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Archive for the “Executive Sales Outsourcing” Category

MBA programs are changing. Programs are continually updating themselves and working to make themselves more viable and popular in a society tangled up in student loan debt. Accredited MBA courses have gone completely digital as distance learning becomes more of a popular option for those who decide to continue their education while still working. Corporate Social Responsibility has infiltrated an industry once driven completely by metrics and increasing profits. However, many business students, especially MBAs, lag behind in one area: writing. In many business programs, it is possible to take entire classes without submitting one piece of writing. Though the bulk of communication in business happens numerically, being able to effectively communicate in other ways is the difference between success and failure, especially for entrepreneurs. As technology progresses, investors and associates will require more frequent updates in language they can understand and without help, many will find they are not up to par.

There’s an art to business writing, an art that begins with good writing.

I was caught by an article on March 3, 2011 in the Wall Street Journal titled, “Students Struggle For Words” (Diana Middleton, page B8). It documents the growing complaints by employers of the inadequate writing skills on the part of newly minted MBAs. Anecdotal evidence includes complaints about business school graduates rambling, using pretentiously technical language, or careless and overly-casual emails.

There is some hard evidence to back up these complaints. Ms. Middleton cites evidence from the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the Graduate Management Admissions Test. GMAT essay scores have fallen from 4.7 out of 6 to 4.4 in the last four years. Or take Sharon Washington, executive director of the National Writing Project in Berkeley, says our high schools and undergraduate programs have de-emphasized writing and constant digital communication has eroded writing skills (LOL, WTF, OMG, BRB, etc.)

Arthur Levitt, former Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Bloomberg contributor, has been on a jihad to bring plain English back to business.  He says much business writing is incomprehensible. “It lacks color and nuance, and it’s not terribly interesting to read.

There is one quality I find essential in written communication with real decision makers at corporations. That quality is simplicity.

Executive face time has immense value. My firm, Corporate Rain International, only does one thing which is to create serious introductions for our clients with strategic corporate leaders. I strongly believe that, short of a personal introduction, the best way to initially reach out to corporate decision makers is a snail mail letter of utter simplicity. Ideally this letter on your best stationary should be able to be scanned in four seconds by a busy executive and be focused on ROI. Prolixity is to be avoided at all cost.

A written letter shows respect, personal seriousness, and class. While simplicity is the byword of the introductory letter, that does not mean you should limit the use of exact vocabulary. Don’t dumb it down. High level executives are usually educated, sophisticated people who respect the subtle and gradated use of language. However, the primary point of business writing is to simply get to the point with grace and exactitude. (For more on this scroll back to Dec. 7, 2010 Letters and Executive Sales.)

And perhaps most important of all is to actually have something of worth and originality to communicate in the first place. As Sholem Asch writes, “Writing comes more easily if you have something to say.” (New York Herald Tribune, 11/6/55)

Thanks, Sholem.

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Monetizing the debt. Learn that phrase. It is your future.

Last week I attended the estimable International Economic Alliance meeting at the Harvard Club in NYC. The day was chaired and keynoted by Paul Volcker. (Of course, Mr. Volcker is a legend for his conquest of U.S. inflation in the late ’70s and 80’s.) At the end of his opening remarks, Mr. Volcker was interviewed by David Asman of Fox Business Channel. Mr. Asman opened his interview by handing Paul Volcker a single 100 trillion dollar bill from Zimbabwe. That’s right–a 100 trillion dollar bill. It was a good way to kick off a discussion of the direction of our current economic health.

It behooves each of us in the small business community to keep an eagle eye on macro-trends nationally and internationally. The agile entrepreneur should make money in good times and bad, but it requires realistically thinking ahead of the curve. Which brings me to my topic: monetizing the debt.

The massive debts now being accumulated by our government will not be repaid. I 100% guarantee it. Neither the Republicans, the Democrats, or, frankly, the American electorate will conjure up the hard-eyed, honest, morally-direct courage to deal with our debt. This pusillanimous evasion of responsibility can have but one result: monetizing the debt. (The only alternative being national bankruptcy.)

What is monetizing the debt? The simplest description of monetizing the debt is this: Massive Inflation. Think Zimbabwe and the Weimar Republic. Essentially our debt becomes less because our money is worth less. (My apologies to my clients at HBS and Columbia Business School for the wild oversimplification. I ain’t an academic.) What does monetizing the debt amount to? A huge hidden tax on us all.

As I see it, the Fed and the present government have begun an inevitable and conscious, but unspoken, march toward monetization. Another word for monetization is “quantitative easing” which technically means printing extra currency to buy bonds from banks, who will hopefully lend it to peons like us entrepreneurs. (They’re not lending to us, however.) My belief is that the printing presses will run non-stop indefinitely. This will eventually collapse the dollar, solve our debt problem, cause our interest rates to skyrocket to Carter-era highs (and above), and cause a fundamental change in business assumptions. It is only a question of when. As Joe Willie Namath of the NY Jets said memorably before Super Bowl III, “I guarantee it.”

But this need not spell disaster for the nimble entrepreneur. (I certainly pray it doesn’t for my executive sales outsourcing company Corporate Rain.) It is simply another calculation to anticipate and add to a business plan. How can inflation increase the value of my company and the desirability of my product?

I don’t pretend to know when this tsunami of monetization will hit us, but Helicopter Ben Bernanke is running those printing presses like a madman. As the Wall Street Journal said in a lead editorial on Thursday, September 23, “Central bankers who wish for more inflation usually get their wish, and the result is rarely benign.

Thank you, Wall Street Journal.

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Beware of middle managers. They are the bane and the enemy of entrepreneurs and of quality business development.

One of my favorite musicals is “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” by Frank Loesser. It’s certainly one of the best Broadway shows ever written.  I’ve seen it several times. Early in the first act there is a song called “The Company Way“. It’s great. It’s perfect. Here are the first few lines:

Twimble: When I joined this firm
As a brash young man
Well, I said to myself,
“Now brash young man,
Don’t get any ideas.”
Well, I stuck to that,
And I haven’t had one in years.

Finch: You play it safe.

Twimble: I play it the company way;
Wherever the company puts me
There I stay.

Finch: But what is your point of view?

Twimble: I have no point of view.

Finch: Supposing the company thinks…

Twimble: I think so too.

Middle managers are not rewarded for creativity or risk. They are a whole different species from entrepreneurs. My experience is that middle managers are primarily about protecting their asses. They are not about the new. They are not about the cutting edge. They are about keeping their jobs. Avoid them like the plague. The efficiencies and savings your new product or service offers may indeed obviate the need for the very middle manager you are pitching.

The primary reason my own firm, Corporate Rain International, only does high-end sales initiation with real strategic corporate decision makers is that all else is a huge time waster. In executive sales outsourcing, even if you are eventually pushed down to a middle manager for a final sales decision by a company leader, it is with a strategic mandate. A different ballgame entirely than going bottom up.

If things go bad, the middle manager always wants to be able to say, “But I hired IBM…” or “But I hired McKinsey…”. He sees no reward for backing your pipsqueak, out-of-the-box creative company, no matter what the potential upside for his corporation.

Quoting “The Company Way” further:

Finch: When they want brilliant thinking
From employees

Twimble: That is no concern of mine.

Finch: Suppose a man of genius
Makes suggestions?

Twimble: Watch that genius get suggested to resign.

How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” opened on Broadway in 1961. I assure you things haven’t changed. Here’s a picture of Frank Loesser, composer and sales guru (1910-1969). Thank you, Frank.

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