Just like laying out an outfit the night before a big meeting saves time in the morning, so does laying out your schedule on Friday for the next week.

If you know on Friday the outline of the following week, it truly does make your weekend more enjoyable.  Go in prepared, knowing what you have to do.  Get that edge, it will make a difference.

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I spend a tremendous part of my time writing and/or proofing proposals, as well as building new offerings with other strategic members of my company.  A proposal is one of the best and most comprehensive ways of being able to articulate (when you’re not there to do it) the value you can bring, as well as the process you will use to do it in.

In my mind, a proposal is made up of a few key elements:

  • A summary of what your prospect or customer needs
  • A summary of your qualifications to perform the work
  • A summary of the work to be performed
  • Pricing / cost analysis
  • (Sometimes) a brief ROI
  • Assumptions
  • Statement of terms, or a reference to terms on file

These can range from a one page simple quote, to a complex, verbose document with sample timelines, requirements and appendices.

The better you know your customer or prospect’s culture and expectations, the better prepared you will be to win the deal.  Knowing what they want and need, and articulating and communicating it is the key.  Showing your value against what may be cheaper solutions.  Delivering what they asked for.

I read a great article on fedmarket.com that I thought I’d share with you.  I’ve included an excerpt, but I’d encourage you to go out and read the whole thing.

One or Two Pages May Do It

By Richard White

“Proposal writing is both an art and a science. The art part is the solution that the customer believes will solve their problem with minimal risk. Often several pages of creative solution content will swing a win. It doesn’t matter if the solution is information technology, management consulting, program support, or a product. They are looking for:

  • Risk aversion, risk aversion, and risk aversion; the three R’s of proposal writing
  • Feasibility and practicality of solution (their perceived solution, not yours)
  • Speed of implementation
  • Speed of staffing
  • Uniqueness of staff
  • Proven capability to solve the problem
  • Nearness to customer
  • Special facility
  • Unique features and benefits
  • Unique management capabilities”

Until next time.

A mechanic was removing a cylinder head from the motor of a Harley motorcycle when he spotted a well-known heart surgeon in his shop.

The surgeon was there, waiting for the service manager to come and take a look at his bike.

The mechanic shouted across the garage, “Hey, Doc, can I ask you a question?”

The surgeon a bit surprised, walked over to the mechanic working on the motorcycle. The mechanic straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag and asked, “So Doc, look at this engine. I open its heart, take valves out, fix ’em, put ’em back in, and when I finish, it works just like new. So how come I get such a small salary and you get the really big bucks, when you and I are doing basically the same work?”

The surgeon paused, smiled and leaned over, and whispered to the mechanic…

“Try doing it with the engine running.”

This is from a forwarded email from my friend Rick- I found it funny and wanted to share it with you.

Proposed dog breeds, but it’ll probably be awhile before they’re AKC-registered:

Collie + Lhasa Apso
Collapso, a dog that folds up for easy transport

Spitz + Chow Chow
Spitz-Chow, a dog that throws up a lot

Pointer + Setter
Poinsetter, a traditional Christmas pet

Irish Water Spaniel + English Springer Spaniel Irish Springer, a dog fresh and clean as a whistle

Labrador Retriever + Curly Coated Retriever Lab Coat Retriever, the choice of research scientists

Newfoundland + Basset Hound
Newfound Asset Hound, a dog for financial advisors

Terrier + Bulldog
Terribull, a dog that makes awful mistakes

Bloodhound + Labrador
Blabador, a dog that barks incessantly

Malamute + Pointer
Moot Point, owned by… well, it doesn’t really matter

Collie + Malamute
Commute, a dog that travels to work

Deerhound + Terrier
Derriere, a dog that’s true to the end

Bull Terrier + Shitzu
Well, you get the idea….

My favorite pastime is undoubtedly reading. I read for education, enlightenment, entertainment, escape, distraction…

So in doing some reading today, I followed a couple of links to check out the progression of e-book technology.

Kindle books outsold “real” books on Christmas day. http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/12/amazon-kindle-books-outsold-real-books-this-christmas/ I was happy to see that this just meant that this was just on Christmas Day. (As people got their Kindles, they bought books – most people probably were NOT on Amazon on Christmas day.)

Still, though, over 9.5 million items for the Kindle were ordered on Christmas day according to the company’s press release. This means that the idea of the “physical book” is beginning to be less important to us as consumers.

I don’t know. I don’t have any ebook technology yet. I’m not sure that I’ll ever simply replace physical books with ebooks. I enjoy the tactile experience of books too much. Even down to dog eared pages and bulky hardbacks…

The one place I think I would really see ebooks being a huge add is when traveling. I tend to take 2-3 books on even short business trips, and I’m sure the weight isn’t great for my spinal health. Having a reader – would be great for that. At home, however, I like the idea of my bookshelves and browsing them just fine.

I like the info on Kurzweil‘s platform called Blio… Blio “actually lays out the “pages” as they would be seen on paper, with typography and illustrations copied across. It also supports video and animation. In some ways, it’s reminiscent of the interactive magazine applications (also meant for upcoming tablet devices) shown off by the likes of Time Warner, Popular Science publisher Bonnier and Wired’s parent company Conde Nast.”

In the end, I’m going to be watching this technology closely. I hope to see some cool advances as this progresses, and yes – this WILL be my next electronic toy purchase.

Now to decide which one…

What do you use? Any pointers on picking a good technology? What has been your experience? Do you see ebooks replacing (in whole or in part) your ownership of physical books?

Let me know… It’s my first pressing question of the New Year!

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

—Zig Ziglar
Fill your mind each day with things that support your greatest goals and desires.  Daily work towards the prize.  Keep on reminding yourself of your primary aims.