Saturday, July 29, 2017

"Kiss, Bow, Or Shake-hands"

The title of this post is also the title of a book authored by Terri Morrison and Wayne Conaway.  It is a guide, and good start source, in the study and understanding of cross-cultural differences and their impact on doing business in different countries - through verbal and, more importantly, body gesturing and messaging.

This is the second of a two-part post on body language and its importance in dealing with others on a daily basis in both personal and business relationships.

In the world of body language, cultural differences reign supreme. Nodding your head, direct eye contact, hand and arm gestures are examples where cultural differences can have very different meanings. Lets take hand signs. Look at the hands and see if you know what they signify.

A - means OK but in many countries like Russia and Brazil it is a sexual insult.
B - means '1' or 'OK' but can mean 'No!' in some cultures
C - in the U.S. it means '2' or 'Peace' in Europe 'Victory', in Australia 'Up yours'
D - 'three' in Europe
E - 'two' in Europe, 'waiter' in the U.S., in Japan 'an insult'
F - 'four' in Western countries, 'an insult' in Japan
G - '5' in West, 'Stop' everywhere
H - 'small penis' in Europe
I - 'protection against evil' in S. America and Italy
J - 'two' in West, 'go to hell' in Greece
K - 'screw you' in U.S.
L - 'one' in Europe, 'good/ok' in U.S.
M - 'hang loose' in Hawaii, 'want a drink' in Holland
N - 'I love you' in U.S.
O - 'stop' in West, 'I'm telling the truth' around the world

Hand gestures are but a small part of body language and non-verbal gestures we all use. You need to study all forms of body language and make sure what there meaning is - not only in the U.S. but in relationships with non-Americans as well.

Jim Lavorato

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Body Language: What It Tells Others

7% of what we communicate to others is verbal - the other 93% is communicated through our body language or body messaging. In this two-part post I will explore the concept of body language and how you can use it to communicate with others while figuring out what others are communicating to you.

Part I - The Non-verbal Language of Humans - What Your Body Says Matters!

Standing, sitting, posture, posing, facial expressions, eye movement, hand gestures, are all parts of how we communicate with each other on a daily basis.  Much of what you communicate and have communicated to you be it with the store clerk, waitperson, co-workers, clients, friends, family, superiors, are all dictated by body language - your's and their's.

Worst Body Messages You Can Send:

- Avoiding Eye Contact: signals deception or lack of openness and concealment.
- Slouching: shows lack of self-confidence and poor self-esteem.
- Weak Handshake: demonstrates a lack of authority and shows submissiveness. Too firm a shake or too long a shake can be interpreted as aggression and lack of confidence.
- Folding Arms: indicates dis-interest and shutting down, a defensive posture.
- Looking Down: saps all the power out of your persona and makes you look weak.
- Angling Body Away From Others: shows dis-comfort and dis-trust of who you are communicating with.
- Fidgeting & Touching Hair: in men or women reveals a discomfort or anxiety and lack of self-esteem and confidence.
- Invading Others Space: 18" is as close as you want to get closer than that and most N. Americans feel uncomfortable.
-Frowning & Scowling: the most common no-no and the most used of all body language as these facial gestures are unconscious reactions showing unhappiness or disagreement.

Over the next several days be aware of the above and see how often these body messaging indicators are used by yourself and others around you.  Then, start to communicate with others by consciously not doing the above while 'listening' to what others are telling you.

In Part II of this post I will be discussing the cross-cultural aspects of body messaging and what may be socially accepted in one country would be totally abhorred in another.

Jim Lavorato

Saturday, July 15, 2017

What's In A Name? Everything!

At Fund-House we expend a lot of brain-power developing names and logos for company-clients.
Naming is the start-point for building a company's identity and brand so a lot hinges on getting the right (and proper) name and logo.

In developing and designing a company name the final result must be unique yet fit into what the business does - it's reason for being. Many companies use the family name, for example, Ford, Johnson & Johnson, and JP Morgan Chase . Others, like law, accounting, and consulting often use the partners names. Small businesses often use the family name, such as Joe Smith & Sons. However, naming experts, Fund-House included, believe using unique names can be far more effective than family names. For example, the most profitable and successful family-named business is Kinder Morgan. My guess is that most of you reading this post never heard of Kinder Morgan,  yet it is N. America's largest energy infrastructure company.

Naming your business is one of the most important things a start-up does as it begins its journey, if the name is off, everything else about the business is impacted. There are several 'not to dos' in naming a business.

- Don't have too many people involved in the naming. Just keep it to the very important few.
- Don't take two unrelated words and blend them, for example, QualiServe. This over-used phrase       naming is not suitable in today's marketplace.
- Don't use complicated, literal names. For example, the name 'Search Engine Management Company' instead of Google.
- Don't use map names. This may work for local tradesmen or restaurants but as your business grows it will become a hindrance. 3M and KFC are examples of companies outgrowing their geographic names.
- Don't use cliches. Words like Apex or Summit are totally overused and have no meaning.
- Don't use made-up names. This may work for pharmaceutical drugs but they are usually mispronounced and misspelled  (making internet search difficult) and must rely heavily on advertising to get behind the name and explain what the company actually does.

Take the time to develop a good, expressive, memorable, and creative name for your business. Use expert assistance in naming and logo design and in trademarking and/or copyrighting the name/logo.
This will be money will  spent. Normally, the charge is $3000-5000 for naming and logo design. That would also include a tag-line if necessary to communicate what the company does.

A naming consultant, like Fund-House, should present 3 to 5 names that have already been trademark searched.  Your task is determining: which name best fits your business objectives, which accurately describes the company, and how does it sound when spoken.  Normally it takes 4-6 weeks for to develop appropriate company names and logos and several more weeks for the client to decide which name is best suited for the business.

So, what's in a name? Well, everything!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Top Brands And What They Share

So, you want to Brand something - yourself, a product, a service, a group, a life-style, whatever. More importantly you want the Brand to be successful, known, purchased, used, and valued. Well, the best place to start is by looking at the top global brands and seeing what they have in common.

The 20 Top Global Brands (based on value):

1. Apple
2. Google
3. Coca Cola
4. Microsoft
5. Toyota
6. IBM
7. Samsung
8. Amazon
9. Mercedes Benz
10. General Electric
11. BMW
12. McDonald's
13. Disney
14. Intel
15. Facebook
16. Cisco
17. Oracle
18. Nike
19. Louis Vuitton
20. H&M

These 20 companies vary greatly in terms of products or services offered and in terms of culture and markets served. Seven tech companies (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Intel, Cisco, and Oracle). Six consumer products companies (Coke, Samsung, McDonald's, Nike, Vuitton, and H&M). Three auto (Toyota, Mercedes, and BMW). One entertainment in Disney. One social media, Facebook (I do not consider it a tech company). Two hybrids (IBM and General Electric),

So, what are the common threads that run through these Brands that make them the Tops. There are only four but these are the Brand drivers for all of these companies.

- A Clear Growth Strategy.  The new corporate buzz-word these days is streamlining. Agility and focus are front-and-center in the corporate offices of these companies.  The goal: to send a clear and concise message to everyone through your Brand.

- Managing the Blur. All business sectors are impacted by technology, which is ever evolving, so being able to effectively manage ambiguity at every facet of the business is paramount.

- Borrow From The Best. All brands and businesses are moving at an accelerated pace making significant operational changes harder and harder - so top global brands borrow from the best. Aligning with other businesses, acquiring and embracing what others do exceptionally well
is what extends the core offerings of a brand.

- Zeroing In On The Customer. Being customer-centric is a MUST. Branding is not an exercise in vanity, but a tool to be used to deepen and identify who you are in the marketplace. Strong brands normally grow stronger as their defining element to brand success is user experience.

In brand building and development a business cannot follow it must lead and have a clear sense of self. The Brand and business culture must be cohesive and built around people.

Jim Lavorato

Anyway, What Is A Brand

Simply - a Brand is a promise. 
Brands and colors

For hundreds of years,Western cattlemen branded their herds for identification not because they thought the herd would be stolen but because they wanted to make sure people knew that their stock was of a certain quality and value.The same holds true today - Brands are a measure of quality, consistency, and value.

- Why do consumers buy branded products or services?

Because they know what they are buying. They know its quality and trust that it will be exactly that which was promised by the seller.  Breaking that promise is non-recoverable. A Brand will never be able to salvage a bad product or service or bad management. A business builds its Brand on repetition and trust and the stronger the Brand the more it is trusted.

Fund-House Logo
- How do you get your Brand known?

It takes less than 7 seconds to grab a consumer's attention whether by traditional means, such as print media, ads, or even radio spots or new media via website, social, or blogs.  In today's digital domain it is all about WIIFM (what's in it for me). What are the benefits to the a buyer of your product or service as compared to others.

- What colors should be used in developing a Brand - logo, social pages, stationary, business cards-to-company sway? I get this question all of the time and my answer depends upon the product/service and what industry it is part of.

Red: creates positive emotions, urgency, impulses. Many companies use red for their branding, especially those in the food and restaurant industries.

Blue: again, used by many companies to evoke sense of authority and trust. Used extensively in the financial industry.

Yellow: stands for youthfulness, grabs attention and creates feelings of happiness and clarity. Used by many consumers goods companies and in their packaging.

Orange: calls attention, is a friendly, cheerful, and confident color.

Green: relaxing, points to fertility and growth. Used by almost every green-based, eco-company.

Purple: denotes luxury, royalty, mystery. Is soothing and calm. Used in the wealth management and insurance sectors.

Black: dramatic and formal. Used for upscale consumer products companies and by professional groups, such as attorneys and doctors.

In my next post I'll cover the top 10 global brands and discuss what these brands have in common.

Jim Lavorato

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


Yep. Failure from doing something that didn't work out or not doing something that should have been done or just plain making a dumb decision does have a bright side - it makes you Grow. Failure makes you a better decision-maker and better manager/business operator.

Entrepreneurs are noted for not having great people skills. Idea and conception is one thing, implementation and day-to-day management is another. Regardless, one must strive to minimize failure as you grow your business and develop its culture. Here are some thoughts:

- Keep in mind that you can be a good company and a good business -there is a difference.
- Be as open source as possible have it become part of what your company does.
- Use metrics. If you don't measure things, you can't improve them.
- We, at Fund House, have a weekly all staff meeting called, 'State of the House'. It is critical in              today's business environment that all staff are familiar with all aspects of the business.
- Good people are the key to success. Skills can be taught - good staff needs to be celebrated.
- Traveling takes too much time, use the internet for customer contact. Use videos and blogs.
- Learn to say NO. It's not about what you can do, it's more about what you will not do.
- Protect your Brand at all costs.
- The office and location do not make the business you can work from anywhere.

Jim Lavorato