Monthly Archives: January 2013

Client Relationship Management CRM Systems for Small Business

Contact management systems / CRM to keep track of all your customers (and prospects!)
Having one central place to store all of your customer and prospect information is absolutely critical to managing your business.
But with so many options to choose from how, can you find a client relationship management system that is ideally suited to meet your specific needs?
There are a number of key considerations to factor into your decision-making process such as:
Do you want a free service or are you willing to pay for a high-end solution (ex. and if so what is your budget?
Can you get by with a generic universal solution (ex. Zoho), or would you prefer a system that is tailored to your specific industry (ex. Buyfolio for real estate?)
How many people in your organization will be using it, and who is allowed to enter the contact information into your CRM?
How much access to the information will you permit each user to have?
Do you want a cloud-based solution, or one that resides on one (or a few) computers? At a minimum following are the types of relevant information that you will need to keep track of:
How will your people be accessing the information, i.e. from a central office or from the field and will they be using it through laptops, tablets, cell phones, scanners, or computers?
Salutation: Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr.
Name: Use separate fields for their first and last names, as well as any nicknames or middle names.
Title: the position they hold within the organization. Be sure to include any relevant credentials such as MBA, MA, MSW, or JD.
Organization: The organization name.
Street Address: Primary street address.
2nd Address: Floor #, suite #.
Zip code: 5-digit plus trailing 4-digit if available.
Telephone #: the main number and direct extension.
Cell phone
Email address: A primary work and alternate secondary, if available.
Organization Website
Previous employers: It is a good habit to get into to enter the names of their past employers as a potential conversation piece or for possible prospecting assuming they have kept in touch with their old employers.
Include the following personal details for each contact on an as-appropriate basis:
The contact’s birthday, work anniversary, personal anniversary, holidays they celebrate, spouse & children’s names, their interests/hobbies, favorite vacations, community/volunteer engagements, favorite sports franchises, types of music, professional affiliations & memberships, etc.
Their social media accounts:
* Twitter
* Facebook
* LinkedIn
* Pinterest
* Instagram
* Tumblr
* Other?
Lead source: How did you find out about them? Which marketing promotion led them to contact you? This is absolutely critical for you to be able to gauge the efficacy of your marketing efforts.
Source/category code: Are they a Client, Prospect, Supplier, Vendor, Media, Partner contact? Whatever categories you use, you MUST be able to query by each group when you are conducting mass communications.
Account Activity: Every sales call, meeting, and conversation you have with them needs to be tracked by date and the outcome/result of that activity which is typically a sales contact.
Sales: Separate from your activity, these are the transactions as reflected in purchases, trials, special offers they took advantage of by Date AND Dollar amount of each transaction.
Referral Source: Who did they refer to you and/or who referred them to you.
Communication: Will you be able to create messages (letters, emails, invoices, surveys) within the system then send out those communications targeted to specific contacts or lists of contacts within your CRM.
Website integration: When someone goes to your website and completes a form such as Contact Us then submits the form, will it automatically be populated into your CRM as a new lead?
There is some basic functionality that you absolutely MUST have in order to effectively search your CRM. Here are some examples of the things you will need to be able to search your contact management system for:
* All clients that have bought from me in the last 30 days.
* clients that haven’t bought from me in at least 3 months.
* clients I haven’t spoken with in 6 months or longer.
* clients that had a trial offer but I haven’t spoken with since then.
* clients with birthdays coming up in a week.
* clients whose annual contracts are set to expire this month.
* Clients who are beyond 60 days in making payment.
* Who are my most profitable accounts? This is perhaps the single most instructive piece of information often buried in your rolodex of customer account information. The Pareto principle dictates 20% of your clients generate 80% of your sales, contribute 80% of your sales. How can you sort your client list in order of customer lifetime value?
* For information on cloud-based CRM solutions:
* Goldmine,, Act!, Zoho
* Destination CRM
* 5 CRM Services for Small Business
* Most awesome list of social media CRM tools & resources & blogs!
Here’s to your successful 2013. May it be the start of an entirely new path for you!
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach

Leverage Systems Intelligence to See Your Blind Spots

Use Systems Intelligence to See the Big Picture!
We can all gain lasting competitive advantage by identifying our “blind spots.”
We humans are inherently fallible creatures. Don’t believe me? Then why do so many SMART people do DUMB things. There’s an award for it…the Darwin Awards.
I believe we do this because we possess these potentially debilitating things called “blind spots.” We have a fear of being “blindsided” by the things we don’t see coming straight at us. A blind spot is a skill that we may be lacking, or a problem that we didn’t know existed because we simply cannot be knowledgeable of all things. A blind spot can also be something that we did not even know we didn’t know. That’s what makes them so dangerous.
Being a career coach and business consultant, my job seeker clients and the entrepreneurs, start-ups and business owners that I work with look to me to help them identify and embrace their blind spots for competitive advantage. Here’s how.
Something overlooked or unexpected that appears to have come at us from left field can have potentially disastrous consequences for us. However these unforeseen events can also offer us a unique opportunity to seize the day, if we are trained and prepared to act on the unanticipated event and use that to our advantage.
A powerful strategy that I help my clients apply in order to expand their view of their environments and thus identify as many of their blind spots as possible is called: SYSTEMS INTELLIGENCE (SI) SI is an invaluable tool in our arsenal, a Darwinian ability to be connected to, learn from, and adapt to, the environments we exist within.
The study of SI rose out of the research conducted by two professors (Esa Saarinen & Raimo Hämäläinen) at the Systems Analysis Lab at the Helsinki University of Technology. Turns out, SI is an innate trait all humans possess. It is a capacity that anyone can learn to apply, assuming we do the following:
1. Accept that the world consists of a complex web of interacting and inter-related relationships, to which everyone contributes;
2. Engage in a “holistic” or a high-level, all-encompassing feedback loop within their environment accept the presence of systems by conducting systems thinking;
3. See their environment as feedback intensive, and therefore acts intelligently/rationally; and
4. Interacts with their environment in a way that makes minor corrections in the systems, generating huge effects due to the nonlinear dynamics of the system.
The important thing to understand is, we all exist within a “system” and are shaped by and can exert tremendous influence to our systems (aka environments.) The two MAIN themes we need to understand from SI are: 1) we can produce GREAT positive outcomes; and 2) we should always strive to avoid negative outcomes.
Sourced from:
Here are a few strategies to help you expand your systems intelligence:
1. Set Aside Daily “Big Picture” Time: Allocate block out time you afford yourself EVERY DAY to think about your life’s big picture. This involves thinking about the career paths you haven’t taken or ones you may be considering in the future, potential opportunities for new business, or skills you may need to acquire in the future. A nice tool I’ve created for jotting down notes to help my clients is a 2 page FORTY year plan. Ask me about it.
2. Visualization: A technique used by world-class athletes. Go someplace quite where you can rest your body and your mind. Spend 30 minutes with eyes closed, picturing in minute detail all the tasks, steps, required to achieve the specific, tangible, goals you have set for yourself. Do not allow anyone or anything to interfere with this quite solitude you gift yourself.
3. The Power of “WHY” and “What If”: If you’ve read ANY of my prior blogs you know that I am a staunch proponent of the empowering acts of constantly asking “WHY” and it’s equally re-energizing “What If…?”
4. Visionary, Futurist Leadership: Certain people are “blessed” with an inordinately high curiosity level that leads them to spending much more time than the usual human in “day dream” mode. These unique individuals love to ponder life’s uncertainties. But what makes them true visionary leaders is their ability to synthesize massive information (needle in the haystack), see the future clearly, act decisively, all while effectively motivating others to follow them into the fray. They are worth their weight in organizational gold.
Years ago, Joe Luft and Harry Ingram created the famous Johari Window, to show how to improve interpersonal relationships. They defined that which is not known to yourself or others as hidden potential.
Although most respond to my “what do you worry about…” referring to threats, blind spots also mask opportunities. Every so often an innovation comes around that makes you go “duh? Isn’t that obvious?” Think of wheels on suitcases. For years, nobody addressed what is now an expectation worldwide. We must have been blind.
Source: Christopher Meyer
In his book, Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner (1983) found that effectively implementing SI requires:
• Linguistic Intelligence;
• Musical Intelligence;
• Logical-Mathematical Intelligence;
• Spatial Intelligence; and
• Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence.
The theory of multiple intelligences is a model of intelligence that differentiates intelligence into specific (primarily sensory) “modalities”, rather than seeing it as dominated by a single general ability.
Gardner argues that there is a wide range of cognitive abilities, and that there are only very weak correlations among them. For example, the theory postulates that a child who learns to multiply easily is not necessarily more intelligent than a child who has more difficulty on this task. The child who takes more time to master multiplication may best learn to multiply through a different approach, may excel in a field outside mathematics, or may be looking at and understanding the multiplication process at a fundamentally deeper level. Such a fundamental understanding can result in slowness and can hide a mathematical intelligence potentially higher than that of a child who quickly memorizes the multiplication table despite possessing a less deep understanding of the process of multiplication.
Intelligence tests and psychometrics have generally found high correlations between different aspects of intelligence, rather than the low correlations which Gardner’s theory predicts, supporting the prevailing theory of general intelligence rather than multiple intelligences (MI). The theory has been widely criticized by mainstream psychology for its lack of empirical evidence, and its dependence on subjective judgement. Certain models of alternative education employ the approaches suggested by the theory.
Here are useful references you can explore that Saarinen & Hamalainen cited in their research:
• Keeney Ralph L. 1992. “Value-Focused Thinking: A Path to Creative Decision-making.” Cambridge, Harvard University Press.
• Long A.A. 2002. “A Stoic and Socratic Guide to Life.” Oxford University Press.
• Oshry, Barry. 1996. “Seeing Systems: Unlocking the Mysteries of Organizational Life.” San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
• Seligman Martin E. P. 2002. “Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment.” New York, Free Press.
• Senge Peter. 1990. “The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization.” New York, Doubleday Currency.
• Senge Peter, Kleiner Art, Roberts Charlotte, Ross Richard B. and Smith Bryan J. 1994. “The Fifth Discipline Field book: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization.” New York, Doubleday Currency.
• Simon Herbert A. 1956. “Models of a Man: Social and Rational.” New York, Wiley.
• Simon Herbert A. 1997. “Models of Bounded Rationality.” Volume 3, Empirically Grounded Economic Reason, Cambridge, The MIT Press.
More cool books to check out if you’re interested in finding YOUR blind spots:
• Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge
• Nassim Taleb’s book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2007).
• Claudia Shelton’s book, Blind Spots
• Alexandra Levit’s book, Blind Spots
• Systems Intelligence in Leadership and Everyday Life book
Here’s to your successful 2013. May it be the start of an entirely new path for you!
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach

Find Work in Our Jobless Economy

In today’s stagnant job growth economy, you CAN conduct an effective job search to find work!
Today’s job market looks entirely different than it did a decade ago, and will look entirely different in a year or two from now. Are you prepared to achieve professional success in this 21st Century global, contract job market? Today’s “new normal” economy offers greatly reduced opportunities for high-paying jobs and a constantly changing landscape that perpetually challenges our ability to remain viable as serious job seeker candidates. Following are key attributes of today’s job market as we struggle to recover from 2008’s Great Recession:
* Workplace productivity continues to skyrocket due to such factors as gains in automation, business process improvements, technological advancements, robotics, the Internet, outsourcing, off-shoring, reductions in workforce, right-sizing, re-engineering. From 1973-2011, worker productivity increased 80%. Since 2000, productivity has increased 23%, yet hourly worker pay has remained unchanged according to the Economic Policy Institute.
* All the supposed job growth our economy has achieved during this latest “recovery” are in relatively low skill fields within the services sector such as retail.
* Worker ability to negotiate higher rates keeps dropping esp. as the power of unions continues to decline in America.
* the “official” Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment rate is 7.8%. However, the “REAL” unemployment rate is closer to two times that as the official number does not account for people who are significantly under-employed or have stopped receiving benefits and have stopped looking for work.
* The average American will change jobs 8-10 times by the age of 35.
* A typical job search today may likely involve spending TWO YEARS looking for a contract assignment that lasts a year.
* One in four American workers can now be classified as temporary, independent, or contract workers who are not employed on a full-time basis thus not receiving benefits, health insurance, or other safeguards that come from full-time employment.
* the largest single group of job creators (small business owners) are NOT hiring because they are uncertain of America’s future business environment as pertains to future tax rates, access to capital, resources, inventory, supplies, and their ability to pay back short and long-term financial obligations.
So, given this “NEW NORMAL” of jobless economic improvement, what can you do to find meaningful FULL-TIME employment in an organization whose values and code of conduct you respect which also allows you to realize your full potential?
The truth is there are A LOT of opportunities in today’s job market. You just have to know how (AND WHERE) to find them. Here’s how:
Go Back to School: In today’s climate of constant change, transformation and uncertainty you can bulletproof your career by constantly updating/enhancing your portfolio of transferable skills. Learn Mandarin Chinese or Hindi, the national language of India. Take courses in WordPress, learn about peer-to-peer file sharing, try your hand at such programming languages as PHP, MySQL, PERL, Ruby, Javascript, etc.
Follow the Trends: You have GOT to stay on top the latest business & industry trends and developments and then seize opportunities as an “Early Adopter.” Right now, cloud-based anything is hot. also in demand are distance-based/virtual teams, thus anything to do with collaboration (look into open-source innovation platforms like Github) and networking is king. Learn all you can about mobile technology, attend the Consumer Electronics show, and pay attention to bloggers and subscriber to e-newsletters that focus on cell phones, PDAs, mobile devices, tablets, laptops, e-readers, consumer data-gathering devices, plus other technologies.
Security in a Post-9/11 World: Learn about the key players in the field of security, such as Johnson Controls, Tyco, Honeywell, Bosch, Hirsch Electronics. Find out all there is to know about CCTV systems, surveillance, access control solutions, biometrics, ID systems, and other sectors of the security and intelligence fields.
Therapy For All: Given all the characteristics outlined above in today’s “New normal” hyper stressful workplace, there is a rapidly increasing demand for all types of worker who calms the savage beast of stress. Yoga instructors, social workers, life coaches, personal trainers, spiritual advisers, and yes…business coaches can help the overworked American deal with the MANY physiological manifestations that arise out of coping with constant stress.
Social Media: This goes hand-in-hand with the evolution of social networking online and the proliferation in tools, systems, platforms that help us to facilitate and measure our relationships esp. online (such as Vizify, Pitnerest, Tumblr to name a few.)
Co-opetition: May sound like an oxymoron but it is an aspect of doing business in today’s new normal business climate. Stands for organizations who partner together in one instance and compete with each other in the next. Consider such “frien-emies” as Apple and Google, or IBM and Microsoft.
Web 2.0 and Beyond: Marketing has been completed transformed from the traditional 5-P model encompassing pricing, promotions, placement, product, and packaging to a post-Internet commercialization era of the 1990s model which emphasizes INDIVIDUALITY & INTERACTIVITY. Marketers must now be able to customize messages they send to the masses (called “mass customization”) while also being able to engage with, get feedback from, and modify their product & service offerings by speaking directly with their customers.
* Competitive intelligence Research: This is also referred to as “mystery shopping.” These service providers get contracted by their clients to obtain information on a client’s competitors using many different investigative approaches. This business intelligence field represents $30 billion annually in revenue according to Gartner Research. Social engineering is a term for obtaining information directly from organizations speaking to their owners, employees,customers, and even their suppliers. This form of information gathering is used to obtain all sorts of information such as revenues, number of units sold, gross margin, inventory, numbers of customers, cash flow..all sorts of goodies.
So, to be successful in finding gainful employment that satisfies all your needs it is critical that you learn as much as you possibly can about new technologies, key industry players, and rising industries BEFORE they blow up so you can gain the benefits of being “first to market.”
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach

Awesome Business Resources for Entrepreneurs

Great business resources for new businesses.
Today’s blog is dedicated to business resources to help entrepreneurs, start-ups and small business owners to plan, launch and grow their business in these turbulent times. For a more comprehensive guide of business resources, contact The Chazin Group.
* Workshop in Business Opportunities (WIBO)
* New Jersey Entrepreneurial Network
* NYC Business Solutions Center
* NYC Business Solutions Center Business Library
* Small Business Administration
* Chambers of Commerce
* Industrial Technology Assistance Corp.
* The SUNY Levin Institute FastTrac Program
* Marion Ewing Kauffman Foundation
* NJ Economic Development Authority
* Register your business in New York
* IBIS World (Industry-specific research)
* Key business statistics
* Small Business Administration advocacy & support
* Occupational Outlook Handbook:
* Industrial Reports:
* E-commerce research:
* Mintel Reports Industry research
* NY Public Library Small Business Resource Center
* US Census FactFinder NY Demographic/geographic data
* New York City Community District Profiles
* NJ State Library
* Moody’s
* Hoover’s:
* Gale Encyclopedia of Associations, Directory of Publications & Broadcast Media, Encyclopedia of Business Information Sources, Encyclopedia of Management and Small Business Management, consultant’s and consulting Organizations directory.
* SEC Edgar database for quarterly & annual reports from publicly-traded companies
* Sunshine NYC
* Long Island High Technology Incubator
* NYC Bio Science Initiative
* Incubate NYC
* Brooklyn bioBAT
* Business Incubator Assn. NY
* NYU Poly
* DUMBO Tech Incubator
* 6 MetroTech Center Brooklyn, NY
* Varick Street Incubator
* Hive at 55
* NYC Seed
* Astia
* Tech Launch
* Entrepreneurs Commons
* Open Coffee Club
* Sunshine Bronx, NY
* Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator
* First Growth Network
* Dream It Ventures
* The Founder Institute
* New York Angels
* Long Island Angel Network
* Union Square Ventures
* Women 2.0
* Venture Assn. NJ
* Chubby Brain
* Rising Tide Capital
* kickstarter for Crowd Sourcing
* IndieGogo – Crowd Sourcing
* Business Outreach Center
* Assn. for Enterprise Opportunity
* National Assn. Women Business Owners (NAWBO)
* SCORE Minority Resources
* Ladies Who Launch
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach

Learn From Failure to Achieve Lifelong Success

How to be successful at risk-taking and learn from failure!
This blog is all about FAILURE or rather, how we can learn from failure by embracing risk-taking for continued success. We live in a society that not only does NOT embrace failure, but teaches us from an early age to avoid failure in all of our pursuits.
Redefining Failure as a Motivational Tool.
What if, rather than running away from the stigma of failure, we changed our mindsets to fail GREATLY and strive to learn from failure? Examples of how a willingness to fail have led to societal success are all around us.
* The Wright Brothers brought five sets of spare parts with them every time they went out to test fly their latest plane design. Why? Because that is how many times they typically crashed, before they called it a productive day. The failures were all about learning what worked and what didn’t. They then went back to the drawing board until they became the first to successfully achieve manned space flight.
* Thomas Edison never saw his stalled attempts at inventing to be failure. He considered all of his “failures” to be successes in that he learned what didn’t work and was able to adjust, adapt and move on. When he was inventing the light bulb he was quoted as saying: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
What Can You Learn From Your Past Failures.?
Think about the goals you set for yourself at work and before/leading up to the New Year. What if every goal that we set for ourselves was a “STRETCH” goal, something that we work have to work extremely hard and challenge ourselves to learn new skills and try to do things a different way and there was still not a strong guarantee of success? Would you accept these goals? How many pursuits have you passed up in life for a fear of failure?
Why Embracing Failure Is So Important In Today’s World.
We live in an age of uncertainty, constant change and technological advancements occur at a more rapid pace than at any time in our history. To thrive in such an environment of repetitive chaos, we MUST take calculated risks, dare to fail greatly and learn from our mistakes so we can be successful. Why? Because what worked for us yesterday may not work tomorrow. Conversely, what we tried yesterday that failed may actually work for us and be our greatest option moving forward.
“Supposing you have tried and failed again and again. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.” Mary Pickford.
We need to learn the discipline of taking more “strategic” risks. In conjunction with more calculated risk-taking where we weigh the relative merits and potential drawbacks of the risk, we must also test, evaluate, and adapt or behaviors as we undertake the risky endeavor for the greatest potential lesson learned. Here’s how we can accomplish this:
* Set guidelines: Establish benchmarks to determine what a successful outcome to the risk would look like. Define success and failure in quantifiable terms then test, test, test through the new path taken. “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” Henry Ford
* Maintain emotional detachment: Do not be so emotionally committed to a particular course of action that you cannot or WILL NOT change, if circumstances dictate you deviate. What this entails is creating a culture that embraces, identifies, and takes advantages of unforeseen opportunities as they arise. Learning organizations evolve and adapt and a necessary aspect/trait of the organizations that do this best is a constant embrace of risk-taking. Other key attributes of learning organizations include:
* Employ job rotations: move people from department to department so they get a much broader view of the organization they work for;
* Implement creative problem-solving: there has been a tremendous increase in recent years in the study of the creative process for artists and musicians as a discipline for senior management;
* Embrace a policy of demanding your people ask “WHY?” and “WHAT IF?” constantly, in order to always challenge accepted behaviors, systems, rules, and processes;
* Reward risk-taking: if the risks taken lead to an advancement in the individual’s learning, skill sets, knowledge base or experience that can be leveraged for success in future use; and
* The law of “unintended consequences“: Often when we set out to accomplish a task if we don’t achieve that specific goal it is deemed a “failure.” However, a “failure” in achieving one desired outcome may actually pave the path to success in other pursuits, challenges, or uncover unforeseen opportunities. Given employees completely “unstructured” time with no commitments to think freely. This also should include spending a certain percent of your time focused on thinking solely about the future. What does it look like, and how do you see yourself most actively/effectively “engaged.”
We Need a New Model of Failure.
What if we forced ourselves to take on an entirely new set of psychological responses to failure? What if, instead of thinking of failure as an indictment of our own personal failure, and shortcomings, it became a gift – an opportunity to learn? In this new paradigm of failure as a lesson learned, we reward the risk taken as a badge of honor and NOT as a damning conclusion of our supposed inabilities.
How Embracing Failure Benefits Everyone.
The beauty of taking greater risks with a much larger potential pay off has universal human appeal, whether you are starting a new business, changing careers, going back to school, re-entering the workplace, changing (foregoing) college in the pursuit of a trade, etc.
Einstein said: “Insanity is the act of doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome.” Instead of embracing the philosophy of “stick with what works” you understand that you can only advance by trying new things to fight the creature of habit syndrome. If we are not willing to modify our behavior by taking risks and trying new things, we cannot expect to adapt.
So, every time you face the prospect of failing and feel a tremendous sense of foreboding ask yourself: “So what if I fail?” And then very quickly ask: “What if I succeed?” You will be amazed how liberating it is, and what you can achieve when you remove the fear of failure.
Here is to a great, successful, achievement-filled 2013!
Great resources to Learn from failure:
* The Wisdom of Failure.
* Strategies for Learning from Failure article by Amy C. Edmondson, professor at Harvard University.
* Failing Forward by Chris Burge Ministries.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach