Where were you and what were you doing when you heard about the iPhone?” my son Max asked, reflecting the excitement of the proud nerd-fest known as “MacWorld.” Steve Jobs had just unveiled the do-it-all device that streamlines entertainment and communication. (I think it will also make you a sandwich.) At the same time, 150,000 attendees of the Consumer Electronic Show were drooling over cool new toys offering digital TV, games and music via phones, big screens, car sound systems and, of course, faster, smaller, hipper computers.
We live in miraculous times! In a single lifetime (mine) the computer has morphed from a warehouse-sized adding machine to a pinpoint chip that organizes energy waves bounced off orbiting satellites. Wow.
Are you embracing this technology? Or are you digging in your heels like a headstrong mule? Yes, you are going to feel awkward learning something new. However, do you really want to be on the sidelines during these exciting times?
Why should you bother to learn about the latest techno-gizmos? Here are a few reasons…
Check out a Treo, Blackberry or “smart” phone. The extra features include a camera, e-mail, Internet access, text messaging, and the power to take your calendar and contacts with you wherever you go.
And, check out the iPhone at www.apple.com. It won’t be available until June 2007, but it has me drooling already.
Max bought me an iPod for Mother’s Day. It has rocked my world! So light. So compact. So easy to use. Download iTunes also from the Apple Web site. iTunes offers a super simple retail experience. Listen to, buy and organize your music with a fraction of the energy you used to create a groovy mixed tape in the 1970s.
It is still a bit awkward sharing music from one electronic device to another, though. For instance, if I download music on to my laptop, I can’t listen to it on my desktop without a hassle. There is room for improvement when it comes to legitimate file sharing.
Hot Rod is an eBay boy, too. He has sold more than $10,000 worth of “stuff” that I considered landfill fodder until someone else considered it a fantastic find. Yesterday, Hot Rod bought a Jeep on eBay. Imagine that! All this connectivity by a guy who types one finger at a time.
Also, make the World Wide Web more accessible with a lightweight, wireless laptop computer. Click around www.dell.com, www.hewlettpackard.com and, natch, www.apple.com.
Those are a few of the benefits of getting turned on to high tech. If you are dragging your heels, pick ‘em up and dive right it.
Turn To A Teen: If you are ready to enjoy the current crop of multimedia technology, ask a teenager to coach you on the basics. Kids today can figure out any electronic device - without a manual. They will click and scroll through the menus and discover exactly how cool or lame the device is. This will take a teen about 45 seconds. Ask a kid to show you what does what, and listen to his or her recommendations.
Techno To The Max: If you already are techno-savvy, maybe it’s time you turned up the volume.
At Bare Bones Biz, we have a lofty mission: worldwide business literacy. A person who understands business basics is better equipped to survive and thrive than a person who does not. (No bad thing comes from figuring out your assets from your elbow.)
It is a good thing to discover where the money goes and how to make more of it. I am honored to help people learn business basics and I always learn something in the process.
My commitment to our mission has made one thing clear: I can’t achieve worldwide business literacy with the handful of clients I am able to personally serve. I must leverage what I do and make this information available on a broader level.
This magazine column is a wonderful opportunity to do that. Today’s technology opens up even more opportunities for me (and you) to reach more people.
For instance, I started a Pod cast. Go to iTunes or www.barebonesbiz.com and subscribe. You can download (for free) a little bit of my bare bones advice for building a winning business. Listen on your iPod, any other MP3 player, or on your computer. This way I can help you build your business anytime and anywhere!
And once a month I host a free “We Love Solving Problems” teleseminar. Participants bring their business questions to the virtual seminar, and I share what I’ve learned on a specific business topic. Even better, listeners share what they’ve learned, or pose their questions to the group and learn from them.
Now, I offer these free services in a way that leverages my time and helps as many people as I can. Record it once, download it forever.
To get Ellen one-to-one and in person? There is a reasonable price tag on my time. Is that the same with you and your business? Could you offer advice, tips and information on your Web site and let your customers know that, if they want personal service, you are ready to serve? Could you offer a simple system for booking a service call online? Sure you could. The business universe is changing and expanding, and you might as well enjoy - and capitalize on - the adventure.
In March 2007, we’ll air our first public television show, “Is There A Business In YOU?” This one-hour program explores what it takes to start, fix and grow a winning business. Exchanging goods and services, freely, profitably, directly with one another is one of the most powerful ways we can create peace and prosperity on this planet.
I understand how media and electronic technology can help me reach many more people with empowering, basic business education. (Special thanks to our program sponsors: Nexstar Network and the Nexstar Legacy Foundation, Watts Radiant Inc., OakStar Bank and The Springfield Business Journal. Also, the Ozarks Public TV production team has been super helpful and supportive of this project. Thanks!)
Could you benefit from developing a terrific Web site, Pod cast, teleseminar or TV program? Sure you could.
The Human Touch: As cool as technology gets, it will never replace the human touch. Use these tools to leverage and enhance your ability to reach people, not as a way to opt out of the human race.
What’s cool about the PHC industry is that we can never outsource a plumber showing up at Mrs. Fernwicky’s home to solve a problem. She may learn about plumbing online, she may book the call on your Web site and she may visit with your call taker over the phone. Still, when you arrive at her door, you have the chance to win her heart and her business forever through your in-person interaction.
When we were filming the PBS TV program, one of the producers arranged to have a professional make-up artist do my make-up. She put me in touch with Christine Vaughn, a Mary Kay consultant.
Christine contributed her services to the program, a generous gesture. I told her that I would be happy to purchase the products she selected to give me the full Barbara-Walters-soft-focus-eternally-youthful look. She suggested she come to the dress rehearsal to practice a couple different make-up approaches (heavy spackle? latex?) prior to the filming. She arrived at 5 p.m. Friday evening and worked her magic.
She arrived at 7 a.m. Saturday and cheerily attempted to reduce my puffy eyes and camouflage my sun-damaged skin. Then, she offered to stay on through the day’s filming for touch ups - and to powder the shine off a few bald-headed audience members. Christine went way above and beyond the call. She gave herself to the moment and was of service. And, we had a blast. Guess who has a lifetime customer?
I am excited by the possibilities presented by maximizing the media and turning on the technology. Christine reminded me why these cool tools will never replace the human connection for changing lives and building businesses.