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Aug 30, 2009

Wealth Creation Strategies

What People Need
Wealth creation occurs when you produce a product or service that people want and need and are willing to pay for at a price that is in excess of your total cost of producing that product or service. The key to business success has always been the same, find a need and fill it. We all earn our livings by serving other people in some way. Your business goal is to find out what people really want and need, and then give it to them better and faster than anyone else.

Secrets of Market Leadership
Hundreds of companies have been studied to discover the secrets of market leadership. There are three secrets. The first one is Operational Excellence—the company has developed the ability to produce its products and services at a cost substantially lower than its competitors. The second is Customer Intimacy—the company develops a close relationship with its customers based on excellent knowledge of the customer's business. Thirdly, there is Technological Superiority—the company offers a product or service that is superior to that of its competitor.

Additional Value
There are several strategies that you can follow to create additional value for your customers and additional wealth for yourself. Improve your product or service in some way so that it is better than that of your competitors, at the same or at a lower price. Produce or deliver your product or service faster than your competitors. Produce your product or service cheaper than your competitors, maintaining or increasing your level of quality. Offer better follow-up and support services to go along with your product or service than your competitors. Make your product easier to acquire and more readily available than your competitors. Make your prices and terms more attractive and convenient than your competitors. Include additional products and services with your offerings, at the same price.

Reputation
Your reputation in the marketplace determines how much you can sell, and the prices you charge. The friendliness of your staff and the ease of doing business with you is a key part of your reputation. Your credibility with your customers, the degree to which they see you as trustworthy and dependable is a key value to your customers. Selling to an individual customer requires an impeccable reputation and a focus on the improvement your product or service makes in their lives. What does your product achieve for your customer? What does your product help your customer to avoid? What does your product help your customer to preserve? How does your product help your customer to get better results in his life?

Aug 23, 2009

Developing a Powerful Sales Personality

Becoming excellent in closing sales is an inside job. It begins within you. In sales, your personality is more important than your product knowledge. It is more important than your sales skills. It is more important than the product or service that you are selling. In fact, your personality determines fully 80 percent of your sales success.

Take Charge of Your Life
The biggest mistake you can make is to ever think that you work for anyone but yourself. From the time you take your first job until the day you retire, you are self employed. You are the president of your own entrepreneurial corporation, selling your services into the marketplace at the highest price possible. You have only one employee—yourself. Your job is to sell the highest quality and quantity of your services throughout your working life.

View Yourself as Self-Employed
In a study done in New York some years ago, researchers found that the top 3 percent of people in every field looked upon themselves as self-employed. They treated the company as if it belonged to them personally. They saw themselves as being in charge of every aspect of their lives. They took everything that happened to their company personally, exactly as if they owned 100 percent of the stock.

Winners Versus Losers
The difference between winners and losers is quite clear. Winners always accept responsibility for their actions. Losers never do but instead always have some kind of explanation for why they are doing poorly.

Don't Waste Time
The average salesperson today wastes a fully 50 percent of his or her working time. According to research, he comes in a little later, works a little slower, and leaves a little earlier. He spends most of his working time in idle chitchat with coworkers, personal business, reading the paper, drinking coffee, and surfing the internet. Winners arrive a little earlier, work a little harder, and stay a little later.

Develop Empathy and Understanding
Top salespeople have high levels of empathy, i.e., they really care about their customers. Ambition, the desires to achieve, combined with empathy, the genuine caring for the well-being of your customers, are the twin keys to top sales performance. A person with empathy makes every effort to get inside the mind and heart of the customer and to understand his situation and needs.

Keep Your Word
Top-selling salespeople are impeccably honest with themselves and with others. There is no substitute for honesty in selling. Earl Nightingale once said, "If honesty did not exist, it would have to be invented as the surest way of getting rich."

Do What you Love to Do
One of the secrets of success in selling is for you to do what you love to do. Top salespeople love what they are selling. They believe in it passionately. They will defend it and argue over it. They will talk about it day and night. When they go to bed, they think about their product. When they wake up in the morning, they can hardly wait to talk to prospects about it. Look at the top salespeople in the very best companies, and you'll find that these people are fanatical, about their products and services.

Aug 18, 2009

How to Install Ruby on Rails on Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope)

Few of my friends have started to learn Ruby on Rails recently. According to my point of view, Windows is not a suitable and enjoyable environment for RoR development. So, I recommended them to start with Ubuntu. Most of them have installed Ubuntu 8.10 and 9.04. So, I wish to write a small guide to setup the Ruby on Rails environment on Ubuntu 8.10 and 9.04.

Ruby installation

First we need to update the repositories.
sudo apt-get update

It’s always a best practice to upgrade the system.
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

This installation will take few minutes and also require approximately 100 MB disk space.

Now that we are up to date. Let’s start install the RoR recipices. We need following Rails prerequisites.
  • ruby - An interpreter of object-oriented scripting language Ruby
  • ri - Ruby Interactive reference
  • rdoc - Generate documentation from ruby source files
  • irb - Interactive Ruby
sudo apt-get install ruby ri rdoc irb libopenssl-ruby ruby-dev

Ruby Gem installation

Next we need to install the Ruby gem package manager. You can download the latest Ruby gems by following link.

http://rubyforge.org/projects/rubygems/

Download and extract the files. (By the time I’m writing this tutorial the latest version is 1.3.5)
tar xvzf  rubygems-1.3.5.tgz
cd rubygems-1.3.5
sudo ruby setup.rb

Once it’s done you can delete the .tgz file and rubygems directory.
cd ..
rm -r rubygems-1.3.5 rubygems-1.3.5.tgz

Next we need to create a set of simlinks. Otherwise it will be a tedious task to type commands with the version (1.8). For an example if we need to call the gem command we’ve to type gem1.8. I don’t prefer that. Hope you too. So, let’s create the necessary simlinks.
sudo ln -s /usr/bin/gem1.8 /usr/local/bin/gem
sudo ln -s /usr/bin/ruby1.8 /usr/local/bin/ruby
sudo ln -s /usr/bin/rdoc1.8 /usr/local/bin/rdoc
sudo ln -s /usr/bin/ri1.8 /usr/local/bin/ri
sudo ln -s /usr/bin/irb1.8 /usr/local/bin/irb

Rails Installation

Now we can install Rails using gem.
sudo gem install rails

Server Installation

Rails by default comes with the WEBrick server. But most Rails developers prefer the Mongrel server. If you satisfied with WEBrick you can skip this step, else type the following command to install Mongrel server.
sudo gem install mongrel

Database Installation

Rails 2.3 shipped with SQLite3 as it’s default database instead of MySQL. You can install SQLite3 libraries by following commands.
sudo apt-get install sqlite3 swig libsqlite3-ruby libsqlite3-dev
sudo gem install sqlite3-ruby

If you prefer MySQL,
sudo apt-get install mysql-client libmysqlclient15-dev
sudo gem install mysql

Create Ruby on Rails App

Now that we have completed everything successfully. You can create your new Ruby on Rail applicaion by following command.
rails test_app

If you need MySQL supported applicaion you need to specify as follows
rails test-app -d mysql

Run the app
cd test_app
script/server

navigate you browser to http://localhost:3000

Aug 16, 2009

The Law of Competence

You can increase your efficiency and your effectiveness by becoming better and better at your key tasks. One of the most powerful of all time management techniques is for you to get better at the most important things you do. Your core competencies, your key skill areas, the places where you are absolutely excellent at what you do, are the key determinants of your productivity, your standard of living, and the level of achievement you reach in your field.

Work Excellence
The market pays excellent rewards only for excellent work. You are therefore successful to the degree to which you do more things better than the average person. Your great responsibility in life is to determine what things you can and should do very well and then develop a plan to become very, very good in those vital areas.

Key Question
Here is the key question: What one skill, if you developed and did it in an excellent fashion, would have the greatest positive impact on your career? Your weakest important skill sets the height at which you can use all your other skills. Be honest with yourself. What is your limiting skill? What is the one skill that determines the speed at which you complete your major tasks and achieve your goals? What is the one skill, the lack of which may be holding you back?

Pareto Principle
The Pareto Principle, the 80/20 Rule, applies to those skills that are limiting to your success. Eighty percent of the reasons you are not moving ahead as fast as you want is explained by the 20 percent of skills and abilities that you lack. This rule also says that 80 percent of your limits in life are contained within yourself. Eighty percent of the reasons you are not achieving your goals as quickly as you want is because of the lack of a particular skill, ability, or quality within yourself.

Look Within Yourself
The underachiever always looks for the reasons for his or her problems in the outer world. The high achiever looks within. The high-achieving person always asks, what is it in me that is holding me back? Successful people look into themselves for the answers to their questions and for the solutions to their problems. Unsuccessful people always look outside. Who do you think finds the solutions first?

Ask Others to Evaluate
Ask people around you to evaluate you in your critical skill areas on a scale of one to ten. The more accurate you can be about this exercise, the easier it will be for you to focus on the one or two skill areas that help you the most.

Aug 8, 2009

Create Your Personal Strategic Plan

Your success in life is determined, to a large extent by your ability to think, plan, decide, and take action. The stronger your skills are in each of these areas, the faster you will achieve your goals and the happier you will be with your life and career. Personal strategic planning is the tool that takes you from wherever you are to wherever you want to go.

Difference between Train and Plane
The difference between people who use strategic planning to organize and direct their lives and those who do not is like the difference between taking a train and taking a plane. Both will get you from point A to point B, but the plane—personal strategic planning—will get you there much faster and without frequent stops.

Systematic Way of Thinking
Skill in personal strategic planning is not something you are born with, like eye color or perfect pitch. It is a systematic way of thinking and acting and is, therefore, something you can learn, like riding a bike or changing a tire. With practice, you can master the many different elements that make up this key skill, and you will get into the rhythm of thinking and acting strategically for the rest of your life. When you do acquire rhythm, you will realize extraordinary results. Your life and career will take off, and the sky is truly the limit.

Save Time and Money
Why is strategic planning and thinking so helpful? The answer is simple: it saves you an enormous amount of time and money. When you review and analyze key strategic questions of concepts of your career or business, you find yourself focusing on the critical tasks necessary to achieve your goals. At the same time, you stop doing those things that keep you from achieving success. You do more of the right things and fewer things that get and keep you off track. You set performance goals for people and projects. You become skilled at measuring and tracking results. You move into the express lane in both work and life.

Design Your Life and Career
Your goals in personal strategic planning are similar. The key difference is that rather than improving your return on equity, your planning efforts will allow you to realize a greater return on energy. You might say that personal strategic planning will increase your return on life. A business measures its equity in terms of financial capital. On the other hand, you measure your personal equity in terms of your own human capital. Your personal equity consists of the physical, emotional, and mental energies you are able to invest in your career. Set a goal of achieving the very highest return possible on the investment of your energies.

Critical Question
Ask yourself this critical question: What is it that I do especially well? Examine the areas where you excel or are clearly superior to others in your field. You need to know what you can claim as your personal competitive advantage. This is the lifeblood of personal strategic planning. Your success is tied directly to how excellent you become at the most important part of your work.

Aug 3, 2009

Accessing the Python Help Facility from the Python Shell


Python has a ton of useful modules, and the built-in help facility is extremely useful for gaining quick access to a description of methods in a given module. Once a module is imported with import:

You can run dir(MODULE_NAME) to view the list of methods in the module:

To get help on a specific method, you can pass the module and method name to the built-in help function:

Help on class spawn in module pexpect:

This is pretty sweet, and makes coding in Python super easy.

Aug 1, 2009

The Power of Word of Mouth

One of the most powerful determinants of the future success of your business is the little understood phenomenon of word-of-mouth communication. Fully 90 percent of dissatisfied customers will not do business again with the company that fails to meet their expectations. The same study also concluded that, on average, each dissatisfied customer will share his dissatisfaction with at least nine other people. What this means is that the dissatisfaction of just one disgruntled customer ends up poisoning the minds of forty five other people.

Creating a “Golden Chain” of Referrals
A satisfied customer will share “delight” or “amazement” with nine of his friends and relatives and associates, who will in turn pass the good news on to five others. In his book Word-of-Mouth Marketing, Jerry Wilson claims that the number of customers who will tell a positive story of their experience with you, your company or your product is one-tenth of the number who will share a negative story. In other words, while excellent customer service is essential in reducing or even eliminating negative word of mouth, you cannot rely on positive word of mouth to produce a stream of referrals.

Asking for Referrals
Referrals do not just happen. Waiting for the phone to ring is a lousy marketing strategy! If you want to build a pipeline of referrals, you must create it yourself. This means you must ask for them. That's right—ask! And your most productive source of referrals to start with is your existing customer or prospect list. The closing of a sale is often accompanied by an emotional high for your new customer. This is a wonderful time to ask for referrals. With each step, your new customer becomes more and more involved in the process and, subconsciously, more committed to helping you. Your goal should be to leave with two or three referrals from each sale.

Asking for Referrals from a Satisfied Customer
If you have done a good job of servicing your customer after the sale, you can be confident you now have a satisfied customer—one who will buy from you again and who represents a potential source of excellent referrals. Contact your satisfied customer and begin the conversation by inquiring if they are happy with their purchase and if there is anything more you can do for them. If they make a request, then treat this as a customer service call. If not, say to them, “I'm so pleased you're enjoying your new (product or service). Can you put me in touch with anyone else who would appreciate the same experience that you are enjoying using it?” The wonderful thing about a highly satisfied customer is they often want their relatives, friends and associates to share their experience.

The Follow-Up
Within one day or receiving the referral, drop a quick note to your customer, thanking them for their recommendation and again reassuring them that you will treat their friend with respect. This is an important part of cementing your relationship and will pay dividends in the future in the form of repeat business and further referrals. After you have followed up with the referral, be sure to call your customer. Again, thank them for the introduction and report your results. Remember, the referral is someone who is meaningful to your customer, so they will naturally be interested in what happens. A further way you express your gratitude and to reinforce your relationship with your customer is to send them a gift after you have closed a sale with a referral they provided. Your gift should be appropriate to the size of the sale.