Experienced IT people: What we Learned While you were in Kindergarten

“I want to stress the importance of being young and technical,” Facebook’s CEO (now 28) told a Y Combinator Startup event at Stanford University in 2007. “Young people are just smarter. Why are most chess masters under 30? I don’t know. Young people just have simpler lives. We may not own a car. We may not have family. Simplicity in life allows you to focus on what’s important.”

This outlook, expressed by none other than Mr. Hoodie himself, Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook states a viewpoint that goes far beyond previous explanations for hiring practices in tech companies, which emphasized that start-ups were looking for younger hires because they were cheaper hires. This is a specifically articulated arrogance common to the very young. It seems to crop up more frequently among the young and ultra entitled.

This on the record age-discrimination belief model is far from comforting to the tens of thousands of super qualified IT professionals who are long-term unemployed, and past the magical age of 44. Or is it 39? Perhaps 35?

In any case, we at SJN Sales have been gathering the reviews, comments, and musings of experienced IT people and the things they have learned that help their lives and careers. Items are screened for whether the commenter indicates that they learned the skill, viewpoint or strategy after the birth of the Facebook Hoodie generation of younger-is-smarter up-starts.

Feel free to send us your contribution. We’re up to over 200 items and we think it will be fun, and perhaps even educational to post items from the list throughout the back-to-school season.

4. The world didn’t begin or end when the first fax machine, pager, fed-x overnight, laser printer, or CRM software arrived at the office. Whatever arrives this year may fade or disappear eventually as well.
5. Products and services with no business purpose are called hobbies.
6. Hobbies do not pay the bills
7. Nice guys do not publicly compare which girl on the sales team (or at college, Mark) is prettier.
8. Guys who talk down to women, pretty or not, are losers and not as smart as they think they are.
9. Teams are for accomplishing goals. The more specific the goal, the more likely the team will have the win of accomplishing the goal.
10. Work is good. Satisfying creative work is great. No job has 100% satisfying work. In other words, there is skut work in every job.
11. Family, friends, home life, little league games, trips to the beach, watching your little one climb up the curly slide are not improved by having a phone in your ear, texting, or emailing
12. Number eleven is true even if you are recording and broadcasting the event. Watching and participating is better than sending and forwarding.
13. No-one wants to hear that much about the project you’re working on. No one.
14. No-one wants to hear that much about your smart kids, your sick mom, your appendicitis, or your sales award.
15. Most business books suck.
16. Money is a tool. Don’t be a tool about money.
17. You’re lucky. Trust me, if you’re reading this, you are lucky.
18. Most problems fall into two categories: Cadillac problems that aren’t really problems, and problems that you can’t talk or buy your way out of. Know the difference.
19. High heels aren’t worth it.
20. Never say anything on the internet, in email, or on a plane that you wouldn’t like to see in 108 point type.
21. Typesetting is still important and no-one under fifty seems to know how to do it.
22. Most content is crap. Read a genuine classic novel once a year and you’ll be reminded how illiterate and under-educated we have become
23. Never give your kid the whole semester’s allowance on the first day of the semester

Facebook. Old news, new ads, and a reminder about how money is made.

Kudos to Kevin Morris at the Daily Dot for the succinct and entirely accurate description of the junk take-over of Facebook. SJN Sales spends less and less time, and fewer resources, participating on Facebook because the spam and chuckle-headed content control has entirely dominated the pages of our company and our staff.

The SJN Albuquerque office manager has returned to our long-time communication and update tools: email, texts, and the good-old telephone because Facebook messaging is now too much trouble for on the road sales team members. They simply don’t have the time or bandwidth on their mobile devices to meander through a thicket of irrelevant ads and notifications of 600 new followers who want to play games or exchange pictures.

SJN sales people at trade shows and conventions have also noticed a highly noticeable downturn in the number of contacts and show floor meet-ups that ask for, or use, Facebook as a connection tool. This is a major trend from both of the past two years where our outsourced sales teams pretty much demanded FaceBook pages and Marcom support because prospects requested it, daily.

My favorite teenager tells me that the target teens, and key college age users, are abandoning FaceBoook in droves because it’s “full of so many lame ads, I can’t find my friends pictures and stuff.” SJN salespeople,  interns, and staff on every team from healthcare, to legal sales, to, yes social media solutions, are de-friending FaceBook, or at least ignoring it for longer and longer time periods, for similar reasons.

As a business the SJN team has always preferred the relatively professional environment provided by LinkedIn groups. But, LinkedIn too is moving toward monetizing a content farm full of useless video and other irrelevant advertorial as well. We are hoping that LinkedIn will learn from the hoodie crowd at Facebook, that spam and crud control is a key part of keeping LinkedIn networking groups relevant to real professionals.

Yes, social media is a business. And yes, as an outsourced sales company, SJN Sales believes that virtually any new tool, used well, is a great idea and generally good for business. think some aspects of social media are under appreciated as the important business tools, they have become. That said, we geeks who read TOS, know that Facebook and the other social sites have given themselves virtually unlimited permission to re-market their users, our data, and our connections. There is really only short-sighted, short-term revenue goosing to blame for the swarming of ads and advertorial.

There is an element of short-term myopia, and unfettered greed, in adding 80% advertising to my timeline and wall, and the asking SJN and other companies, and charities including the Girl Scouts, to pay extra to promote a post, perhaps for our upcoming events, up out of the unwanted advertising clutter.

Big Data collection and aggregation is the underlying revenue bonanza for “free” social platforms. Like it or hate it. The long-run money will be on the perfectly legal tracking of who plays games, buys gifts, life events, etc. If your company has one of these new social tracking or management solutions, our social and data sales teams would love to speak with you.

So spare me the clutter Facebook Learn to target better quick (I’m a lousy lead for baby clothes, even though I bought a gift recently). In sum, grow up before you alienate the whole Facebook universe, from Tweenager, to CEO, to Grandma.

SJN Sales Affirmation for Wednesdays in May 2013

SJN Sales employs some of the most experienced technology and professional services people that I have ever met. Admittedly, with more than fifteen years of on-the-road experience as a minimum, we tend to be a bit set in our ways.

SJN clients benefit from the systems we have in place that everyone uses, our intake forms, our reporting formats, etc. but, we have a great deal of individual latitude to bring in sales for our clients using methods and tools that work for our individual style and for the peculiarities of the vertical markets that we serve. What works for deeply analytical Tracy, may not work for the get-in-touch with her prospect’s feelings, Ruth.

IT Security solutions and services sales tend to have a different cycle and expected conversational style than our education group, or legal services group, find effective.

So imagine my surprise today, when a colleague forwarded me the following, must-have offering, for a game changing app, that offers to make SJN salespeople superstars in our fields. It seems that after an average of eighteen years, each, developing industry contacts, reference clients, presentation styles, higher-end sales skills and qualification methods, all we need to do is “supercharge our minds” with a .99 app.

Sales Booster Affirmation

iOS UniversalThis extended affirmation is for sales people looking to supercharge their minds for supercharged performance. No career relies more on confidence and keeping your inner winner strong than sales.

Used regularly, Sales Booster will do just that. This upbeat audio includes numerous repetitions of the phrases “sales confidence” , “sales success”, and “more sales”.

Main affirmations:

1.I am a winner! I look like a winner! I act like a winner! I think like a winner! (repeats 5 times) You are a winner! You look like a winner! You act like a winner! You think like a winner! (repeats 5 times)

2.I plan to be the top sales person in my office and I am! (repeats 6 times) You plan to be the top sales person in your office and you are! (repeats 6 times)

3.I love the pressure of cold calling. The pressure sharpens my skills and gets me more sales! (repeats 6 times) You love the pressure of cold calling. The pressure sharpens your skills and gets you more sales.

4.I win deals because I am the best sales person. Product and price are only added benefits to doing business with me. (repeats 3 times) You win deals because you are the best sales person. Product and price are only added benefits to doing business with you. (repeats 3 times)
5.My company sets my quota, but I set my goals. I see myself surpassing my quota each and every month! (repeats 1 time) Your company sets your quota, but you set your goals. You see yourself surpassing your quota each and every month! (repeats 1 time)

We human beings think between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day. Researchers indicate that a very high percentage of these thoughts are negative and a similarly high percentage are the same thoughts we had yesterday.

If unchecked, this combination creates a pattern of habitual negative thinking. Because your thoughts create your reality, this process becomes an unconscious cause of your stress, unhappiness, and disempowerment.

The principle behind affirmations is simple. Affirmations are a thought replacement tool. They help you become conscious of the thoughts you’re thinking and replace habitually negative thoughts with habitually positive ones.

The duel engines of affirmations are repetition and belief. Your negative thoughts have been working on you for a long time and saying or listening to affirmations does not instantly change them. You have to give the positive thoughts time to sink in. The process is very similar to an exercise program. At first the exercise hurts, then it feels good, then it transforms your body. Affirmations do the same for the mind.

What’s new

New version fixes bugs while running under iOS 5.

AT SJN Albuquerque, and at SJN sales offices distributed across North America, We each know what systems work to keep our personal sales up to snuff, and we don’t usually tinker too much with anyone’s special lucky eraser or call style. I don’t think our policy is likely to change based on the “Sales Booster Affirmation” app. Maybe some of our people secretly chant, “I am a winner” under their breath fifty times daily. But I’m willing to bet a newly invented coffee drink that what SJN sales people and SJN clients are whispering silently, is the sales revenue number from last quarter, that they are committed to beating.

6 reasons why SJN sales Albuquerque is a distributed company, and your company should probably be distributed too

More and more start ups are distributed companies, from the beginning, and customers, employees, and investors are accepting this trend as normal in high-tech and other trending industries. Our company SJN Sales, based in Albuquerque New Mexico, is fully distributed, and I’m always happy to sing the praises of working for and managing a business in this way. An aside, I think the more commonly used virtual company (“nearly real or simulated to be real”) is a lousy way to describe a business, with all of the transience it implies, while distributed (“spread throughout an area or territory”) is a better description for a company that has dedicated employees working from multiple locations, rather than from a centralized headquarters office. At SJN Sales, we currently have just over 50 employees spread across 11 states and 2 foreign countries. Here are my top 6 reasons why we love our distributed model and think you might want to consider joining the parade and making your company fully, or at least partially, distributed:
1. You’ll be able to hire great people and save money: The world is full of great candidates for your company’s jobs. Albuquerque, or even New York is not necessarily where your next great hire lives. SJN Mobile or SJN Sales healthcare or any of our other teams can hire the best salespeople and project managers for the company, and our clients, regardless of where they live. You’ll also most likely cover more time zones and reduce airfare and other travel costs by having employees distributed. The original SJN Sales employees started in one location but spread out as one after the other followed spouses to jobs or grad school. Now we’re fully distributed and while we still have an Albuquerque home-base, our teams are dispersed across all of North America. You may get lucky, as we did and get to hire top-tier employees who have already worked together at a previous employer. We hired one top salesperson from a huge software firm and it was natural for them to recruit other members of their old sales team with the option of working on remote, a very compelling perk of joining our small firm. We add people this way whenever possible. Working with old colleagues in a distributed company really seems to ease the transition of people who have been working in a cubicle farm. It helps logistically to use an outsourced company to deal with the payroll and tax needs of people working in various states, and even countries.
2. Staff will love it: SJN Sales employees tell me, and generally anyone else who asks, that they can’t fathom going back to a cubilce that they reach after a commute. Quality of life is not just a cliché for our people. Working for a distributed company they get increased time with family and friends, flexible hours, a reduced or eliminated commute, and flexible hours and they get to live where they want. Several people have joined the SJN Sales group because they have always wanted to live somewhere with a rough local job market (Wyoming ranch anyone?). Several others travel as a hobby in between traveling heavily for the company. A solid core of our highest performing salespeople work here because their spouse gets transferred regularly and they love not having to worry about starting a new job or a new empty territory with each relocation.
3. Employees who want social lives with co-workers will thrive: Some companies see a huge disadvantage in the perceived lack of social interaction at a distributed company. Most people enjoy socializing with like-minded coworkers, and very few employees want to work in total isolation. SJN Sales people are assigned in small teams and use all sorts of online and offline methods for communicating. And yes, cat pictures and a meet-up at the bar near Moscone Center are part of the team communication and social life. Our teams also see each other at client meetings and at the large number of trade shows, industry meetings, and forums we attend in-person each year. We also have a company-wide meeting at least every 3-6 months. Generally these all-call meetings take place at our Albuquerque headquarters but we have also met in Hawaii, Akumal in Mexico, Scottsdale, and Washington DC. As we grow into more widely divergent specialty teams, we continue to find new ways of gathering all SJN Sales people together in ways that make the meetings a treat rather than a time wasting chore.
4. Your work groups and offices will experience less conflict and have more fun: As a distributed company, SJN Sales doesn’t have mandatory reporting at a centralized office but we utilize all sorts of other office options that are available where our employees live and travel. Team members often work in co-working space when several team members live near one another, even when the indivduals are not assigned to the same accounts or projects. Other employees work from home, rented office space, and in one case the guest house of the employee’s hobby farm. The key is that no one has going to a particular desk every day as part of their required job description. SJN employees don’t clock in or out. They come and go when they want and typically do a fairly small percentage of their total work at their official office address. We offer suggestions on how to avoid being at work at every moment that staff spends at their laptop because freeing work from location can often mean too many hours on the job. Social interaction (both within SJN Sales and with the other businesses that share our space, whether office or airport lounge) but social interaction doesn’t generally lead to conflict or interruptions for others because SJN Sales team and management decision-making and communication is channeled online, and is set up to be accessible to everyone. SJN has always had an office. When the company started it seemed essential just to avoid client concerns about our “virtual” workforce and because we needed a centralized space for support staff to work. Now, virtually all support functions are outsourced or distributed, and our suite of offices in Albuquerque serves most often as the site for all-call meetings and for some local staff to use as a work or meeting space. We also make our Albuquerque conference room available to community groups and non-profit boards for events and meetings.
5. You will have better employee and client communications: Every company has to manage communications challenges. Distributed companies are no exception but we start with a great advantage: structural excuses to abolish inefficient, time-wasting meetings, in the hallway one-on-ones that aren’t documented for anyone else’s use, agenda free conference calls, and email and voicemail silos. We have complete freedom to set up team and company wide collaboration tools and systems that make work days more pleasant, more efficient, and more flexible. We’ve found that in nearly every case the work is better documented which leads to additional efficiencies as problems once discussed and solved can be handled again by looking at previous team efforts and results. Individual staff members and work groups, and client teams, can establish working hierarchies of preferred communications methods and tools based on travel schedules, client preferences, etc. We did learn, in a brutal but brief experiement, that we can’t actually automate our way out of having a receptionist. Yes, you can leave a voicemail but one of our hard-working and generally chipper receptionists or assistants will be happy to talk with you when you call and then handle forwarding a message in the manner that will get you a response without needing to know our systems or travel schedules.
6. You will attract and retain better employees than your firm could otherwise recruit, retain, or probably afford. This is, admittedly related to the first benefit of being a distributed company. One of the most frequent questions SJN Sales receives about our staff is, “how did you get so and so, from GianTech to work for your little company?” We do gain tremendous recruiting advantages when old-guard traditional model companies tell employees where to be, when to be, and how long to be, in their cubes or on the road. Most of our employees like the distributed model we offer because it allows them to prioritize work along with some other passion or responsibility in their life. Nearly all of us have a “refugee story” about how our old traditional work life ended, when a manager told us that we couldn’t have some accommodation because, “then everyone would want it.” If you’re great at your job and this model sounds attractive to you, check out our career page. We are growing and we’re hiring. The dental plan is only ok and salaries are competitive, but you’ll want to earn your bonus too.