dining, how may I help you?

Customer: Hi, I'd like to make a reservation for dinner for next Friday to celebrate our wedding anniversary. 

Restaurant Agent:  Congratulations, Sir but I will have to see whether we have availability.  What time are you looking for your reservation and in which city?

Customer: Tampa.  We would like to arrive at 7pm.

Restaurant Agent:  Great.  We have tables available.   How many in your party?  

Customer: 4

Restaurant Agent:  Are you wanting to sit together?

Customer: Well of course!  What kind of question is that?  You just said that you had tables and we are celebrating a special event.

Restaurant Agent:  Sir, Friday is a very popular night to eat out and if you want to sit together you will have to pay in advance.

Customer: Pay what in advance?

Restaurant Agent:  Well, first I need to ask you a few questions. Will you be wanting plates or are you planning on bringing your own?

Customer: Bringing my own?  For my anniversary?  Are you crazy?

Restaurant Agent:  Sir, you can save $10 per person by bringing your own plates.

Customer: Wow, with four people, that could add up.  Maybe I will.  No, that is crazy. 

Restaurant Agent:  Sir, I’m just trying to help you understand all the ways that you can save.  If you were willing to change your reservation to 11pm and have your appetizers and your soup course in Orlando, then wait two hours there, we can give you another $20 per person off.

Customer: You've got to be kidding!  I'm trying to plan a party!

Restaurant Agent:  Sir, we don't kid around here. We just merged with one of the largest restaurant companies in the US and we are now the number one trendy dining option, with locations just about anywhere you would want to eat.  Stopping over at one or more of our other locations in one of our hub cities can save you money.

Customer: No, we just want a 7pm reservation for 4 people in Tampa and we want you to provide the plates.

Restaurant Agent:  And will you be wanting to bypass the line outside? 

Customer:  What line? 

Restaurant Agent:  Well, we are very particular about who we allow to dine in our restaurant, so everyone has to go through a security check before coming in, but we can put you in our Frequent Diner Speed Pass lane.  We have a red carpet and will make a special announcement so everyone knows how important you are.  That will cost just $20 per person extra.

Customer:  Wait, I’ve never dined with you before, so how can I be a Frequent Diner?

Restaurant Agent:   Easy, you just pay us. Will you wanting to be doing that for this reservation?

Customer:  OK, can we now confirm the reservation?

Restaurant Agent:  Yes, would you also like a block of frequent dining points for use against future reservations?

Customer:  Can I use them anytime?

Restaurant Agent:  Anytime but weekends or holidays.

Customer:  No thank you.  Can we just reserve the table please?

Restaurant Agent:  I have a nice table in the corner, but that location and the view will cost you $10 extra.

Customer:  Per person?  Let’s see that is $10 for the plates and $20 for the Speed Pass and now $10 for the corner table?  So $40 per person?

Restaurant Agent:  Yes, of course. [bell heard ringing in the background] Oh, and by the way, since we have been on the phone, the price just went up to $12 per person for the Speed Pass Lane, so that will be $42 per person.

Customer: You mean the price went up while we were talking?

Restaurant Agent:  Yes sir. You see, we change prices and rules thousands of times a day, and since you haven't actually given me your credit card yet, we just decided to change. Unless you want the same thing to happen again, I would suggest you get on with your reservation before the bell rings again. Do you want the Speed Pass Lane?

Customer: We may have two other people join us.  Can I make the reservation for 6 and then just pay for 4 when we get there if the other couple doesn’t make it?

Restaurant Agent:  Oh, no sir, you can't do that. If you arrange for a table for 6 you have to pay up front and then if they don’t show, you will be liable for penalties and possible confiscation of the food that was reserved for you and we would have to start all over again and see if we have a table.

Customer: What?   You just said that you had the table.

Restaurant Agent:  Sir, that table is only available for those that are a part of our Frequent Diner program who are willing to pay the location upgrade fee and pay over a week in advance.  That's right. We can reserve the table for six, but if two don’t show up, you still have to pay.  Oh and if you only eat appetizers and the soup course, you will be in violation of our full four course meal tariffs.

Customer: But what does it matter to you whether I eat all four courses? I already paid you $40 per person for the reservation! And I heard that the site has a hovercraft that delivers a check if someone reserves a table a lower price later!

Restaurant Agent:  Sir, there's no point in getting upset; that's just the way it is and we are currently suing that online reservations company, so you might want to think twice about using them. But getting back to our pricing, we make plans based upon the idea that you will eat a full dinner, and when you don't, it just causes us all sorts of problems. And if your friends don’t show up, then it impacts our food and plate inventory projections.

Customer: This is crazy!  We would have already reserved the table for dinner, paid you the reservation fee and we promise to tip the wait staff really well. Listen, just reserve for 6 at 7pm next Friday.  We’ll try to find another couple if Jack and Louisa can’t make it.

Restaurant Agent:  Uh, sir, you can’t do that.  If you prepay for the corner table, you need to give me everyone’s names and if you have to change, you would have to cancel the entire reservation and start over.  And of course there would be a cancellation fee.

Customer: Well, that does it! I am going somewhere else to make my reservation!

Restaurant Agent:  That won't do you any good, sir. As you can see on the KANOO restaurant reservation metasearch site online, we all have the same rules. And you may be able to reserve a table from someone else, but you won't be able to arrange the plates or bypassing the security line from anyone but us.

Customer: Unbelievable! OK, I will take the table for 6 at 7pm with plates and Speed Pass.

Restaurant Agent:  And would you like silverware with that reservation?

Customer: Let me guess, for just $10 per person.

Clerk: Close sir, it is $12 per person.

Customer: We’ll bring it with us.

Restaurant Agent:  Suit yourself.  And by the way, what will you be wanting to order for your main course?

Customer:  You know, this is just taking too much time.  I just want a reservation, not to pre-order my meal.  Our professional meeting planner for our company can just arrange this through her system. 

Clerk: Don’t bother sir, we no longer pay them a commission to sell on our behalf and besides, the meeting planners use a system that doesn’t connect with our restaurant and of course you must know, they only sell our basic dinner reservations and our corner tables are not available through them.  

Plus, the global restaurant reservation system that they connect to charges us a fee of $2.00 per course for each person just for it to be available through their system, so we really prefer that you make your reservation here.  You understand, we have to watch our costs. 

Customer:  And I suppose something terrible will happen if I buy from the online guy?

Restaurant Agent:  [sternly] Yes sir, it will.

Customer:  [huffs loudly and hangs up, deciding to just have the dinner party at home]

Restaurant Agent: [to the dead phone line]  Thank you for calling Airline Trendy Dining.  [to his colleague]  Can you believe that?  We are the trendiest restaurant in town and we give our customers so much choice to customize their experience with us and extras they can't get anywhere else and they just hung up on me.

Colleague:  You are just too sensitive. Surely they'll call back.  We're the trendiest restaurant in town and they will realize that dealing with us directly is the best thing for them since we have their best interests at heart.


While this sounds like a crazy dialogue because I've included every possible nuance of the insanity of our airline and distribution pricing environment, this is the real world.  

Pricing has become way too complex and the only thing that saves the airlines from a complete loss of their customer is that every other airline operates in the same manner.   There are some that have rejected charging for bags and some that have even experimented with fare simplification, but it is still a painful process to plan a trip by air and especially if something goes wrong and you have to change or cancel.  

I can only plead with our industry to stop the madness and get back to thinking about simplifying the customer experience.

Thank you Alan Hess for your inspiration and for your original satire on If Airlines Sold Paint.  I've shared it often with the investment community to help them understand our crazy industry.

Chicke Fitzgerald - iconoclast and status quo buster

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