Thursday, January 28, 2010
I watched about two thirds of the president’s speech last night and then ended up switching to DVR’d American Idol with my family. I have since read the speech. It seemed really long. I also was having a tough time watching Pelosi and Biden. They were just so awkward for me to watch. Biden seemed confused and as if he was reading the teleprompter and skipped ahead and started clapping at the wrong spots. Pelosi seemed … well, yeah … unnaturally exuberant. Not sure what else to say there. It was just uncomfortable and awkward for me to watch them and because of that I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. I don’t know why exactly but I was just embarrassed for them.

The president made a lot of promises last night. It’s probably no surprise but I am bothered by that. I like less government, not more. I believe that Jesus taught us to deal with and respect those put in charge because their authority is because God allows them to have it. But yet I don’t see where Jesus ever told us to expect anything from government. He taught us to love and care for and minister to each other. So, I get suspicious when government seems to want to do for us the job that Jesus taught us to do for ourselves. I think that turns God’s Kingdom into government kingdom. That bothers me greatly so, yeah, anytime I hear what government is going to do for the people, the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Last night was no exception to that.

But regardless of whether it is a reversing of what I believe God intends, government can only do so much, and they have a history of not doing it well, in my opinion. So – those little hairs on the back of my neck? They really really stand up after a speech like last night’s.

I liked the fact that the president tried to be personable in his speech. It seemed pretty forced at times but I still liked it. I didn’t understand why it seemed like he was talking only to congress and not to the people. One can argue that it is an address to congress and that is true but the fact that it is carried by the national media does make it an address to the people. I think he missed an opportunity to make the people feel better about themselves and their future. The people have made it pretty clear lately that many, like me, just don’t believe the government can do anything to help them. It would have been great if, after last night, viewers could have woke up this morning feeling inspired and refreshed and restored … and felt led to go out and change the world. I personally got none of that last night. If some folks did, though, that’s great! Let’s spread it around!

Like I said, lots of promises were made last night. That is treading into dangerous territory for the president. I felt like some of the things he said just didn’t quite ring true last night but I’ll let the media fact checkers figure that out. They are already hard at work on it. President Obama did of course explain how much of our current problems he was saddled with when he came into office. No question about that but I hope this is the last time we hear it from him. However, when all of the promises made last night cannot be fulfilled, we will hear more about legacy and more about congress.

I hope that last night can be a start to transparency and bipartisanship from this administration. We really have yet to see much of that.

I love that the president is talking about small business but, and this isn’t just him but includes all of DC, they just don’t get what is needed. They talk about freeing up operational capital for businesses. As I have said before, for an already struggling business, that just digs the hole deeper. We need to face the reality that our nation’s businesses need to be smarter and better managed. We need to face that the world and the US economy have changed. Some businesses are prepared for that but many are not. I go back to my desire to, if anything, have the government hire our country’s independent sector management and marketing consultants to go out and help our nation’s businesses become better and stronger and help them adapt to the new reality. That is what is really needed.

These will be some of the strongest words I will use but his talk of tax credits for small businesses, while it sounded very nice, is a joke. I have heard estimates as low as something like 1% as to how many small and mid-sized businesses made money last year. And most of those that did make money didn’t make very much. Tax credits don’t do much for you if you didn’t make money. They may help your tax loss carry forward depending upon how they are structured but they don’t increase your cash position today.

I was glad to hear talk of safe nuclear energy. I personally think that is a must.
However, there was also talk of other clean renewable energy which would largely be solar and wind. Trying to base our nation’s future on that is a huge mistake. First of all, you never want all your eggs in one basket but furthermore, from a cost standpoint, these technologies don’t make sense domestically let alone to try to sell them overseas. Anything we create will be copied overseas (if others don’t flat out beat us to it) and made cheaper there. The only reason solar and wind are making some sense in the US now are the huge federal and state tax incentives and the local utility credits that are available for them. Take those away and, in a struggling economy, few of even the greenest of the green would be putting these systems in place.

Again, a big mistake to base our nation’s future on clean energy. Not saying we don’t need those technologies … just saying they will not … cannot … be the economic and manufacturing savior the government paints them to be. It will not happen. I guarantee it.

The president spoke of increasing our country’s exports. That has been a key goal for as long as I have been alive. It is a difficult if not impossible thing to do. One key to making it happen though is keeping down costs for our nation’s businesses. Despite the rhetoric, things like healthcare reform and clean air and all that … will only increase burden on our businesses, making it even harder to compete globally. However, as the president’s plan to increase exporting emerges, I will be all ears. I am anxious to hear.

So, anyway, those are my thoughts on the president’s speech. For many reasons I don’t like bigger government. For reasons I don’t fully understand, watching Biden and Pelosi just makes me squirm. I feel so embarrassed for them. The president spoke well but I personally did not find him inspiring. If anyone did fine him inspiring, I’d be curious to hear what change in your behavior he inspired?

It is the people that will lead us out of our current situation, not government. That is my belief for many reasons. So I feel the people need to be inspired. Nehemiah received permission from the authority and then went and with personal pleas inspired the people to do great work. We need a government that inspires us and resources us to inspire one another. Not a government that simply says what they are going to do for us. A government that wants to do for us indicates to me either more debt or increased taxes (which de-energize rather than energize the people), as well as bigger bureaucracy and inefficiency.

I do think small and mid-sized businesses are key to our country’s future. I think most folks both in DC and Columbus are absolutely clueless as to how to support business. I do not think renewable energy is our savior, though I support it fully. I think increasing exporting is important but nearly impossible. I think that talk of tax credits for businesses in the current economy is nothing more than a sham.

I don’t expect to sway the opinion of anyone with my thoughts … but I think it is important for us to all have thoughts and let them be heard. If you’re still reading my thoughts, I thank you. It is an honor to have your ear. I’d love to hear your reflections on not so much my thoughts (because just as I don’t expect to change your opinion if you don’t agree with me, you really can’t expect to change mine) but on the president’s speech. What did you think?

  posted at 5:32 AM  

Monday, January 18, 2010
I had a team member recently ask me for a list of how to build great customer relationships. Following is what I put together. Wish I did a better job of living these out.

Upfront contracts … at all critical junctures in the relationship, confirm, verify and if appropriate document the expectations and responsibilities of both parties. This makes them feel in CONTROL.

Ask questions … ask more than you tell, listen more than you talk. Learn and know everything you can about the other party. (Mackay 66) This makes them FEEL GOOD.

Make it personal … out of what you know about them, make your relationship as rich and intimate as possible … talk about their kids, their dogs, even their hemorrhoids if that is what they want. This makes them REMEMBER YOU.

Connect the dots … make connections between what you know about them, what their needs are, and what you can provide. This brings VALUE to them.

Confirm … at the end of each contact with them, confirm what was discussed and what the next steps are. This keeps things ON TRACK.

Always deliver … do what you promise and more. This is your INTEGRITY.

Surprise them … contact them when they don’t expect it … be on the look out for things that might be of interest to them … romance them … send them flowers. This makes them SMILE.

Engage them … warmly and with a smile, even if you’re talking on the phone. People can hear a smile. This makes them WANT YOU.

  posted at 5:42 AM  

Who Am I?

Todd M


An ordinary guy. A wife I love very much. A great son. Wonderful friends. A metal roofing business and a sales training business. A loving church family. A few trade associations. A Christian school. And a four-pound poodle. Just trying to follow God and see where He leads.

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