Archive for October, 2020

Milton Reynolds and The secret to marketing with fresh eyes

Lessons from my Grandpa and marketing the first ballpoint pen

2020 has been a challenging year for many businesses. It is hard to predict what 2021 will bring. If the pandemic was good for business, will the recovery be good for business? If the last 9 months hurt business, when will it turn around?  Either way, you should be looking at your marketing with fresh eyes.

My family’s marketing story that echos even today

Milt Reynolds – “Inventor” of the Ball Point Pen and Aviator 

My Grandfather, a manufacturer with a family to feed, was out of work during WWII. He started an import business selling retailers luxury goods made in Mexico. In late 1945 Milt attended an auction for the patent of a “Biro” aka ballpoint pen (capillary action). Biro was invented in 1938 and used by the British Airforce to write at altitude. The auction price was too high, but undaunted Milt went home and reengineered a ballpoint pen based on gravity-action. He cornered the market for overproduced tiny ball bearings used in aircraft bomb sites, blocking the competition ability to get them.

Next Milt went to a major department store offering the “exclusive rights” to sell the pen if they ran a full-page ad in the next day’s morning paper. When the president of that store awoke, he found 13 full-page ads. Milt had made the same deal with every retailer in New York! The retailers were furious until it caused a buying frenzy. Gimbels Department Store set a world record for the most transactions in a single day. (Watch Scene Godfather One)

Milt knew Sales and Promotion

After WWII, Milt predicted a pent-up demand for unique Christmas luxury items. He planned to grab the market before the competition knew what hit them. He made history, a fortune, and launched a new industry.

The ballpoint pen had been around in some form since the turn of the century, so what did Milt have that made his ballpoint fortune?

  • The right product.
  • Competitors who did not understand timing or how to market.
  • A loyal network to sell too – Retailers.
  • The promotional know-how to create “PULL demand” for a “new” idea with a compelling story.

Let’s get better sales opportunities, not just more “leads”… apply this story to your business


  • If your business is down, look around. Start with the real facts. Look at your financials, determine your most profitable products or services.
  • Ask your best clients this question. What is the best thing about doing business with your company? Craft your selling message around what they say.
  • With keyword research, identify your digital footprint as well as two competitors’ digitals footprint. Identify what they are promoting and where and how.


  • The economy is down. Some of your best CONTACTS are getting laid off. Find where they are, call, and explore opportunities with them. 
  • Join LinkedIn and find In-Person industry forums and networks to attend, ask questions, and be seen.
  • Talk to your customers. Think about what they need and how you can make it better, faster, or cheaper.


  • Your website is not just a piece of literature. MAKE IT SELL.
    • Update the website to meet Google’s required standards. 
    • Bring your content capabilities and pictures up to date. 
    • Post articles monthly about the “most profitable” product or service you identified. Show people know that you are an engaged, expert, and leader in the field.
    • Be in the top five for your best keywords on a Google search page. 
  • From client feedback on working with you, take the common themes, and make that your “story”.
  • PULL IN SALES by leveraging your digital footprint with SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media, and email marketing.

The Reynolds Group’s purpose is to help clients increase profitable revenues and repeat business with efficient marketing. The Reynolds Group achieves this with sMarketing and SEO2Sales that have been proven to increase sales by 20%.

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admin on October 22nd 2020 in Web Stuff

“I Wouldn’t Do That” – Watch out for California’s Labor Laws

Speaker:  Cindy Flynn of Hackler Flynn & Associates



Our guest speaker Cindy Flynn discusses why business owners in California need to be particularly diligent with employment practices today.

My top takeaways:

Rules and Risk Applies to Many

It’s not just the business owner, but anyone with seniority or in a supervisory position who needs to understand the risks and how to prevent legal actions. During the hiring process, each interviewer should know what they can and cannot ask a candidate. For example, as an ice-breaker, casually asking a female if she has kids at home can be interpreted as discrimination. Similarly, talking up the company by promising fat bonuses or certain promotions might be considered a verbal contract.


In the context of performance management, document every conversation and communication. If it’s a casual hallway discussion, send yourself an email summarizing the exchange. Assume that if it’s not documented, if a lawsuit should occur, it’s as if the conversation or communication never happened.

Lawsuits on the Rise in Today’s COVID World

With all of the employee-impacting actions that the pandemic has forced employers to take, there is already an increase in related lawsuits. An additional surge is expected, due to employees reporting perceived lack of workplace protocols or failure to follow safety guidelines. These employees may be shielded by laws relating to Whistleblower Retaliation.

Have a Lawyer on Speed-Dial

Business owners want to do the right thing for their employees, but the famously restrictive California labor laws can put even the most diligent employer at risk of legal actions.  We need to think “worse case” (a costly lawsuit) and establish hiring and performance management practices that reduce the likelihood of being sued. Regarding aspects like interview practices, employee handbooks, and employee agreement, it’s worth the investment to have a legal review. 

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admin on October 16th 2020 in Web Stuff

Resilient Organizations, Beyond Surviving to Thriving.

Speaker:  Robin Johnson, a specialist on the Secrets of Building a Resilient Organization



Our guest speaker Robin Johnson discusses resilient organizations, beyond surviving to thriving.

My top takeaways:

Why Resilience Matters

Perhaps under-appreciated, resilience is a “must-have” for leaders and organizations today when so much is beyond their control. A resilient organization benefits from reduced anxiety and stress and has greater energy and creativity. Another trait is the learned capability to identify and enhance areas of strength.

Resilience Doesn’t Just Happen

There are a number of building blocks – protective factors – that can be used to ensure resilience at both the individual and organization levels.  For example, real-time resilience is a strategy that helps us be ready for unplanned change. Another tactic is realistic optimism: using evidence (that is accurate) to frame the change, rather than taking a “Pollyanna” approach or focusing only on the negative.

Know Your “Why”

The most successful companies have employees who know why their companies exist: what’s the actual benefit, not just what they manufacture or sell. An example is the maker of WD-40, a company that is about more than just a can of oil; they make families’ lives better and companies run more efficiently.  

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admin on October 9th 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91, Web Stuff

Ultra-Low Power Machine Learning at the Edge for Voice and Sound

NexGen – 45-Minute Business Brief
Presenter: Dave Garrett
Watch Video

Putting Machine Learning (ML) algorithms into edge applications on the Internet of Things (iOT) is the latest use of ML to solve interesting business problems using voice and sensor analysis. In the post-COVID19 world, the voice interface is becoming much more important to solve real-world challenges.

The Takeaways

  • A tremendous amount of computing needs to happen at the edge (cloud-compute is not an option for everyone)
  • Machine Learning (ML) is amazingly good at solving recognition problems
  • Syntiant has a combination of custom ultra-low-power silicon, and ML software infrastructure

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admin on October 2nd 2020 in NEXGEN - On Day 91