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    The Real Key to Happiness

    At the age of five, John Lennon’s mom told him that the key to life was happiness. Thanks to a 75-year long Harvard study, we now know just how right his mom really was. Even though he achieved fame and fortune, it’s evident that Lennon’s primary pursuit in life was happiness.

    I recently watched a TEDx Talk given by Robert Waldinger, Director of the Harvard Study on Human Development, the longest of its kind. The study focuses on what makes us happy and healthy—and it’s neither fame nor fortune. In his talk, Waldinger broke down the study’s framework, as well as the evidence it’s gathered, and provides an interesting analysis on the true key to achieving happiness.

    The study began in 1938 with 724 men and followed them throughout their entire lives; it’s still running today with the remaining 60 men. Four generations of Harvard scientists intensely chronicled the lives of each participant. One group began with sophomores at Harvard, and the second group consisted of men from the Boston tenements. Their early-age aspirations were to attain wealth, become famous, and work hard, which these men believed would produce happiness.

    However, the study reveals a very different result. The only things that produced lasting happiness in the lives of the participants were their sustained close relationships. Interestingly, these relationships not only resulted in happiness, but overall better physical health, as well.

    Overall there were three key lessons that have been and continue to be learned about the value of closer relationships. First, social connections are good for us, and conversely, loneliness, which can be experienced by those in unsatisfying relationships, is toxic. Second, it is not about the quantity of connections but rather the quality. Third, the benefit not only extends to our sense of happiness but our bodies and brains are more protected as a result. Happy people live longer.

    No real relationships, whether they be personal or business, are automatically easy, nor do they become mutually satisfying without determined effort to stay genuinely connected. From the moment we are born to our dying day, we are social creatures. Failing to recognize and meet our social needs handicaps our personal potential for happiness.

    What the study doesn’t show is that there is anything wrong in seeking fame or acquiring wealth. What it important, though, is a clearer understanding that achieving those goals alone will not provide lasting happiness without also having close relationships. Those relationships require consistent effort, but how do we achieve them?

    In the book I co-authored with Max J. Pucher, Who’s In Your Orbit?: Beyond Facebook—Creating Relationships That Matter, we outline the four components of strong relationships: time, intensity, trust, and reciprocity. While it costs nothing, once spent, it is gone forever. Spending time with someone demonstrates his or her importance to us. When your connection with another is emotionally intense, it is by virtue a stronger relationship. Authentic relationships can’t exist without trust. It is earned in many ways, but most often by the time and intensity elements that precede it. This requires two-way effort, and where this exists, greater strength and value builds over time.

    Regardless of our personal goals, we can all learn from the Harvard study. Wealth and fame may bring satisfaction, but in the absence of relationships, they will not bring happiness. John Lennon’s mom was right about the importance of being happy, and this study makes it clear: The key to happiness is the quality of our personal relationships.

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    Data Is a Commodity—Your Relationships Shouldn’t Be

    Despite the commoditization of so much in our lives, relationships shouldn’t be categorized in such a way. People want to be recognized, and uniquely so. The prevalence of social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, has enabled us to express ourselves online like never before. Isn’t it great that people are so willing to share more personal information about themselves? They provide us with a means to learn more about them as a result. More than ever before we’re able to gain knowledge about a person, and as such obtain a better baseline of who they really are. But having their information is one thing, what we do with it is another.

    Filling that gap between public (or pseudo public) information and the information we gather in person separates an acquaintance from something more meaningful. Filling that gap also distinguishes us from others, especially in contrast to our competition where the relationships are in their early stages from a professional perspective. After all, that same competition has access to the same information and therein lies your opportunity for a more meaningful and closer relationship. Toward this end, let me share three insights with you that are sure to help:

    1. Knowing the data is vastly different from knowing how to use the data.

    As I already pointed out, relationships will never progress solely based upon knowing information people post or share about themselves on social media sites. Whether or not someone likes to cook or whether they have traveled to a certain locale may be a starting point to a conversation, but it’s the connection two people make when exchanging information that drives toward a stronger connection. Consider how inspiring, motivating and encouraging it can be to read a great autobiography. You’ve gained information and insight the author chose to share, but do they feel connected to you as a reader? Most certainly not. Even when a conversation is dominated by one person sharing information with the other, when done in-person, both parties are more in tune with what is being shared and how it is being received.

    2. The data is most beneficial when it’s used to create a unique connection.

    Perceive the user-provided data as a starting point, not an end point. Fundamentally, what people share expresses their interests and passions. To form a mutual connection, there must be more than knowledge of their interest. Asking someone to elaborate on an experience or interest can be a great ice-breaker to a new acquaintance, but when you have something to add or share to the exchange, it is no longer only about them. It becomes a mutually beneficial exchange.

    3. Use the data you have as a springboard, not a hammock.

    Having an interest in others such that you investigated their posts has to go beyond that initial “share” in order to form a lasting connection. How? It’s simple! Get them to talk about themselves pertinent to something you already know about them. For example, it’s one thing to know that someone likes international traveling. You may like it too, even if you’ve yet to experience it. Regardless, express your interest in their interest and ask them where they’ve been, what they enjoyed about it, if they would recommend going there, and if so, what to see and do. It helps them “open up,” and more precisely it causes them to warm up to you. When people open up to others, the path to greater relationship value exists.

    Use technology and the streams of information about people as a springboard, not a hammock. Don’t be lazy in your effort to really get to know others. Take the initiative to you share more than a mutual interest. Consider what you have to offer, either personally or professionally. Your sphere of resources and influence, in other words your “network,” can set you apart from all the others vying for attention.

    Social media is mostly public media. Even the data you collect personally is still only data until you use it in a meaningful way. To do so, be genuine: Genuinely interested in what you can provide to others. Genuinely concerned that the relationship is mutually beneficial. Genuinely true to who you are as well. Data may be a commodity, but a person shouldn’t be.

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    How NOT to Deal with Negative Reviews

    No matter how hard you try to produce the best product on the market or provide the greatest service in your industry, one thing remains consistent: There will always be haters. We at VIPorbit Software have received all types of App Store reviews, from raves to rants. While product reviews can be brutal, your response doesn’t have to be. Consider these three “don’ts” for dealing with bad reviews.

    Don’t Take It Personally

    One of the most difficult aspects of conducting business in today’s digital world is the dreaded bad review. Some are so scathing and derisive that it becomes difficult not to take them personally. By focusing on the nuggets of truth, rather than the “mean girl” wording, even the worst review can be turned from cutting criticism to helpful feedback. See every negative review for what it is—one person’s experience. Glean from it what you can, change what you can, and then move on.

    Converting from foes to fans is only one aspect of our negative review response plan. Even a legitimate shortcoming is worth investigating further. Why? It’s important because we are always working to improve the Vipor CRM apps.

    Don’t Get Defensive

    In the world of iTunes and Mac App Store reviews, unfortunately reviewers’ identities are often masked behind anonymous usernames. This protects them from retaliatory behavior, but it also prevents an honest exchange of information. From our experience, often a user’s biggest complaint could be entirely avoided by enhanced product knowledge. All too frequently, though, instead of a quick search on our Support site, or submitting a ticket requesting personal assistance, a user gives up and blasts a negative review on the App Store.

    VIPorbit CEO Mike Muhney attempts to contact reviewers personally. Even though he reaches out to those who have left both positive and negative experiences, he admittedly gives a little more weight to those who leave negative reviews. “It’s difficult not to be defensive about something you pour your heart and soul into creating, but the first thing I do is thank them for their time and try to get more details about their user experience,” said Muhney. With an emphasis of walking away from the conversation with steps we can take to improve our apps, it almost always results in a rating increase on the initial review. It’s not just a personal call that changes their mind, but usually their complaint was less about the product itself and more about not knowing how it worked or could work that suited their needs.

    Don’t Forget Your Mission

    At VIPorbit Software we have a mission statement: People Matter. We also have a relationship statement: We believe in the infinite potential of closer relationships. In the age of digital business when usernames and anonymous comments are the norm, we at VIPorbit are still in the relationship management business. More importantly, we are in the business of reputation management.

    The Vipor CRM app is more than an address book and calendar “on steroids,” as described by one journalist. Vipor provides a way for users to manage the perception others have of them. By recording contact details, scheduling follow-ups, and noting outcomes, Vipor users present themselves to others with exemplary professionalism. It would be a shame on our part not to model the same behavior when it comes to interacting with our users.

     

    From our onboarding emails, to our Support site, to our webinars and one-on-one interactions with customers, we try in every way to help users have the best experience with Vipor CRM possible. When a user encounters app issues but doesn’t give us the opportunity to troubleshoot or provide support a bad review seems inevitable. What’s the most important piece of advice we can offer when faced with a negative review: Understand that you can’t win them all, but never stop trying to do just that.

    By Mike Muhney and Kari Gates

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    Influence Insider: From IBM Salesman to Industry Creator

    Influence Insider Interview with Mike MuhneyThe Influence Insider with Courtney Wesh invites you to listen to their latest interview with VIPorbit Software Co-Founder Mike Muhney.

    Learn why Mike hates the term “relationship management” even though he created the category. Also, find out the four elements necessary to build lasting connections.

    Listen now.

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