Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Interviewing: Countering Implicit Associations

"...when corrected for variables like age and gender and weight, an inch of height is worth $789 a year in salary."  Malcolm Gladwell (Blink)



For those that interview and those that are seeking to do well in the interview process it is very important to understand implicit cultural biases and how to counteract their effects.


When you meet someone there are implicit associations that both parties make without being consciously aware.  When within moments of meeting someone are even seeing them on TV we believe someone is good looking, smart, experienced or nice our brain is making these decisions without us thinking through the actual qualifications.

HOW TO GET PAST APPEARANCES:

1. LOOK THE PART:

You might not be tall, you may not be white, you may not be male but you can be exactly what the company wants.  Find out how they want you to dress, style your hair, etc.  Usually asking is the easiest way to find out but if that fails to deliver you a specific response find out how your superiors will be dressing and base your outfit, hairstyle, etc. on that research.

2. SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE:

Nothing can sink a job interview quite as fast as language.  Do you understand the lingo?  Is your tone, diction and choice of words professional?  Mimic the style of language being used on the phone with you during phone interviews.

3. EVIDENCE AND MERIT BEAT IMPLICIT ASSOCIATIONS:

You will not be able to change a person's implicit reaction to your height, color or sex in an interview.  But, what you can do is point out your winning qualities in very clear detail.  You can document your achievements and make sure that you gather testimony of your experience.  By providing documented evidence you put the onus of merit in the mix.  Can your competition match your merits?  Very often they can not.





If you are taller, whiter or more male than your counterparts, statistically you have a better chance of landing your desired job.  That is great if you are male, white and tall.  It is really disadvantageous if you are not white, not tall and also happen to be female.  Fortunately, whether intuitively or through study, most professional folks know this.  In minority communities it could be called the "twice as good" policy.  Whether you are discussing Obama's ascendency to the Presidency or Charlotte Whitton who was the first female mayor of a major city in Canada you will find mention of these candidates having to be twice as good as their white or male counterparts.

Charlotte Whitton said "Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult." I don't think every woman would agree with Charlotte about the lack of difficulty.  It is tough both mentally and physically to feel that you must hold yourself up to a higher standard due to your outward appearance.  The only way to change people's opinions is to expose them to difference.  So fit in to get in and then broaden people's minds one moment at a time!



This post is inspired by the book 'blink' by Malcolm Gladwell.  It got me thinking about the interview training that I have done with students at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School with the non-profit SBI College and Career Preparatory Institute.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Saying “No” to Make a Profit


The customer is always right and saying no is a sure fire way to end your business success.  So saying “no” creatively is a vital skill and it is crucial to closing deals and increasing sales.


Life is a helluva lot more fun if you say yes rather than no.
Richard Branson


The answer after all is always yes because yes allows a way forward.  Can the client have everything they want at a lower price?  Yes, they usually can.  In my business (I have a staffing company) clients send me all types of requests and many of them are asking for my staff at reduced rates.  My answer is usually “Yes, if you can guarantee volume”. 

Clients sometimes want to meet the temp staff that I will provide for them before the event date and my answer is “Yes, and I will forgo the usual five hour minimum and only charge for one hour of their time to make this meeting happen.”  My other option would have been to say no. 

This meets a client’s request with a profit opportunity for my company.  It also prevents the burn out that goes along with satisfying every client request without proper compensation or terms.

I challenge you to always say yes while always setting your own terms.  From spouses, to clients to your own children it is a great example to set, because face-it, you don’t like to hear “no” either.


A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble. 
Mahatma Gandhi


When your back is against the wall though and in your heart the answer is ‘no’ and you have no way of saying ‘yes’ than a clear ‘no’ is in both parties clear interest.  Saying “yes” and not meaning it is far worse than saying “no”.

Here are some great web articles on how to creatively say “no”.



Some Great No Language and Some Funny One Liners: http://thehalfwaypoint.net/2010/02/fifty-ways-to-say-no/


By Cameron Toth, Owner of Toth Event Staffing http://www.totheventstaffing.com

Sunday, August 19, 2012

6 Business Card Strategies That Work

By: Cameron Toth, Owner of Toth Event Staffing

 

6. Logo


You can crowd source your logo on websites such as Design Crowd and Crowd Spring.  One of the best things that you can do is find a trusted designer that you enjoy working with.  I was lucky enough to have Carlos Arias in my corner to design my logos.  Thank you Carlos!

A customized logo polishes your look and tells people to respect your brand!

5.  Vista Print

Vistaprint. Make an impression.
A great cost effective way to print your business card.  Include your logo, socialmedia info, QR code but do not forget your phone number, email and name!

Warning: Vistaprint's business model is to sell you as many extras as possible.  Beware of multiple offers and check your final order carefully.



4.  MOO




More expensive than Vista Print but for the most part you get what you pay for.  Cards are truly professional looking and you can choose from many innovative styles.



3. Card Case 



A good case that holds at least 20 cards is important to make sure your cards remain their crisp professional look.  A good case can also allow you to store the cards you receive at a networking event so that you can actually find them later.

Amazon is a great place to get one of these cases cheap.  When you order cards from Moo.com they give you a great box but it is probably better for women who carry a purse than anyone that would like to keep their business cards in their pockets.

2. Understand Your Brand

Always be selling, ask what people do and what they like.  Train yourself to pivot any conversation towards the value of using your services.  You do not need to do a sales presentation, you shouldn't, but you should be able to get a few choice words in that helps people understand what you do through a frame of their business and their interests.

To hand out your card to the right people you should not attend networking events that are not filled with potential clients.  I am not suggesting that you should be a snob but I do want you to be selective with your time and not put yourself in a position that you will feel hesitant to hand out your card.

Find your customers and ask for their information.  In return hand them your card!  Even if you do not have time to follow up on client information you have made them feel important and they are more likely to value your information.

1. Follow Up

Whether it is a quick email or a hand written mailed note you should always follow up!  Save your contacts information, file it under potential customers and send a quick note.  Reintroduce yourself, thank them for the conversation and if feasible set up the next opportunity to talk, meet or demonstrate services.  Party or event invitations are great!

Don't lose those contacts you spent money and time making.  Include follow up time in your weekly schedule.




Thursday, August 16, 2012

Business Card Social Networking

By: Cameron Toth, Owner of Toth Event Staffing

THE BUSINESS CARD

Networking face to face and the business card are not going anywhere for quite a while.  Certainly the face to face aspect has been proven to be much more effective than any other way to network and meet new people.  The business card however is an annoying, limited function, limited quantity, and burdensome device that is dying for a solution.

Handing a business card out is quite easy.  There in lies its usefulness and great utility.  It is an easy way for you to pass your information on to someone else.  There are subtle aspects and varying degrees of sophistication that make one business card better than another but in the end your business card is your promotional flyer.

Anyone who has run out of business cards or been stuck with a business card that has inaccurate information knows the very frustrating limitation that business cards can have.  They are not instantly updatable and they are most definitely limited in quantity either based on printing costs or the capacity of your business card holder.

The challenge for me, and I am assuming for most networkers that attend a few networking events is processing all of the business cards that you receive.   How do you upload the relevant information into your electronic address book in a way that allows you to easily access the information and expand upon it?

There are new ways to upload a business card and use the information on that business card every day.  I have tried a couple of new techniques and have been quite impressed with the results.

CAMCARD for SCANNING BUSINESS CARD INFORMATION

Using Android or iPhone phones you can download apps like CamCard and scan your business cards using your phone's camera.  With a "traditionally" formatted business card this can really save time.  Everything from "Company Name" to the contacts address can be perfectly read by the app and uploaded into the appropriate spot in the contact form.

If you spent the evening networking with graphic artists or marketing professionals this application may be useless.  With cards that are heavy on graphics, have multiple colors and/or have information in "unique" places or positions the reader is not able to slot the information into the right slot.  If this is the case go right to uploading info into GMAIL or a program that can sync with gmail.

Whatever application you use the next trick will depend on getting your information into GMAIL.  Syncing with Gmail would be a great way to get your information back and forth and easily update your address book.

RAPPORTIVE LEVERAGING SOCIAL MEDIA for CONTACTS

Gmail provides a powerful opportunity through the third party application by the name of Rapportive.  Rapportive is awesome because as you answer or are sending an email from Gmail you can see Facebook, LinkedIn and Gmail.

I wish that it worked while you were in Google Contacts, you actually have to click to send an email or have received an email to get the right side of the screen data on the contact person's email.
If you look at the above, I have entered my own email (so that I didn't share someone else's information involuntarily).  Once you do this in Gmail after you have downloaded Rapportive (it is a free add-on for Firefox, Safari, Mailplane, and Chrome.) you will see the right hand column load with whatever information that is publicly searchable.  You can with a push of a button connect to the person's connected LinkedIn account and/or Facebook account.

Sometimes the email isn't connected to anything but in my experience they usually are.

WHAT IS THE VALUE

This is amazing as it allows you to stay connected with a fist full of business card contacts pretty rapidly.  You may not be able to or even need to correspond with everyone that you met with the other night but enlarging your contact database is almost always a positive.

By using this tool to connect with people you bypass the problem of outdated data.  Emails and phone numbers (especially office related info) change pretty regularly but Facebook and LinkedIn are now inseparable lifetime connections that remain the same.  The value of connecting the business card to a social profile is invaluable.  The value of doing it one screen can be measured in the time you save.

GMAIL IS AWESOME

With Google becoming more and more indispensable in my life it pains me to openly say how much I appreciate and depend upon their services.

I now use gmail for my corporate email, google contacts to manage my contacts, Google Contacts to make my phone calls, Blogger to write this post and an Android phone to basically allow me to run these programs in the office or on the road.  All of these services except for the phone were free.  The phone (a Galaxy SII) is costing me $550.00 and is a profit split between Samsung, T-Mobile and Google.

No more forgetting the address book at home.  If I have my phone I have your number if I have a ever entered it into my contact list at all.  If the phone number does not work I can check my gmail to see if you have a Twitter, Facebook, G+, or LinkedIn account and follow up with you there.  Are you disappointed when I find you?  No, because I am a business contact usually following up on how to make us money.

Connectivity is the new norm.  Don't be left behind!

BUSINESS CARD ALTERNATIVES

With a smart phone, thier are several business card alternatives but I have not met one yet that solved either the problem of passing out or processing the ones received in its entirety.

If you have used a great app or other solution I would love to hear about it!  Comment on it or email me at CameronToth@Me.com


Complete Disclosure: While I use these products no company has provided their services to me for a discount or provided any other relevant incentive to talk about or promote their product and/or the functionality of their products.





Sunday, February 05, 2012

10 Sites To Jump Start Your Board of Directors


Hello Leaders!

No organization is created in a vacuum.  Use these tools to jump start your board, board meeting or retreat.

1.  Effective Boards from National Center for Nonprofit Boards

...Each individual board member should fully understand and support the organizations mission and purpose.

2.  BoardSource.com Building Effective NonProfit Boards

...Exceptional nonprofit boards recognize that diversity is essential to an organization's success.

3.  Create The Future

...The board has three broad areas of responsibility: planning and policy development; community and organizational development; and, fundraising and support development.


4.  TrusteeMag.com


...Effective board meetings concentrate on matters that involve interactive discussions and deliberations, rather than passive listening to reports and presentations.


5. The Seven Habits of an Effective Board


...Effective boards ensure non-executive directors contribute to developing the strategy, and feel a sense of ownership of the strategy.


6.  Board Check List on http://www.governanceprofessionals.org/


{scroll down to it}...[] Does the board have an effective director-orientation program?


7.  Role of an Organizational Leader


..."a leader is considered to be someone with visionand ability to articulate that vision to the team, so vividly and powerfully that it becomes their vision"


8.  Organizational Leadership Definition


...organizational performance management is equally important, in that the organization, as it changes, must be continually assessed.


9.  All About Non-Profit Fundraising


...recognize the importance of the relationship between an organization and its potential donors.


10. Recruiting for Board Members


...There are ways of seeking out these potential board members - ways we don't generally associate with recruiting for a board.



Thursday, January 19, 2012

10 Catering Tips

 


1.  Have A Niche.  It is hard to sell that you can do everything well.  If you do not believe me, try it!  If you can not claim that you are the best in your niche than why are you starting/in a business?

2.  Have A System For Everything.  Whether you do drop off catering or fine dining events have standards that our easy to reproduce.  From selling to packing the truck to setting the buffet - you need a system!  Your staff can learn and follow the system.  Easy for you to reproduce is not the same thing as common or low quality.  The best sushi is consistent and fresh.


3. Understand Events.  From entrance to exit.  From motives to results.  Know why your clients throw parties and how they flow.  This will help you upsell and control the look, quality and feel of your event/food.


4. Hire Good People. Either hire well (8 Ways to Hire Better) or work with a fantastic partner (like Toth Event Staffing).  Good people manage peoples expectations and anticipate needs to provide the best service possible.  Even with mediocre product the best staff can dress it up, present it well and protect your look and reputation.


5. Brand Yourself. Your logo, name and niche should be represented on every sign, every menu and every storage container you own.  Your brand will be more visible and lend itself authenticity.  Your brand is like a coat of arms and lends items that carry your mark the appropriate idea that they are of more worth and must be protected.  This works in the minds of your staff as well as your customers.


6. Be Your Own Accountant.  Profit margins, percentages, commissions, taxes, and checking must all become your familiar friends if you are to price and profit appropriately.  Seeking advice from those who are more mathematically inclined than you are is a great idea.  Handing over your books (and subsequently your business) to someone else is a really bad idea.  Know your numbers.  Understand words and phrases like overhead, starting capital, operating capital, cashflow and payroll taxes.

7. Diversify Your Clientele and Event Types.  For florists there are really busy times like Valentine's Day.  For caterers there are traditional seasons.  While you want your "Niche" you also want to make sure you are working for more than three months of the year.  If you are a wedding caterer and your season is May through September and you would like to stay busy through the rest of the year than develop your religious connections and get into the social circuit of Mitzvahs, QuinceaƱeras, baptisms, etc.  If your market is high end or low end their are events that fit your niche.


8.  Stay Ahead of Your Seasons -- Never Stop Selling -- Always Be Closing.  Catering can be a very busy business.  A season can pass and your head may have only come up to breathe as you ferociously swam through it!  Unfortunately, if your business has overhead you will need to be selling at the same time that you are cooking.  The busy season will end and your calendar will be sorrowfully empty if you have not been pressing the flesh and locking in off season clients.  Having a #1 Niche, #5 Branding, and #7 Diverse Client Base all help with this!

9.  Reinvent Your Product/Brand.  Although most businesses must continually innovate catering is particularly tricky.  Change your food too much and customers will miss what they loved and be angry it is not available.  Do not provide new menu twists and the menu becomes stale and boring.  Fortunately nature has given us the guide to keep being creative.  Change with the seasons!  Make sure you use the best of what nature has to offer to lower your food costs as well as to inspire your reinvention flares.  Read lots of foodie magazines, websites, etc. and stay on the cutting edge as much as you possibly can.  Refine your recipes and offer free tastings when you can afford it.  Allow your clientele to focus group their own tastes and preferences.

10.  Have Fun.  Catering is a very stressful business.  Eating is an everyday thing and besides the sanitation safety side of food service the rest is really is not that serious.  Stay fit, exercise regularly, and laugh a lot.  Nothing is more serious or less fun than health issues so make sure you are healthy, happy and ready to hunt!  You will need joy to get through it all!

Have Fun! - I will see you both in front and behind the buffet table! :-)

Cameron Toth is the owner of a Westchester, NY and NYC based event staffing company Toth Event Staffing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Perfect Staff: 8 Ways to Hire Better

Hopefully, when you read this article's title, you were skeptical.  You should be! The perfect staff does not exist.  As humans we are not perfect.  Highly trained commandos are better suited for combat than a chair bound accountant.  But not everyone can be a highly trained commando, or an accountant!  Some have the physical and mental drive and some don't.  Judging this well in your hiring process is what will give your company a true and large competitive advantage.


Many companies do not hire talent well.  Their searches are fast and sloppy.  The work to find more than one qualified candidate for an open position pays off in huge dividends.  The right candidate fills the position and grows the company.  The wrong candidate can create HR problems around their own employment and grow a wedge in your company that is hard to extract.


My company: Toth Event Staffing (Please like us on Facebook) prides itself on the talent search process.  For example, for our cater-waiter roster I do not consider any staff that does not have actual off-premise catering experience.  I do not have the ability to provide paid training, so I do not hire candidates that do not have the necessary experience.  It is important to recognize your companies limitations in the hiring process.


8 Ways to Hire Better:

1. BE SPECIFIC: Be extremely specific in your job advertising.  Do not advertise multiple jobs in one posting.  It does not save you money because it does not save you time.  Laser target your prospects.  Be specific if you require degrees, certifications or specific skills and experience.

2. PHONE INTERVIEW: Conduct a phone interview and write down answers to important questions based on the job ad you place.  Start the employee file on this phone call and go back to it if they make it to the in-person interview.  If they live to far away, are rude, do not have the specific experience you need than their is no need for an in-person interview.  Throw the phone interview sheet away if they are unqualified (unless you need it for legal HR purposes).  For prospects that meet your standards set the in-person meeting date and email them the details on location, attire, etc.  It is a waste of time to talk about what you are going to email and I find it is a great test to see if someone can receive, read and follow directions.  In our email centric world it is vital to know if someone can both receive and understand written messages and directions.

3. BE POSITIVE: Training your candidates or future candidates starts with the phone interview.  Be positive and even if you receive negative answers to your questions always remain positive in the interview process.  A poor candiate today can be a great candidate months or years in the future.

4. ALWAYS BE TRAINING: Training begins with the first interviews.  Set the tone and provide the applicants with an understanding of the mission of the company and how they can fit into and help grow the organization.  From busboy or mailroom clerk to the top brass, everyone has the ability to make your company better.  Make sure they understand your expectations.  Be positive as you may be training someone who might not get the job now but may be perfect for it later.

5. JOB DESCRIPTION: Micro manage the job description so you do not have to micro manage later.  Ideally you want your employees to be empowered an autonomous.  Hire people who can do the job provide training if you have to but create a very detailed and robust understanding of the job so their is no room for saying "I did not understand what was expected of me" later.

6. JUDGE ATTITUDE: Attitude is so important.  Sure, look at the resume. Verify information, if necessary, than throw it out.  If your applicant does not demonstrate the "knack", if they do not "get it" in the interview.  If they rub you the wrong way.  Be introspective and ask yourself why, but, if at the end of the day your gut says this is not the right candidate, trust that and move on.  My gut instinct is really good after I have asked the questions and had a bit of time with a candidate.  I am sure your gut will be able to make great informed decisions as well!

7. CHEF TEST YOUR CANDIDATES: After the initial interview for a chef to land a position they must actually demonstrate their skills.  The hospitality industry is a little more advanced in this way because they require candidates to prove themselves before hiring.  You can either cook or you can't.  You can either handle the volume of cooking or you can't.  You can either manage a kitchen or you can't.  Find out.  Create an interview process that stress tests your candidates and requires them to show their skills.  For my company (Toth Event Staffing) I require candidates to show up for the interview in uniform and my questions challenge them to handle situations that are real and unique to the position that they are applying for.

8. BE TRUTHFUL: This should be obvious but it has happened to me time and time again.  Employers make promises and do not follow through.  Promise less and deliver more, if you can.  Manage your employees expectations well.  Candidates are interviewing with you because they want to work.  If you promise to pay within three weeks when you pay in two weeks there is no issue.  However if you promise weekly paychecks the same exact employee who would have said yes to the three week pay cycle will be disappointed and upset.  They may not continue to work with you because you have not "help up your end of the bargain".  From responsibilities, to unpaid time, to dress code make sure #5 (Your Job Description) is really detailed and includes your responsibilities as well as theirs.

-----
Again once your candidate is working with you, keep training them. Remember that the goal is to have your company recruits continue to grow, learn and accomplish their own goals as well as yours.  In that fashion you create a team and a company that will be loyal and support you in your endeavors.

I am certainly no master or doctor in this field so please share any advice or comments with me.  I continue to learn and grow to support myself as well as my staff.


Keeping Attendees Engaged to End of Conference

This question was asked on Linkedin: 

"Has anyone found an effective way to keep an audience at a multi-day conference - all the way through the last speaker? I have tried lots of things but am still looking for the key."



Start the conference focused on your attendees and their individual goals. I have experienced this with Adrian Segar. It is a logistical challenge but have the attendees introduce each other in the first sessions to everyone else. Have each attendee state what they do, why they are there and what their goal for being there is. Create all or shift content onsite to meet the needs stated in this session. Explain to everyone how important it will be for everyone to stay to the end in order to do a similar wrap up session based on the introduction and goal setting session (which attendees love by the way). Your most powerful tool on site is the energy and enthusiasm of your attendees. If you can make them feel like they are meeting their goals (meeting new people, learning, and empowered) than you have a conference that attendees do not want to end. 


Find out more about the "Unconference" or "Peer-Conference" method here: http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/about-peer-conferences/



A few words about color and comfort: 


Energize your spaces! Meeting rooms can include hot exciting color combinations to energize people and wake them up. Hallways and business center can be blue or green rooms that calm people down. Any area where people would be stressing like registration maybe - make sure their are soft calming colors. PLaces where you want attendees on the edge of their seat use bright exciting colors. 


Make sure seating is comfortable but not bed like. Make sure attendees are comfortable sharing their knowledge and being a part of the conference. Engagement will create retention. Food should be available but it should be brain food. Stay away from bread heavy continental breakfasts and junk food. Cereals, yogurt, tea, healthy popcorn, fish, vegetables with dip, health bars and plenty of fruit.


Healthy food is not an exact science because we as humans can choose not to eat what is healthy and we can choose to eat what is really bad for us.  For a few tips on designing your conference menu check out this article that features insights from Jamie Oliver, Celebrity Chef/Food Activist and Andrea Sullivan of Brain Strength Systems: http://www.meetings-conventions.com/articles/brain-food-comes-to-meetings/a41288.aspx


Find the original conversation on linked here: http://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers=&discussionID=59829593&gid=36271&commentID=63992997&goback=%2Egmr_36271&trk=NUS_DIG_DISC_Q-ucg_mr#commentID_63992997  There are some great responses to the question not included here.