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Tuscan Buy Wine Fair
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Business and Finance Section

Editor's Note: Some background on Nulty is relevant. The interview begins with a job in the industry, but his entire life was oriented toward entrepreneurship. Some kids mow lawns, some shovel snow, but this guy starts selling cleaning supplies to local businesses, using his fathers connection with a large national distributor. Toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap were just few of the hundreds of items Nulty offered to the growing number of small businesses populating the mall. And he didn't just sell product.  He used the products to demonstrate a janitorial service and won contracts to handle the maintenance of entire mall. After "cleaning up" as it were, he handed the business to his brother and moved on to VIP Orbital.

 

One on One: Mike Muhney, Co-Founder of ACT!

Welcome to another in our One on One series of conversations with some of the most thought-provoking entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today. Mike Muhney, co-founder of ACT! and one of the creators of the contact management industry, recently founded mobile relationship management application VIP Orbit. Muhney spoke with Brent Leary in this interview, which has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, page down to the loudspeaker icon at the end of the post.

* * * * *

Mike Muhney, Co-Founder of ACT!

Small Business Trends: Tell us what was it like starting ACT in the late 1980s and how it compares to starting a business today.

Mike Muhney: I started my career with IBM in the mid-70s selling mainframes. I was taught the techniques of relationship management with no technology other than a Day-Timer. In 1985 my partner and I started a company with another software product that failed. We had to come up with another idea or close down the business. At a four-hour breakfast, we conceived what became ACT!.

By 1987, ACT! was on the market. With it, we actually created the category of contact management, although we didn’t quite know what to call it then.

Small Business Trends: You are starting a new company, VIP Orbit, and instead of saying it is contact or customer relationship management, you talk about mobile relationship management. Can you tell us what that is?

Mike Muhney: If you add up the global user base of content management and CRM customers from the “Big 7” – Seibel, SalesForce, ACT!, Gold Mine, etc. – fewer than 20 million people in the world use those products; most are salespeople. That is a tiny market against the backdrop of what Forrester Research claims by the end of 2011 will be 1.4 billion smartphone users.

Those people are not immune from, nor should they be out of the reach of, the benefits and value that relationship management provides. Since we are a mobile society, with tablets and smartphones, it made sense to call it mobile relationship management.

My business plan is to go after that market neglected by the big vendors–the mobile professional or the “prosumer” who is using their phone to organize their life, relationships and activities.

Small Business Trends: How has the customer – vendor relationship changed from the days when you created ACT!?

Mike Muhney: The problem with CRM [solutions] is they are very complicated. They intrude on salespeople’s lives. Salespeople don’t like to give all the information they know to the company, because then they [lose] their exclusive value. The companies that are attempting to do a better job with CRM still have a 50 percent failure rate because salespeople sabotage the intended use of the system.

With VIP Orbit, I am going back to the individual. Because we carry these devices with us now, the company is less in control and I, as an individual, am more in control of what information I keep. Over time, personal use of mobile relationship management products, of which VIP Orbit is the first, is going to become evident in companies through a Trojan horse process.

Small Business Trends: Explain what the Orbit part of VIP Orbit is.

Mike Muhney: Webster’s dictionary defines orbit (as it relates to relationships) as your sphere of resource and influence. I know you, but you know a lot of people that I don’t know. If I provide value to you, I may, as a result, penetrate into your orbit. We all walk amongst many orbits. Orbit is a way of very efficiently, effectively and instinctively categorizing people with which to work with.

The [orbit] is not focused on me. Social media is all about me–How many friends do I have? What power do I have? That is not what relationship management is about. It’s about you, [the customer]. My job [as a relationship manager] is to keep as good of information as I can that is unique and exclusive, not publicly portrayed on people’s Facebook pages.

Small Business Trends: VIP Orbit has no desktop application, no laptop application–it is all the mobile device in the cloud, right?

Mike Muhney: Yes. My database is literally on my phone. Also in the cloud, so I have collaborative benefits like sharing information with other colleagues. The one thing that is with me at all times is my phone. That is why I started [VIPOrbit with] the phone.

Small Business Trends: In the end, is mobile relationship management a replacement for contact management, or an enhancement to it–do they work together?

Mike Muhney: The answer could be yes to both. I could easily describe it as an extension into the market of contact management, but I hesitate to, because I don’t think that the current CRM and CM vendors will ever reach that market. They are focused on the enterprise realm. The mass market is a brand new opportunity.

What Excel did for people who deal with numbers, I’m doing for people who deal with people. Fundamentally, that is what any relationship manager is about. There is something called the Dunbar Limit. Scientists concluded that we have a capacity of about 150 people that we can keep information on [in our heads]. You and I deal with a whole lot more than 150 people. What do I do about keeping that same quality of information, beyond what I can [remember] on my own, so I can deal with more people?

Selling has always been about numbers. The more people I deal with, the greater my chances of success.

With ACT!, we equipped people to extend their memory to deal with more people more effectively without sacrificing quality. I am doing it today for the user who is unaware of the value of contact management, but since they have the device already, to enlighten them and let them share those same benefits that the longtime users of CRM systems have enjoyed.

Small Business Trends: Where can people learn more about VIP Orbit?

Mike Muhney: VIP Orbit is on the [Apple] app store.

 


 

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Weekly Mortgage Interest Rate Recap - 5TH STRAIGHT WEEKLY DECLINE

Weekly Mortgage Interest Rate Recap - 5TH STRAIGHT WEEKLY DECLINE

The survey for mortgage interest rates declined for the fifth straight week. According to mortgage investor Freddie Mac (Federal National Home Loan Mortgage Corporation), the average 30 year rate has dipped to 4.820%.ECONOMY

This is good news...

 


 

Teach Me How to Think About Internet Marketing

It’s overwhelming. It’s overloaded. Sometimes it’s just flat out too much! It’s the information age and we have answers, tips, advice and thinly veiled marketing pitches for the latest “this-that-and-the-other” coming at us from every direction.  And sometimes we love it. Because (if the marketing department did their job right) we hope that this miracle product will make our business as profitable as we dreamed.

Online Marketing

But when it comes to online marketing (and information in general), we just need the truth about what works and what doesn’t. And the truth is there is no miracle product for our business – meaning that while there are great things on the market, nothing eliminates the strategy work that the small business owner is responsible for.

So how do we get a handle on online marketing? I suggest we start at the heart of the matter and work our way out. In fact, Mike Blumenthal, “Professor Maps” and the man behind understanding Google Maps and local search, has created an infographic that helps us do just that.

 

 


 

Core Marketing

Mike believes in building your core marketing first. He teaches small business owners, via GetListed Local University, to focus first on the marketing elements that you can control and then build from there. In other words, your marketing core begins with things like your business name, your phone number, your website and your blog. Build a strong foundation there and then move on to the social networks with a plan. His infographic helps you to see this concept.

I recently interviewed Mike and learned a few more things about him and this neat little tool.  He feels that once we get the “big picture” of what our online marketing is for and should look like, it’s easier than we think.  Mike is “a big believer that not only do small businesses need to understand the context of their marketing

 


 

Training for Online Marketing

“Reason and information are the currency of life,” Mike says. If he’s right, then we’d better start spending that money wisely.  According to him, “each marketing effort should leverage what went on before.” I agree.  And to help us (learn how to) leverage, we need a simple and systematic way to understand the overall strategy.  Here are three tools from Mike’s world to help with this:

GetListed is a simple website that tests your business listing in the search engines. Why? Because it’s relevant to small businesses. These days, when we get ready to go somewhere, we pull out our smartphones and Google it. Or we map it out on our laptops and print it out before we leave the house. Or we let the GPS guide the way. The point is, we are using the Internet to find local businesses, and so are our customers. GetListed helps you figure out where your business stands and gives you advice on how to improve it.

GetListed Local University is live and in person training that focuses on smaller cities like Birmingham, Alabama and Spokane, Washington. It’s a half-day event that’s designed to give small business owners “up-to-the minute,  pitch-free education about online marketing.” As an avid educator at the GetListed Local Universities, Mike believes that “Social engagement is important, but if potential clients can’t find a business at the moment they are ready to buy, then the business will be in trouble.” In other words, establish your website and get listed in the directories first. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) come second.

Mike’s Infographic: Web Equity – Owning Your Local Web Presence is a single visual. Mike designed it to show “the  marketing opportunities that are available to small businesses.”

I like this tool. It takes some thinking to digest it.  But with his concise explanations and a little focus, the concept behind an effective online marketing strategy becomes clear.  And for me, that’s a breath of fresh air.but they need to invest in their marketing in such a way that they are not giving away future equity without knowing it.”

What you don’t know about online marketing, about getting listed in directories, about the demise of the printed Yellow Pages, and the rise of online local searches (for everything from the closest restaurant to the nearest dry cleaner) can hurt you.

 



 

Family and Relationships

Arnold Schwarzenegger: as mistresses surface family takes a hit

May 13th, 2011/ Rita Watson
Love and Marriage Examiner

Despite declarations of love for Maria Shriver and hopes for reconciliation, the mistresses are beginning to surface.  The Mirror pointed out today that  Arnold Schwarzenegger 'mistress' denies causing marriage break-up.  The article sounds a lot like those we read during the Tiger Woods mess.  But there is one very big difference.  When the disintegration of marriage is all over of the news, babies do not hear the gossip. In this case there are four grown children.  And one child is front and center in a Tinseltown tidbit, but Gossip Cop assures us that Patrick is not dating Miley Cyrus.

As we have seen with all of the high profile infidelity cases with older children, gossip not only hampers reconciliation, but it strains the children.  In this case the children are: Katherine Eunice born in 1989, Christina Maria Aurelia, born in 1991, Patrick, in 1993, and Christopher in 1997.

The headlines are blaring.  The 2011 Pulitzer Prize winning Chicago Sun Times noted: “Sources close to the spouses say the collapse of the marriage was caused by multiple allegations of the aging action star’s marital infidelities. . .” Schwarzenegger infidelity allegations key to collapse of marriage ...

The Mirror said that there appeared to be a principle mistresses who shattered the marriage, but she claims she was just one of many.

Gigi Goyette’s allegations of a fling with Schwarzenegger – which he denies – are said to have distressed his wife Maria Shriver so much she’ll never take him back.  Arnold Schwarzenegger 'mistress' denies causing marriage break-up

Many are rooting for reconciliation. Maria Shriver is a devoted Roman Catholic and for her, divorce would be a difficult option. The family attends Mass regularly.  And it seems that as I reported earlier, there is hope.  During this crisis, they may just pull together as a family.

The SF Weekly said yesterday that "the California Healthy Marriages Coalition, which receives $2.4 million annually in federal funding, is criticizing Schwarzenegger and Shriver for giving up after 25 years of marriage and announcing they will divorce." Pro-Marriage Group Wants Schwarzenegger and Shriver to Get Back Together.

 


 

Baby University? Better ways to raise smart, creative children

May 13th, 2011 / Alicia Bayer
Mankato Attachment Parenting Examiner

Last week I received an online ad that had me scowling indignantly at the computer. I don't usually even look at things like that, but this one caught my eye because it called itself "Baby University."  I looked at the page and it was a certain popular manufacturer's toys that they claim you need to buy your infant to make him or her smarter, more creative, and all around more completely set for a brilliant life.
Fooey.

The ad listed toys in each of eight categories, all with bright colors and plastic parts you need to buy to give your child the "best."  Oh yes, and you'll need batteries, since these all beep, flash and make lots and lots of noise.
No imagination required.

What follows is my take on much better ways to give your kids these opportunities in each of their categories....

Music Appreciation ~ Pots and pans, lullabies, clapping to music, nursery rhymes, being exposed to lots of kind of music, making jingle bell anklets and dancing in them, making shakers out of plastic bottles sealed tight with popcorn kernels or dried beans inside, dancing with mama to the oldies station, real instruments like flutes, tambourines and daddy's old guitar, drums made of oatmeal boxes, making up songs, attending cultural events and concerts (especially featuring music and dance from other countries), singing silly songs in the car....

Sensory Stimulation ~ Taking the time with babies to touch, smell and talk about everything you encounter, making smelling games with cotton balls soaked in scents like vanilla, stopping to touch brick walls and dandelion fluff on a walk, involving baby in daily activities with you by carrying her in a sling or carrier, giving him a pile of oatmeal to play with in the high chair, using scraps of ruined clothes to make up a book of textures like courderoy and satin, encouraging kids to taste a wide variety of foods, playing with water, snow, homemade dough, sand.....

Learning Fundamentals ~ Reading to your kids, talking to them, taking the time to answer the millions of why's you hear all day, singing the abc's, using colors and shapes in conversation ("Can you bring me the yellow box with the diamond on it honey? Ooh, look at the black and white kitty!"), pointing out letters and shapes encountered on signs and on walks, counting everything for fun....

Physical achievement ~ Walking with them, rolling balls, getting down on the floor and playing with baby, stacking blocks or boxes and knocking them over, tossing rolled up socks into a laundry basket....
Language development ~ Reading books, talking to your kids, describing what's going on to baby, using lots of new and varied words in conversation and taking the time to explain what they mean if asked, reading poetry, reciting nursery rhymes, life....

Architectural design ~ (It turns out this is their term for most of those toys with things to spin or push and I'm not sure I see the design element in those at all, so I'm offering up more real ones) Building with plastic or wooden blocks (get them by the ton at thrift shops), dropping poker chips into a slit cut in a yogurt container, sculpting homemade clay and letting it dry, making snow creations, playing in the sand, making mud pies and stone structures, using scraps of wood to sand and make your own building set, stacking measuring cups, matching tupperware containers with the right size and shape of lids, building forts and tunnels with empty boxes.....

Oceanography ~ (All right, I had to look here too and it turns out this is where they sell their fake fish bowls-- the answer to this one is obvious!) Real aquariums or fish bowls, a trip to an aquarium, reading brightly colored books about underwater life, visiting the ocean and exploring tidepools, making sponge fish for the bath....

Creative Expression ~ Life! Drawing pictures, using homemade play dough, making shapes with straws in a restaurant, playing dress up, making up songs and stories, making toys out of rocks and sticks and found objects -- and most importantly avoiding those annoying toys that blink and flash and gobble!

Here's to all those plastic things you never buy and the time you spent playing in the dirt with your children instead!

In the Mankato area, here's some fun places to take your little one for some of these experiences:

  • The Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota has giant building blocks, on-site art materials and a huge variety of exhibits to interact with.
  • Local parks like Minneopa Falls, Hiniker Pond and Sibley Park offer chances to play in nature, splash in water, get exercise and see wildlife.
  • Thrift stores like the Salvation Army, MRCI and Again are great places to find blocks, wooden toys and other great goodies for children.
  • Pet Expo has a wonderful walk-in aquarium that's lit by UV lights, perfect for some live oceanography fun!

 


 

Family and Relationships

What is in a friendship?

May 12th, 2011 / Sandi Todd
Milwaukee Friend Zone Examiner

What do you value in a relationship?  Who do you see as a friend?  Personally I see a friend as someone that not only tells me their fears and hopes but also listens to mine.  I would want someone that talks about the future, not the past, I need positive interaction, not negative language, and I need a hand to hold not a finger pointed in my face.

What do you want your best friend to say to you first thing in the morning? I will take a “Hi!  It is great to see you.”   Why do I want to hear this, because I would say that to someone and expect the same.  Not every day mind you, but it is always a good sign to be positive before you need to settle down to the everyday specifics.

Choose your friends wisely.  Give and take is what it is all about. Don’t be too harsh though; lead the weak to be strong.

Advertisement
What does the Bible say?

Romans 14:10 you have no right to criticize your brother or look down on him. Remember, each of us will stand personally before the Judgment Seat of God.

Verse 17 for, after all, the important thing for us as Christians is not what we eat or drink but stirring up goodness and peace and joy from the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:7 so, warmly welcome each other into the church, just as Christ has warmly welcomed you: then God will be glorified.



 

Technology

Let’s Get Small: HP’s Tiny WebOS Smartphone

Let’s Get Small: HP’s Tiny WebOS Smartphone



HP / Palm Veer - Mini Smartphone running webOS

The Veer is ridiculously small. Almost Zoolander ridiculously small.

When you first grip the thing in your hand and try out the keyboard, you think, “Oh man, this is never going to work.” But after a few initial typos, it’s actually not that bad at all.

At 3.25 inches long, the Veer is tiny, stealthy and unassuming. It’s so small, it’ll even fit in the coin pocket of your jeans. The back of the black model has a rubberized texture that keeps your brain from mistaking it for a large, smooth pebble.

The 2.6-inch touchscreen is minuscule compared to giant 4.3-inch stunners like that of the HTC ThunderBolt. But as long as you’re not dead set on streaming a lot of movies or TV onto your device, it’s just large enough to do most anything else.

The phone’s screen-sliding mechanism feels solid, but it is still easy enough to operate with one hand or one thumb. And although the super-small keyboard takes a bit of practice — and a lot of trust, because your thumb covers up half the keyboard — I was surprised at how often I was able to compose typo-free messages and e-mails on the raised keys.

Palm’s webOS really shines on a device with such a small form factor. Instead of the standard menu screens seen on other smartphones, webOS uses an array of cards that can be accessed with a single tap on the gesture pad, located right under the display. Opening a new instance of an application creates a new card. A swipe upward removes the card from the deck, otherwise it’s there waiting for you when you want to return to it. Related cards (like multiple Facebook pages, for example) stack on top of one another.

Unfortunately, the implementation suffers from a few unpleasant hiccups. Finger flicks need to be deliberate, or they won’t be registered by the device. While scrolling through the photo roll, images take a second to deblur. App loading occasionally stutters, and sometimes freezes — I found this particularly true when loading the web browser. Since games and apps functioned perfectly fine once opened, this seemed like more of a software issue than a problem with the Veer’s 800 MHz Snapdragon processor.

The HP Veer comes with a couple useful features baked in: integrated messaging and Just Type, which is standard to all webOS devices. Integrated messaging allows conversations with the same contact on different services, for instance, on Google Chat and SMS, to be synced up and displayed in the same timeline, providing a seamless record of your chats. And if you don’t feel like flipping through your cards or scrolling through your apps, you can use Just Type to begin typing an app name or search item, and the phone will bring it up for you.

The Veer can act as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to five wireless devices on AT&T’s HSPA+ 4G network. It also takes decent photos with its 5-megapixel camera — as long as there’s not excessive sunlight, which made my shots look overexposed and washed out.

The HP Veer is a pretty great phone, despite its diminutive appearance. Wired’s first impressions of the device were spot on: This would make a great phone for a teenager or anyone who wants to stay connected, but doesn’t need a large, super-crisp display for video playback.

WIRED Fantastically small form factor fits comfortably in almost any pocket. Magsafe-style charger — why isn’t this standard on all phones yet?

TIRED If the box didn’t say 4G on it, I never would have guessed. Palm’s app store has a woefully dismal selection — only the biggest names are there. The battery is non-removable.

 



 

Religion and Spirituality

Islamophobia Watch

Documenting anti Muslim bigotry

The Freedom Sack: “a fundamentally criminal and oppressive Islamic tradition.”

by SHEIKYERMAMI on MAY 13, 2011

“Police Harassment”

In France, one month after the start of the nation’s burka ban, women wearing face-covering garments are being forced to remove their veil in public to avoid police harassment.

/images/burka.jpg

Oh the indignity! Imagine that: women being ‘forced’ to remove the freedom sack! If that doesn’t call for violent jihad I don’t know what does.

How the French veil ban is being implemented:
In France, one month after the start of the nation's burka ban, women wearing face-covering garments are being forced to remove their veil in public to avoid police harassment.

Five women were immediately detained by police for wearing the burka on city streets as they attempted to attend a conference on the effects of the law. The organizer of the conference was forcibly removed after he tried to talk to one of the women, who had become ill during questioning.

The conference was organized by the multicultural association Don't Touch My Constitution. The group has raised funds to help women pay the 150-euro fine the law calls for, but they say they haven't spent one cent.

Proponents of the law say the ban protects the country from religious radicalism, as well as France's principle of secularism, or laicite in French.

Many Muslims have complained that French media coverage consistently ignores the religious convictions of those who wear the burka. Instead, the women are portrayed as mere tools, with domineering men controlling their every move.

The law, which was roundly criticized by police organizations, may not have led to mass arrests, but Muslim groups say they must provide a voice for the many women who have refused to leave the house for fear of embarrassment.

People say the French government is applying the law carefully, but unevenly. It seems they're largely ignoring the heavily Muslim suburbs, but it also seems that police can still make a big show when they feel it's necessary.

Press TV, 11 May 2011

See also the New York Times which reports the French Interior Ministry as stating that police have stopped 46 women wearing face-veils in public, 27 of whom have been charged and will be fined about $215 or forced to take an official course on citizenship.

Bunglawussi Watch reports with glee:

“the police are largely ignoring the heavily Muslim suburbs”

Efforts to Ban the Burqa to Liberate Muslim Women

 



 

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