My Sage Summit 2016 Chicago Experience

I missed last year so I can’t compare Chicago to New Orleans but I definitely liked this year much more than 2014 in Las Vegas. I felt there was a good balance of technical and user sessions combined with a good selection of ‘start up’ growth oriented sessions. The ‘hands on’ sessions were very good which I spent much of my time in.

The vendor floor continues to grow and its nice to have a chance to see the products and the people behind them.

Kudos to whomever decided it was time to take care of us non-coffee caffeine junkies by putting the coolers around the venue filled with Coke products.

Transportation was excellent. I was concerned about this with the venue being so far away from most hotels but it was handled very well. Chicago is obviously very prepared for these large conventions in that regard.

I have to say I was not as inspired by the keynotes this year as I hoped to be. Sir Richard Branson is a hero of mine, but he has never been known as a great public speaker.  The informal question / answer style that was put together did not fit him very well. I was not interested much in the other celebrity speakers as I would have much rather see someone that is shaping the future and pushing technology. Bring me someone from Tesla, Project X, Amazon, Apple, and small tech startups, as these are the people who I want to hear from.

Overall I had a very positive experience and things were run smoothly and professionally.

Roger Detzler, Consultant

WAC Solution Partners- New England

“I would like to Thank You for. . .”

Sending Thank You Cards  background-with-thanks_M1ZwfmFu_L

It’s that time of year again when clients and colleagues alike will send cards and gift baskets. Luckily, the holidays are not the only excuse to reach out and send an appreciation card. Use the holidays as an opportunity to get into the habit of sending Thank You cards monthly to contacts, prospects, existing and former clients that you have met with recently or haven’t spoken with in months. Maybe rotate who you are sending the cards to semi-annually, but be sure to send some out monthly. This is a great way to stay in touch, keep contact information current, and just let them know that you are still around and willing to assist them should an opportunity arise.

The Thank You card doesn’t necessarily need to solely be a marketing message to advertise a product. However, handwriting a message personal to each recipient can help show how much you appreciate your relationship with them. You may start with, “It was great meeting you at last month’s networking event.” for someone whom you had spoken with and sounds like they could benefit from a product or service you offer, or vice versa. You may include a business card to help jog the other person’s memory of you, but keep the message itself personal and somewhat casual, yet specific to the incidence in which you met or know each other.

Sending Thank You cards may help you reconnect with contacts or former clients that you only talk to every once in a while. After a long overdue phone conversation, send them a Thank You card appreciating them taking the time to talk to you about a specific topic. After hosting an event, send Thank You cards to those who attended, even if they are not a potential client, they might keep you in mind when referring someone who is.

Isn’t it true that most people display the thank you cards they receive on or around their desk?  This further proves that they are much appreciated.  Whether it is December or June, say Thank You! It is a great and simple way to build and maintain relationships with clients, connections, and new prospects alike.

Written by Stephanie Piller

WAC Solution Partners- Midwest

Being Thankful, Turn Small Things Into Something

This is the time of year to reflect upon all of your blessings.  First, I am thankful for my family.  I am blessed to still have a father and father-in-law alive and healthy.  I also have two children, happily married and a total of three grandchildren.  My wife and partner of over thirty-six years, makes everything else in my life possible. I am so thankful for her.

We should be thankful for the country we live in.  Many have sacrificed for our freedoms.  We should pay it forward by getting involved in our communities.  Even in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, we have homeless people and children that will go hungry without our help and support.  Find something you are passionate about and do what you can to help.  You may not think your little contribution will make a difference, but if we get everyone to do just a little bit, we will make large changes.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”  Margaret Mead.

Written by Michael Ericksen

WAC Solution Partners- Midwest

michael.ericksen@wacptrs.com

Business Tips from Magic Johnson at Sage Summit 2014

I attended Sage Summit last month.  Sage Software is attempting to change this event from being a software training event to focusing on small businesses.  There were a number of programs that had nothing to do with Sage Software, but were very useful for small business owners. Magic Tweet

Magic Johnson was part of one of the keynote panel discussions and he discussed his life after basketball.  Magic Johnson is the second richest basketball star worth about $500 million dollars.  He has many good ideas, but I will list only a few that stayed with me.

First, the secret to success is “Passion & Love.”  If you do not have a passion for your job you will never be truly great at it.

Second, we need to keep reinventing ourselves.  The ability to adapt and adjust will serve you greatly as your market place changes.

Third, look for people who are hungry to grow.  The best person for the job is not always the person with the best resume.  Sometimes it is the person who has the skills to do the job, but a hunger to get better.

Fourth, hire people smart in people skills.  It doesn’t matter how smart a person is, if they cannot get along with customers or other employees they may be better off working somewhere else.

Fifth, always make the business about the customer and not yourself.  This may be a bigger issue for celebrities, but there are many business owners with big egos.  Make sure your business has the right focus.

Sixth, make sure that there is a demand for your product.  It is very difficult to create demand.  Magic owns over 100 Starbucks coffee houses.  All of them in the inner cities.  There is a large demand in those locations and they are under served.

Seven, surround yourself with people smarter than yourself.  You don’t have to be the smartest person in your company; in fact you shouldn’t be…

Finally, Magic suggested doing a SWOT analysis twice a year.  SWOT is Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Overall, Sage Summit was very successful in its attempt to provide useful information to small business owners and not just information about their products.  If you use any Sage products you may want to attend Sage Summit next year in New Orleans.

– Michael Ericksen, WAC Solution Partners-Midwest

If you would like to watch the keynotes including Magic Johnson please check them out here: Sage Summit 2014 Keynote

Celebrating Failure

Jack Welch, in his book “Straight From The Gut” states, you have to celebrate when someone attempts a major breakthrough and fails.  If you don’t celebrate, you are not encouraging risk takers to attempt these major breakthroughs.  Two of my favorite Thomas Edison’s quotes: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” and “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Recently I heard a young lady being interviewed on a major Chicago radio station and she was asked the secret to her success.  She stated that every week her father asked her what she failed at during the week.  She was not learning how to fail but learning how far she could go.

As a business owner, I also need to celebrate not only my staff’s failures and successes, but also my own.  Recently I had an article I was working on for The Rotarian magazine.  I sat on that article for 4 months going over it several times instead of taking the risk of either someone reviewing it or submitting it because I was unsure if it was ready.  I also have implemented inter office weekly meetings.  This helps us as a group to keep moving things forward such as a project or a lead.  More importantly we, as an organization, discover together what we learned for the week and what we can help each other achieve.

I was once at a meeting of volunteers and heard one of the leaders boasting that he had achieved all of his goals for the year and yet we were just starting the second quarter.  I just thought to myself how disappointing that the goals were set so low and already achieved.

Does your company just reward the people who play it safe?  How does your company celebrate failure?

-Michael Ericksen

WAC Solution Partners- Midwest

Making A Difference

Everyone I know would like to make a difference in the world.  Some are able to do this through their job.  Others make a difference by volunteering.  Some are fortunately do make a difference both by their job and volunteering.  Over the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of interview candidates for Rotary Scholarships.  Some of the scholarships were for $30,000.  When we interviewed the candidates we knew that we would be making a difference in their lives.  We also knew, that we needed to select the candidates that would be making a large difference in the world.

Many people who would like to make a difference, just do not know how to get started.  It is really pretty easy.  If the “Environment” is one of your causes and your company does not have a recycling program start one.  If “Literacy” is your cause, volunteer to help someone learn English.  If “Hunger” is your cause, start a food drive for a local food pantry.

Gary Huang quotes the great Chinese philosopher Confucius, “It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.”  If everyone just does one simple thing, just think how much better our community will be.  How much better our country will be. How much better the world will be.

Finally to quote Margaret Mead the American anthropologist: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”   If you are looking for a group of dedicate people who want to help change the world, check out your local Rotary Club.

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-Michael Ericksen

WAC Solution Partners- Midwest

Please notice in our Monthly Newsline our new column called “WAC Solution Partners Make a Difference”.  We will highlight partners and employees of WAC Solutions Partners, as well as Clients out there making a difference in their communities.  To sign up for our Monthly Newsline please email Kari-Ann.Ryan@wacptrs.com

Leading With a Purpose

I recently attended a Rotary Conference for district leaders in Rotary.  Over the course of 2 ½ days, we were trained on many issues relating to Rotary.  One of my favorite quotes that came out of the conference is: “A good leader inspires faith in the leader.  A great leader inspires faith in themselves.”   It made me wonder, are we developing our managers and staff to handle situations or just follow rules?  How much more effective could we be if everyone knew why we are trained to act in a certain way and how to act when confronted with something new.

Another of my favorite quotes that came out of the conference is: “How are we passing the torch to the next generation?”  Are we developing the leaders our companies need to succeed in the future?  Are we developing leaders that will be able to adapt to change?  If not, now is as good a time as any to start developing the leaders of tomorrow.

Are you doing anything different to affect this growth?

-Michael Ericksen

WAC Solution Partners- Midwest

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