Kip Gregory’s latest book–Winning Clients in a Wired World–is also his first, but after 20 years of teaching others how to make technology work, particularly in a sales, marketing, and business management context, he’s no stranger to the subject. Learning to make technology work in your practice, he preaches, doesn’t entail mastering specific applications. Rather, it’s about taking a systematic approach to incorporating any new technology into your business, based on how your business operates in the real world. The book includes guides to mastering new technology and ways to more efficiently use the software you already use, including the Microsoft Office suite, which Gregory suggests you can use to start and maintain a “knowledge journal” to make you more efficient. He also provides not only a list of helpful Web sites for more information but has built a companion site–www.winningclientsinawiredworld.com–and will send quarterly e-mail updates to readers.
What prompted you to write this book? I’ve never come across a book like this, or searched for one, because frankly, I don’t think one exists. I don’t mean that from an egotistical standpoint, it’s just that I don’t think anyone’s tried to tackle this issue of business and technology from the businessperson’s point of view, taking it beyond the software manual, “software for dummies” approach, in trying to put the puzzle pieces together in a way that makes sense for the reader.
Because of the subject matter, did you have to revise much from when you started–for example, when you realized that URLs had changed or gone dead? With a topic like this, it’s a chronic challenge. You have to pick points in time where you take a break to do just that. Even in the final stages of production, I was checking each of the links to make sure they were still active.
Technology is a dynamic field; this book represents a snapshot as of early 2004, in some respects, but at the same time, a reader can look at it and see some evergreen principles at work. Because that’s the important underlying thread–you’ve got to be able to tie this stuff together. You have to be able to tie how you do things to what you do, and even more importantly, to why you do it, if you want to incorporate not just technology, but the notion of systemization in your work. Otherwise, you’re just hopscotching around from product du jour to product du jour.
Long range, the idea is to create a place [the Web site] where people can gather in a community setting. So if you want to know what other people are doing, this would be one more resource for keeping abreast of what’s happening.
The forms that are in the back of the book will be available for sale electronically–so if somebody wants a template for any of these worksheets, or wants a souped-up version of the knowledge journal that I encourage people to use (I use it, myself, frankly, all the time), you can get it online.
You begin the book by writing about all the wasted time at so many companies replicating work already done by someone else in the organization, or finding information that already exists somewhere else.What is it about advisors? Why do some get it and others don’t? Think of a little Mom and Pop software developer that creates something that people love, then gets inundated with requests [for additional features]. Their desire is to please, so over time you see these [applications] get so bloated with features. In the process, people lose the forest for the trees, and all they see is that they’ve got 500 choices to make, and they say “I can’t compute that.”
Are advisors unique? Most advisors, whether they are independent or working for a larger firm, are small businesspeople. They are not thinking in terms of systemization. The best do ask themselves, “What do I need to do to create structure in my business?” and they then run that business systematically and delegate. But with respect to technology, I find advisors are absolutely no different than any other small businessperson, any other businessperson period. I would wager a guess that if you parachuted into General Electric or IBM or any place that has a large knowledge worker component, you would find people challenged by these issues, because they are issues of technology, and human learning, and adult learning.
So how do I as a businessperson take all this stuff I’m surrounded by–this black box on my desktop, and what’s now available to me at the click of a button through a browser window anywhere around the world–and make it work for me? How do I create a system where I can build processes that ultimately others can manage for me, or that I can outsource, or that I can find that have already been built, and buy into those so I don’t need to worry about it?
It was the Japanese that talked about the trivial many and the vital and critical few things that you need to do to move your business forward. So I’ve got MS Office, which means I’ve got e-mail and word processing and spreadsheeting, and presentation software, and maybe database software. I have to get from where I am, I have to get from $50 million in assets to $100 million, or I have to get from $0 to $10 million by the end of the year. How do I do that? What are the resources that I ought to be drawing on? That simple question is what I am attempting to answer with the book.