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three product suggestions to outfit yourself for “working remote”

Guest post from Darin, a Senior Millennial, well versed in the field of finding good places to work outside of his house in Southwest Minneapolis. Enter Darin:

A couple years ago I was faced with this challenge: how can I effectively work on the go outside of an office setting? 

For me, this challenge presented itself when I moved to a full time work-from-home position and I discovered the need to get out the house for sanity sake. However, as the work force adapts and changes to smaller, more nimble office environments, a growing number professionals are also faced with this challenge.

I ended up investing in a few gadgets to better enable myself to work from any environment; my backpack became my mobile office. And by the way, I am in no way afflicted with any of these products:

The “Big Three” for working remote:

  • Noise canceling headphones: Jabra Evolve 75 MS/UC Stereo – ~$290
    • Wireless, Bluetooth adaptor with dual connectivity
    • Mute/unmute when the mic is moved up and down – no more “sorry, I was on mute” excuses
    • 14 hour battery life, charge by USB
  • Laptop stand: Roost Laptop Stand  ~$75
    • Collapsible, lightweight, easy to carry
    • Adjustable height; use as a bar top standing or for sitting – this one is key for me as stand as much as 80% of the day (a topic for a different day)
  • Wireless keyboard and mouse:  Dell KM714 – ~$80
    • Full keyboard and number pad, yet fits fine into a backpack
    • Reliable wireless connectivity – other brands tend to cut in and out which is obviously frustrating

Outfitting myself with this gear enabled me to work from almost anywhere; airports, music-bumping coffee shops, the gym lobby, or the pavilion next to a windy lake.

What gear have you found improve remote work productively?

Darin’s “big three” components for working remote. All can fit easily into a backpack

Throwing Darts With One Eye Closed

A foot in the door

This February, I acquired a client by asking whether or not they had done any front end work on understanding their audience and developing specific customer journeys pertaining to specific buyer personas… They were paying an agency to do their digital marketing lead by one question: what industry are you in? “Finance,” responded my client. The agency then took that broad answer and applied a cookie-cutter display advertising strategy that returned no results for my now-client.

Why This question?

You can throw all the money you want at SEO, PPC, Facebook ads, etc but without really understanding to whom you need to be talking and how exactly to talk to them it is like throwing darts with one eye closed; you may hit the board but you’re most likely not hitting the bullseye you could be. In the age of digital, implementing a strategy based on a single aspect of that establishment (a broad business categorization- “Finance,” in this case) is a perfect setup for inefficient ad spend, inaccurate targeting, and ultimately poor conversion rates.

Client acquisition

Initial steps to acquire clients with this deep-digging, back to the building blocks approach include a free consultation (foot in the door) and securing a small retainer (subsidize investment in ourselves while we build the revenue-generating marketing assets that will soon prosper).

Once we have proven our value at a low cost, we come back and say “time to pay for what you’re getting”- the ROI is obvious and trust in our performance in established. Thus, a new client wrapped around our finger.

With your brand, are you faking it or applying tribal empathy?

People are so smart these days. Because we have been marketed to everywhere and aggressively, our bullshit detectors have switched from “stun” to “acute.”

Every post, Craigslist listing, email, or piece of mail is met with “is this on the square?”

Instead of being numb to the bullshit, we are acutely aware of the bullshit.

The good news is that authenticity wins. And now more than ever.

Trying to make a difference? Try this:

  1. Identify something that when you are doing it, you “hear the angels sing.” This is your Zone of Genius, Stephen Pressfield, The War of Art.
  2. Keep doing that thing.
  3. Build your tribe, people who also enjoy that thing. Maybe it’s 1,000 true fans.
  4. Listen to the angels and come up with something that adds value to your tribe.
  5. Bring that thing to the tribe.

Critical: Apply Tribal Empathy (vs. ethnographic SEO optimization)

Are you applying tribal empathy or just trying to monetize?

We can tell the difference.

Registering a Trademark

So, you need to register a trademark? Here’s a list of three basic ways to go about the process, along with our recommendation of the best way for a small business to handle trademarking.

Option A: DIY – uspto ‘TEAS’ portal

The US Patent and Trademark Office has all the necessary materials and tutorials to submit a filing by oneself.

  • Regardless of the final choice, this website will be the source of truth on legal guidelines).
  • This tool is the universal database against which we can search for similar trademarks. It is up to us to ensure all legal requirements are fulfilled before filling; If our application is turned in with any mistakes it could delay our approval.
  • This infographic gives a detailed rundown of the timelines and potential complications of the trademark approval process.
  • According to USPTO’s Fee Schedule, the fee for the initial electronic filing filing is a minimum of $225. This fee will apply in addition to the service fees of the following filing options.

Option B: Hire a lawyer – trademark attorney

As the trademark registration process involves numerous headache-inducing legal checkboxes, the USPTO recommends an experiences trademark attorney to help ensure your filing is done correctly to ensure the quickest approval time.

  • UPTO’s resource for finding a private attorney presents a couple money-saving options. University of St. Thomas’s Law School has a clinical program for trademark filings at a reduced rate. This could be an option but we would have to contact them and discuss the specific needs to see if we qualify for their services because USPTO says each school has different guidelines.
  • Upcounsel puts the average cost of a private attorney trademark filing at “around $1,000-$2,000 for the general trademark process, but disputes could cost the client an additional $300-$400/hour.”

OPTION C: Online Service – Legal Zoom, Trademark Engine

  • Legal Zoom, the most credible source for this kind of online service, starts at $199 for a basic filing (plus the federal fee).
  • Trademark Engine charges $69 for a basic filing (plus the federal fee).

Recommendation

This process is incredibly complex; while I love the challenge, this is too daunting of a process to risk making a mistake and having to endure an even more drawn out process.

If this were the next as seen on TV product and we were on the verge of being millionaires I’d say definitely go for a private attorney, but Legal Zoom or Trademark Engine cross the t’s and dot the i’s just fine for our needs.

The next step is to decide if you want to have the extra security of St. Thomas, which may cost more, or if you’d like me to go ahead and begin with an online service.

youtube: a great free seo tool

Glenn: I only use YouTube as a place to upload my videos such that I can then get an imbed code to then put them in my website(s).  It’s a “social channel” that I’m not really using in any other capacity.  And I’ve seen other YouTube’s with a bunch of out of hand stupid user comments so I just figured that it’s a channel best to leave alone.

Cody: Easy fix: we can turn comments off. Youtube, and video as a whole, are incredibly important for SEO. Not only does Google rank web pages with videos higher, but Youtube is owned by Google so linking between the website and youtube gives us credibility. I’ll come back at you with this: Youtube is a channel best utilized to the max! Besides being a good channel, it’s essentially a free video hosting tool for us (which is basically the way you are using it now).

Don’t Be Afraid to Want to Make Money

The goal is to advance this business relationship through monetization. In order to rationalize initial digital marketing activities for budget-restricted businesses, the ultimate goal must deal with the return it will bring. Impressions and click-through rates are great, but when assessing actual value and ROI, the sales numbers are what matter. Sure, 3,000 new Facebook likes sounds great; but, acquiring 3,000 Facebook likes that leads to a 5% increase in sales is great.

Mixing the communication cocktail for effective results

Whether we are faced with asking a professor for an extension on a paper, pitching a liquor company to license a drinking glasses made entirely out of ice, or reviewing an email blast before we hit send, it is important to be sensitive to the communication options at our disposal. Let’s consider the rainbow of options for communication:

  1. Eyeball to eyeball
  2. Phone call
  3. Text (including Messenger)
  4. Email
  5. Letter
  6. Telepathy
  7. Other (not yet discovered or defined).

There is no perfect method, but we want to be cognizant and critical of when and how we communicate. No matter where we are or what stage in our lives, whether we are in college, working in the marketplace, or having coffee with our spouse or loved one, we constantly are learning how to mix our communication.

Some ideas include:

Email: A great tool when there is a call to action. Good chance that the receiver of the email will be at their desk, on their computer, and able to respond with more thought and organization. Lots of people hide behind email. They hit send and falsely believe that the task is complete. Careful with that.

Letter: Most underutilized. Consider getting out a pen and paper and write someone a letter, right now. Think it’ll have an impact? Try it!

Text: when there is a need for quick, collaborative communication.

Eyeball to eyeball: crucial, but takes logistics at worst, and spontaneity, at best.

Phone: Great for catching up and ideating*, or when wires need a bit of untangling. Younger people entering the work force have been criticized for being afraid to talk on the phone. Don’t be one of those. Get a voicemail? Keep it short. Ask for one thing. “Hi Sara, i’m calling about the three fabric options. Can you give me a quick call ?” Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone!

Telepathy. The ultimate. Some business partners have it. Some family members have it. When you find it, don’t overuse it, and hold it dearly. Cherish it.

Sales professionals, generally, have become good at mixing the communication cocktail. Just like bears know where and when to get in the water to grab for salmon, sales professionals have learned how to customize their communication methods to fish how and when the fish are running. It takes practice. It takes patience. Ask any bear.

BONUS: By mixing the communication cocktail, sales people can tune the “peacock effect.” Mixing a finely tuned recipe of 1-7 above allows salespeople to work effectively, without being a pain in the ass (over communicating) and without appearing vacant (“what’s my reps. name again?”).

Is eyeball to eyeball the alcohol in the drink? Is email the ice? Each communication method has its importance to make a great communication cocktail.

it’s up to you to mix your own communication cocktail. It’s a life long learning lesson with great rewards.

*ideating. best to use this word sparingly. Much like optimize, robust, disruption.

Is it time to start a two person media production team?

In this age where activated events are so easily reported on social media, there is an increasing need for companies big and small to be able to share really good content with their fans, followers, and prospects.  Rolling Thunder Review is looking to help a small team (two people to start) build their own media production company.  

We have instant work available.

We don’t want to hire an existing media company to capture our activations.  Why?

  1.  Many of our projects are just getting off the ground (ie, we are bootstrapping).
  2.  We love supporting college students (resume building, career building).
  3.  We believe (and have been proven) that college students are often more creative and capable than they may realize.
  4.  This is potentially a lot of fun.

So, here’s what we need.  TODAY.

  1.  Someone with really good video skills.  And this person has some decent equipment.
  2.  Someone with really good video editing skills.  Editing, compiling, capturing a story.  Extracting still shots from video, etc.
  3.  Their enthusiasm to work closely together, possibly starting their own media production company. 
  4.  A cool company name, logo, and mission statement (we will help you with this).

These two people will produce awesome content, and present it to our marketing team as well as our product innovators and brand developers.

College student with access to good equipment, capturing events for Rolling Thunder projects
College student editing content captured from activation events, ready to present to Rolling Thunder clients.
A little editing by a budding college student can go a long way towards producing a compelling 30 second shareable video via many media channels and outlets in the marketplace (without using terms like robust or optimize or disrupt).

Steve Case’s The Third Wave makes a case for the power of 3

There’s something powerful about the number 3.

Reading Steve Case’s (AOL) The third Wave, I’m struck by how clearly we can explain things and connect things by 3. In the case of this book, Case is able to break down the evolution of the Internet as three phases:
1. Building the Internet
2. Connecting to the Internet
3. The Internet of Things.

Case gives credit to his thesis with a clear acknowledgment of Alvin Toffler’s book (of the same title!). Written in 19 , Toffler clearly outlines and accurately predicts human kinds technological revolutions as:

Agricultural age

Industrial age

Information age.

You don’t have to read either of these two books to get a grasp and understanding of what each are trying to explain. Yet, as you plow through each of these books, you can’t help but stay on track and, if not agree, completely understand their arguments. Each of the three relate to the other two. Each one is a clear, chronological set up to the next. Each one is clearly explained and supported.

Where we’ve been.

Where we are.

Where we are going.

Thinking in 3’s is a great way to encapsulate and grasp what may otherwise be something confusing and hard to grasp.

Father
Son
Holy Ghost.

Mind
Body
Spirit.

It’s great to collaborate with three people. There is always a consensus. Two can work together while the third goes off and tackles a new challenge. Three founders can outnumber two VC’s in a conference room..

3 sauna rounds are a preference shared by myself and countless guests to my saunas, as well as what I later learned to be common in Finland and also as with the centuries old Mayan Temescal tradition.

Three is not absolute. Marriages, except maybe in San Francisco, don’t work with 3. Same, currently, with internet protocols, which are based on switches of “1.s and 0’s.” But what about a new internet protocol, instead of “1’s and o’s” could we make more powerful microprocessors with switches of “1’s and 0s and 2’s?” Why not?