Joe Rogan on Connecting Virtually

Over the past few days, I’ve gained a massive amount of respect for comedian and TV commentator (Fear Factor, UFC) Joe Rogan. One of the things that has impressed me most is his very raw, open, heart-felt blog. I was especially touched by this passage in this post commenting on the death of former UFC middleweight champion Evan Tanner:

Sometimes when I write, it’s like I’m reaching out to an old friend without a name or a face. I think of it as some new form of non-physical intimacy.

I’m trying to find my consciousness and merge it with yours, and as weird as it sounds I feel that connection with every myspace message and email I get.

We’re both alone and interfaced with a monitor in silence, and as I craft my sentences and express my ideas my intention is always for you to get an unfiltered view into my thoughts. I want you to take them with you.

I’m opening my head to merge my thoughts with you, and the only way that really works is if I’m 100% honest.

Well said. We don’t have to see people in person to connect at a deeper level. We just have to open ourselves to the possibility and, as Joe said, be completely honest with each other. Even the smallest little deceptions cause us to be more cautious and create barriers to building deep, meaningful relationships.

Joe’s blog and humor are pretty crude. Fear Factor is tame in comparison. If you’re easily offended, skip it. If not, then start reading his blog, look him up on YouTube, and enjoy.

Writing the Perfect Email


A constant complaint we hear around the office is that emails we receive (and sometimes send) are poorly written or unclear.  According to “How to Write a Perfect Email”, when writing an email that warrants a reply, there are four key components to get a quick and valid response:


1. Brevity– Keep it short.

2. Context– How do you know me/where did we meet (Give information that would make a person remember you) and put it in the subject line.

3. Something to Act On- Make the request clear and ask closed ended questions.

4. Set a Deadline- Set a date when you need the information, give one follow-up email and then pick up the phone.


My colleague Michelle Reicher observed that the guidelines set in this blog are a good standard to follow, but, “I disagree with the blanket advice to ask closed ended questions. Keep the request and question clear and concise, but allow the responder to give as much information as is necessary to move forward. When one sends an email with questions, the goal is to solicit a response, but it is important to have a complete, comprehensive, and useful response not just a yes/no answer. Yes/No responses answer the immediate question, but do not allow farther explanation that may answer future questions or give farther insight into the matter at hand.”


In The Cranking Widgets Blog: “How to Construct the Perfect Email Subject Line”, the blogger observes that a good subject line is imperative for a successful email:

“There are 3 simple tips that, if implemented properly, will make your email subject (and, subsequently, your email) much easier to read.

1.      Use Keywords [to identify the purpose of your email.] All email messages fall into one or more of 4 possible categories:

o        Questions (or messages that elicit a response from the reader)

o        Responses (messages that are in response to questions or other inquiring messages)

o        Informational (or FYI – messages that are meant to inform but don’t require a response)

o        Spam (jokes, pictures of your nephew’s baseball game, etc. – as well as actual spam)

2.      Briefly describe the subject – This is best done before you start writing your message. Finding the right balance between vague and overly-specific can be tough. Personally, I think it’s like anything else – you get better at it with time.

3.      For Pete’s sake, never leave the subject blank – This is something I’ve mentioned before, and it bears repeating.”


The body of the email will never be read if the context of the subject line does not act as an icebreaker or a contextual reminder. If the subject line merely says, “Hi” then it is synonymous to a cold call, but if the subject line identifies the business or how you know this person it becomes analogous to a warm call or a referral, which are generally more fruitful and productive than an unsolicited call.

Web 2.0 Has Corporate America Spinning

As a followup on my Vistage presentations, here’s “What every CEO needs to know about the array of new tools that foster online collaboration — and could revolutionize business”: BusinessWeek: Web 2.0 Has Corporate America Spinning

Online Match-Making with Virtual Dates

Users of online dating sites often struggle to find love because the sites themselves make it more difficult than it needs to be. To the rescue: Virtual Dates, an online ice-breaker from Jeana Frost of Boston University, Michael Norton of HBS, and Dan Ariely of MIT.


Their advice about online dating (which also applies to winning business online):

“Remove yourself as much as possible and don’t invest your ego in one particular date,” Frost offers. “Remember that it’s very easy to get carried away and imbue a profile with overly favorable qualities. My advice is to try to stay calm and resist being invested in one person until you’ve actually gotten to know them. Avoid long e-mail correspondences because they tend to heighten expectations.”

“It also takes resilience to go on a lot of dates and spend time actually arranging to meet rather than spending hours a week just searching. The people who go on a lot of dates are the people who find someone. In some sense it’s a numbers game.”

New users especially should keep in mind that online dating is not in the end so fundamentally different from regular dating, adds Norton. You try to find people, you try to meet them. “It’s the people who think it will be quite different from their regular experiences who end up being the most disappointed …. In online dating, the same sorts of people who are online are also out there offline. It can help you sort, but ultimately it takes work, effort, and a little luck.”

The Presentation of Self in the Information Age

The Presentation of Self in the Information Age

by John Deighton

Executive Summary:

In the past, we knew a lot about the seller of a product (through ads, marketing, or reputation) but little about the individual buyer. Times have changed. From the Internet to store loyalty cards, technology has made the marketplace into an interactive exchange where the buyer is no longer anonymous. The future market will likely be one in which personal information is shared and leveraged. Consumers who are willing to share their information will be more attractive to sellers and more sought-after than those who have bad reputations or refuse to participate. Key concepts include:

* Consumers will play an increasingly leveraged role in the marketplace by “branding” themselves and sharing personal information with sellers.
* Technology is making the idea of consumer branding a reality, but it is unclear how personal information will be used in the marketplace, or which uses will be the most beneficial to both buyers and sellers.
* Look deeper into loyalty programs for the societal and commercial, and positive and negative effects of sharing personal information in the marketplace.


Egocentrism over e-mail: Can we communicate as well as we think?

Despite the growing prevalence of virtual communications business, there’s still plenty of information that doesn’t get digitally encoded. Recent research (Egocentrism over e-mail: Can we communicate as well as we think? By Kruger, Justin; Epley, Nicholas; Parker, Jason; Ng, Zhi-Wen, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2005 Dec Vol 89(6) 925-936) shows that people correctly interpret the emotions of others over e-mail only about half of the time, although they think that they have made the correct inference almost 9 times out of 10. We need nonverbal cues to most effectively interpret the raw data—the words that we hear or read. In fact, according to Epley and Kruger, “it is not uncommon for paralinguistic information to more than merely supplement linguistic information, but to alter it completely.” This is one of the reasons for the frequency of online flaming.

Needless to say, it seems that in-person interaction skills will remain valuable for the foreseeable future.

(via Jonathan Rhinesmith)

How to Prevent Technology From Impeding Communication and Wrecking Your Virtual Project

Technology has made it possible for teams with members around the world to work on virtual projects. A monthly budget for such a project can easily exceed $1.2 million and involve more than 60 team members worldwide. Although email and other communication tools make this possible, what happens when team effectiveness is hampered by the same technology? Dominic M. Thomas, a visiting assistant professor of decision and information analysis at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, and colleagues studied the failure of large virtual projects to learn what went wrong. Their findings are presented in a new paper titled “Making Knowledge Work Successful in Virtual Teams via Technology Facilitation.”

The Great Sales and Marketing Debate: The Cagey Sales Veterans Debate the Young Up-and-Comers

I recently was fortunate to participate in a panel discussion on “The Great Sales and Marketing Debate: The Cagey Sales Veterans Debate the Young Up-and-Comers”, sponsored by the New York Software Industry Association, March 13, 2006, held at JP Morgan Chase.

Allen Reynolds and Jesse Mandell all took some notes, which we have merged in the summary below.

Master of Ceremonies, Bruce Bernstein, welcomed and introduced the two questioners and four debaters.

Questioners: Sherri Sklar and Ruth P. Stevens

Sherri Sklar, President, Sherri Sklar Strategies, LLC
Sherri Sklar has built a star track record in helping organizations obtain exceptional results. Over the last 20 years, she has enabled organizations to make dramatic turnarounds, helping under-performing divisions achieve significant growth in the most difficult of marketplace conditions. Ms. Sklar has helped organizations in marketing strategy and execution, sales strategy, sales execution and performance, business development strategy, channel management, and communication skills training. A frequent presenter at seminars and conferences, Ms. Sklar practices and teaches ‘peak performance delivery’, a proprietary technique Ms. Sklar employs to help clients achieve optimal results. Ms. Sklar is President of her own consulting company, Sherri Sklar Strategies, LLC., (SSS). SSS is a sales, marketing and business development consulting firm that delivers measurable results from assessment, proven strategies, and excellence in execution. Ms. Sklar received her MBA from Harvard Business School and her BA from Newcomb College at Tulane University.

Ruth P. Stevens
Ruth P. Stevens’ expertise in customer acquisition and retention derives from a decade and a half of hands-on marketing for both large enterprises and start-up companies. Just prior to beginning her consulting practice, she served as chief marketing officer at an Internet company in New York City. Before that, she had broad responsibilities for direct marketing at three corporate giants– IBM, Ziff-Davis and Time Warner.

At IBM, she served as director of direct marketing, North America, for the IBM hardware, software and services brands, leading a team of 140 direct marketing professionals. She then moved to the IBM Software Group, where she directed global direct marketing.

At Ziff-Davis, she served as vice president of marketing for the electronic publishing division, and later helped launch Ziff’s Consumer Media Group as its vice president of marketing. At Time Warner, she worked in marketing, new business development and general management for the Book-of-the-Month Club and Time-Life Books.

Ruth has been a regular columnist for DMNews and is a frequent contributor to a variety of marketing publications. She teaches marketing to graduate students at Columbia Business School and NYU’s Stern School of Business. Ruth serves on the boards of the Direct Marketing Idea Exchange in New York City and the Direct Marketing Club of New York.

She is past chair of the Business-to-Business Council of the Direct Marketing Association and holds a BA from Hamilton College and an MBA from Columbia University.

Debaters: Alan Kaufman, Ed Martino, Larry Cohen, and David Teten

Team Old School: Alan Kaufman and Ed Martino

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman is a 38 year veteran of the Computer/Software/IT Industry. He was a founding member of the management team of Cheyenne Software, Inc., where as executive vice president of sales, he grew the business from $1 million in fiscal 1990 to over $200 million in 1997 to propel Cheyenne into the 13th largest software company in the industry. He has served as an officer in the Navy and holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University. He serves on the Board of Directors of NetIQ, a leader in server and security management, and is a Trustee of Outward Bound USA. Alan also serves on the Board of Directors of NYSIA and is its founding president.

Ed Martino, Director of Industry Business Solutions, Sprint Nextel
Ed Martino is currently the Director of Industry Business Solutions for the new Sprint Nextel Company. He has worldwide responsibility for the market penetration, solution development and overall growth in industry sectors for Financial, Insurance, Media and Professional Services, a $2b business area. Prior to this role, Ed was the Director, Northeast Corporate Sales for Nextel Communications. Other roles have included the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales reporting to the President for two companies both in the global systems integration business. Ed also served in various global management positions for the IBM Company for eighteen years.

Ed is a member of several boards including the NY Software Industry Association where he is the Vice Chairman.

Team New School: Larry Cohen and David Teten

Larry Cohen, EVP, Heartbeat Software
Larry Cohen is one of the most creative and inventive minds in the software business. He has that rare ability to listen to a business problem, quickly isolate the key issue, and translate that insight into a practical software solution.

From his early days in the industry, Mr. Cohen has demonstrated a remarkable instinct for identifying a new technology solution and putting it to work quickly. Shortly after graduating from UC Berkeley, he pioneered the use of Webcasting in the healthcare industry. Soon after, he received an NIH grant to conceive the first online adherence programs ever developed.

Larry was a driving force behind the first enterprise-class, web-based software products for Marketing Content Management (MCM) in the financial services industry. He devised a highly innovative technology and methodology for performing online competitive intelligence. And lately, he’s been fashioning a new form of CRM that integrates data-mining and web services.

Throughout his career, Larry has closely advised some of the world’s most prestigious organizations, including Amgen, Novartis, GSK, Goldman Sachs, UBS, and Intel.

David Teten, CEO, Nitron Advisors
David Teten is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Nitron Advisors, an independent research firm which provides hedge funds, venture capitalists, and other institutional investors with access to a network of frontline industry experts. He is also coauthor of The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online, the first business guide to how to use blogs, social network sites, and other online networks to accelerate your sales. He blogs on the Circle of Experts Brain Food Blog and at TheVirtualHandshake blog. David formerly worked with Bear Stearns’ Investment Banking division as a member of their technology/defense mergers and acquisitions team, and was a strategy consultant with Mars & Co. He holds a Harvard MBA and a Yale BA.


Larry Cohen, EVP, Heartbeat Software

David and I see 5 main differences between the ‘old school’ and the ‘new school’ of sales and marketing:

1. The new school sells highly focused products. The new school goes after underserved, highly niche markets (and submarkets) that do not have much competition or many me-too products. For example, Heartbeat Software does not sell CRM to pharmaceutical sales organizations. We sell a highly specialized CRM product to Medical Affairs Departments and their Medical Science Liaisons. Due to our specificity, we are able to work with the majority of pharmaceutical companies and offer them incredibly specific learning from their competitors. We aim to penetrate the majority of these markets (and have done so in pharmaceuticals). Similarly, Nitron Advisors focuses specifically on introducing their clients, hedge funds, VC funds, and law firms, to industry experts—and more specifically experts in transition.

The new school understands that we need to do a few things very well and that companies buy software because their competitors have bought software – period. One client told me that if no one has bought the software they would never buy it. If everyone has it — what’s the point? But if a few key competitors have purchased, they will quickly jump on board. Non-vertical specific back-up software, data storage, or cell phones are not specific enough to attract the new school.

2. The new school does not waste valuable marketing dollars on soft, non-focused, and unproven channels. The new school uses on-line and off-line tools that have a proven, measurable ROI by creating a direct, track able, one-to-one relationship with our customers. Among the major mechanisms for this:

+ highly targeted old school cold calling with a new school spin; selling a proven piece of software to a sub-market that is not being called on;

+ e-mail marketing to very specific titles and organizations where we have market share, with tracking provided by software provider;

+ Pay per Click search engine advertising (Google, etc.)

+ Pay per Call search engine advertising (Ingenio, etc.)

(Teten’s editorial note: Eloqua offers some useful marketing ROI tools.)

3. The new school focuses on smarts & network, not necessarily experience. Sales methodologies are interesting. They are also boring and notoriously difficult to get to stick or to actually change behavior. The new school understands that growing a stellar sales team is about hiring smart, energetic people who are great at sales. What makes a good salesperson? The new school knows that it is one thing: A person that keenly understands the part of themselves that other people relate to and who can leverage that part to get people to buy. We hire those people. No matter what experience, sales training, or existing client relationships they have. Google famously put a billboard up on the road from San Francisco to San Jose that had a complex mathematical problem on it. If you solved it, you gained access to a recruiting website. The new school knows that smarts goes a tremendously long way.

4. The new schools taps online networks, not only face-to-face networks. Consider that 84% of U.S. Internet users have used the Internet to contact or get information from an online group—more than have used the Internet to read news, search for health information, or even to buy something. More and more of us are using online networks, such as blogs, social network sites, virtual communities, and other “social software” as a daily part of our business life. All the major Internet players, including Yahoo!, Microsoft, AOL Time Warner, eBay, and Google, are already offering social software tools and planning more in the near future. Bill Gates, John Kerry, and other celebrities are among the over 2 million people currently registered on LinkedIn, a popular business networking site. Nitron Advisors uses these technologies both to target customers and to recruit new industry experts on our clients’ behalf.

5. The new school sells based on product quality, not just on who plays better golf. Many salespeople spend a tremendous amount of time and energy playing golf and drinking beers with customers. They believe that a personal “I like him” relationship is key to closing the sale. In the new world, that relationship is helpful, maybe even a prerequisite, but it doesn’t close the sale.

Neil Rackham, founder of sales consultancy Huthwaite, conducted a study of whether salespeople who built good relationships would really make more sales:

“We found that sellers who dealt successfully with small retail outlets in rural areas seemed to rely heavily on personal factors in their selling. . . . For example, the seller might ask, “How’s Ann enjoying her riding lessons?” . . . In rural areas, where the size of the sale was small, successful sellers used more of these personal references than did sellers who were less successful.”

“But it was a different story in the large urban stores, where the average sale was more than 5 times the size. We found no relationship between success and reference to personal issues[emphasis added].”

… “I’ve heard many other professional buyers complain about salespeople who try to open calls by cultivating areas of personal interest. The last thing a busy buyer wants is to tell the tenth seller of the day all about his last game of golf. . . . Many buyers become suspicious of people who begin by raising areas of personal interest.”

Source: Neil Rackham, Spin Selling (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1988), 140.)

Alan Kaufman

After Cheyenne sold, I retired. Soon after, I was approached by the VP of sales for NetIQ Corporation and asked where I found my stellar employees. The answer was that I trained them. Training is incredibly important. Every new situation I went into was different. I never took a cookie cutter approach to anything. A good sales/marketer carries a quiver full of arrows and can use each one for any new situation that arises.

Sherri Sklar, President, Sherri Sklar Strategies, LLC

As my first question, can you sell a complex software solution without meeting the client face to face?

Ed Martino, Director of Industry Business Solutions, Sprint Nextel

Yes, you can, but I wouldn’t advise it. If it’s complex, it needs lots of service. The biggest cost is in the service side and your goal is to build a bridge to the customer and use them as a referral to build business.

David Teten

Yes you can. does it all the time. That said, the more complex the product and particularly the after-sales support, the more helpful meeting in person can be.

To sell virtually, you first need credibility (your potential clients and competitors look you up online and evaluate the validity of your service) and second, effective relationship management.

Ed Martino

I disagree with David. Most of Salesforce’s sales are to corporate customers and their success depends on the time that they spend with their customers.

David Teten

But it is impossible for a company to meet with all their smaller customers.

Alan Kaufman

You must identify how complex a sale is and whether you need to go out there to meet face to face.

Ruth P. Stevens

To be competitive in getting the product to market, how should the marketing be structured? What is the best marketing approach?

Larry Cohen

At Heartbeat, customers pay for product development. Marketing should focus on specific departments in like companies. When we call someone who works in hedge fund marketing, and say we have a product designed just for him, we get a good response rate. It’s not spam if the person is interested in buying what you sell.

Alan Kaufman

Good marketing programs include people who are interested in talking to analysts to see how the customers are buying. I don’t believe in print advertising, especially if you are working with a small budget.

Bruce Bernstein

How should you go after your target market? How do you enable the sales to happen? How do you structure the sales team?

Ed Martino

It all depends on the size of companies. It always takes lots of research and phone calls, and knowledge of the competition. Draw 3 circles:

1. What business am I in?

2. What are the customers’ needs?

3. What does the company have to offer?

The little space where the circles overlap is what you develop and present to the CIO.

Larry Cohen

Small software companies are unable to pay to talk to analysts, so they must talk to businesses in the area for the problem they are going to solve. Refer to previous success that you’ve had at one or two other companies.

Ed Martino

I agree that if you don’t have a large enough budget, don’t talk to analysts. Talk to smaller CIOs from a niche group and then work your way up to the top.

Larry Cohen

I agree with Ed. We use that business model at Heartbeat Software.

Ruth P. Stevens

The marketing department must provide good leads for sales force. How would you suggest that you develop these leads?

Alan Kaufman

Having an inside telesales group that goes through incoming leads and cold calling is good. You also need to develop a good computerized process that is repeatable. Leads from the Internet need to be shown to the inside sales group as well.

David Teten

We get to the big dogs through networks. Each member of our sales team (and of our whole company) has a personal network that we can tap.

In addition, no surprise, we use online networks. We post intelligent comments on someone’s blog to make an entrée, and get into a target’s network in that manner.

Microsoft has approximately 1,200 bloggers out of 55,000 employees. There is no excuse to cold call Microsoft; just contact a blogger in your target area, and use their blog as a conversation starter.

Ruth P. Stevens

What incentives do you use for the sales team to follow up?

David Teten

Pay people a good commission. Develop a sense of ownership. Give options.

Larry Cohen

We have company wide minimums. If it’s a top 25 pharmaceutical company we go in person and talk to them

David Teten

In order to get leads, people should be thinking about how to talk to their particular network. This method is much easier than getting leads from a database company.

Bruce Bernstein

The old school is emphasizing structure and the new school is going with leads. We hate the people who contact people for business by my boarding school alumni directory. What do you think about David’s method?

Ed Martino

If you have a niche, then you don’t need to worry about making the phone call. If you’ve got value and you’ve done the research, then the other person may actually appreciate the call.

Bruce Bernstein

It might also be a generational thing. The youngsters don’t mind getting the networking call.

David Teten

The issue is how to get the most targeted individual. Email used to be an effective means, but today, email is broken. You can’t reach people easily via email due to spam filters and overuse of the email medium. If you can find the name of person in your sweet spot, call them. Even the shallowest referral is better than an cold call.

Sherri Sklar

What are the most important things that someone in marketing can do to create a buzz for their firm and their product?

David Teten

Get to opinion leaders. Get to bloggers. They are very powerful way to spread word of mouth. That’s a large reason why companies like Foldera have attracted over 1 million downloads—great coverage in influencer blogs like Techcrunch and Om Malik.

Lead events. Be a speaker and put yourself in a leadership position. You will reach far more people speaking at a conference, than you will handing out business cards before one. Reach 100 people, not 5.

Ed Martino

Blogs sound good. We want to look into them. Press releases are also good. Sometimes a trade show is a good idea, if you can find ways to bring customers too it. You will create a buzz just from saying that you are going to be at the show. Target is the key word. Marketing to promote your product in a targeted way is very important.

Larry Cohen

For selling to institutional investors, I lean more toward conferences on asset management trends, rather than trade shows, since marketing and business people will be speaking at them. Pay for your sales people to attend, and shake hands and create relationships. It’s cheaper to send 5 salespeople than to get one corporate sponsorship.

Alan Kaufman

The trade shows that you choose to attend must have your customers there. I like to allow our customer a chance to demo our products. If possible, get a small booth so people can at least see your company logo.

Ed Martino

It’s all about ROI. It can make the difference between a million in sales and 60-70 billion in sales. ROI is key. You must be selective and you must leverage the money that you put out to get a return.

Sherri Sklar

How do you grow a stellar sales team? Do you simple hire energetic, smart people, or is there much more?

Ed Martino

I am big on balance. People with fire in the belly are important, but what you really need is diversity because it enables different groups and people to bring in their abilities to the sales force. You want young people who are energetic and idealistic to bring in pep, and older people who can bring in learned skills to pass on. You also need people from the industry for which you are selling. The younger people will give you a lot of overtime. Motivation, however, is key. People need to feel empowerment and ownership.

Larry Cohen

We are a $10m company. Each person needs to meet their quota. We do, however, go after a wide range of people. The key is to find people who know what about themselves makes them successful. We interview a ton of people, but after they are hired, 99 percent of them stay.

Ruth P. Stevens

As sales managers, how do you optimize profits to your firm when the sales team is always trying to give away a deal?

Alan Kaufman

I think it is sloppy to sell on price. You can always cut a deal if you have to. If they cut a deal too much, the loss should come out of the salespersons percentage.

Larry Cohen

We need to train people to stay by their product.

David Teten

Another idea is to pay your sales team a commission on margin instead of based on revenue. This margin info should be shared with your team, but it often isn’t. We show all our new employees our full business plan on their first day of work, because we want them to understand the big picture.

Ed Martino

In smaller companies, I would drop price to get marketing traction. If the customer will eventually become a testimonial, then it’s good. You need to take risk. Larger businesses need to have focus. They need to pick customers. At the end of the day, you want sustainability. In smaller companies, salespeople don’t see the sales price, and that’s why they try to give it away for lower.

Sherri Sklar

If someone says that he is interested in your software if you can prove to them that it is buy worthy, do you fly someone out? How do you approach the relationship?

Larry Cohen

Because products are focused, we phone and then fly to meet with them. I’ve learned that we are more likely to make the sale if we stick to the price, because if we slide, then they may question the value of the product more and more.

Alan Kaufman

In today’s world, regions are a lot larger so you have to be careful about support. How would you support your product in South Africa? This scenario requires discipline in the sales force. They should know not to go after crazy leads. If it’s a one-time, you might want to walk away, but if it’s American Airlines in Texas, you have a lot of chances to make other sales.

Sherri Sklar

What technologies can you use if you don’t know what the return will be, you don’t want to lose it the sale, but you also don’t want to send expensive resources out?

David Teten

Use all the media: IM, email, webconferencing, phone, in-person meetings. This allows for a steady progression of relationship closeness. Professor Caroline Haythornthwaite has done some very interesting research in this area showing that the more media channels you use, the higher the trust levels that develop between two parties.


Scott Lichtman

How do you feel about PowerPoint and its role in sales pitches?

David Teten

People buy from people, not from paper. The more talking I do, the less selling I do. Communicate value and use a slide show for support. You want the attention focused on the company and the project, not the PC.

Ed Martino

I am seeing that the PowerPoint is here to stay. Today, it is more animated and you are trying to stay way from stale slides. There is more animation and stuff over the net. Webinars etc. are a great way to get your story in front of a lot of people.

David Teten

Humans are wired to be interactive. PowerPoints are passive, and your potential customers will learn less and buy less when they are passive. You need to keep them active if you want to keep them interested.

Bruce Bernstein

What method was used before PowerPoint?

Alan Kaufman

We used flip charts and then foils. I love listening to good speakers. A major problem today is that people don’t speak to the audience. Also, never read from your charts. If you read to your audience, you will lose them. Using a wipe-board works for developing an idea in front of a crowd. Using a PowerPoint can be a disservice.

Audience Member

In your experience, what best motivates a sales force?

Ed Martino

Incentives work if they are fun. Recognition of achievement is also important. Build a plan at the beginning of each year. Each person should know what the accelerator and multiplier is. If they blow the doors off, they will know what the cap is.

Alan Kaufman

Salesmen have fragile egos, and when they are in a losing streak, it gets to them. Give recognition to the people who perform the best. This has the incredible effect of reinforcing their positive performance.

Audience member

The three most important things for generating leads are current clients, (stealing from) competition, and referrals.

Larry Cohen

I find that if they have a rolodex, it may be all that they have to offer. That’s why we don’t go with them. At some point the rolodex runs out.

Alan Kaufman

There is nothing wrong with a portfolio, especially when you are trying to capture a vertical.

Larry Cohen

We put out our own PR, and when we come out with a new product, we send out targeted emails.

Bruce Bernstein

Earlier in evening, David Teten mentioned that email was broken. Ed Martino said that there is no place for instant messaging in corporate America. Please expand.

Ed Martino

Instant messaging is internal. Email should only be used because everything needs to be logged. Instant messaging isn’t on the radar screen, and it can’t be logged or archived.

David Teten

As the young grow up, instant messaging will become an increasingly important medium. There are plenty of companies which sell archiveable IM and email solutions. IM is being used regularly across corporate boundaries—we use it with our clients.

Bruce Bernstein

Are there fundamental differences in advertising that that came out during this discussion?

David Teten

1) There is a movement in spending from advertising in mass media to PR. We are so deluged with advertising that it has lost efficacy. However, people do read the actual content in the magazine around which the advertising is wrapped. A good PR firm can get you in there as content. We get sales leads every few weeks from a Businessweek article about us from last year.

2) Secondarily, there also exists a movement to advertising where you can calculate an ROI. We’re moving from pay per click, to pay per action or pay per call. Compare that with throwing a million dollars at the Superbowl and seeing what happens.

Ed Martino

I have to disagree because my company (Sprint) sponsored the Superbowl! It depends on the industry. If you are in a big industry you have to make a statement, so you have to go with pro golf, the Super bowl etc. If you do not advertise with it, people ask why you aren’t in it. Such mass advertising is important.

Alan Kaufman

No one can afford TV. PR means hiring an agency. It’s best if you can get someone to develop relationships with the editors of blogs. You have to stay on top of people who can influence the influencers


Ed Martino

There is more in common between the old school and the new school, because it is an evolution from one to the other. Sales and marketing is fun and the interrelationship and interdependence between that and finance is important. Ethics is also very important. Ethics is everything. You need to have respect for your customers and your competition. We need to be ethical about how we do our business.

David Teten

We’re in the advice/education business. Ironically, there is a lot of advice out there in the world, but most people don’t absorb it and don’t follow it. They listen but don’t learn.

I encourage people to internalize the ideas that we’ve discussed here. I hope that people learned something that they can take home and incorporate into their sales and marketing strategies.

And as last words: A.B.C.—Always Be Closing.

Social Implications of Social Software


In this blog, we typically write about the practical use of social software. This month, I’d like to step back and look at the broader cultural implications of social software. Also, the points below are a draft of the speech I’ll be delivering Friday at the Virtual Handshake conference. (We hope to see you there!)

We define social software in The Virtual Handshake as ‘Web sites and software tools which allow you to discover, extend, manage, enable communication in, and/or leverage your social network.’ We include blogs, social network sites, virtual communities, relationship capital management software, contact management software, instant messaging, and other online business networks. More succinctly, Clay Shirky defines social software as ‘stuff worth spamming.’ The reason it’s worth spamming is that social software is where people live.

Social software is a subset of the broader set of technologies often called "Web 2.0". Traditionally, the Web (1.0) was simple HTML pages. Web 2.0 is a read AND a write medium. Because Internet literacy is now so widespread; because so many people have become comfortable with virtual interactions; and because of the penetration of broadband, the Web has become a social medium. Web 2.0 applications take advantage of that evolution. Quoting danah boyd, "The advances of social software are neither cleanly social nor technological, but a product of both."

We see 10 major cultural implications of the growth in popularity of social software, or more loosely, the fact that more and more of your social interactions are moving online.

I. Implications for Individuals

+ Basic computer skills really matter…and fortunately the next generation is much more technologically skilled than the current generation. It is harder and harder for blue-collar professionals, let alone white-collar professionals, to do their job without basic computer literacy. Think how often people of all socioeconomic backgrounds email one another, participate in web-based training, or apply for a job via an internet portal. Just to get a job in the first place, you need to know how to type and how to learn new software programs reasonably rapidly. The good news: given that 33 percent of online teens share content (artwork, photos, stories and videos) on the Internet, the next generation will have an even higher comfort level with this technology than the current generation working in corporate America. Scott Lichtman pointed out that at least daily access to a networked device – a computer or cell phone with email – is important for full functioning in the modern workplace. The interactive nature of social software means that fast responsiveness is important.

+ Communication skills really matter…but they’re not improving as fast as we would like. Half of all companies take writing into account when making promotion decisions. A poorly-thought-through email (or blog post) can get you fired. And yet, one third of employees in the nation’s blue-chip companies write poorly, and businesses are spending as much as $3.1 billion annually on remedial training. Approximately 1/5 of Americans are functionally illiterate. The job options for people who cannot communicate in writing shrink every day. If our education system does not address this problem, the disenfranchised will become even more disenfranchised. These days, less-than-perfect grammar has (unfortunately) become more acceptable in writing an email, blog or IM. What has become more important is getting an idea across succinctly and compellingly. This requires better training in critical thinking and understanding other people�s viewpoints.

+ Your professional competence will be more and more visible. As a result, the successful will get more successful, and the unsuccessful will have fewer second chances. Potential clients and recruiters are finding it easier to evaluate your visibility and knowledge in your industry, by reviewing your blog or using a biography analysis tool like ZoomInfo. 10% of all online searches are for proper names. David Teten’s securities research firm, Nitron Circle of Experts, benefit from this trend by developing processes to access quickly the virtual profiles of thousands of independent industry experts.

+ Your personal life will also be more and more visible. Potential employers and business partners will correlate your name with photos, perhaps even using technologies like Riya to identify you in photos that someone else took. This is excellent motivation to be careful as to what activities you engage in. If you want to be a club leader of the local branch of the Flat Earth Society, go ahead, but be aware that you may not be hired for a job some day because someone thinks you’re foolish for participating in the Society.

+ People will become more effective and more thoughtful in building their personal networks. Job applicants are already showing off the number of people they’re linked to on LinkedIn, and whom they’re linked to. ("Hire me and I’ll get you in the door at ______.") Who do you link to on your blog? Which people does Visible Path show that you have emailed? The answers impact your professional success. There exists an ongoing, cursory debate about the productivity of online social networks: is it easy to reach new business prospects and partners through multiple degrees of relationship-connections? What does seem to happen is that those people who practice building and strengthening relationships gain momentum and increasing benefits over time. That is, social networking technology is serving as just a tool towards the more sophisticated art of building personal relationships.

II. Implications for Businesses

+ Businesses can’t control the dialogue, but business will attempt to "own the frame", to quote Lee Bryant. Although businesses cannot control what consumers say about their products, at the very least they can make the conversation more visible. For example, you can seed Technorati and tags with some tags for your products, and hope that other people will tag their output similarly. Yo
u can review the entries for your products and services on Wikipedia for accuracy. And you can blog to make sure that your point of view is represented in the blogosphere.

+ The Pro-Am Revolution: more amateurs are pursuing their part-time activities to a very high, even professional standard. One of the multiple factors driving this widely-discussed trend is the ease of connecting with and learning from other serious amateurs online, creating a community of serious amateurs. Companies will learn to leverage their employees’ part-time activities. For example, if your employee is active in the local school board, perhaps she can have more influence to get the zoning changed for your new factory. Also, companies such as Nitron Advisors leverage businesspeoples’ interest in moonlighting.

+ The prosumer is always right. Inferior products are much more visible, and consumers are proactive about publicizing that fact, now that personal publishing has become so easy. For example, some bloggers recently publicized how Kryptonite locks could be opened with a bic pen, and lockpicker Barry Wels showed how you can open a Kensington laptop lock with a toilet paper tube. Kryptonite lost an enormous amount of money because they made the mistake of shipping an inferior product.

+ Companies will ship more often and fix more often. Have you ever wondered why the great majority of Google’s services are still in "beta"? One of the major reasons is that Google has found that they benefit by gathering reams of free online user feedback and incorporating it into their services before they go live with a finished product. They use the online network of the entire Google user community as their extended Quality Assurance team. Customers have been able to provide direct feedback to a vendor for years. Now, what is changing is that customers will form opinions and share them with other customers whether a company wants that or not. A business therefore needs to create a culture, and set expectations with customers, that it will deliver something compelling and improve it based on customer input of all kinds.

+ More and more value will rest in the long tail, defined loosely by Jason Foster as "the realization that the sum of many small markets is worth as much, if not more, than a few large markets." Businesses will figure out ways to make money by providing access to content in the long tail (e.g., Amazon), or by helping people to generate content in the long tail (e.g., Blogger). Chris Anderson has a book coming out about this topic in 2006. These businesses will provide the foundation for customized content and allow the many niche participants to do the actual content creation and word-of-mouth promotion. More and more people are producing content for the long tail and finding relevant content in the long tail by using social software.

These trends open the door for a wide range of new business opportunities. The emergence of the mobile telephone as a standard communication tool has significantly impacted our society (e.g., greater independence for teenagers) and that in turn has opened the door for a wide range of new businesses (e.g., the multi-billion dollar ringtone market). We look forward to seeing what social software does to us all!

(Photo: )

Mastermind Group Operating Manual

This is the draft operating Manual for “Junto 2.0”, a MasterMind group based in the New York tri-state area. To learn what a Mastermind group is and how it works, continue reading…

Junto 2.0
DRAFT MasterMind Group Operating Manual
by David Teten and Kaushal B. Majmudar

Outline of Manual

I. Introduction
II. Objectives
III. Benefits
IV. How Does It Work?
V. Requirements for Entry
VI. Process for Joining
VII. Meeting Rules
VIII. Suggested Meeting Structure (Subject to Modification)
IX. Sample Meeting Topics
X. How to Exit
XI. Appendix 1: Ben Franklin’s Junto Society
XII. Appendix 2: Thoughts on cooperation from George Lucas
XIII. About the Authors

I. Introduction

This is the draft operating Manual for “Junto 2.0”, a MasterMind group based in the New York tri-state area. David Teten and Kaushal B. Majmudar have been working together to create this new group.

Jo Condrill’s definition of a Mastermind group: “A master-mind group consists of [a small team of] people who work together in absolute harmony to achieve diverse goals. While these people work in harmony, they may be very different from each other. The common element is that each draws something from the others, and each contributes freely to the group. It is the focusing of each mind on a common issue that triggers thoughts not readily available to one mind. Those in the group draw upon their unique experiences and specialized knowledge to help each other. When many minds concentrate on a single point, the activity generates a power over and above the sum total of each of the individual minds. It is as though an invisible force joins the group and provides additional insight. Personally, I have used the master-mind concept with amazing results — first to advance my career and later to lead a group of volunteers to achieve remarkable results, ranking number one in a worldwide organization, Toastmasters International.” (source) Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, is widely credited with popularizing the concept. For more background, see also this summary from the “NYC Junto”: .

Our motivations in creating this group: primarily, to accelerate our success and personal efficacy in achieving our goals. Anthony Robbins once remarked that only about 5% of his audiences actually acts to implement and benefit from any of his teachings on how to achieve personal and professional success. Many books on success emphasize the value of creating a mastermind group (perhaps using some variant of the term). We decided to actually implement the idea that so many experts recommend. We were also motivated by some bloggers who also are active in Mastermind groups, including the prolific Steve Rubel.

We are posting this manual on the Web in an attempt to gather constructive feedback and share the results of our brainstorming and collaboration with other likeminded individuals elsewhere in the world. Everything herein is a work in process, and is thereby subject to discussion and modification as we receive feedback and as other members of the group provide input or suggestions.

II. Objectives

A. “Create access to advice, counsel, and personal cooperation of a group of people who are willing to lend each other wholehearted aid in a spirit of perfect harmony” (source: Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill)
B. Share best practices and resources
C. Work on self-awareness and self-improvement
D. Create synergies and new possibilities: “No two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third invisible intangible force which may be likened to a third mind” (source)

III. Benefits

A. Accelerate your personal and professional progress
B. An instant and valuable support community of peers and friends
C. Give back to your peers and to society

IV. How Does It Work?

A. Monthly meeting to be held for 2 to 2.5 hours, typically over lunch or dinner
B. Absolute maximum of 10 members
C. Rotate facilitation — each month has a new leader/note-taker for accountability
D. Occasional special training and learning sessions (possibly with invited speakers)
E. Group will meet in a mutually convenient place (can alternate geographically if to makes sense to do so)
F. Diversity of group is important. Strongly prefer representatives from diversity of occupations: entrepreneur, investment banker/asset manager, policy, legal, media, operating executive at large company, physician, politician, academic. We also strongly prefer diversity across race, religion, etc.
G. Use confidential Yahoo! Group for online communication
H. Democratic Process: everything about the group is subject to scrutiny, discussion and modification by vote of majority of members in the group.

V. Requirements for Entry

A. Nominated by existing member.
B. Within driving or commuting distance of group meeting locations (in our case in the New York Tri-state area).
C. Has a compatible current level of career and professional achievements and aspirations. Some evidence of being a significant achiever in chosen field. Potential to be at the top of their chosen profession or business.
D. Thoughtful and analytical.
E. Has the desire and inspiration to make this year, decade, and life extraordinary. Has an “internal locus of control”: knows he/she is ultimately responsible for his/her own success. Ready to let their desire to be passionate about their life and work overcome their fear of change.
F. Is an active listener. Responds well to, and acts on, feedback. Open-minded.
G. Wants to win based on values; has a greater purpose. Cares about and wants to give back to their community and society
H. Realizes that cooperation is far more powerful than competition, i.e., people who are committed to helping others succeed. Has an abundance mentality. Understands and cares about what drives his/her partners’ businesses.
I. Ideally, not working in the same industry as any current member, and with a significantly different personal background than every other current member.
J. Enthusiastic about participating with intent to actively participate in the group and attend meetings in person (commits to provide advanced notice to other members in case absence is unavoidable in a given instance)

VI. Process for Joining

A. Nominated by existing member of the group
B. Submit resume and statement of personal goals (1, 5, and 20 years)
C. Interview and approval by all existing group members

VII. Meeting Rules

A. Better to give than to receive (but the law of reciprocity works – give that which you would like to get)
B. Try to emphasize solutions, encouragement and pointing out possibilities vs. focusing on problems, criticism, and pointing out hurdles
C. Share time, ideas, and best practices, but don’t dominate
D. Listen actively and intently with a desire to understand. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” (Source: Steven Covey)
E. Maintain confidentiality. No one outside the group (not even life partners/spouses) should have access to any information about what is discussed by other members of the group, particularly the personal information of individual members. It is OK to share best practices and ideas that you have learned with others.
F. No putting down, arguing with, or directly contradicting other speakers. All discussions should be conducted “without fondness for dispute or desire of victory.” “All expressions of positiveness of opinion or direct contradiction are prohibited.”(Source: Ben Franklin).
G. Mutual respect and supportive environment to be maintained at all times

VIII. Suggested Meeting Structure (Subject to Modification)

A. Brief (one to three minutes) check-in by each member. Start with the best/most positive thing to happen since last meeting.
B. Book report by one member – distribute 1-2 page summary of book and lead discussion (15 to 20 minutes)
C. Person I admire report by one member – distribute 1-2 page summary of person’s life and what can be learned from him/her (15 to 20 minutes)
D. Update and ask. Each person must state a goal they will have accomplished by the next month’s meeting and review how they did on last month’s goal. Members can also share issues/problems they are currently grappling with and ask for help/suggestions from the group to unlock strategies, resources, etc. that might be helpful in overcoming these obstacles. (5 minutes each)
E. Free discussion time – discuss one question or topic of the day (e.g. see questions below) (30 to 40 minutes)
F. Distribute notes/highlights from the meeting to those (rare members) not in attendance, but who are committed members of this group

IX. Sample Meeting Topics

A. What is the function by which we should measure our life’s actions? Proposed formula:

Maximize: (Power * Money * Health * Spiritual Growth * Community Impact * Family Strength * Friend Strength) / Age,

subject to constraints of: ethics, law, and resources

B. Accountability Sessions (potentially a recurring topic): Each person to ask and answer the following questions: What are my most cherished goals for this coming decade, year, and month? What concrete steps have I taken to realize these goals? What are the steps that I should take, but have not yet done so to advance in the direction of my goals? Why have I not taken these steps and when do I commit to start? – group participants to ask and HONESTLY answer these questions once in a while in front of the entire group to encourage each of them to realize and take corrective action, but in a more self empowering and positive way than if it were to come in the form of critique from others.
C. Play the Game, a success technology developed by Sarano Kelley.
D. Learning about Thinking Sessions/Thinking Partners (See book: Time to Think by Nancy Klein).

X. How to Exit

A. Member no longer wants to be a part of the group (voluntary exit).
B. Member fails to attend 2 meetings in a row without advance notice AND good cause.
C. Consistent failure to participate in or contribute to the group, as noted by one or more current members.
D. If there is a consensus among more than 66% of the members that you should not remain in the group for any reason.

XI. Appendix 1: Ben Franklin’s Junto Society

Source: Ben Franklin’s biography, by Walter Isaacson

“Ben Franklin was the consummate networker. He liked to mix his civic life with his social one, and he merrily leveraged both to further his business life. This approach was displayed when he formed a club of young workingmen in the fall of 1727, shortly after his return to Philadelphia that was commonly called the Leather Apron Club and officially dubbed The Junto. Franklin’s small club was composed of enterprising tradesmen and artisans, rather than the social elite who had their own fancier gentlemen’s clubs.

At first the members went to a local tavern for their Friday evening meetings, but soon they were able to rent a house of their own. There they discussed issues of the day, debated philosophical topics, devised schemes for self-improvement, and formed a network for the furtherance of their own careers. Franklin’s Junto initially had 12 young members. Besides being amiable club mates, the Junto members often proved helpful to one another personally and professionally.

The tone Franklin set for Junto meetings was earnest. Initiates were required to stand, lay their hand on their breast and answer properly four questions: 1.) Do you have disrespect for any current member? 2.) Do you love mankind in general regardless of religion or profession? (Editor: add race, for the modern context) 3.) Do you feel people should ever be punished because of their opinions? 4.) Do you love and pursue truth for its own sake?

The pursuit of topics through soft Socratic inquiry became the preferred style of Junto meetings. Discussions were to be conducted ‘without fondness for dispute or desire of victory.’ All expressions of positiveness of opinion or direct contradiction were prohibited under small pecuniary penalties. Though the youngest member, Franklin was by dint of his intellectual charisma and conversational charm not only its founder but driving force.

The topics discussed ranged from the scientific to the metaphysical. E.g. Did importing indentured servants make America more prosperous? What is wisdom? In addition to such topics of debate, In Franklin’s original Junto, the members used as a guide a series of 24 questions, such as:
1. Have you met with anything in the author you last read, remarkable or suitable to be communicated to the Junto, particularly in history, morality, poetry, physic, travels, mechanic arts, or other parts of knowledge?
2. What new story have you lately heard agreeable for telling in conversation?
3. Hath any citizen in your knowledge failed in his business lately, and what have you heard of the cause?
4. Have you lately heard of any citizen’s thriving well, and by what means?
5. Have you lately heard how any present rich man, here or elsewhere, got his estate?
6. Do you know of any fellow citizen who has lately done a worthy action deserving praise and imitation?
7. What unhappy effects of intemperance have you lately heard; of imprudence, of passion, or of any other folly or vice? What happy effects of temperance, of prudence, of moderation, or of any other virtue?
8. Do you think of anything at present in which the Junto may be serviceable to mankind?
9. Have you any weighty affairs in hand in which you think the advice of the Junto may be of service? In what manner can the Junto, or any of them, assist of in any of your honorable designs?
10. What is the most interesting or unusual thing you have read, seen, or heard about in the last month? What is the most potentially dangerous or harmful? The most beneficial? The most significant for the people here today?
11. What can we learn from world events today? Has there been any notable failure or success, financial, political, or otherwise, from which we can gain insight and understanding?
12. Can a man or woman arrive at perfection in this life? What is the proper balance between idealism and pragmatism in our existence? (Franklin’s own question)
13. How can we judge the goodness of art, music, drama or literature?
14. Is science compatible with religion? What is the appropriate role of religion in our lives, if any?
15. What is the most important political issue facing this country in the next five years?
16. Have you lately observed any defect in the laws of your country of which it would be proper to move the legislature for an amendment?
17. Has anybody attacked your reputation lately and what can the Junto do toward securing it?
18. Is there any man whose friendship you want and which the Junto or any of them can procure for you?
19. Whom do you respect most? Why?
20. In what manner can the Junto or any of them assist you in any of your honorable designs?”
Franklin was in turn influenced by Daniel Dafoe’s essay “Friendly Societies” and John Locke’s “Rules of a Society which Met Once A Week for the Improvement of Useful Knowledge”

XII. Appendix 2: Thoughts on cooperation from George Lucas

Source: interview at Academy of Achievement at, in response to the following question: “You mentioned the words “communal” and “connecting.” Your generation of the top film makers all seem to be friends. How did you band together in a field that is so competitive?”

George Lucas: “I think that’s the advantage that my generation has. When we were in film school and we were starting in the film business, the door was absolutely locked. There was a very, very high wall, and nobody got in.

All of us beggars and scroungers down at the front gate decided that if we didn’t band together, we wouldn’t survive. If one could make it, that one would help all the others make it. And we would continue to help each other. So we banded together. That’s how the cavemen figured it out. Any society starts that way.

Any society begins by realizing that together, by helping each other, you can survive better than if you fight each other and compete with each other.

Farming cultures started this way, and the first hunting cultures started this way. Everything started in city-states. We have a tendency to lose it when we forget that, as a group, we are stronger than we are as individuals. We start to think we want everything for ourselves and we don’t want to help anybody else. We want to succeed, but we don’t want anybody else to succeed, because we want to be the winner. Once you get that mentality — which is unfortunately the way a lot of the society operates — you lose. You can’t possibly win that way. Part of the reason my friends and I became successful is that we were always helping each other.

If I got a job, I would help somebody else get a job. If somebody got more successful than me, it was partly my success. My success wasn’t based on how I could push down everyone around me. My success was based on how much I could push everybody up. And eventually their success was the same way. And in the process they pushed me up, and I pushed them up, and we kept doing that, and we still do that.

Even though we all have, in essence, competing companies, if my friends succeed, then everybody succeeds. So that’s the key to it, to have everybody succeed, not to gloat over somebody else’s failure.

We continue to do that, and we do it with younger filmmakers. There’s no way of getting through any kind of endeavor without help from friends. And trying to be the number one person, ultimately, is a losing proposition. You need peers, you need people who are at the same level you are. You never know in life when you’re going to need help, and you never know who you’re going to need it from.

One of the basic motifs in fairy tales is that you find the poor and unfortunate along the side of the road, and when they beg for help, if you give it to them, you end up succeeding. If you don’t give it to them, you end up being turned into a frog or something. It’s a concept that’s been around for thousands of years. It is even more necessary today, when people are more into their own aggrandizement than they are in helping other people. I don’t think there’s anyone who’s become successful who doesn’t understand how important it is to be part of a larger community, to help other people in larger communities, to give back to the community.”

XIII. About the Authors

David Teten is CEO of Nitron Advisors, an independent research firm that provides institutional investors with access to frontline industry experts. He is coauthor of The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online, the first mass market book on online networks and social software. He runs resource site, co-writes a column for, and writes a personal blog, Brain Food. David holds a Harvard MBA and a Yale BA.

Kaushal Majmudar
, JD, CFA – Kaushal is President and Portfolio Manager of The Ridgewood Group, a value oriented money management firm based in Short Hills, NJ, that runs managed accounts and hedge fund investments for individuals and institutions. Kaushal was previously an investment banker at Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers. He is co-author of “Create the Business Breakthrough You Want: Secrets and Strategies from the World’s Greatest Mentors” and is working on his second book. Kaushal holds a JD with honors from Harvard Law School and a BS from Columbia University.