Loans For Lemonade Stands?

Seven or eight months ago, when this recession made a huge impact on the nation's psyche, and various "solutions" (many of which have since been adopted) began to be discussed, one that struck me (and I can't recall where I read it) was that we ought to take all that bailout money and put it into a giant venture capital pool for new businesses. Let the old businesses die a richly deserved death and let the start-ups thrive. In no time we would see a wave of hiring and, I imagine, a new set of businesses producing products and services that people actually want to buy. 

Well, there's a bank in Colorado that is taking that spirit to a new level, advertising its suite of services to small businesses. How small? How about baby-sitting, piano lessons, and math tutoring? And how did they promote the services? By promoting the small businesses that provide such services. Read the New York Times article in their advertising campaign spotlight

The World Is Flat — Or Shrinking, Or Small, Or Something

Back in 2005, I wrote an article entitled It's A Small World After All describing responses to my podcasts and blog posts, some of which came from as far away as London and Pakistan. Earlier this week, I received another communication from my Pakastani correspondent, Assad Jaral who, with some of his colleagues, has opened AUJ Lawyers, a full-service law firm serving both local and international clients. Here is his letter:

Dear Mark,

I hope you would be fine. Today my visit to your blog is a reaction of a phone call. I have recently launched my firm's website and a colleague of mine was trying to search it on google by typing in my name. The search engine popped up your blog page, carrying my letter written to you back in 2005. My colleague called me excitingly that you are mentioned on a blog. I did not have a clue then and was a bit confused. So, I visited your blog and a smile spread on my face by looking at my written letter.

Surely this is a small world after all. Thank you once again for putting my letter on your blog for so long. We have grown in the past years and are online now.

Assad Ullah Jaral

There are lessons here, I think, about increasing globalization, the way the Internet has shrunk the world, and the incredible reach of Internet marketing methods – blogs in particular – but for today, let's just say: Congratulations Assad, and I hope this blog post, and the links, increase your search engine ranking.

Lincoln Had No Slides At Gettysburg

I’ve never been a big fan of long slide presentations. In fact, I often begin my own presentations with this cartoon. I remember talking with Stan Miller, one of the principals of WealthCounsel, who told me the best presentation he ever gave was the one where his projector broke.

James J. Schiro, chief executive of Zurich Financial Services, apparently agrees, according to an interview in today’s New York Times. Here is part of what he had to say:

Q. Do you have a rule of thumb about how simple the message should be?

A. I say, “Three slides, three points.” You really can’t manage more than three or four things at the most, but I like to see it in three slides. I hate PowerPoint presentations. I learned that from Lodewijk van Wachem, who was the chairman of Zurich when I came here. He’d say, “We don’t need all these slides. If we only have 15 minutes and you come in here with 30 slides, we’re not going to get to the answer.”

Q. So is that a rule at Zurich?

A. Yes. People can submit their presentations, and we can read them. I prefer that people not go through a slide deck. If you’re working in an area, and you are running a business, you ought to be able to stand up there and tell me about your business without referring to a big slide deck.

When you are speaking, people should focus on you and focus on the message. They can’t walk away remembering a whole bunch of different things, so you have to have three or four really key messages that you take them through, and you remind them of what’s important.

Suit Challenges Florida Bar Rules On Advertising and Websites

Avvo is at the center of another first amendment tussle between an attorney who would like to be free to market his business and the Florida Bar Association, which like many of its counterparts around the United States, takes it upon itself to "protect" consumers from the marketing efforts of its own members.

 The craziness that ensues when modern marketing (especially Internet marketing) meets the antiquated rules of state bar associations (which still conceive of lawyers as members of some sort of 17th century guild) would be funny, if it wasn't so sad.

 In a lawsuit against the Florida Bar, a Boca Raton attorney is challenging the Bar rules that prevent him from using client testimonials, from characterizing the quality of his services, or referring to "past successes or results obtained."

 In other words, if my firm, Smart Marketing, were governed by Florida Bar rules, I would not be able to say the following: "We're a high-quality marketing firm that has had a lot of success in taking our clients' practices to the next level. Here are some case histories from some of our clients."

 The Florida Bar believes that you are not competent to evaluate such claims for yourself and need to be "protected" from them. Avvo seeks to provide consumers with information about attorneys, including what experiences other consumers have had with those attorneys. The Florida Bar doesn't want that, either, as it forbids its members to put Avvo in touch with those same members' former clients.

 The Florida Bar apparently sees the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as an enemy. From their own press release:   "Florida, as all states, is constrained in its authority to regulate attorney advertising by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Florida Bar supports the most restrictive limitations on lawyer advertising consistent with constitutional requirements so as to better protect the public."

 So, if it were not "constrained" by our basic liberties of free speech, the Florida Bar would put into effect more "restrictive limitations" in order to "protect" us. I can only say, thank goodness for the First Amendment.