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First Of A Series!

To my amazement my Web Ogres have actually managed to convince me that many of you out there in readerland will find the unabridged…and completely me…adventures I wander through, and random thoughts I have, interesting, entertaining, humorous and perhaps even enlightening.  I have my doubts about all of the aforementioned but am willing to play along for a bit and see what happens.

I’ve been writing something called Steve’s Blog as part of Conversation On Networking.  That will become a joint effort of myself and my partners…and you’ll need to go there to keep following it although past postings are floating around on this site.

You can even go and see my more erudite and serious side as I guide top executives and business owners to enlightenment on the path to exceptional leadership by looking at my Tuesday morning musings as the Benari Blog…but for this you need to go there and look.

And then there are those ridiculous Twitter things…which I have no idea how to send you to.  Luckily they somehow pop up right on the pages of this thing so if you care you can read a few and figure out how to sign up yourself.  Maybe you sign up with one of those buttons they put on top of the pages.

That’s enough of that…although you really should read the Benari Blog if you are…or aim to be…an exceptional leader or senior executive.  Just so you know the previous stuff wasn’t me, I was told to do this by those damn Web Ogres.  Generally they seem to know what they’re talking about so, like most of my key advisers, I do whatever they force me to do.

As far as my life goes…I just came back from Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, and New York City.  As I was writing this I got told I would hear final confirmation of dates for me to drop in on Paris.  Yesterday I got harassed about coming to Whidbey Island which is now 3 inches closer to Seattle after the tsunami moved it a bit.  And I have Detroit in my future.  No wonder I never get anything done…like my new book. 

But I do wind up with lots of interesting adventures to report on.

Mentioning my new book causes me to think about my Book Dominatrix…although every time my back hurts I think of her.  She doesn’t look so tough in her picture but watch out.  That pleasant smile hides sharp fangs and the hand hiding behind her arm no doubt is holding that whip she brandishes so well.

On the other hand, she is forcing me to write the best book ever.  If you are working on a book and don’t have your very own Book Dominatrix…get one.

Since I am one of only two people actually signed up to get this so far, I figure that’s enough rambling for today.  Hopefully there will be at least 4 or 5 people finding this in their inbox a few days from now when I send off my next missive from the front.

Note to me: forward link to everyone. 

Note to other reader: read note to me and do same.

I visited this place while in Botswana...which is landlocked.

Early Is On Time…Get To Africa!

We’ve all heard how Early Is On Time.  I am a firm believer in this since it always seems to me that it is just so rude and arrogant to always be late and expect everyone else to accommodate you. 

So I was my usual early self as I got to Philadelphia Airport to begin my journey to Africa.  It was a horrible day with winds up to 60 miles per hour!  The counter fellow told me that my flight to Dulles was already an hour late.  I asked if I was going to make my connection to South African Air and he said something about “finding another way to get there.”  Right.

I go up to the Red Carpet Club and tell the fellow at the desk about my problem.  He tells me that the previous flight to Dulles is still there…running 2 hours late…but leaving momentarily so if I run to the gate he’ll call and tell them I’m coming.  They are waiting for me and I run into the plane, sit down, and a few minutes later they close the door and we’re off.

Wildebeest

And the Early part…well, I was about 2 hours early for my scheduled flight.  If I had waited til the last minute I would not have gotten the flight I took and the one I was supposed to be on…wound up getting in too late to make the connection to South Africa.  And there aren’t lots of flights to South Africa.

So after hours and hours and hours of travel I get to my nice Southern Sun Hotel at Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg.  I have to overnight there to get a morning flight to Windhoek, Namibia this morning.  And here I am in Namibia which is spectacularly austere and beautiful.

But, back at the Southern Sun last night, I went down to sit at the bar and see who was around.  I wound up talking to a fellow who was an engineer in the oil business and happened to be an Egyptian who had just come from Egypt.  Nothing like getting a first hand story of what’s been going on there.

South Africa

Then this other fellow starts talking to me.  He turns out to be one of two founders and the Executive Producer of Africa Report.  I get their bi-weekly newsletter of the stories they are airing and have watched some.  We both are amazed at this coincidence, I share some story ideas about projects I’ve been involved with, he is interested, we trade cards, and I agree to email him a bunch of things for him to follow up on.  They film stories on entrepreneurs in Africa and are shown on a number of different stations…in case you’d like to take a look.

So what can I say?  Travel, talk to people in bars of nice hotels, meet interesting people.

Namibia Tip: Visit…it’s worth the aggravation of getting there…and you’ll meet interesting people along the way

Universe in Alignment

I had a great time in Detroit at the EOS quarterly meeting. (see last post) It was spectacularly energizing…in spite of the ridiculous cost in time and treasure of flying off to Detroit for dinner and then a full day meeting.  Sometimes you just have to spring for the cost and hope it to comes back to you manyfold…which was the nice result of this trip.

I’ve gotten particularly friendly with Mike Paton since we seem to share an odd sense of humor as well as a liking for blue jeans as formal business attire.  While in Detroit he approached me and mentioned that he’d really like to figure out how we can do some things together.  I enthusiastically agreed and even offered to come and visit him, and his company EOS Midwest,  in Minneapolis…although not until spring.  (they had another 15 inches of snow last night and the airport is closed)

And then that wonderful thing which happens so often occurred.  Friday morning…my first day back…I received a call from someone I know in Boston asking for some advice.  I mentioned just coming back from Detroit…and why I was there.   It was a subtle reminder to her about EOS, which we had discussed.  She immediately mentioned that she has a company founder I should talk to…in Minneapolis!

No, I did not make this up. 

So I send off a note to Paton and, yes, he would be happy to hear about a prospective new client.  Stay tuned.

Which leads me right into the other such thing that happened since I’ve returned 3 days ago.  I connected with a fellow named David Reibstein who is Owner and President of Home Marketing Services.  He was referred to me by Andrew Benioff, Managing Partner of Llenrock Group…a real estate advisory and investment banking firm.

Home Marketing Services has a business I’d never heard of: they specialize in helping people sell their houses to move into retirement communities.  Talk about specialization.  Reibstein and I talk and he says the magic words “thinking I might hire you”.  In a nanosecond I set up a breakfast meet with him for this week. (I’m hoping I’m not jinxing this by sharing with you…but, what the heck…it’s such a great story, with the best to come in the next paragraph!)

Soon after this, my mother calls.  She and my father have decided to move into Quadrangle, a retirement community.  (you know where this is going) She was calling to let me know she had sent in the deposit so the process of moving was beginning.  One of my parents’ concerns was selling their house so she also let me know that Quadrangle had told her of a company specializing in helping people sell their houses when moving into retirement communities!

Yup, Home Marketing Services.

Alignment Tip: Sometimes you and the universe are in phase…take advantage of it.  Share ideas everywhere and it happens more often.

Guess Where

  

Serendipidous Serendipity

You might have noticed that the last post, Serendipity, showed up 6 days after it was theoretically posted.  Yup, damn gremlins are after me still.  On the other hand, maybe the universe is trying to tell me something.  Oddly…or maybe not so oddly…I was in Boston sitting in Anthurium’s World Headquarters with our CEO Tim Simard, VP Operations John Hennessey, and VP Technology & Engineering Doug Bachelor when it arrived on my Blackberry.

I was there because my networking has led to a number of nice opportunities for us and I wanted to be absolutely sure I was up to date on everything before I promised something we couldn’t delivery.  You all remember Rule 6: do what you say.  It is right before Rule 7: don’t say it if you can’t do it.

My Boston trip capped off quite the networking week. I started off on Monday meeting a regional vice president of a big bank to discuss bringing EOS to some of his business clients needing to get their companies tuned up for greater success.  He once heard me speak at his bank and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.  (Rule 23)

Tuesday I had breakfast with someone I know but hadn’t seen in a year or more.  We reconnected because I happened to see her name somewhere so reached out with a card…a real paper one…with a funny message.  She sent back a note…email…saying she enjoyed getting my humorous note and we should get together.  So we did.  And it led to her referring me to several people including one who hopefully will be interested in a mobile money project I’m working on it Nigeria.  (Rule 17: tell them what you’re doing)

Wednesday off to New York City to meet Stewart Abelow, a fellow I’ve talked to several times on the telephone and who has expressed great interest in EOS for his clients.  (He’s a big commercial insurance guy with a business called Preferred NY Financial Group…but no website!) We met and it turned out he had his partner there.  One thing led to another…which happens if you show up with good ideas and great enthusiasm (Rule 43)…and they connected me to the next step in the chain to a new client.  And they have more opportunities.

Then off to lunch with Edwin Abaka about a project in Ghana.  We had a three hour lunch while discussing this amazing world class intermediate and secondary boarding school they are preparing to build in Ghana.  Yup, a nice Wharton Global Consulting Practicum project came out of our discussion.

Then Thursday off to Boston to Anthurium.  (If you’re lost, read first paragraph above) I ended my day in Boston meeting with Peter Morrissey, he of Morrisey & Company.  I love his card. Under the name of his company it just says “Reputation · Communication”.  And he has a nice website…well, duh.  And he is one very interesting fellow.  Turns out, we have some mutual interests and connections.  Who knows where this will go.

It was exhausting.  Especially since somewhere in there I actually spent an entire day beginning installing EOS in a new client, and did some other client things.  So Friday I just stayed home.  Now, before you yell at me for goofing off,  I actually spent the day following up on my meetings (Rule 3)…leading to a new Anthurium prospect, worked on my new book…Book Dominatrix is warming up her whip arm in case I fall behind our schedule, and spent some time on my Wharton and National University of Singapore student issues.

And here it is 6AM Saturday and I’m writing to you!  And I am determined to keep my committment to my Book Dominatrix and meet her demand that I deliver some more words by first thing Monday morning. (Rule 1: keep anyone with Dominatrix in her title happy)

Serendipidous Serendipity Tip: It happens more often it you turn the soil.

Serendipity

It never fails to amaze me how much about successful networking is just remembering to mention things of interest to the people you know.  Having said that, I’m going to be a bit more circumspect than my normal lay it all out self as I share this story.  Sometimes you do have to remember that there are things that should stay private.

As some of you know, I am Chair of the BOA of Anthurium Solutions…which continues to move forward as we develop fantastic platforms for Unlocking Idle IQ.  A few days ago I’m having one of my regular calls with Tim Simard, our most excellent CEO, and happen to mention that I am meeting with a global healthcare executive of a major multinational about some possible projects in Africa for the Wharton Global Consulting Practicum.

We chat a bit about how Anthurium can do a few things that might interest Multinational.  How cool is this?  I agree to add talking about Anthurium to my upcoming meeting.

The very next day Tim sends me a note that he was talking with an organization where we expect (hope?) to get a trial started in the next few weeks and they mentioned…the very same Multinational.  Not only that, they mentioned projects in Africa…and the name of a fellow they know and work with at Multinational.

I’m not exactly sure yet, but from what I googled it looks like Their Multinational Guy reports to…My Multinational Guy.  I just love this.

And how did I meet My Multinational Guy?  I went off months ago and gave a talk at a Global Conference and so did My Multinational Guy.  He and I got talking and next thing you know…we connected. 

Serendipity Tip: It happens everywhere…if you speak up

And on a totally seperate note, I received these two pictures from a friend the day before Groundhog Day:

 

The note said that he had noticed a family resemblance and so wondered if I would be out looking for my shadow too.  The bizarre thing is that the longer I looked at these pictures the more I decided he was right.  Perhaps I’ve found the answer to why I like living in the woods and have this lack of a date problem.  Hmmmm…

The Right Time Is…Now

Every single morning I get Innovation Daily, a digest of the fifteen most important stories on innovation from around the world.  It comes from Innovation America which my friend Rich Bendis founded and runs.  Since it is way too much to read, especially for someone not focused on innovation, Rich cleverly gives you the first paragraph or two and then a link to the rest.

Every week I discover 3 or 4 articles that catch my attention enough for me to want to read the entire thing.  Recently there was an article that was a compilation of quotes about time.  Since I always have people telling that they just don’t have enough time to get out there and connect with people, I thought I’d see what pearls of wisdom others have about this, so read the whole article.

My advice is always that networking is as important as anything else you do so decide to take the time…and you will.  Or as I also like to say, it’s not how much time you have but how you use it.

Here are a few thoughts on the subject from some well known people, starting with my favorite.

Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time’ is to say ‘I don’t want to.’ Lao Tzu.

What may be done at any time will be done at no time.  Scottish Proverb

In truth, people can generally make time for what they choose to do; it is not really the time but the will that is lacking.  Sir John Lubbock

The bad news is time flies. The good new is you’re the pilot.  Michael Altshule

The time for action is now. It’s never too late to do something.  Carl Sandburg

And with all that good advice about getting on with it…I’m off to meet some new people. 

Time Tip: It’s not how much there is, it’s how you use it.

One last thought about St Barth.  I was walking along the Gustavia dock and thought my ship had come in.  Finally, a date.

And just in case you can’t read the name on the side of this little boat…

Unfortunately they pulled up the gangway when they saw me coming.

Pay Attention…Hidden Speed Bumps

Well…perhaps “unmarked” is a better word than “hidden”.  Sitting here in Birchrunville with 18 inches of new snow has caused me to pine for St Barth and for some reason, speed bumps is what I thought of. 

Since I walked everywhere, I was particularly close to the road and got fascinated by the huge speed bumps scattered here and there.  Since all the cars are so tiny…and quite a few of them are scooters…these speed bumps loomed even larger than they might elsewhere.  But what really fascinated me is that there are no signs warning you about them as there seem to be before every speed bump in the US.

If you’re going too fast and not paying attention…kapow!

Locals know where each and every one is.  Those of us just dropping in to visit are the ones who get our insides scrambled and our heads whacked by the roof.  Must be a metaphor in there somewhere…which I leave you to discover.

This leads me to show you my favorite car on St Barth.  There are bunches of these things driving around:

Here’s the truck version:

And as near as I can tell, there is not one single speed limit sign on the entire island.  They take care of speed limits by those aforementioned speed bumps…and by teeny tiny winding roads barely wide enough for a car and a half.  Think about this, the restrictions are built in so signage is unnecessary.  The message is part of the thing itself.

My last post mentioned how I almost wound up drawn and quartered for the temerity to think that airport security works so it shouldn’t matter if someone switched seats once inside the aluminum tube.  This story about meeting the founder of Pagus: Africa which is working to educate the children of Ghana led to an interesting call yesterday from Edwin Abaka of Elmina Holdings (which doesn’t seem to have a website yet…so no link.  Hmmm. )

It seems that Edwin is a very clever fellow…in spite of no website…and reads my little musings.  Elmina Holdings is working on building…yes…a big school in Ghana.  How about that?  He wondered if I might introduce him to Ellen. 

Talk to everyone, share good stories, and those connections just pop up if you tell people what’s going on in your life.  Hmmm, networking maybe?

Think I’ll end this with a picture of Larry’s house on St Barth…

…it’s hard to see but if you look about a third of the way over from the right at that point on the top of the mountain, that’s his house.  Quite a view from there.

Here’s the view out my window as I write this:

And yes, I am already thinking about visiting Eula and Melane at the Normandie Hotel in the very near future.

Tip From St Barth: Build it in…no instructions necessary

Connection Tip: Share your interests…always

Ooops! I Screwed Up.

I do hate it when I have to start off with an apology but…when you screw up, your screw up.  No sense making pretend it didn’t happen and thinking people won’t notice.  So, I apologize to those of you who got half a post yesterday.  Seems my damn fingers walked to the publish button instead of the preview button…and, off it went.

Well, to be totally honest…and I do think that open and honest is the way to be…those of you getting feeds got it.  But those crazy gremlins have attacked the email delivery again.  I gather the email version still hasn’t gone out.  So if you get this before that one, what can I say other than, damn gremlins.

Found Larry. Wonderful time at his magnificent house at the tippy top of Pte Milou.

Unfortunately, I have to leave St Barth today.  I will be sorry to leave the wonderful Normandie Hotelwhich, as you know, is the Best B&B in the Caribbean.  I mentioned how exceptional the manager Eula is…but did not say anything about Melane, the other magnificent person who helps run the place.  And did I hear about it!  Yup, they got the post right away…I sent it to them.

Melane could not believe that after all our chatting and the superb service I forgot to add her name.  And she is absolutely correct.  I am such a dummy sometimes.  I spite of this she managed to set it up for me to check out at the absolutely last minute.  With these two lovely ladies taking care of things it’s easy to understand why this is the Best B&B in the Caribbean.

And now, off to take advantage of my last day here.  Flight leaves at 16:20 so I have to get moving…not much time left.  I’m off to Saline Beach which is quite the secluded and spectacular place.

Path to Saline Beach

St Barth Tip: Be nice to Melane

St Barth Chatter

I am here on the spectacular island of St Barth.  Getting here was quite the adventure since I left my house at 4 in the morning right after an ice storm.  Since I live way out in a rural area it was a wild ride to the airport.  Nothing much happened along the way until the final flight…a tiny plane (held 10) for the 10 minute flight from St Maarten to St Barth.  Here’s the St Barth airport:

Yup, it does dump you right in the water if you don’t stop where you’re supposed to.  But that’s not the interesting thing about the short flight.

Sidebar: I was standing right at the end of the runway when I took that picture up there. It’s the top of a hill and the planes come over the hill and brush the ground there as they land…going down the hill towards the water.  Quite amazing.

During the flight I chatted with the lady next to me.  For some reason Africa came up.  After we landed we walked thru immigration…12 seconds…and out the front door of the airport together.  She was immediately greeted by a woman, introduced me as the Africa expert (!),  and then we stood talking while they waited for the lady’s husband to pick them up and I scanned the area for Larry O’Donnell who was perhaps going to pick me up.  No Larry.

So I asked my new friends if they were going my way, but no, they were actually going in the opposite direction.  Notwithstanding this, they said they would be happy to drop me off where I was going.  So…reason number one for always talking to your seatmate: free rides.

Off to the Normandie Hotel…it’s really a small and wonderful Bed & Breakfast.  No one is there but there is an envelope with my name on it and a key inside.  While I’m looking at this, someone comes in.  She turns out to be Eula Prada, the manager.  She offers me wine and we have a nice conversation for an hour or so.  Seems that they have just been judged the Best B&B in the Caribbean for 2010 by Caribbean Travel & Leisure!

Still no Larry. 

So I drink wine with Eula and then wander off to check my email.  Of course, you know what happens…I can’t connect.  Damn Blackberry is getting it all but can’t get the computer to work so I can actually answer some emails that require real paragraphs.  And no Web Ogres around!  So Eula drags over another guest with the words “he’s always looking at his computer so must know what he’s doing.”

After a bit, we actually get it to work!  We are both amazed since he knows no more than I do about these things. I was anxious about this since I got a request to drop in on Microsoft in Redmond Washington and talk to 150 managers.  Yikes!  Don’t want to miss that because I’m on St Barth and technologically challenged.

Still no Larry.

So I wander down the road to the K’fe Massai Restaurant.  It is almost empty.  I sit at the small bar.  I recognize the bartender and wonder if he will remember me.  He stares for a minute, comes over, and says “you are Larry O’Donnell’s friend. You were here a year ago.”  I am in awe.  He remembered me sitting at this very bar a whole year ago…when we talked quite a bit, but still.

We have a nice chat while I drink a glass of wine…notice a theme here? He recommends a tapas which is spectacular.  I hear about St Barth and his young child as we natter on about this and that.  Finally I have dinner…also wonderful. 

Then he comes over with this little tiny bottle and a shot glass.  He fills the glass and hands it to me.  It is some delicious rhum, ginger, and secret spices drink that he makes.  He leaves me the bottle which turns out to hold exactly 3 shots. I leave you figure out how I know this.

I’ve had it. Left my house at 4AM and it’s now 10 at night. So I get the check and find…he gave me the rhum.  So reason number two to talk to everyone: they remember you and you get…free drinks.

I overtip dramatically and wander back. 

Still no Larry.

Travel tip: Talk to everyone, who knows what will result.

Web Ogre Victory…Persevere

They did it!  It was a long and difficult struggle but my Web Ogres managed to fight their way through the crappy code someone added to WordPress.  It seems that WorkPress is open source so sometimes people add things without realizing that it just might screw up something else.  And as you all know, if technology can be screwed up…it will happen to me.

They tell me that I am the only person they know where the spell of untimeliness took hold.  But they persevered.  And it took quite a bit of perseverance since they had to actually figure out where the bad gremlin was hiding out and then slay him with the spell of correction.

Which causes me to think about perseverance.  As a world we suffer from Instantaneousness.  This recently diagnosed mental disease leads to a distorted time sense couple with an inability to concentrate for any extended period of time.  It has become an epidemic.

Luckily for me, my Web Ogres have not been stricken by this dire disease.  I must admit that I feel it’s pull but am working hard to fight it off.

It is an insidious disease for it robs people of their ability to do anything that requires extended effort.  For those of you out there interested in connecting with new people…it often takes persistence.   And instantaneousness is the enemy of persistence!

The good thing about instantaneousness is that fighting it off is a matter of mental effort that anyone can do.  So if you feel it’s dreaded effects reaching out for you…fight back.  Stay focused.  Concentrate.  Turn off all the distractions.

It’s a funny thing.  The more others get distracted…the more they leave the field open for you.  Take advantage of this.  Defeat instantaneousness and reach your goals.

Defeat Instantaneousness Tip: Focus

Ogre Rick Rick Simmons, principal

Ogre PaulPaul Fleming

By the way, if they really have vanquished the demon you will get the email about his blog Sunday morning January 16.  We’ll see…