Monthly Archive for June, 2014

Celebrating American independence and entrepreneurship

Seven score and 11 years ago, Abraham Lincoln’s inspired speech at the Gettysburg Cemetery dedication included these words: “…our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Four score and seven years earlier, one of those fathers, Thomas Jefferson, penned what is arguably the most important secular document in history, the Declaration of Independence, which included this passionate passage:

Photo courtesy of Antidote Design

Photo courtesy of Antidote Design

Having the spirit, courage, and vision to declare independence at a time when monarchy was the globally accepted model of government was unprecedented. To fight for those principles then, and defending them from within and without in the two centuries since, is impressive.

To be sure, America has had lapses in the delivery of some of these tenets. Indeed, while Lincoln was trying to save his beloved country, he made this judgment: “We made the experiment; and the fruit is before us.”

Even today, America is a work-in-progress. We’re on a journey of understanding that has many stations where new things are learned and past wrongs can be righted.  But in terms of contribution to the world, Ronald Reagan’s “shining city upon a hill” has an incomparable record. Warts and all, the United States of America is still a benefactor nation with millions, if not billions of beneficiaries.

Freedom to dream is found in other lands, as is freedom to pursue dreams. But no entrepreneurial soil is more fertile than in America, and it’s because of those who had the conviction to create our founding documents, the will to deliver them, and the courage to defend them.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have been essential to millions of American small businesses. If you ask anyone anywhere on the planet where to go to start a business and have the greatest chance to succeed and accrue the fruits of that labor, the answer would be America. Like the Founders, generation after generation of American small business owners have demonstrated courage as they claimed and perpetuated the American dream.

As we celebrate the blessings of another Fourth of July in America, let’s hold fast to Lincoln’s closing prayer so beautifully conveyed in his 1st Inaugural Address. That the relationships we have with each other will be “touched by the better angels of our nature.”

Write this on a rock … Happy Independence Day.


I Loved Mike Menzies

Mike Menzies was an original, founding member of Jim’s Brain Trust, going back more than 16 years to 1998. This is Jim’s tribute to his good friend.

__________________________________

There’s a disturbance in the Force.  Mike Menzies is dead.

There’s an empty locker at Team Menzies. Their champion, devoted husband of Midge, proud father of Mike Jr. and Cal, has left the stadium for the last time.

There’s a boat on his beloved Eastern Shore, motor still, lines secure. Captain Mike won’t be takin’ ‘er out anymore.

There’s a quiet office at Easton Bank and Trust. Those honored to have been led by Mike for so long will now be sustained by memories of how he conducted himself with grace and professionalism.

There’s a hole on Main Street in Easton, Maryland. Without Banker Mike, to whom will small business owners now turn?

There’s an enormous void in the marketplace of ideas just now. When Mike spoke, people listened. At a time when we can ill afford it, one of the most compelling, knowledgeable and fiercest voices for free markets has been silenced.

There’s a new fault in the banking landscape today. As the industry trends toward giant banks, independent community banks have lost a giant.

Emotions are raw, the sadness overwhelming. Women are lucky—they weep. Men well up, but tears are scarce because we begin with anger. Then tightened jaws become unspoken feelings stipulated with a nod to each other. And finally Mike stories shared out loud with laughter. Mike would be angry if we didn’t laugh.

And stories and laughter there must be in the world Mike Menzies has left behind. How else can we honor the way he blessed our lives in his much too short life? What better way to celebrate Mike’s abundant life?

As singer-songwriter Warren Zevon was losing his own battle with cancer, he was asked what he had learned about life. Zevon said, “Enjoy every sandwich.” Mike Menzies enjoyed every sandwich. And if you ever had the fortune to be in his company, he made sure you did too.

There’s a disturbance in the Force today: Mike is dead and our lives will never be the same.

Mike Menzies made a difference. He was an enormously important and benevolent force who made the world a better place.

And I loved him for that.

VIDEO: Allow customers to see your business’s authentic side

Your customers no longer want to know just about your business — they want to connect with you and your brand on a new level. This connection means you need to shake up your communication game, too. In this New Age of the Customer®, it’s more important than ever to prepare for the moment of relevance. Are you ready?

Allow customers to see your business’s authentic side from Jim Blasingame on Vimeo.

Flex your spirit to your business’s advantage

Do you know what a jet fighter is? If you said airplane, you’re only half right. In the strict nomenclature, a jet fighter is actually a weapons platform. Its job is to deliver ordinance to a target, not to fly the pilot around.
In that sense, the human body–this vessel of protoplasm we drive around — is not really what a human is. It’s actually a delivery platform for the will of our spirit; the true life force that is who we really are.
One of the things I have observed about humans is that we often don’t understand, and therefore tend to under-employ, the power of our spirit. We seem so obsessed with the body that we don’t spend enough time contemplating the presence and power of the spirit.

Someone once told me how little of our brain’s power we actually use. I don’t remember the percentage, but I do remember it was astonishingly low. I wonder if there is a connection between under-usage of the brain and limited awareness of the spirit.

Author and philosopher, Colin Wilson, wrote, “We possess such immense resources of power that pessimism is a laughable absurdity.” The power he’s talking about is that of the spirit.

Pessimism can’t be overcome by our bodies. Dealing with frustration and overcoming disappointment are both tasks performed way above the pay grade of protoplasm. If you are a small business owner you either already understand this, or are acquiring that understanding a little more every day.

I’ve been a small business owner for a long time and have observed others far longer. I can’t imagine how any of us could do what we do without a strong spirit. The challenge is to become more aware of our spirit and flex it, like a muscle, to our advantage.

Thanks for being part of my community. I’ll see you on the radio and the Internet.

Successful negotiators are patient — don’t fall in love

Negotiating is a process of communication between two or more parties to reach an agreement on future behavior-like when you’re purchasing a small business, leasing an office, hiring an employee, selling a product, or trying to get a two-year-old to take one more bite of peas.

Let’s look at the two key words in that definition: process and communication.

Process : Conducting a negotiation is more like running a marathon than a sprint-it takes time and involves multiple steps. By accepting this reality you’ll set yourself up to be more patient and, therefore, more effective.

Remember, your impatience with the process is the other party’s best leverage. Good negotiators practice patience.

Communication: There are many ways to communicate in a negotiation besides speaking: Punctuality, appearance, organization, and attention to detail, for example, are all forms of communication.  You could even communicate in absentia with the quality of the documents you produce.

Never underestimate the heightened awareness of every aspect of a negotiation.  The slightest nuance, gesture, or facial expression can mean something.

Make sure all communications contribute to your negotiating objectives.

There are three critical questions to ask yourself before any negotiation.

1.  What do I want?
Make sure you have this conversation with yourself. If you don’t know what you want, how will you know when to stand firm and when to give something away?

And if the other party senses you’re not focused, they will either disengage or view you as weak prey and take advantage. Either way, you lose.

2.  Why should the other party negotiate with me?
If a genie grants you one wish prior to a negotiation, ask what motivates the other party.  Armed with that perspective you can get the other information you’ll need in due time.

3.  What are my options?
The best way to get what you want in any negotiation is if you don’t have to do the deal.  Having an alternative to what’s on the table strengthens your ability to walk away from a deal that isn’t moving in your favor.  It doesn’t have to be perfect-just an alternative. Sometime during the negotiation, your second choice might start looking pretty good.  And merely knowing you’re in a position to walk away will make you a better negotiator.

Finally, whatever you do, don’t fall in love with any deal unless you want to make the other party’s day. Love is for lovers-this is business.

Write this on a rock… Everything’s negotiable. Are you a capable negotiator?

Inconvenient foreign policy hashtags

@PresidentObama: “Today the world is less violent and more tolerant than it has ever been.”
     #Syria  #IranianGreenMovement  #9IslamicCountriesPersecuteChristians
     #Benghazi  #BokoHaram

@PresidentObama: “The reset button with Russia has worked.”
     #Crimea  #Ukraine

@PresidentObama: “The United States is ready to respond to China’s aggression toward its neighbors.”
     #RedlineForAssad  #NuclearIran  #SeeCrimea  #SeeUkraine

@PresidentObama: “We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq.”
     #ISISAdvancesOnBaghdad

@JimBlasingame: What happens when a nation’s foreign policy is always defined by others?
     #NevilleChamberlain

@JimBlasingame: The wages of the Obama Doctrine are being coined and spent by forces that won’t trade with those who value life and liberty.
     #LeadingFromBehind  #Feckless  #Impotent  #Predictable

@JimBlasingame: The Obama Doctrine is approaching global critical mass.
     #GodHelpUs

Thanks for being part of my community. I’ll see you on the radio and the Internet.




Warning: fsockopen() [function.fsockopen]: php_network_getaddresses: getaddrinfo failed: Temporary failure in name resolution in /var/www/wordpress/wp-includes/class-snoopy.php on line 1142

Warning: fsockopen() [function.fsockopen]: unable to connect to twitter.com:80 (Unknown error) in /var/www/wordpress/wp-includes/class-snoopy.php on line 1142