Impression Management


Ever stop and wonder why you posted that selfie on Instagram? Or why your friend shared something on Facebook?

As it turns out, there is a seminal theory of motivation that explains some of that behavior. Goffman writes of Impression Management, suggesting that people have many motives for wanting to control what others thing about them. When we convey information about ourselves, it helps others know things like our interests, social status or competencies.

Baumeister & Hutton expand on the idea of impression management, parsing motivations for behaviors of self-presentation into two different groups. In the first group, pleasing the audience, a person is sharing to match the audience’s expectation with their communication. For example, if someone is an athlete, he or she might share with their network a picture in athletic gear, reinforcing to others how athletic they are, solidifying an athletic bond with friends.

In the other form of self-presentation, Baumeister & Hutton suggest a person creates an impression to create their own identity, or construct a narrative (for myself) by telling others about who they are. For example, someone greedy with a guilty conscience might share online a story about a generous act during the holidays. If you are paying attention, you can probably see through the facade.

Examining your own identity, beliefs about yourself and acts of impression management might help you to understand what your motivations are.

I would like to suggest a third approach to online social media posts. Rather than pleasing an audience, or constructing your own identity, make your online posts a one-way mirror. Throw impression management out altogether. Anyone who looks into the mirror should see who you are and what you’re doing – but when you look at it, you only see a perfect reflection of yourself.

Free open source software dives into a blue ocean of uncontested market space

What is open source software? It is the product of a movement to provide end-users with complicated software free of charge. Even more interesting, most open source software programs have vibrant communities of developers that freely contribute to the software, adding to its value by improving stability and extending functionality.

Whether you knew it or not- you already have had extensive experience with open source software. Open source CMS projects like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal have permanently changed the appearance of the web, helping millions to make websites.

Open source means business

You may be thinking: Blogging tools? Well that is no big deal- but an open source CMS isn’t all play. Magento is making major space in the ecommerce realm, enabling quick deployment of legitimate web-based storefronts. Magento isn’t just a front-end website builder either, it has tons of features on the back-end for business administration, including sales reporting, invoices, a shopping cart, a lots more. (Ask me to create a login for you on my Magento demo site.) Non-profits are able to use open source distributions like civiCRM to manage donations, track customers, and keep in contact with stakeholders.

The wild success of other open source customer relationship management tools like vtiger and SugarCRM sends a strong message to proprietary software CRM firms. Those two programs alone may be what prompted to brandish a “No Software” crest with their logo.

Small and medium organizations are not alone moving into open source space. Heavyweight corporations are implementing open source tools, slashing IT costs and redefining how traditional software companies compete. New database and server management systems are now almost exclusively based on open source’s champion Linux. Even the most proprietary of software firms like Citrix and Oracle are releasing once vigorously protected software in accordance with demand for open source.

Even government, in all its glorious efficiency, has battled declining tax revenue by turning to open source through Open Office.

What is the driving force behind open source?

Cloud computing lends tremendous liquidity to the open source frenzy. Firms like PHP Fog may enable faster uptime, while rock solid hosting firms like MediaTemple and Rackspace make web serving easy. Demand for hosted software/services will continue to rise with the proliferation of feature-rich open source software distributions.

The practice of taking something really valuable and sharing it with others – sounds noble but impossible to sustain. Still somehow open source momentum seems unstoppable. And don’t be fooled, there is money to be made in open source. Loads of it- Just examine the synergy between Red Hat and JBoss. (JBoss was also the target of lucrative acquisitions.)

Ready to get on board? You can find lots of open source software at Sourceforge.

Try your hand at a CRM implementation: Locally host SugarCRM’s community edition. Mac users can use MAMP, Windows users can use XAMPP and be running in 15 minutes.

Website Setup – Page 1 of 2

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If you are interested in building web content at your own URL (ex:, the path to website setup can be unclear. The process is even more complex for those interested in building a website that is reliable, fast, and flexible enough to work with popular open source software like WordPress, Drupal, or Magento Commerce.

While there are many different ways to get online, the following is a combination of tools that has worked great for me. It’s a system that in my opinion meets the basic needs in the VAST majority of website applications.

If you are ready to get online, and don’t want to pay a 3rd party to get going, then do it yourself. I’ll show you how.

Here are the basic steps to setting up a website:

  1. Domain Registration
  2. Setup web server
  3. Setup email
  4. Publish content (Not really a step, this is an ongoing process!)

That’s it! Let’s dive in.

Step 1- Domain Registration

Before you can setup your own website, you need  a domain name.  You can purchase that through a domain registrar. There are lots of domain registrars. Arguably, the most widely recognized registrar is Godaddy.  Once you create an account, (PS this link will give you 35% off) you can follow along.

VIDEO: Registering a domain on Godaddy

Step 2 – Setup Web Server

Once you have your website registered, you need to get started setting up the web server that will host your website.

As you know by now, there are lots of free or low cost services on the internet that allow people to build a website. However, you most are terribly disappointing.

So for speed and flexibility, setup your own server. If you do, I suggest Rackspace.  Once you create an account, you can follow this tutorial video. Accounts are free, and cloud servers are pay per hour (starting at 4 cents).

VIDEO: Setting up a LAMP server on Rackspace Cloud Sites

This process is simple, and only takes a few steps:

aptitude update
aptitude upgrade
ufw allow 80
ufw allow 22
ufw enable
shutdown -r now
curl localhost

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Website Setup – Page 2 of 2

Step 3- Email

Do NOT be that business with a email address. It isn’t professional. Now that you have your server up and running, it’s time to manage your email. A Google Apps setup is arguably the most reliable and cost effective email setup.

DNS records connect domains to web servers and email servers. There many types of DNS records, but the most popular are A (hosting), CNAME (sub-domains), MX (email), and TXT (general information / verification).

Once you create an account, you need to verify ownership before you are ready to receive email.

VIDEO: Email configuration for Google Apps with Godaddy DNS management.

Step 4 – Content Management

Now, with your server should be running and email deliverable at your domain, it’s time to get down to building a website. As you know by now, there are lots of free or low cost services on the internet that allow people to build a website. Most cheap hosts have cheap website builders that use pre-configured but somewhat customizable content managers.

And most of these website building services are terribly disappointing.

Thanks to open source, if you have a web server, you have some better alternatives – whether you are building a blog, a business website, or even an commerce site. So find an open source CMS that suits you, and then get it loaded on your server. It will save you time and money, while giving you loads of freedom to customize that paid CMS systems don’t afford you.

VIDEO: Setting up a LAMP server on Rackspace Cloud Sites

3 prospecting tools to accomplish your sales goals

If you sell for a living – you understand that the quality of your prospecting determines your level of sales success.

But prospecting can be very time consuming and tedious, so consequently few salespeople do enough of it. By default, the untrained seller ends up aimlessly reaching out to businesses, experiencing repeat rejection.

Here are some signs you are wasting your precious sales time:

  1. You are typing business names into a Google search box.
  2. You are driving around town looking for businesses you haven’t seen before.
  3. You are opening the phone book.
  4. You walk into businesses to ask who the owner is.

Consider what Todd Duncan writes in his book High Trust Selling about the law of the Bullseye:

“If you don’t aim for the best prospects, you are likely to do business with any prospect.”

But how do you measure what the best prospects are so that you can repeatedly find them? Here are some common characteristics-

  • High revenue/profit margin company
  • High (fill in the blank) industry spending (Advertising, utilities, printing, i.e. whatever you are selling)
  • Geography (close in proximity, lucrative area of town)
  • Large number of employees

Unfortunately, you can’t just open a phone book to quickly find lists of businesses that fit into these categories.

There is hope and a way forward! While prospecting can be a challenging process for the uniformed, accomplished salespeople have tools to expedite that process. In almost the same time it takes to read this blog, I could for example: A) Develop of list of 20 businesses with a list of the characteristics I choose. B) Map the perfect driving route to economize drive time. C) Have a personalized letter addressed to each prospect with unique facts and questions about their industry. D) Be equipped to explain how my product will meet their needs, and E) Walk out the door en route to deliver the letter (with a gift of course).

These three tools will streamline your B2B prospecting:

1. Reference USA* – Once you arrive at Reference USA, you have the option to select between new or existing businesses. Most subscriptions to Reference USA will also offer an alternate healthcare database.

Once you have selected one of these choices, be sure to select custom search followed by the criteria you choose to limit your results. See video at the bottom of this page. Be sure to export your list into an excel spreadsheet with all the fields you want to know.

2. Batch Geo – Use this to quickly plot all your prospects on ONE Google map. It’s infinitely better than typing one address at a time into MapQuest.

Tip: Be sure to add the column descriptions for each field and paste the entire location section (address, city, state, zip) into the paste field.

3. First Research* – Simply select your industry, and read its overview. The call prep sheet is an extraordinary tool and the fastest way to get basic understanding about the business environment of any industry.

*Requires a library card – The power of information accessible online through your local library is stunning. I have linked these databases through the Tulsa library research center, but they are made widely available thanks to the U.S. department of education.

However I would NOT recommend taking this lightning fast approach to prospecting.

I have barely scratched the surface of prospecting! Most sellers have taken so long to get to this point (holding a mapped list of possible targets) they still have limited knowledge of each prospect! NOW begins the process of more refining and researching your prospects. This is where prospecting really begins!

Here are some tips for how to determine if one of your prospects is a good fit for you:

– View the detailed company descriptions on Reference USA.
– Find financial statements on Edgar (Publicly traded) Guidestar (Non-Profit) or MDDI (Local businesses – through your library).
– Evaluate your prospect’s website.
– Mystery shop from a customer’s perspective by going to their location, or picking up a phone and making a phone call.

In summary, I will leave you with this: Prospecting is a necessary process that is not impossibly tedious to the trained salesperson, and it begins (and not ends) with a list of qualified businesses that will ultimately match your description of the ideal clients. Having prospected & researched thoroughly, your sales efforts will likely be both more profitable and more successful.

iOS 6 and the Apple Maps Mess

In his letter to Apple customers, Tim Cook apologized for the new challenges that face iOS6 users who are trying to locate local businesses with the new, sans-Google Apple Maps app. To his credit, since the initial launch, Apple has covered a lot of ground adding and correcting business listings in the new app. Still, there is a lot of inaccurate and missing information, and with millions of early adopters users now using iOS6, your business could be at risk of obscurity if some precautions aren’t made. Here’s how you can get found:

Not only are your potential customers looking to find your businesses via Apple maps, but they are also critically reading each corresponding customer review. What that means to you – you may only get one chance to make your e-first impression, so make sure it’s a good one.

Income Inequality – Top 20 States in 2010

Occupy your state?

Wondering how your area ranks for income inequality? One way to objectively measure it is the Gini coefficient, named after Italian statistician and sociologist Corrado Gini. The Gini coefficient is a statistical tool to measure income disparity in a geographic area.

The American Community Survey calculates the coefficient yearly. How does it work? A coefficient of 0 represents perfect income equality, and a 1 perfect income inequality.

The top 20 in 2010:

Can’t find your state? View the interactive map in full screen for a better experience.

Rank State/Territory Gini Coefficient
1 District of Columbia 0.53
2 New York 0.49
3 Connecticut 0.48
4 Massachusetts 0.47
5 Louisiana 0.47
6 Florida 0.47
7 California 0.47
8 Alabama 0.47
9 Texas 0.46
10 Tennessee 0.46
11 South Carolina 0.46
12 Rhode Island 0.46
13 Pennsylvania 0.46
14 North Carolina 0.46
15 New Mexico 0.46
16 New Jersey 0.46
17 Mississippi 0.46
18 Kentucky 0.46
19 Illinois 0.46
20 Georgia 0.46

Market volatility feeds fear and greed

Domestic and international financial markets are are in uproar, causing selloffs and deep concern among investors. The US lost its top-level credit rating, equating its creditworthiness with Belgium and New Zealand, but below 13 other countries: the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Hong Kong, Germany, France, Canada, Britain, Denmark, Austria, and Australia.

Many Americans are wondering, “What should I do?”

Two reactions are common:

  • Fear
  • Greed

These two reactions can be powerfully motivating and are prompting some very irrational behavior. First, let’s look at an extreme example of fear: In 2008 when the market dropped significantly after the real estate crisis, many fearful Americans called their broker, liquidated everything, then went to the bank and withdrew all their money. Those strongly held beliefs about the end of America & fear of losing everything caused many others to stop investing and simply hang on to cash. It seems silly now, in retrospect, given the continuity of our American way of life that anyone would have acted so irrationally. Still, from a behavioral perspective, people are terrified of losing their security. One this is clear: when facing economic uncertainty, acting from a basis of fear is risky.

Greed is the other common reaction to the fiscal calamity. Some investors are using the volatility to profit from the downturn. Short-sell strategies and derivitives can enrich a portfolio as the market goes down. Without insider information, betting on the downturn is risky.

A conservative approach

Speaking with local financial advisor, Greg Melia, I learned about the “rule of 100.” The rule of 100 is simple:

100 – Your Age = Maximum % of Your Portfolio in Stocks

The basic idea behind the rule of 100 is that the closer you are to retirement, the less risk your portfolio assumes. What are other investment alternatives to stocks? Consider more conservative alternatives like bonds, annuities, CDs, even Gold.

SEO – It’s not magic – Video tutorial for WordPress

Search engine optimization is essential for every business’s website. Higher search rankings directly lead to increased traffic; ultimately leading to higher profitability and awareness.

Most web developers are skilled enough to execute SEO essentials. But to a developer, whose time is money, SEO is often last priority when faced with the opportunity to move on to another project. Ultimately too often business owners explicitly trust their web developer to launch a website – and never realize how the developer has cut corners on SEO. Turning to an SEO “expert” is often like the searching for wizard of Oz. SEO experts pretend there is some mystery and wonder behind their tactics – pretending that by virtue of being their client your site is “optimized.”

SEO is not magic. It’s not rocket science, either.

There are lots of tactics to improve your site’s ranking – with varying levels of effectiveness and difficulty. One of the MOST simple and important steps of SEO is defining your META tags.
This coding is often lost with a CMS like WordPress, because the real beauty of WordPress is the user’s ability to move beyond the laborious task of learning, typing, and retyping lines of code. But defining your site’s META tag is free, effective, and I’ll show you exactly how to do it:

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

As you can see in the video, this SEO essential is as easy as placing the following text in the header.php file located in your WordPress site’s theme directory:

< meta name=”description” content=”Business thought for consideration from Steven Rydin.” />
< meta name=”keywords” content=”steven rydin, business strategy, business tactics, financial markets, seo, marketing” />

Here is a link to Bluefish, the free HTML editor.

For help with this and other SEO projects, please contact me

7 Steps to unlimited free questionnaires

Gathering primary research about your organization is priceless. Good organizations conduct research. Great companies do it often.

How closely are you listening?

Every business owner has three goals for research:
1. Get the maximum number of responses
2. Get real-time feedback
3. Do it all for free

Right now Google is the only service to meet these criteria (to the best of my knowledge). One of my professors asked me how to do this, so in response:

Step-by-step instructions for conducting unlimited free research:

Step 0:

Get a Google account.

Step 1:

Go to

Step 2:

Create a new form.

Step 3:

Create your questionnaire.
Put a lot of consideration into this step. Consider getting help if you have never done this before.

Step 4:

Save & view.

Final questionnaire will be some variation of this:

If you are satisfied with the final product, email the link (your browser’s URL when viewing the survey) to your customer database.

Tip: Use an HTML email to send the link. Here are some sample HTML templates from Mailchimp for a professional look.

Step 6:

Go back to Select your new survey. Sit back and count the responses.

Get early feedback if you like.

It will look like this:

Step 7:

When you are satisfied, close the questionnaire by unchecking “accepting responses” in the form tab.
Now export to excel. Analyze. (Or send to a geek who can analyze for you.)

If you want to make the survey even easier to access, embed it in your website. This will make an easier destination for traffic to find & complete your questionnaire: Ex.