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Welcome to ProcessImprovement.Me.  Each week we will post between one and three blog posts on change, how to improve at something in life or business, or learning something new.  Please join us and participate in the comments.  We would really like to hear your thoughts.  You cannot post a comment on the home page (just the way they set up the site.) All the other pages do afford the ability to post comments. We recommend you use the Blog Page for this.

Please join us, have fun, and interact with others in the same kindness that you would like others to interact with you.

Understanding Needs

You can care a lot and really want to help others.  Yet, until you understand their wants and needs, you will not be successful at that task.  You will know that the others are frustrated, and you will want to help.  Unfortunately, the right actions will only be understood by exploring the question of why.

People are a little strange sometimes. You can build something easy to use, foolproof and unbreakable, and even free. If people believe that what you created is not addressing their main concerns, they will not use your new Marvel.

You must get out and talk to people. And you have to listen to people. Words, emotion, body language, and inflection are all things which tell you what you need to know. This takes some time to ferret out. Sometimes everyone tends to talk in circles.

The other thing to look at is whatever you build needs to be an obvious answer to the desires of others. The better it appears to them the first time they see it, the better the chance you have of making a hit with your product. The hula hoop, Ford Thunderbird and the iPad, are all easy to use, make you look good, and are all manufactured to help you get the task done. Priced to sell as what they are, not free yet worthy of the purchase.

If you were starting to get the idea that this might be a little bit of work, you’re right. Yet, a little bit of work never really hurt anyone. And it’s better to do that little bit of work now, rather than putting a lot of time and money into something just to find out you got it wrong. Research is more than only time consuming, it’s the action which puts you on the right track to building the right product.

How easy is it to find out? It’s as easy as going out for coffee, take a friend with you and talk to them about it. Maybe ask them a question or two. You can’t stop with just one, or else you could’ve just listened to yourself. So plan to take some friends out over maybe a couple of weeks. If you have a bulletin board at a Co-working place where you can ask a couple of questions and have people send their thoughts to your email address, that could also be a start. You could even compose a survey and send it out to those you know or friends of friends, and ask a few questions. There are many ways to do this. I find that the best approach is to be with the person when they answer the question because then you get to see the emotion, the body language, and hear the inflections.

Of course, again, this is one man’s opinion.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Helping Others Succeed

One thing I see entrepreneurs are doing is striving to help others succeed. I’ve noticed this from people who work in software, airlines, work to put people into space, build clean-burning stoves for impoverished areas of the world, and in many other endeavors. These people have done very well in each of their own careers, and they never forget nor stop looking for ways that they can help others. They know that helping even the most destitute and most humble people around the world helps us all.

When someone who does well turns and helps others to take a step up the ladder, all of humanity is positively affected. I remember reading that we can climb the ladder of success to a certain height, depending on the lowest rung that a person stands on. For us to go higher, everyone must move up the ladder.

It seems like when somebody hoards their fortune, they seal their own fate. For they have walled themselves off from the rest of humanity. The money earned ends up doing no one any benefit, not even the person who made it. The walled-up money just turns the owners to paranoia and fear of others. There is no benefit for anyone involved.

We really don’t do well by only helping ourselves. We do well by helping those around us. Those who need something and are unable to figure out or do for themselves. Those who would work hard and do well if the proper tools, knowledge, and encouragement were available. This work is done not by those looking for a handout, it is the work that is done by those who are given a hand up.  A handout keeps everything and everyone in the place where they are. A hand-up allows us all to grow.

Here are three ways you can help. When you’re on the street, and you see somebody who looks like they’re just having a terrible day, just smile and give them a nod as you pass them and maybe say something kind, even as it’s just good day. Maybe when someone is down, you provide them with a couple words of encouragement. And maybe, on occasion, you step into a local mission either to help out on the soup line or just talk with the people there. The neat thing about a helping hand is that it may take little time and no money.

What is one of the most essential items that missions tend to need? Your used plastic grocery bags. Those in need turn the bags into solutions for a multitude of uses.  If you are just throwing them away, check with a local charity helping the homeless to see if they could use the bags.

Helping others succeed and get on their feet is something we can all do.  We do not have to be rich, or really well off.  And, we do not want to just give a handout.  Yet, if we take a look at the real needs, we can usually do something that will provide a real hand up.

Thank you for being with me today.  I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Just for You

Have you ever noticed how people will offer or sell you something that has been made ‘Just for you?’ You could have a car ‘just for you.’ You can have a house ‘just for you.’ Anything you think of someone will have an off-the-shelf item that they will sell, and it was designed ‘just for you.’

It’s noteworthy that people will build something just for you. Yet I am a little bit of a skeptic. Do they know you? Did they call up and talk to you? Did you tell them what your real desires are? How do they know that whatever it is they’re selling is just what you want?  Fair questions.

I do not mean to malign people who say this. I just want to know how they do it. Most companies start off with focus groups, usually set up by their marketing folks. They find out what the majority of people would like, and they start their engineering and design based on what those focus groups have told them.

As the design goes forward, and concepts are designed, based on what the focus groups told the marketers, the financial folks step in. Did you ever notice that the cars at the dealerships never quite look like the concept vehicles shown at the car shows? The answer to that is not hard to figure. Consider the cost of the concept car and the cost of the car at the dealership. Now, which one are people really going to purchase? That’s because the financial folks know that corners need to be cut to make the item for sale affordable to those they want to sell it to.

Does this mean that you cannot really get what you want at an affordable price? No, because you can. You need to buy from someone willing to listen to your needs and desires. And the person who listens to you needs to be prepared to add new ideas and abilities to their creation. And, they need to know that every time they design or build something new or different, it adds a service or value to their product. The manufacturer can use the added item in other situations if desired by others.

Those who are willing to build to the needs and desires of the individual need to look towards fulfilling the needs of those with a wish. That means their business is built on understanding and interaction with others. In a business like this, you have to be willing to start slow and work at helping others, laying a firm foundation to grow on. You will not start out selling a thousand of whatever you build a day, yet did you really have 1,000 customers wanting to buy right now to start with?

Actually, if you’re willing to listen and ready to build, you can probably give people what they desire and grow a thriving business. Don’t take my word for it, ask Rolls-Royce.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again soon.

Team Is A Four-Letter Word

In this day and age, we learn to be polite. We should be kind to others. And we need to Be careful not to offend. I believe in being kind and understanding of everyone. We Are taught to be cautious in using four-letter words. Yet today I would like to speak up on the pros of those 4 letter words.

Help is a four-letter word.  I believe I am not letting any secrets out of the bag when I tell you I am a guy.  A ‘male’ if you will. And, as a male, I can tell you that guys don’t ask for help unless they have tried absolutely everything else. On occasion, you may see one of us reach for the instruction pamphlet, yet that would only happen through frustration and delirium. We believe, as a male, that we were born knowing what to do, where to go, how to get there, and everything else that we are needed to do. We think we don’t need a four-letter word like ‘help.’

Lucky for us males, there is another four-letter word. Lady. A lady reads the instructions, follows a recipe, looks up the route to be taken, either on a map or MapQuest. The lady, unlike the male, takes the time to read and understand.

It sounds as though the male and the lady are very different and totally incompatible. Yet, when they work together, they form a fantastic four-letter word. Team. And when a ‘team’ works together, it can be unstoppable.

A team can back each other up. Each member of the team brings knowledge, ability to research, collaboration, and multiplies each of our senses, providing an ability to help focus on what is needed at the moment. There is strength in the team that is not present in the individual. And, a team can better stand the floods of negativism as they work together.

So far, we have help, male, lady, and team. Four great four-letter words. There are many other four-letter words that we need to consider. Each word carries a thought that guides us to something we need. Four-letter words number in the thousands and I cannot tell you all of them on this blog. I can give you a few, though. Some of the best four-letter words might be words like care, love, feel, like, able, best, calm and fair, just to name a few.

Please let me know what your favorite four letter word is. I would be glad to share everybody’s four-letter word on the blog.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again soon.

Can I Help You

I wish I could do more for more people. The truth of the matter is I can’t do anything for anyone, they have to do it for themselves. I can work with people and guide them. I can ask the tough questions that only those seeking for themselves can answer. And, I can hold them as accountable as they wish to be.

I can, though, and am willing to jump in the hole someone may have figuratively fallen into. Others may feel that I’m crazy jumping into a hole when someone else cannot find their way out. Yet, I’m okay with it. I’ve been there before, and I know the way out.

What I can do is help people learn new tools and new abilities to help them as they move forward through life and explore the future. I would mention something about boldly going, however, between concerns over plagiarism and split infinitives I have decided to take a considerably safer route. I am here to help you with the specific concerns you are looking to fix and do better with.

I have books on Amazon right now teaching how to research and make a map to guide you to your future. This is important because I have many friends who worked hard, went to school, striving for something they truly wanted. When they got to their destination and started working, they realized that even though they had gain success, they did not enjoy the job and really did not want to be there. Some ended up not using their advanced degrees, taking trade jobs that they enjoyed and preferred to do.

There are many ways to research various professions and careers. The time you spend doing so is minor in comparison to getting a position you can’t stand and having to start again from scratch. There are even ways and some jobs where you can shadow somebody for a day and learn what the real work is all about.

Within the month, I should have my new planner system out. It comes with training, and each planner is designed and assembled to the specific needs of the individual using the planner. We do this by working with you in understanding what you need and either loading pages you need into your planner or designing the planning and data pages you need from scratch. Your planner comes with either a book on how to use it or course to train you about the planner step by step.

I don’t want to say much more at the moment. If you’re interested in the planner designed specifically for you, please let me know. I am also looking for six volunteers who will use the system and give me feedback on what works well and what I can work to improve. If you’re interested in receiving a planner and training, please let me know. I can’t promise everyone who volunteers will be picked as one of the six. I promise that everyone who volunteers will be seriously considered.

Think about it.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Get Your Toys and Go Home

International trade is good between countries. As long as the countries have an equal give-and-take, and each lives up to their part of the bargain, foreign trade helps to stabilize economies and stave off hostilities. When both countries are making economic gains based on their trade relations, who would want to rock the boat by sanctions or worse, conflict?

The mere fact of international trade helps to spur an economy with a lower unemployment rate. And, those who trade together may find benefit in other areas. They might work together towards regional or global peace, better financial solvency, world health, and other issues essential to the well-being of all.

Because all countries have their own frailties, just as all humans have their imperfections, sometimes there is a tug-of-war to see which countries can do better than others. This seems to be the time when feathers get ruffled, feelings get hurt, and tariffs rise. There are smarter ways to do this.

A dispute between countries is probably best handled as wise parents stop a spat between two seven-year-old friends. Smart parents tell the young friends to take their toys and go home. The parents know they will be back tomorrow and friends once more.

I know there is more to it than just taking the toys and going home. And, I do not mean to oversimplify international trade. Yet, if we’re to the point of name-calling and finger-pointing and tariffs and threats, why don’t we take our toys and go home. We have proven that we can build anything in our country that can be made in another. Many of the things constructed overseas started off being built in a home country, then outsourced. Building items at home allow the domestic workforce to thrive and grow and gives the people of a country confident feeling of being able to support themselves.

Of course, I imagine the loss of trade will have a downside or two. It may be feeling those downsides that make each country appreciate the other even more. There are pluses and minuses in everything that we do. We do not have to take a loss. Just think of what it would mean for a world of countries to prosper and grow by working together.

Just the thought of one mean old Master Sergeant

Thank you for being with me

What We Do for Others

We do not live in a vacuum, at least not on this earth. And, what we do, either good or bad, puts out ripples which affect others. These others could be friends or family, people you’ve never met before, and sometimes, people who live in other countries halfway around the world. And no, the world is not shrinking, we are growing and becoming more integrated and technically savvy as a species.

It used to be that travel just crossing the United States could take months. Now the trip from New York to California is mere hours. Highly dangerous boat rides to other continents could take months and be fraught with peril. We can now fly those distances in about 12 hours. The World itself hasn’t changed. Yet our technology and our civilization and abilities have changed.

So now the question set before us is one of how we should change to meet our new opportunities and challenges. And, believe it or not, no one gets a pass on our changes. Because everyone in the world will find positives and negatives within the changes to come, and everyone will be affected.

Now, this does not happen overnight, this was going on for over 5000 years. This started when people set out to explore. This began when people realized they weren’t the only people. This happened when people knew they could trade and began to sell their commodities to others for the products that those others produced. And say what you will, it was the trade that brought us to civilization. Civilization was caused by realizing there were others and learning to live with them. Our ancestors learned to do so, and though it was sometimes messy, and quite often one group wanted to dominate another, in the long run, wisdom prevailed, and we learned to get along.

We must remember our lessons of old because those who forget those lessons are doomed to repeat them. This is dangerous. Although our ability to connect electronically and physically with others has shortened by months and years around the world, we still need to have the time to think and consider. To think and consider logically and correctly, we need to understand that we are all in this world together, and whatever happens, the actions and the ramifications affect everyone.

We must think before we act. When we act, we must do so wisely. And we must always remember that whatever we do we are all on this planet together. Wise actions and understanding to take care of molehills before they become mountains are essential. Negotiation seems to take forever, yet I don’t want anything fast happening if it’s going to land right outside my front door.

Good thoughts and cool heads need to prevail. There’s too much at stake for us to go off half-cocked and misunderstood. Besides, as a species, we are better than that.  After all, what we do for others, we actually do for ourselves.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.