5 Pearls of wisdom from my little Italian-American mother

Mom and me - Florence

Mom and me in Florence

This weekend is Mother’s Day in the U.S., so I thought it would only be appropriate to share some of the wisdom and truths from my mom that have profoundly shaped me both personally and professionally. I owe so much to her (and my dad too, of course).

Mom grew up in Cleveland in an Italian neighborhood on the city’s East side. Like many Italian-American moms I know, she is warm, affectionate and extremely loyal. She’s also equally as tough, having weathered many of life’s storms. As with many folks her age, it’s clear that her heritage as well as living during the tail end of the Great Depression and World War II were instrumental in developing her great character.

My mom is the most cheerful person I know. She has always been that way.   She appreciates life and her loved ones, and rarely belies that persona (only in the direst of circumstances). She’s also the most caring and loving individual I have ever met.   While she might tell you she doesn’t have a sense of humor, I think she’s hilariously funny, more lately in her newfound bluntness, which is one of the privileges that comes with age.

Throughout my life – in good times and in bad ones – I’ve always looked to her for guidance and advice. At this point in my life I am ready to admit that yes, my mother is always right. I had some doubt in my youth, sure – but doggone it, when I really examine things; she’s got a ‘being right’ slugging percentage of 3 point something (for you non baseball fans, that’s pretty dang great as 4.0 is perfect).

Some of the following pearls of wisdom from mom continue to resonate with me in every aspect of my life:

1.  Good manners really do make a difference
Of course I’ve mastered those tried and true manners like putting a napkin in my lap and keeping my elbows off the table. My mother always made sure I wrote my thank you notes – as a kid just a few sentences – and that I understood this gesture to be a truly sincere and appreciative way to demonstrate one’s gratitude.   Saying please, thank you and wishing someone to have a nice day have also always stayed with me. Trust me, it makes a big difference.

2.  I can do it.
I don’t believe I have or have ever had a greater champion than my mother. Whether I was starting out with violin lessons, making the varsity softball team or getting national coverage on the Today show for one of my clients.   She’s never wavered, even if she secretly thought I couldn’t do something. I think part of the feeling for me that I can do something is that I really believe my mom thinks there’s nothing I can’t do. Of course it’s not true, but how great is it to have my own Stuart Smalley?

3.  Brush your hair so it doesn’t look stringy
What can I say, I have fine hair and when I wear it long, I can easily look like one of those poor urchins hiding behind the cloak of the Ghost of Christmas Future at the end of A Christmas Carol. Mom’s got my back!

4.  Be financially independent
There was never any doubt when I was young that I would attend college. My parents went for a little while but never finished.   My mother was a stay at home mom, and like other women in her generation, she depended on my father for money. She didn’t want that for me. She always made sure to instill in me strength in myself to be financially self-reliant and independent.   Thanks, Mom!

5.  If you lose something, just ask St. Anthony to help you find it
Saint Anthony (the patron saint of lost things) must really be sick and tired of me losing my keys in my purse.   I find he’s progressed with the times and can even help find lost files on the computer as well. For the most part, he always comes through. Except in the case of my 14th birthday present, a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt shorts which I never received because my mother forgot where she hid them. I am still waiting.

And so it appears that mom does always know best. I love you Mom! Happy Mother’s Day to you and to all the wonderful moms out there!

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Mad Men? Been there, done that.

Upon meeting me and discovering that I work in the field of advertising and PR, it’s really strange that a good amount of those people end up telling me how much they love the show “Mad Men” and its main character, Don Draper.  They gush about it.  They then ask me if I watch it.Mad men

My reply is “No, I already lived it.”

Well, I didn’t live in the hey day when the show takes place (50s/60s), but when I took my first job in 1990 at the largest advertising agency in Cleveland at the time, the mad men work/lifestyle was nowhere near extinct.

I’ve only watched a handful of “Mad Men” episodes, but enough to recognize that I witnessed and experienced the tail end of that era filled with the same antics and behavior which I have seen glorified on the show.

There was the drinking. Lots of drinking.

I was genuinely shocked on my first day of work when my boss and our SVP took me to lunch at the Hermit Club. They ordered manhattans and the SVP tried unsuccessfully to get me to do the same.   What kind of business was this, I thought?

Well, I quickly learned just how acceptable and important drinking was in the industry.   Typically, it was the old timers who wheeled and dealed at the 2-martini lunch.   Most of us youngsters only grabbed a few beers a couple of times a week or whenever we could afford it. But it was the mad men, with their endless expense accounts, who perfected the liquid lunch as well as  schmoozing, and wining and dining.

By 1990, most of the quintessential “mad men” were approaching their 60s, not quite ready to retire because they were “still in the game,” or so they thought in more ways than one. There was a bar conveniently located on the first floor of our building in what had been the vault room of a bank that was formerly located there. My friends and I might grab a quick drink after work occasionally, but for the mad men, it served as an endless watering hole. To be honest, I visited that bar more during office hours.

Since there were no cell phones at the time, when a client called looking for one of the mad men, we didn’t even bother looking first in the office. Instead, we immediately checked the bar. It wasn’t sad or pathetic at the time. It was just the way it was.

On one occasion, I was sent to find one particular mad man, who had a very angry and unhappy client on the other end of the phone looking for him. Of course I found him at the bar “just having a few highballs.” Imagine me at 5’ 3” struggling to help a 6’ plus, 200 pound man stumble to the elevator. In heels, no less (me, not him).

Oh, and don’t forget happy hour! Those guys rocked it. The famous Friday Happy Hours occurred precisely at 4:00 p.m. in the president’s office which had a fully and frequently stocked liquor cabinet. Typically, only the pretty, buxom administrative assistants were invited to mingle with the mad men. Somehow, I think I was invited once or twice.

Inappropriateness abounded.

Often when I tell my stories to 20 & 30-somethings today, they find it hard to believe that these things actually happened.   I can’t even remember the countless inappropriate things that were said or done on any given day. After all, the phrase ‘PC’ was not yet widespread.

One of the stories I do remember is so incredulous, it’s actually funny to me now:

I sat next to my friend, another traffic coordinator. She was pretty, thin and extremely smart and efficient at her job. Oh, and did I mention she was blond?

We had a blast sitting near each other and muttering sarcastic quips under our breath or rolling our eyes at the antics that never ceased to amaze us.  One day close to Christmas, my friend received a call from the president’s secretary (yes, at that time the president didn’t even make internal calls). The secretary said that the president would for like her to come to his office.   My friend looked scared. We imagined what she could’ve done to get herself in trouble, but we came up with nothing.   In fact, we didn’t even realize he knew who she was.

She trudged slowly down the very long hallway and finally into the corner office. Not even five minutes later, I see her walking back with a weird look on her face – carrying a very pretty wrapped clothing box. She had a gift in her hand from the president.

She said that he had said to her. “I bought this for my girlfriend, but we broke up. You look to be about her size so I thought maybe you could take it.”

“It’s a silk scarf!” I blurted out, eager to see what we knew would be an expensive gift meant for the ex-girlfriend, a 30-year-old model.   “Maybe it’s a nice pair of leather gloves,” my friend said cheerfully, carefully unwrapping the box.

Once the paper was off, she lifted the lid off the box; the object was blocked from my sight by tissue paper. “I can’t see it. What is it???” I demanded. She said nothing. Her mouth was completely agape and she just stared absently at the box.

“Oh my God,” she said as she pushed aside the tissue paper and held up a very lacy and very red teddy with black trim.

All we could do was burst out laughing.

But that was then, and something like that would never fly in this day and age. I hope I’m right.

 

Care to share any of your mad men stories? I’d love to hear them.

6 Social Media Customer Service Tips for Small Businesses

"The Scream" by Munch

“The Scream” by Edvard Munch

We’ve all been there.  That moment we become so utterly frustrated and incensed over a product or service mishap that we angrily dial the phone to reach a live person for help.   If we survive the exasperating labyrinth of automated phone hell, we may finally connect with someone who – after all that – may or may not (“I have to check with my supervisor”) be able to help us. Argh!

Well, it seems that phone complaints are becoming passé.  The often profane-laden phone tirades, accusations and pleas have yielded to a new medium through which to get a company’s attention: Social media.

I believe there are several reasons for this. First, social media correspondence has taken over for many as a preferred method of communication, especially among millenials.  Second, today’s  automated customer service phone systems are designed to work more as a moat surrounding the corporate castle, and only the fittest and those with too much time on their hands can steamroll past the murky water to reach a representative. Third, consumers have realized that the last thing a brand wants is to be shamed on Twitter or Facebook for all their customers to see.  In my experience, consumers posting problems via social media channels have typically led to companies resolving matters fairly quickly.

Large brands employ a social media community manager whose job is to create awareness and engagement for the brand as well as observe and respond to customer inquiries and complaints.   However many small and mid-sized companies don’t have the time and resources for a full-time community manager.  So what happens in many instances is that monitoring the social channels becomes an afterthought.  Companies double up social media duties, throwing them into the lap of a sales executive, administrative assistant or even (gasp) IT.  And, I’ve seen many times with small businesses, the CEO/owner takes the helm of the social media channels.

If any of those scenarios are the case for you, here are some tips to effectively address customer complaints within social media channels:

1. Regularly monitor your social media sites – I believe one of the biggest assets of social media (particularly Twitter) is listening.  It’s not glamorous or edgy, but it’s one of the most important things you can do to help understand your customers’ wants and needs. You don’t want to hear it second hand that someone has dissed your brand on social media; you want catch it first.  Be active in monitoring brand mentions and complaints so that you can swiftly react and rectify the situation and nip situations in the bud. Jetblue social media

2. Respond quickly – but not too quickly – Waiting five minutes before addressing a complaint can help eliminate the possibility of a hot-headed response from a gut reaction for which we are all capable.  Just as you should think before you speak, think before you tweet or post and avoid the possibility of making the matter worse. Here’s a great example (left) of the airline Jet Blue responding to a customer’s frustrated tweet.   Brands that do it right respond to a complaint in four hours or less.

3. Don’t be defensive or condescending – Look, you and your brand are never going to come out ahead in a name-calling match, so try your best to avoid that scenario.  And, keep in mind that while most complaints are valid, there are a group of folks out there who simply like to stir the pot just for fun.  Make sure you can tell the difference between the two.

4. Acknowledge their problem – Customers – whether in-store, on the phone or online want to know that their voice is being heard.   Respond initially with something like “I’m sorry to hear your [product] is not working/broken/missing a part, etc.  I can help you.”  Then as a next step:

5. Do your best to get them offline – You don’t want the dialogue to go on publicly through social media, especially when the customer is very angry.  I recently voiced my frustration via Twitter about – of all things – the phone system maze at my bank.  Within an hour, I received a response from a point person at the bank who gave me her direct number and I was able to get the matter resolved.  If you really can promptly and effortlessly solve the problem, it’s alright to do so publicly – just be careful not to appear as self-serving.

6. Use humor when applicable – I’m not advocating that you make light of any complaint.  But, In some cases when the problem is not a grave or serious one, adding some friendly humor can help disarm some egghead who is ranting and raving without due cause (remember those folks who love to stir the pot). Sometimes the best way to silence them is with an unexpected, cheeky response.  Use discretion as this can be a tricky line to cross.  A great example of this is a recent letter written from BIC pens UK, in response to what we infer was one man’s outrageous and profane complaint about his new pens (strong and explicit language here so read at your own risk): http://www.brandwatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/bicletter.jpg

In most cases, acknowledging a customer complaint and responding quickly and purposefully will be enough to resolve matters.   As with all of us, customers appreciate being heard.

7 Tips for a Better Brainstorming Session

brain-storm-thinking-300x191

photo credit: clearmarketboard.com

Having worked in the marketing and communications industry my entire career, I’ve participated in my share of brainstorming sessions. Many have been very successful in reaching objectives; others not so much. One of the biggest misconceptions about brainstorming is that it’s only the marketing or creative department experts that can add value to a session. I completely disagree.

Watch the Master
One of my fondest brainstorming bombs was when I worked for a vacuum cleaner manufacturer years ago. While the small marketing department had always done a fine job of naming products, on this particular occasion, the chairman of the company had hired a “real expert” advertising consultant to join us in the session. This guy was some big-shot ex advertising agency CEO who now peddled his years of experience and expertise to consumer products’ companies in exchange for big consulting bucks.

The new product was a hand-held vacuum cleaner that actually housed a light, stretchy hose (for suction in hard to reach places) on the little vacuum itself. It’s old hat now, but at the time in the early 90s, it was a real breakthrough for the hose not to be a separate attachment.

The team was on a roll spewing out words and phrases that embodied the new product’s main feature and benefits: the hose on board offered power, ease of use and convenience.

We were a half hour into the session and our consultant hadn’t uttered a word. We all figured he was drawing from his vast experience and wizardly marketing talents, strategically waiting to wow us. We knew that once he did speak, he would utter the ‘be all end all’ of names, one that would end the session and henceforth be the genesis for all new product names.

Then he magically spoke. We waited for his wisdom.

“How about,” he asked while beaming and nodding his head, “…hand vac with hose?” He looked around the room, now nodding his head more fervently. The group was silent as we couldn’t tell if he was joking. Soon enough, we realized he was indeed serious.  We did our best to contain our laughter, and a few of us offered several disingenuous nods.

Correctly interpreting our silence for disapproval, he appeared to have another “Aha” moment and stood up with excitement, waving his arms. “No, no, no. Wait,” he shouted proudly. “This is it. I’ve got it! I’ve got it.” He could no longer contain his own excitement and flashed a huge smile, “What about… hose vac!?”

Needless to say, that was not what we named the product.

Tips For A Better Brainstorm Session
Over the years, I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t, and I’ve come to recognize a few practices to get the most for your time and money.

  1. Include a mix of people from different departments or areas of expertise – Creativity and great ideas aren’t just limited to the marketing folks (as my story clearly proves). In fact, sometimes marketing folks are too close to a project and lack the objectivity to see an idea from all sides. Plus, everyone is a consumer. I was in a brainstorming session once when someone from the financial department had a great idea that eventually germinated into the platform for a successful new product launch. You really never know where a great idea will come from.
  2. Have a desired result for this particular brainstorm – Be sure to establish what you want out of this particular meeting. Are you looking to develop an employee incentive program? Or maybe a great new product name or the theme for your next annual meeting? Remember that it will likely take a few meetings to reach your goal. Define what your objective is and let the team know so that everyone is on the same page at the session.
  3. Have the meeting off-site if possible – A different setting helps get people out of the usual “work mode” which can be stifling for brainstorming. Being offsite also better prevents the chance that a fellow brainstormer might be paged or interrupted and consequentially throws off the momentum of the entire session.
  4. Implement at fun exercise to get people in a relaxed and positive mood – Start off with a fun exercise to get the group in a mindset that lends itself to creativity. It could be a group game of MadLib’s, or the game where everyone tells two truths and one lie about themselves and the audience guesses the lie. The point is to create a sense of belonging and camaraderie where members won’t feel embarrassed or restrained to contribute.
  5. No bad ideas – Try not to be discouraging to ideas you don’t agree with or like. Write everything down. Be open-minded to know that any idea can ultimately lead to “The” idea. Well, except for ‘hose vac’ maybe.
  6. Provide a recap to participants – This is beneficial because, as stated above, seeing these ideas and notes from the brainstorm might actually trigger other creative thoughts and ideas from the brainstorm members.
  7. Don’t be disappointed – If you don’t reach your objective in the first brainstorm session as it typically the case, realize that the initial brainstorm is a stepping stone to other ideas and insights from participants. Who knows, someone might even mull the idea around at home over the family dinner and come back with some great options.

Remember, brainstorming is a process. Treating it as such helps eliminate the anxiety of having to come up with a solution with your back up against the wall. Of course, this will happen from time to time, but in most cases, if you choose your group wisely and determine goals, you’ll be able to reach your objective in a reasonable time frame. If not, I think I might know a very talented, retired ex agency CEO who might be able to help you…at least he’d be good for a laugh or two.

4 Great Reasons to Hire a Freelancer

There is still a lingering misconception today that freelancers – or sole practitioners – are simply professionals between jobs, and that the act of freelancing is more of a necessity for them than a choice.  This misconception is also fortified by the perception that most of these individuals must have been let go from a job or passed up for new opportunities because they are not talented or good at what they do.

This is simply not true.  In fact the opposite reigns:  freelancers today are doing their own thing, on their own terms, by choice.

For a myriad of reasons,  these individuals have chosen to work in a sole proprietor or freelance capacity because it better suits their current professional and/or personal goals.  They might desire greater flexibility or just simply want to have more control of their professional destinies.

Thanks to technology — specifically the ability to be able to connect anywhere at any time—   individuals spanning all generations are now working in a free-lance capacity.  According to Fabio Rosati, CEO of elance.com, an online community of over 2.5 million freelancers and 500,000 businesses, freelancers, consultants and temps make up twenty-five percent of the workforce.

That number isn’t expected to shrink in the upcoming years. Earlier this year, software company Intuit  predicted that by 2020, 40% of the American workforce (or 60 million people) will be employed as freelancers.

So as a business leader, why should you consider working with freelancers?

1.  Value – You retain the services  of a seasoned practitioner for less than you’d pay for their same services at an agency

While there are many millennial developers, graphic designers and social media freelancers today,  I believe that much of the marketing and communications fields are comprised of seasoned and successful veterans in their industry.

Because of their experience and expertise, they are able to command a higher fee for their services. This is great for them, but it’s also good for you as a business owner, because their fees are still typically much less than the hourly rate you would pay for their same services if they were working at a big agency, since its rates and costs are higher in order to help cover fixed costs including salaries, building rent, benefits, etc.

2.  The person you hired is actually the one working on your account

As a business owner or marketing manager, selecting an agency as a partner has as much to do with the agency’s reputation and portfolio as it does the folks involved in the pitch.  Chemistry,  personality and work styles play a large part in why businesses may select one agency over another.   So, it’s no surprise that many companies are often blind-sided when they call the account supervisor (who was in the pitch) with a problem or challenge, and discover that this person knows very little of what’s been happening daily on the account.

Sure, underlings are supposed to communicate to their team leaders, but those team leaders might be managing other accounts as well as being pulled in to pitch new business.   It’s part a function of and part good business sense for the agency to utilize junior people for the blocking and tackling since their hourly rates are lower.  However, junior folks lack the experience and confidence that allows them to make a quick decision on a dime or handle conflict in an effective manner.

Working with an accomplished freelancer gives you the best of both worlds.  Your experienced account person is deep in the trenches, and at the same time, has the savvy and skillset to handle any situation – whether it’s a negative Tweet or an emerging crisis situation – in a quick and efficient manner.

3.  Flexibility

Working with a freelancer is advantageous since they are able to respond and adapt to your needs or any changes in a program without a hassle.  Solo practitioners don’t have to go through a series of processes in order to accommodate any changes in the scope of a project.

Agency processes are typically very rigid, and while they are meant to streamline project time and costs, they often have the opposite effect.  Think of all the internal meetings and steps the agency must implement– and that’s all before they begin any  actual work on your account.

4.  Speed

Freelancers work quickly.  Their expertise allows them to speedily turn over projects. For instance, a seasoned PR person can write a news release in about half the time of a less experienced practitioner.

Years of ‘doing’ gives them the advantage in knowing all of the steps to successfully complete a project.  After all, they’ve done it many, many times before and know all of the short cuts.  Moreover, as was mentioned above, they don’t get bogged down following all of the agency processes (or office politics) that add time to jobs.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that businesses forego agencies to only work with freelancers.  Agencies do serve a great purpose.  Larger companies and big brands can justify hiring an agency, since they often require a more dynamic, integrated marketing plan involving many resources that are often under one agency roof.

But, if you are own a smaller business or run a small marketing department and you don’t want to sacrifice great counsel and service for a lower price, I encourage you to check out the local freelancers in your area, myself included.

On Making Your Dream A Reality – Drawing inspiration from my friend Brandon Chrostowski

We all have dreams, don’t we?  I’m not talking about the one where you are back in college and find yourself taking a final exam only to discover in a panic that you actually never attended any classes the entire semester (hmm, wonder if that actually ever happens?).Edwin's

The dreams I’m referring to are the ones that keep us motivated and give us hope.  Keeping one’s dreams in sight can actually help us get through the drudgery of our current but temporary circumstances.  I believe dreams represent us at our best and can help us define who we want to be and what our legacy to society might be.

My friend Brandon Chrostowski’s dream has been in the making for a while.  He has long wanted to combine his extensive culinary experience and expertise with his vision to positively impact those who essentially have been given a second chance in this world.

Brandon’s dream will come to fruition (officially) on November 1st when Edwins Leadership & Restaurant Institute opens its doors.   Best described in its mission statement, Edwins Leadership & Restaurant Institute is:

“A unique approach at giving underprivileged and formerly-incarcerated adults a foundation in the hospitality industry while providing a support network necessary for a successful reentry. Edwins’ goals is to enhance the community of Cleveland’s vulnerable neighborhoods by providing its future leaders.”

I’ve been fortunate to see Edwins “hatch” over the past 18 months (although Brandon’s been working on it much longer than that).  Brandon has put together an amazing team of individuals who have contributed – in so many different ways – to make his dream a reality.

BrandonEdwins is going to be great for the Cleveland community.  I hope you will check out Edwins’ website (http://edwinsrestaurant.org/mission/) or take a look at the great article written recently from Joel Crea of The Plain Dealer (http://www.cleveland.com/dining/index.ssf/2013/10/edwins_restaurant_outreach_to.html#incart_river#incart_m-rpt-1).

Then please make it a point to visit Edwins in in the very near future.  Not only will you be supporting the community, you’ll get to enjoy some amazing haute French cuisine that is unmatched in this area. (Compliments of chef de cuisine, Gilbert Brenot).

Never give up on those dreams, and in the meantime, Bon appétit!!

Podcasting: Become Your Own Dr. Oz

A guest blog by Jim Harold 

Jim Knaggs

Jim Harold

Burned out and depressed.  This described me very well in 2005.  I was in ad sales, in my mid-30s and had given up on my dream which, if you didn’t guess, was not ad sales.  Then, one day, I heard about something that saved me professionally and, in many ways, personally.  It was…well, I’ll get to that in a minute.

Flash forward to today.   Here is where things stand:

  • I have a #1 Best Seller on the Amazon Kindle.
  • I have a dedicated user community that spans most English speaking countries.
  • I am making a living doing something I love while incorporating my 20 years of business experience.
  • I was just interviewed on a nationally syndicated radio show with 570 affiliates to talk about my book and my success.
  • My “product” has been downloaded over 10 million times since 2010, and is most popular of its type on the Internet.
  • I can’t believe all of this is happening to me after almost giving up all those years ago.

Yes, things have changed considerably in 8 years and the reason why comes down to one simple word:  Podcasting.

For those unfamiliar, podcasts are typically on-demand audio programs (though some are video) that can be listened to for free via iTunes and many other apps.  With the proliferation of smartphones, the ease of accessing podcasts is light years beyond what it was eight years ago when I started.

Podcast listening is growing in popularity every day.  According the 2013 Infinite Dial study by Edison Research, an estimated 32 million Americans have listened to a podcast in the last month.  My surmise is that these people are in higher SES categories than the average person which has obvious benefits to marketers, etc.

Long story short, I started a podcast on a subject that fascinates me.  I began as a hobbyist but now podcasting has turned into my full time job and given me the opportunity to become a published author.  I’ve gone from a very depressed man who thought his professional life had passed him by to someone who can’t wait to get to his desk each day.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that you ditch your current career and leave it all to become a carefree podcaster!

My message to you is that podcasting, regardless of your walk of life, is a great way to market your personal brand and enhance the success of whatever it is that you do.  While it might not become a full time job, and doesn’t need to be, it can become the conduit to increased stature in your business and a healthier bottom line.  All of this can be done by investing a little spare time and a bit of sweat equity.

Podcasts allow those willing to work at producing them to become “your own Dr. Oz.”

What do I mean by that?  It is my proposition that if most people needed a cardiothoracic surgeon (Dr. Oz’s specialty), the vast majority would choose Dr. Oz over another surgeon solely due to his celebrity.  FYI, if you are reading this Dr. Oz this is not a knock on your skills, I am sure you are a fantastic surgeon.

Hosting an audio podcast on a niche subject can raise you to the level of expert on your given topic.  It may not be quite at the Dr. Oz level, but the benefits can be substantial.  Also, the networking benefits of being a sought-after host of a successful program are innumerable.

The formula is simple, here are some examples:

  • Financial Advisor – Podcast on how to manage your money and answer listener questions
  • Dentist – Podcast on dental health issues and answer listener questions
  • Auto Mechanic – Podcast on car care and answer listener questions

You get the picture.   Enhanced credibility leads to more leads, which at the risk of overusing the word, leads to more sales which leads to more money for you!

The great news is that audio podcasts can be produced with a very small budget (I started out with a $50 headset and a PC).  Plus, once you get rolling you can expect to spend an hour or two a week producing a quality show including bookings, recording, etc.

A willingness to learn, a couple of hours a week, some elbow grease, and maybe a couple hundred bucks invested in equipment…sounds like a pretty good tradeoff to become “your own Dr. Oz.”  So, grab a mic and get started.  It worked for me!

If you want to learn more about Jim’s upcoming online class on podcasting visit PodcastWithJim.com.

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Jim Harold is the President of Jim Harold Media LLC, and the host of numerous podcasts on the paranormal.  He is America’s favorite paranormal podcaster.  You can find his programs and books at JimHarold.com.