Monday Mornings with Madison

Monthly Archives:
July 2012

Passive, Aggressive or Assertive?

In the business world, one of the most desirable personality traits is assertiveness. Sales managers revere assertive salespeople… those who show a bold forcefulness in the pursuit of a sale. Employees are applauded for being assertive in problem solving and thinking out-of-the-box. Leaders are acclaimed for their hands-on, assertive management style.

Within the spectrum of forceful behavior, assertiveness is considered the middle ground between aggressiveness (too much force) and passivity (not enough force). But how does an executive, manager or entrepreneur achieve just the right balance of assertiveness? Is there a perfect degree of assertiveness that is right for all people, all positions and all situations or is it more subjective? And can one’s natural level of assertiveness be improved or adjusted as needed? Continue reading

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Never Borrow Sorrow from Tomorrow

Last week, we discussed the many mental, physical and emotional benefits to anticipating positive life events. From big events such as vacations to minor pleasures such as a nap, the anticipation of something positive is even more beneficial to a person than the actual vacation or nap. As a business strategy, anticipation can give entrepreneurs and professionals ‘a leg up’ against competitors, psychologically stressing the competition. It is a strategy used often in sports. That is the up side of anticipation.
However, anticipating negative events, while equally impactful, is believed to be detrimental. We give this kind of anticipation a name… it’s called worry. Dating back thousands of years, philosophers have been pondering the concept of ‘anticipating problems’. Seneca, the Roman essayist, philosopher and playwright, was quoted as saying “He who suffers before it is necessary suffers more than is necessary.” Indeed, the general wisdom from philosophers and religious scholars is that worrying causes a person to experience a sense of dread needlessly while waiting for the bad thing to happen.
Yet there are some who have argued that there is a benefit to anticipating a negative event in that it can serve to decrease the negative emotions when the bad thing finally happens. We can dub that the ‘soften the blow’ effect. Anticipating problems and issues ahead of time can also help make them a little less frightening, and allows for planning to avoid or work around problems when they happen. Moreover, worriers argue that even if the bad event doesn’t happen, there is additional joy that results from anticipating that something bad was going to happen and then finding that it did not happen. So what is true? Is anticipating trouble a positive or negative? It depends. Let’s look at the science to find the answer. Continue reading

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The Benefits of Anticipation

Summer is here and many are in the throes of planning their summer vacation. Plan away. It’s actually good for you. How so? Researchers from the Netherlands set out to measure the effect that vacations have on overall happiness and how long it lasts. They studied happiness levels among 1,530 Dutch adults, 974 of whom took a vacation during the 32-week study period. The research controlled for differences among the vacationers and those who hadn’t taken a trip, including income level, stress and education. Published in the Journal of Applied Research in Quality of Life, the study showed that the largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation. Vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks!

The only vacationers who experienced increased happiness after the trip were those who said they were “very relaxed” on their vacation. For them, post-vacation happiness lasted for only two weeks after the trip. Those who experienced stress or had a neutral vacation (meaning that it wasn’t stressful but it wasn’t all that relaxing either) did not have any happiness after their vacation. So the biggest boost in happiness was derived in anticipation of a vacation, not during or after the vacation.

Clearly, anticipation – the expectation or yearning for something in the future – can be a powerful agent for happiness. Does this speak to something fundamental in human nature? Is looking forward to something better than actually living it? And does anticipation of other major life events have the same effect on people as ‘vacation anticipation’? Do we derive as much joy anticipating other big life events such as getting married, buying a property, closing a deal, or completing a project? Is working toward a goal more fulfilling than actually achieving the goal? And could there be any benefits to anticipating the small pleasures of life? If so, can businesses capitalize on the benefits of anticipation in its approach to sales and marketing? Continue reading

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What A Company’s Website Says About That Company

Ever visited a company’s website and thought ‘ugh?’ A website says a lot about a company, and it is often the first point of contact between the company and the customer. Business people know that image matters. Some would even go so far as to say that image is everything and that the public’s perception of that image is reality. The image that a company portrays becomes its reality. If a company’s image speaks of success, then that success becomes real. In fact, so many business people think this is true, that they take it a step further and advocate a “fake it ‘til you make it” image philosophy.

Even hardliners who insist that a company’s business model, products/services, management and operations are what primarily drive success will usually concede that a company’s image plays a pivotal role in a company’s ability to grow and thrive in today’s marketplace. And, today, a company’s website is a major part of its public image. A company’s website can either undermine or oversell a company’s success by telling the wrong story. And that can be damaging. What does your company’s website say about your company? Is your website telling the right story? Continue reading

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What Do Search Engines Value In Websites?

What do search engines value in websites or web pages in order to rank them higher? This is the million-dollar question. No doubt that anyone who could definitively and conclusively give a complete and correct answer to this question could become an instant millionaire. But it basically is a trick question because anyone who can answer it, would only be able to answer with regard to how one particular search engine’s algorithms work, not all, and even that is an ever-moving target. The answer valid today would be obsolete tomorrow… or soon thereafter. It is a question over which SEO professionals obsess and marketers distress. And the question to which few will confess that what is believed is as much supposition and speculation as insight and intelligence.

The truth is that except for the computer engineers who work at the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc., most people don’t entirely know all the variables or and weighting given to the myriad of signals used to determine a website’s rank by any search engine. It’s like the secret recipe for a great stew. There is a clear sense of what the main ingredients are, but not necessarily all of minor ingredients or the exact measurements for each or how they come together. So what are the most important ingredients and why keep them such a secret?

Anyone who is not deeply entrenched in the world of search may wonder why search engines are so secretive about how they do what they do. Why not just tell everyone how pages are ranked? The reason is simple. Search Engines keep their ‘algorythyms’ under wraps to prevent (or at least limit) people cheating, manipulating or skewing search results for their own benefit. Nevertheless, most SEO gurus agree that there are certain basics every website should have in order to rank well. Does your company’s website have them all? Continue reading

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