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The iGraine

For several months, I found myself suffering from an almighty headache almost every morning.  It was generally accompanied by dizziness and a feeling of exhaustion.  I genuinely thought I was coming down with something pretty serious.  My diet hadn’t changed.  My sleeping habits remained the same.  I didn’t think I was experiencing any additional stresses at the office.

And yet – every morning – there it was.  Within fifteen minutes of arising, I had this awful feeling, sometimes coupled with nausea.  I changed to decaf.  I ate right away.  Nothing.  It was still there.  I woke up feeling great, but within fifteen minutes I felt like a small mallet was just striking at the back of my head.  It lasted for about three hours, which presented a challenge to the rest of my day.

And then my eureka moment; I changed my morning routine by accident.

On one morning, upon waking, I made my coffee, then reached for my smartphone to check the 3,000 emails that I would go through.  For the first time in a long time, I left it in my car.  Not a problem.  I opened up my laptop and flew through my messages, drank my coffee, read the news, ironed, showered, dressed, packed a lunch, hopped in the car and then started my trek to the…  whoa.  I felt great.

But why?

It became reasonably evident that I had no long-term disease for which I would need extended, intense treatment.  I was just giving myself an iGraine every morning.

Yes.  An iGraine.

My standard routine consisted of waking up, putting coffee on, then roaming through my abode with my head dangling completely off my neck, staring at my phone.  It was to the point where my chest was getting a chinprint on it.

Was I spending the first fifteen minutes of every morning giving myself a staggeringly effective stress headache through neck strain while cutting blood-flow to by brain?  It seemed like a possibility, especially in light of the fact that the one morning I didn’t have any symptoms was the one morning I didn’t have my phone.

So on day two; skip the smartphone check again.  Day two; symptom free again.  Same thing on day three.  And day four.  And so on.

There have been thousands of studies on neck strain as a cause of headaches and exhaustion.  There have been even more studies on the lack of circulation to the brain causing both.  What I don’t know is if there has ever been a study on intense smart phone use (and head position) as it relates to these things.

If you find yourself suffering almost daily from a morning of exhaustion and a headache, I beg you to try this one small lifestyle change.  Lift your head up, or – better yet – keep your phone in the car.  The difference in my life has been astounding without a morning iGraine.

Do you find yourself suffering from exhaustion and headaches in the morning?

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Thanks for reading!  For information on cellular point of sale, visit our website: mmspos.com

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A Culture Disturbed

 

It finally happened.  In a world where mobile phone manufacturers have made every innovation in order to ensure that we are “forever accessible”, one of the world’s leading mobile phone manufacturers (Apple) actually had the foresight necessary to recognize that the world is getting tired of being accessible.  They actually realize, perhaps, that sometimes you can’t be – or just don’t want to be – accessed.

Apple is releasing a “Do no disturb” feature on its iPhone offering, allowing users to adjust their phone settings to block incoming calls, texts, emails, notifications, weather updates, tweets, and status changes.

It’s brilliant, and long overdue.  Apple is betting on the fact that in this world of continual accessibility, some will decide that it’s okay not to be accessible for a few minutes out of every day (though most at first will – allowing adjustment time – choose between 2:25am and 3:18am as their “Do not disturb” period.

My first thought, admittedly, was:

“WOW!!!  So… I can just hit a button?  And I’m free?  I can adjust settings in nine seconds, and I would have complete and absolute liberation?  I could go through an evening with my children, and not see a notice inviting me to “like” a friend’s friend’s Facebook page on beaver dam spelunking?  Well this changes everything!!!!”

My second thought?

“Wait….  I have an “Off” function.  This application is stupid.  This does nothing more than turn my phone off.  The only real benefit is that I don’t have to wait for the damned thing to power up again.  And this is innovation?

That brings me, of course, to my third thought.  And it brings me to a recognition that this is, indeed, huge:

This application has with it a potential cultural shift.  Of course, we could all turn our phones off, automatically enabling a perfectly functioning “Do not disturb” feature.  But we didn’t turn it off.  We have all called someone, only to react in utter disbelief that someone had the audacity to turn their phone off.  You don’t even consider turning your phone off between 2:25am and 3:18am.  Nobody would dare turn their phone off (except my parents, but that’s a different post entirely).  To have your phone off is akin to an admission that you’re considering jumping.  You’ve surely lost your job.  You no longer want to deal with the world.  It is offensive.  It’s unprofessional.  It’s the equivalent of turning your back on anything and everything important.  And if after an hour it’s still off?   It’s most certainly because the person you called went camping, had no signal, and are now a malodorous assemblage of randomly strewn appendages, having obviously been besieged by rabid black bears.

Or maybe they’re just playing a game with their kids.

Is this innovation any different than a power button?  Nope.  But it does represent something much bigger than any phone app.  It may represent a cultural shift, where – if enough people start admitting that they don’t want to be disturbed – it will become okay not to be disturbed.

Cross your fingers.   And if you happen to have an urgent requirement that I know about your beaver dam spelunking exploits; feel free to let me know about it.  But expect to leave a message.

 

If it becomes culturally “okay” to have your phone off or on “Do not disturb”, would you take advantage of it?

 

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Thanks for reading!  For information on cellular point of sale, visit our website: mmspos.com

The Next Step

When I was ten years old, I opened my first savings account. Well, my mother opened it for me, but I got to go to the bank with her and the teller told me what to do if I wanted to put money in my account on my own. She gave me a little book that was filled with blank pages, and she explained that every time I put money in my account someone would write the information down so I would have a running tally of deposits, and I would be able to use that information to find out how much money I had in my bank account. I’m pretty sure I still have that passbook somewhere. I might keep it to show my grandchildren how I used to do my banking back in the old days. Can you believe that we actually wrote it all down? On paper!

In the last twenty  years, we’ve gone from manual entry on a passbook to computer updates on the passbook to the ATM card that gives you twenty-four/seven access to any bank from any store. I can’t even remember the last time I used an ATM to get money, now that I can go to the grocery store and get a litre of milk and take cash from my account at the same time. But did you really think that technology would stop there?

Say hello to the EnStream Mobile Wallet Project.

EnStream is a joint mobile commerce venture between some of the biggest cellular carriers in Canada. For the last couple of years, EnStream has been looking at different ways to make banking more convenient for cellphone users, primarily through apps and online banking. Now EnStream is in talks with Canada’s big banks to take the next step and make your ATM card completely obsolete. The Mobile Wallet would allow the telecom companies to embed credit and debit card information on your SIM Card – that ridiculously small piece of plastic that locks into your phone and works as the key to your personal life. Currently, where your SIM card goes, your phone information follows. Soon, your banking info will tie in as well. There are signs that the project could even be taken a step further. Think of how thin your wallet will become when your driver’s license, ATM card, and credit cards have all been replaced by your Smartphone.

Of course, as with everything in life, there is a catch. And this catch could prove to be quite inconvenient. If I go to a restaurant tonight and misplace my Blackberry, it’s a major pain in the you-know-where and I have to go looking for the phone and then call the cellular carrier and get a new phone number and buy a new phone.  If I go to a restaurant five years from now and misplace my Blackberry, my entire life is now up for grabs to whoever picks up the phone. And we’re not talking about them being able to read my emails to my mum. We’re talking about identity theft made quick and convenient.

Security and technology have been advancing side-by-side with each other for years. All those years ago, when I got that first bank account, anti-virus meant taking vitamins to avoid getting the flu and firewalls were found only in cars and buildings. It will be interesting to see what comes first – the creation of a SIM Card that will allow for banking and personal information to be stored on a phone, or the construction of security systems that will need to be put into place within a Smartphones’ operating system to safeguard that information. Should we allow for the former without the latter, or can we trust that security will catch up with technology before things go wrong?

 

Would you use the mobile wallet service if it was available? Would you be worried about the security of that information?

APPrehension

Being a cell phone user for more than 25 years, you can imagine the confusion with which I’ve dealt as it relates to the ever-changing offerings that have been presented to me.  It’s not so much about the phones, but rather the things that can be done with them.

My first reaction?  I want my life to be simple.  Don’t complicate my lifeline.  I just want to make a damned phone call.

In the last fifteen years, however, I have witnessed a remarkable redefining of what phones “do”.  And I’ve been challenged to figure out why they’re still called “phones”.  They’re not phones.  They’re not just “smart”.  They are laptops.  They are fully functioning laptops that happen to have the capacity to make and receive calls.  Since every laptop and pad is now capable of making calls, effectively offering precisely the same functions as their much smaller cousins – I would assert that for the sake of continuity – they be placed in the same family, renamed “really, really, really big phones”.

So now the question I have is “What the hell I do with it?”.  What apps do I download?  What apps will improve my quality of life?

And so the hunt starts.  First, I look to see what’s out there.  I have 416,000 apps available for download.

Of those 416,000 choices, 1,200 are apps that are designed to “manage my apps”.  Really?   And of those 416,000 apps, there isn’t a single “App app” that tells me what apps I should get?

And so, hesitant as I was (and remain) about downloading more “stuff” to my phone, I took the leap.  I would dip my toe into the pool.  I would now learn how to Apply myself.  But I would NOT be at the mercy of Angry Birds.  I would grab one sensible app, and be done with it.

A calendar device.  That’s what I downloaded.  And I liked it.  It synced with the rest of my life, gave me a heads up on impending meetings, let me organize my time by providing plenty of notice for project due dates.  Awesome.

But that’s as far as I’ll go as it relates to downlo…  okay, there’s a pretty cool music player that I could use, but that’s it.  Other than those two, I have no need for distracting programs that will do nothing but make my life more diffi…  Okay.  There’s a pretty sweet swiping keyboard that makes things a little simpler.  And there’s a map device that could come in pretty handy.  But that’s it.

And Score Mobile – a great utility for checking my football scores at a glance.  And a guitar tuner.  And a couple of news site apps.  And an app that makes my phone sound like a light saber when I move it around.  Oh!  And a wicked little thing that – when I put my phone over my mouth – it makes it look like I’m talking.  And the “emptying beer app”… that’s a must.

The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that’s all I need.

Having been a user of cell phones when they were “phones”, I was entirely reluctant to delve into the world where my primary tool for communication becomes a Playstation.  But the truth is they’re pretty amazing devices now; holding more memory than did the primary computer aboard any Apollo mission.

There are some idiotic applications out there.  No question.  Having a Wiggles Songs alarm app isn’t going to make you a more productive individual.  There are, however, some awfully useful tools that were developed specifically with the intention of simplifying your life.  Or maybe even enriching it.  Maybe.

I took too long to recognize the value of these utilities, and didn’t understand that they could, in fact, make my professional life a little simpler.  And to those I mocked for downloading this stuff before I did?

There’s an appology for that.

What apps do you use?  Have they simplified your life, or provided yet another distraction?

Sell Your Smarts

I first discovered my passion for gadgets in 2004.  Back home in my small town after completing first year of university, I found a job at a cell phone store in the mall. I figured ‘Hey, I get along with other human beings quite well, why not try out sales?’

It’s harder than it looks! Apparently, reading a product brochure verbatim to a customer while they are standing in front of you wasn’t exactly a sales booster.  After a few unsuccessful and slightly stressful shifts, I discovered that knowing what the heck I was asking people to spend their hard earned cash on was going to be important. Right around here is where I learned about and fell in love with the awesome devices I was selling and began to love working in sales for that reason.

Of course now I had to get my own cell phone! Oh man, the Audiovox 8500 was it! A sleek little flip phone with changeable backlight colours.  I rocked that hardware.

Alas, as is technological tradition, it was soon outdated and dumped for something that could better entertain me.  My subsequent cellular relationships ended similarly, as I spent the next six years in wireless sales.  This obsession with having the coolest devices kept me at the top of my game, however.

One of the most important tools to have in any sales environment, to me, is knowledge. Know what you have and know what’s coming next.
Everybody “Googles” before they shop now. Why wouldn’t we? It’s harder to get roped into a spiffed product by an apathetic sales person when you already have an idea of what you’re buying, right? Or worse yet, you get to the store and the sales person knows less than your minuscule “googling” taught you…

I challenge anyone who has spent time in retail to say you’ve never experienced that horrific moment where your client was more informed about your product than you.  If you are not familiar with this situation, I applaud you.  It’s painful, it sucks, it’s embarrassing and you can flush all that confidence and rapport you’ve built with that smarty pants right down the porcelain throne.

Avoid this! Control your sale, try teaching your client something about the product. Show them why they came to see you instead of ordering it online while checking out the user reviews. Keep up to date with your industry news through newspapers, handheld apps or blogs.

If you haven’t yet, check out the online coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2012) to learn about exciting new product launches and manufacturer’s grocery lists for this year.

What’s on your geeky wish list this year?

Head-Free Calling

Okay… you’re on a busy highway.  Multiple lanes.  Middle of rush hour.  You’re currently in the fast lane.  You get a call.  You recognize the number as being that of the world’s most connected headhunter.  You hit the “answer” button (just because you’re a law-abiding citizen who happens to have Bluetooth – and you hate your job).   Well happy day!  This phenom has arranged for you to do a phone interview with a prospective employer.  It’s your dream job.  Huzzah!

Oh… one catch.  Your new potential employer is calling your cellphone in three minutes.

Panic.  No… don’t panic.  You can do this.  There’s an exit just ahead, and a gas station at the first set of lights.  You can make it there and still have 20 seconds to spare.  Or…  you can reschedule (are you an idiot?  This is your dream job!).  And there’s your answer.  You’ll pull into the gas station so you can concentrate on the call.  This is important.  You obviously don’t want your mind on something else while this critical conversation takes place.

And therein lies your admission.  And mine.  It’s about the level of concentration required to have a coherent conversation.  By definition – if you admitted that you would pull over (and you did), you have also admitted that you’re able to concentrate only on one thing.  It’s either driving, or having an intelligent conversation.

Are we to assume that despite the fact that while weaving in and out of traffic while trying to follow the flow in all six lanes, the deep conversation – about your youngest child being in detention because of an incident involving a fire alarm, a slinky and a Shetland pony – is perfectly safe because your hands are at 10 and 2?

Mobile phones have forever changed our habits and our ability to multi-task.  They’ve proven to be invaluable, and perfect for conversations akin to “Yes, Dear, I’ll get the milk”.  “Hi Bob, I’m running late”.  Or ”Yes I got your message.  You’re sure you destroyed every photo?”.   Our phones were not, I don’t believe, intended for deep conversations while driving.

Hands-free or not.

In the vast majority of locales, there are no laws that bar you from calling into a radio station, winning tickets for the Tiffany Comeback tour (thinking that your kid will totally adore her and maybe you’ll bond over this and they’ll be every bit as excited as you are right now)… listening to yourself on air …  while you shift, peck at a half-rack of ribs, and wash it down with a skinny double mocha frappacappa smoothie… while you’re piloting 4000 pounds of steel through similar obstacles at 110 kilometres per hour.  In the fog.  But it’s okay.  You’re on a hands-free.

As the driver directly in front of you, I don’t care what you’re eating.  I don’t care what you’re drinking.  And I don’t particularly care where your hands are.

I want to know where your head is.

Where do you draw the line when taking calls in the car?

Your sales prospects and customers don’t care about you

I have been in sales and marketing for about 20 years.  I have worked for several telecommunications companies, both large and small.  My background and experience has given me the good fortune to work with many companies similar to yours.  The product I sell has many great features that I’m sure will help you and your company.

So, quick question; at what point did you stop caring about what I was saying? My guess is right away.  Heck, even I was bored pretty much immediately.

In sales, as soon as you start talking about yourself and what you think is important, people stop listening.  It’s not about you.  Prospective customers don’t care about you.  Now, don’t misunderstand; they may like you as a person.  I’m sure you are quite likeable.  But, when selling to retail or business customers, the only thing they are concerned with is solving their problems or achieving some objective.  This problem or objective can be a business problem or it can be a personal situation, but the selling interaction needs to revolve around them.  The problem might be a complicated business data requirement or it could be that their cousin Jim has a newer, faster smartphone and Jim keeps teasing him.  It depends on the situation. Everybody that is buying something is either resolving a pain or trying to bring some pleasure into their lives.

One other thing that prospects don’t care about is the features of whatever it is you are selling.  Obviously, the features are important but only as they are able to make their problem go away.  They don’t buy the features, they buy the end result.  Using the approach of, “This device is packed with features. Let me show you what X manufacturer has come out with in this model.” can be a deal breaker.  It’s not about what the salesperson wants to say (despite the awesome product training they just had), it’s about what the potential customer needs.  What they don’t need is to waste time or get confused listening to a sales pitch on features.  For many, the features all sound about the same anyway so how does this help them make a decision? What prospects do need is to have a solution to their problem and a well-informed salesperson is in a great position to provide this solution.

So, what is this super secret that keeps the conversation about the prospect, that makes sure you are providing the solution that responds to the needs of the potential customer, and that guarantees you are not wasting their time or yours?

Questions.  Learn to ask the right questions. Wow…I bet that is a shocker.

As simple as it seems, the right questions are the only way to know the truth and it is an area where so many salespeople struggle.  They have so much information stored in their heads they feel that it just has to come out.  Maybe they should ask some questions first?  And not just superficial questions where you are not really paying attention (Questions asked…check!) and are just waiting for an opportunity to “sell”.

Asking the right questions will establish if the potential customer has a problem you can fix, how that problem is affecting their business or them personally, has the means (i.e. money) to invest in something that will resolve the problem and is looking to do it in a reasonable timeframe.  Once you know this information, then you can use your knowledge of the industry, features, competitors, prices and so on to give them a professional response; a solution.  Or, if they can’t afford your product or are not able to make the decision any time soon, then you can decide if you should spend your time with them or gracefully move on.

So, if a potential customer says, “I think I need a new Blackberry?”, does anyone have any suggestions on what to do next?

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