The IAWL Trivia Results Are In!
January 11, 2011

Last month we held our “It’s A Wonderful Life” trivia contest and we cannot thank our participants more for the additional holiday cheer they provided to us, as well their fellow competitors. That said, we feel we should take this opportunity to highlight a few people without whom the game would have not been the same.

First we would like to honor our champion,  Mike Cotton, who earned 17 ½ points, by always waiting patiently at his computer at 10:00am EST whenever he had time. Of course if this was  “Goodfellas” trivia contest, Mike would have scored 100%!

Next there is Shaun K, who came in second with 5 ½ points (6 ½  with the bonus point), followed by Terry Ryan and Gini Dietrich who each had one.

Then there are Greg Kaufman and Terry Ryan (again), who at times seemed to be watching an alternative version of the film, perhaps a bootleg one purchased from a guy with a table set on Fifth Ave. in NYC. In this one in Harry Bailey played women’s lacrosse and the angel Clarence Clemmons wore dry-fit outfits from Victoria’s Secret while hanging out at Hooters and reading copies of Eat Love Pray (apparently another alternative edition of something) and Penthouse Forum. In this version George also apparently has problems with his fly, and beats up Uncle Billy who he believes should have been forced into retirement at age 62. In this version there is also apparently an NC-17 wedding night scene between George and Mary. No one at Randolph Sterling has seen version of the film, but if you could please send a link to where it can be bought, we would appreciate it.

That said, we hope everyone’s New Year is going well, and hope you can all play again next year! Just remember to set your alarm to 9:59am EST so you can beat Mike Cotton to the answer!!!

 

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Welcome 2011, A Year to Work Smarter and Grow the Right Way!
January 3, 2011

Since most of my November and December articles talk about how you shouldn’t stop your sales efforts during the “holiday months” because you will be behind your competition come the start of January, I am sure that all of you are expecting me to be writing something along the same lines. Well we are very busy and I am proud to say that all of your clients heeded our advice this year and are reaping the benefits as phones are ringing off the hook this week (do people still have phones that “hook?”) however that is not what this article is about.

I first want to thank everyone who helped Randolph Sterling, Inc. help more clients than ever before in our history in 2010. From clients to staff to referral sources to friends and supporters, you made our success your business so as President and CEO of Randolph Sterling, Inc., I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

So what does 2011 look like for you? OK, so it is only days into January so I figured I would take my crack at being an Economics expert (I’m sure my Economics 201 professor from Pace University is glad he retired and happier that I am not using his name here). The economy works in cycles, we all know that. We have been on a downward cycle for awhile, but things have been getting better as we are seeing more companies in more industries looking at opportunities.

I know, you are thinking: “Wow, Rich, great insight. The last time I got insight like that, I at least had dessert from the eggroll I had just eaten!”

We work with several different companies that sell to different industries, from accounting to manufacturing, from healthcare to plumbing and marketing. What I see is an economy filled with smarter decision makers who understand who they are, what they do, and who they serve. More and more people working smarter, not harder. I attest this due to a lot of people who really shouldn’t be in business not being able to survive.

With all apologies to the many good people who have lost jobs or are having trouble finding jobs in this economy, the majority of the people I saw who went out of business (and as a result, many of my clients are now working with their past clients) were people who didn’t realize what value is. They either tried to sell on price or not provide the quality that others in their industry had been doing all along.

We have been spending the last several months asking clients and prospects “What makes you great?” Not good, not OK, not cheaper, but great. It’s OK to say it out loud. Heck, if you don’t think you are great, why would a prospect think so? What do you bring to the table that nobody else can? Who wants it? We have been asking ourselves and our clients to dig deeper so we can help them form the right relationships with the right people for the right growth. My prediction for 2011? Companies will continue to work smarter and grow the right way. There is no easy fix to the economy, just good, old fashioned, SMART work.

Happy 2011 everyone!

 

Here We Are
December 1, 2010

Here we are…at the beginning of the 12th month of the calendar. Boy has 2010 flown by. It seems like just yesterday when I was writing about the start of a new decade (which is actually this year, but I’m not going to start that conversation again). So much has happened in our world and in the world over the past 11 months. It seems as though the economy has taken a turn for the better, thanks in large part to many of my friends who own small to mid-sized businesses. To paraphrase George Bailey from my favorite movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, it is the small to mid sized business who does most of the living and working and purchasing and dying in this world. We didn’t need a bailout, we just needed our entrepreneurial spirit to help us continue to grow in tougher times.

Of course, I did mention that it is the beginning of the 12th month on our calendar, not the end of it. We at Randolph Sterling are very busy with new projects starting every day, and we are seeing clients busier and busier throughout the month of December. Working smarter has definitely prevailed.

Speaking of working smarter, every Monday, we have an internal sales meeting with our inside sales team. We discuss the projects we are all working on and discuss how we can help each other to provide the best possible experience for our clients. We ask our clients to tell us what makes them different from their competition and how can we use that to help find more of the people they should be working with. We also look at the responses we receive in the rather lengthy conversations we have with prospects to see what they are telling us about what they are looking for and how our clients can help them. We are all about developing relationships for our clients, but it needs to be relationships of value to them.

Working smarter does include an amount of fun, as our resident social media expert, Daniel Nuccio, found time to develop two contests this December, one asking you about your favorite holiday song and another trivia contest from the previously mentioned It’s a Wonderful Life. Between developing budgets for next year and making those last few sales of the year, be sure to check them out!

 

Let the Holiday Season, and Games, Begin!!!
November 30, 2010

The Holiday season seems to come earlier every year.  There was a time when you typically didn’t see Christmas displays at stores, or hear songs about sleigh bells playing at Starbucks, or catch a commercial starring Santa until right around Thanksgiving , but now it seems like the stores are putting up decorated pine trees and garland the same day they take down the spider webs and Jack O’Lanterns.

Yet, regardless of when it starts, the Holiday season always brings with it pleasant memories that are often associated with particular songs or movies or foods. For example, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life always reminds me of being a little kid and staying up late to watch it for the first time with my dad when I couldn’t sleep, or another year when we went to pick up Italian pastries on Christmas Eve and realized that while they were calling B-54, we were E-73, so we played It’s a Wonderful Life trivia for two hours while we waited (here’s an easy one…what was George’s wife’s maiden name?)

And the trip down memory lane is endless when it comes to Christmas songs. Just think, where were you when you first heard songs like Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and, well practically anything by Trans Siberian Orchestra or Manheim Steamroller? How about David Bowie and the late, great Bing Crosby singing “Little Drummer Boy?” Can you find an odder pairing this side of Frank Sinatra and Cyndi Lauper, but they make it work into one of the most beautiful Christmas songs out there. How about the “old time classics” like Gene Autry doing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” or Burl Ives crooning about “Holly Jolly Christmas?”

The only Christmas song I really can’t stand is “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” (If you clicked on the link, did you see how bad it was?). Now, I wasn’t traumatized as a child by waking up one Christmas morning seeing mommy kissing Santa Claus, but for some reason no matter what artist plays this song, I just have a problem with it. Seriously, who decided it was good to write a song about a little kid seeing his mom kissing Santa? Isn’t life confusing enough for kids already? Back in the day, all we had to worry about was whose house we were going to play at or trying to figure out how our parents somehow walked to and from school uphill in the worst weather climate possible, even worse than last winter’s February Fury. Now we have to add in concerns that our mom might be fooling around with Santa?

“What a laugh it would have been, if daddy had walked on in…” are you kidding me? A laugh, really? Where are our values? If I someday meet Miss Right and she becomes Mrs. Burghgraef, and we have kids, I really hope one day I don’t come home from a long day’s work to have Junior come up to me and say… “Hey dad, you will never guess what happened today. I came downstairs and saw Mom smooching with a guy in a red suit, grey beard, and about 50 lbs. of extra weight.” What are we teaching our kids?

That’s why I stick with the simple songs. Bruce asking “The Big Man,” Clarence Clemons, if Santa is going to bring him a new saxophone; and then later in the song you hear him laugh as he belts out “Santa Claus is Coming to Town!” I hope it is because he is having a great time doing the song and not because he just caught his wife kissing Santa (see, I just can’t get over that!)

Now, before I begin to sound anymore like a 3:00am informercial for a Time Life Classics special, let me get to the point. This year Randolph Sterling will be holding not one, but two Holiday contests, one on the Randolph Sterling Facebook Fan Page, and on my personal Facebook Page. Here’s what you need to know!

Contest 1: Did You See Mommy Kissing Santa Claus?

Hopefully not! As you know, I‘m not a fan. And I will give a $25 restaurant gift card to one lucky winner who can find a better Holiday song and tell me why it’s great. Just post a link and a message on our Randolph Sterling Facebook Fan Page between December 1st and December 24th . Our winner will be announced in early January.

Contest 2:  What Is, “It’s a Wonderful Life?”

Our second contest is a trivia contest to test your knowledge about one of my favorite Christmas movies, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. Every business day at 10:00am EST from December 1st through December 24th, I will post a trivia question about It’s a Wonderful Life on my personal Facebook page. Answers will be posted Saturday morning. The person to correctly answer the most questions will be declared the winner and receive a $25 restaurant gift card in January of next year.

So, let the games, and the Holidays, begin!

A Special (Belated) Mother’s Day Note from Randolph Sterling, Inc.
May 10, 2010

I’m sorry this is a day late everyone, but I Saturday was my dad’s birthday and Sunday was Mother’s Day so I wasn’t on the computer too much to write.

As I think about it, most of the women I know are mothers–my mom, my sister, my grandmother, my aunts; Lisa, Angela, and Becky on our inside sales team; several of our clients, the wives of most of the guys from basketball and softball. Moms, all of them. I wanted to take a moment, although a day late, to thank you on behalf of your kids.

Thank you for always being there, for teaching us right from wrong, for picking us up when we didn’t exactly get the lesson right, for reading to us when we were little and acted like we couldn’t just to have more of your time, for making us chicken soup (even if it was out of a can!) when we are sick, for making sure we are our vegetables and got our homework done, and for allowing us to be the people we are today.

We may not always show it or know it, but you know how much we appreciate you. Thank you for being the person you are and for helping us be the people we are.

IT’S A NEW YEAR!!!
December 30, 2009

Christmas is finally over. The shopping can stop. The relatives have gone home. We can go back to having a normal diet, not one filled with large meals where we eat and eat. But, before we start that post holiday diet and exercise program, we have one more 24 hour period of indulgence. Yes, it is New Years.

It may be just me, but people don’t seem to be as excited about welcoming in the new year as we used to be. Through the years we used to get dressed up and hit the town, staying out until early morning. If not that, then you went to your favorite local tavern to be with friends. One year I went to a tennis party on New Years. We played tennis until midnight and then celebrated. In other years we went to house parties, where we got to make fools of ourselves in front of our friends and neighbors. Maybe it is still being done, and I am just too old to be part of it. It’s past me by and I haven’t even realized it. My friends are my age and some of them have trouble staying up until 10:00 P.M. let alone midnight. I could be wrong on this. Am I?

To some, New Years just means a day or two off from work. Not to me of course, because I love my job and would do it for free (but don’t repeat that to Rich). New Years is a good excuse to watch football all day without too many complaints. I mean, it’s New Years day for crying out loud. Tradition….

Yet, for a lot of people, it signifies a new start. If we had a bad year, we put it behind us.  If it was a good year, we hope for a better one. It is a time for optimism, positive attitudes and good intentions.

The same is true with business. If 2009 was a good year, the thought is let’s keep it going.  If it wasn’t a stellar year, the mindset might be more that the year is finally over. We made it through and we are still in business. We know 2010 will be a lot better.

The new year brings new goals, new expectations and new budgets. Companies have their kickoffs for the “latest and greatest” marketing campaign. New products are introduced. Old products are reintroduced with a little twist to them. Everyone is optimistic about the coming year. And, we should be.  This is the time to be excited about whatever we do. See your customers or clients with enthusiasm and positive attitudes.  That is what we can control as an individual. I hope you are ready for the challenges that 2010 will bring. They will be there. That, we know for sure. Randolph Sterling is here to assist you with your efforts to be successful.

We hope everyone has had a great holiday season and that 2010 is a wonderful year for all of us, both business and personally.

Happy New Year !!!!

Holidays With Art: A Merry Mood and a Merry Christmas
December 15, 2009

It’s the holiday season and we are busier than ever.  Gifts to buy and company to prepare for consume our waking hours.  Despite this, have you ever noticed that people seem to be just a little bit nicer to each other around this time of year?   You wonder with everything going on, why?

I don’t know exactly why people are in a better mood, but I am guessing there are a few reasons for this.  We have some days off from work.  And, when we are there, it may be that not as much production is expected.  How about all of the food and drink that we consume?  What is sweet about this is that we can eat what we want without the guilt that is associated with stuffing ourselves with sweets and candy.  Heck, I will be starting my diet after the 1st, so I might as well enjoy myself now.  I can spend the next eleven months worrying about my weight.

How about the relatives that are coming in for a visit?  That can put you in a good mood.  Or not.  Everyone sitting around trying to outtalk each other, cousins fighting over toys and in-laws talking about just their side of the family, boring everyone else just makes for a perfect day.  I normally make some Irish Cream for Xmas, and my kids have requested a double batch to tolerate all of the relatives they will be seeing this year.

With all of those people over for the big Christmas dinner, you plan for that special meal where everyone can share in the feast.  However, you have to know who is allergic to what and who doesn’t eat which vegetables.  You’re trying to cook and be a host at the same time.  There are plenty of “helpers” in the kitchen, but most of them are standing there talking, drinking your wine and getting in the way.  Weeks of planning and hours of preparation, all for the fifteen minutes it takes everyone to bow their heads over their plate and not come up until everything is eaten.   Instead of comments such as “the turkey seems a little dry this year” or “are these or aren’t fresh vegetables?” a nice thank you from anyone would be appreciated.

The dinner is over and while you are still picking up, guests are dozing off, playing with some Xmas games or having more wine.  Fatigue is starting to set in on this marathon of a day.  Finally, it is time for your guests to leave.  With a long sigh, you say your final goodbye.  One question you should ask yourself is “Are you happier to see the guests come or when they leave”?

And what do some of us do the next day?  Bright and early we are at the store looking for bargains so we can start planning to do this all over again next Christmas.

I am no different.  I love having Christmas dinner.  My kids are all in town.  My Mother has flown in as well.  Sometimes a friend or two will join us.  Sitting around the table with your loved ones helps you realize how lucky you are in life.  And, in our saner moments, we also know that it is not the food that makes the dinner so special.  It is that time of year.

May all of you have a wonderful holiday season.  Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas To All, And To All A Good 2010
December 13, 2009

As the holiday season is upon us, and we sit at the dawn of a new decade, I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a very happy holiday season and best wishes for a wonderful new year.

OK, so we aren’t truly on the dawn of a new decade. There was no year 0, so we are actually in the last year of the first decade of this millennium, but what the heck. 10 years ago we had a big party as we went from 1999 into 2000, complete with celebrations from around the world, worries about the end of the world, and the need to upgrade every computer known to man. Since we had that, and because it is much more exciting to watch your odometer in your car go form 99,999 miles to 100,000 than it is to see it go to 100,001, we will stick with popular convention and call this the end of the old decade and the dawn of a new…and what a decade it was.

Back in 1999, I had just moved to Chicago from New Jersey. I had an opportunity to move into sales management so out went the thought of moving someplace warmer as I packed up my car and heavy jackets to head to the Windy City. At the time, Randolph Sterling, Inc. was not much more than a glimmer in my eye…a far off thought that really wasn’t that far off at all. Now, as we inch every so close to the start of our eighth year I think back on what was a pretty good decade, all things considered.

I couldn’t have done it without a little help from my friends.

One of my least favorite terms is “self made.” Maybe I am missing something, but as self sufficient as I may be, I don’t believe you can achieve success alone. Whether it was my parents offering support as I started this journey, the owners and managers of companies whom I worked with, who gave me the opportunity to learn and experience the business world; the financial analysts who gave me sound advice to put away some money back then to finance some of the early years, friends who were there for me through the good and the bad in both my professional and personal life, early contractors, who helped to build what Randolph Sterling, Inc. is today; clients, who have shown great faith in not only me as a business owner (and in many cases early on as “the guy” who did everything for them,) and of course, our team today.

Let me tell you a little about our core team at Randolph Sterling as we sit in December of 2009. Many of you know Art Crowley, the newest member of the team. Art started with us just a couple of months ago as an account executive in Chicago. He brings with him great experience and a slightly different take on how to sell our services. He is full of new ideas and as quite anxious to make his mark. So far so good.  It also doesn’t hurt that, like me, he is a Steelers fan. We look forward to great things form him in 2010 and beyond.

Next, we have Daniel Nuccio, our social media intern. Many of you know my skepticism when it comes to social media. I have sat in meeting after meeting on the value of it, but it seemed that the only people who were making money with this media were the people who got paid to speak about social media. We hired Daniel over the summer to test this theory and he certainly changed my mind. Our newsletter has become a great way to stay in touch with current and past clients and contacts, and the blogs and tweets have introduced us to new connections all over the country to the point that we are looking at adding a social media component to our services for 2010. Thanks, Daniel.

In addition, we have Angela King, who runs inside sales in North Carolina. Born and raised in the Tar Heel State, Angela has a great personality and can speak to anyone; kings, queens, the owner of a small company, an intern at a large one, or anyone in between. The success of our inside sales program has always been our ability to have conversations with the people on the other end of the line. We don’t try to sell, we build relationships, and Angela is wonderful at building relationships.  Although our receivables are usually in good shape, we may even have Angela take over on “reminder calls” in the coming year…trust me, you do not want her to “go country” on you.

Last, but certainly not least is inside sales manager and SAM group membership manager, Lisa Pickens. Lisa has been with me the longest and often refers to herself as my “work wife.” In addition to all of her “regular” responsibilities, Lisa has been a confidant to me on decisions about the company in several areas and does not mind giving me her opinion, which I value greatly. When I first met Lisa, I had no idea how vast her work experience is. It seems as though no matter what project I give to her, she has had some experience either working in or dealing with that industry. I honestly have no idea where we would be without her.

There are also several contractors that we work with throughout the year on various projects, and of course, my valued trusted advisors at Vistage, who help me to learn what I don’t know or don’t even know I don’t know and who challenge me to be better and never lose the vision of the company I continue to build.

I mentioned our clients briefly before, but they deserve mention again. From the smallest project to our longest running clients, we appreciate all of you as you have also helped us to become the company we are today. Thank you all very much.

Self made? I don’t think so…and proud of it.

So whatever you are celebrating this holiday season; Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, the winter solstice, Saturnalia, or even George Costanza’s made up holiday of Festivus, I wish you all the very best, now and in the coming decade.

Thank you.