Stephen Melanson’s BIO
IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW
1. What prompted you to be a solo business practitioner?
Stephen: Both my dissatisfaction with working for others and a desire to try to do something special in business.
2. Scenario: you meet a business exec who is looking to fund a business that already has had enormous positive implications for businesses. He wishes to offer $25,000 to a business that is innovative in its thinking. He has 10 minutes available to speak with you. What do you share with him about your business?
Stephen: That Verbal Branding is legitimately unique in the world, proven effective with nearly every type and size organization, and takes a notoriously underperforming professional service – branding – and re-orients it so it’s not only hugely productive, but as the evidence suggests immediately becomes a vastly superior method for multiple critical business elements.
To apply a Verbal Branding platform is to combine plain-language market “differentiation” with a conversational, or spoken, application for branding. Therefore, it acts like a platform to think and speak every minute of every day, which simultaneously improves at least four levels of business function: sales, internal culture, brand and message density in a marketplace, and management’s strategic modeling.
I am aware of no other set of philosophies in the world market that not only accomplishes all this, but does so using complete simplicity as the driver.
Anyone who has even a remote interest in better revenue productivity and a unified internal culture needs Verbal Branding.
3. For most successful entrepreneurs, there is no typical day so give us a sample of your schedule from start to finish.
Stephen: Every day is certainly different, but nearly all my time is spent delivering client work, seeking speaking opportunities because they drive my entire business model, on the phone for various reasons, doing a bit of social media – Twitter, blogging, etc. – continually reviewing how I spend my time, and simply thinking…about how to improve my product; add necessary elements to my product mix; new, different, and better ways to describe what I do during presentations; and, continuous rumination on the implications and need for Verbal Branding in the market so my longer-term vision stays on track.
4. What are your “can’t live without” apps on your desktop/cell phone?
Stephen: I was once told that the only real “can’t live without” things in business are a phone, something to write with, a pad of paper, and then your brain. A little extreme, but I always remembered the point. The truth is, my business is fairly simple on many levels, because I’m essentially doing “idea development” with clients and then training and coaching.
So, with all that said, I need dial tone on my phone, email, a calendar, MS Word, Adobe for my PDFs, and an internet connection. I suppose I need my brain, but that certainly isn’t on my desktop.
5. What are your tricks for time management?
Stephen: I have none. The only thing I can say about time management is, I constantly think about who I am pursuing relative to the value of my product. So, to me, not chasing inappropriate prospects is the key to saving time and energy.
6. Best advice received when you started your business?
Stephen: Nothing comes to mind. I’m the type that I made lots of mistakes and learned the hard way. Also, I’m not a big fan of taking advice from others. I think the really good ideas come when you have fewer influences rather than more. Some of the best ideas come from people who are new to an industry, for instance, and see it with fresh perspective, or that simply notice something that’s missing from a business landscape, like I did with a spoken application for branding.
I think of it this way: I don’t want to become another version of what’s already out there; I love the idea of doing something completely different. Taking too much of everyone else’s advice locks you into their thinking.
7. Given the current economic climate, how has your strategy for your company changed for the short-term and long-term?
Stephen: I don’t let the economic climate influence my thinking all that much. The profile of my clients has continued to improve over the last few years – even when the economy really tanked – and my rates have gone up. As far as I’m concerned, those who learn what I offer, regardless of the timing, and don’t take advantage are unwittingly committing their organizations to underperformance, so I simply move as quickly as I can to find firms who recognize the value of what I do.
8. What’s been your proudest achievement as an entrepreneur?
Stephen: To have developed a product that appears from all evidence to be unique in the world market, while also having been proven to simply work better than anything else in a number of concurrent business levels.
9. What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?
Stephen: By not being a workaholic. When I’m really busy, I step up and get all my work done, no matter what it takes. When I’m between cycles, I make sure to take time for myself and move a bit slower for a short while.
10. Your top 3 book recommendations for our readers (and why?)
- Positioning, by Reis and Trout
- Good To Great, by Jim Collins
- Million Dollar Consulting, by Alan Weiss
11. If you had an exceptional month and earned double of your average month, what (if anything) would you spend it on?
Stephen: Nothing in particular. I might head to NYC to stay a night or two and see a show.
12. What are some of your most rewarding charitable involvements and why?
Stephen: Easy – giving some money to the Jimmy Fund. The reason is obvious: those kids with cancer humble me every time I think of them, and when I hear them speak during the Red Sox annual money drive. They have more courage and spirit than anyone I know, certainly including myself.
13. Who has been the most influential person to you as you’ve advanced in your career?
Stephen: I don’t think there’s a single person. I’ve taken small lessons and experience from pretty much every thing I’ve done. I think the “influence” comes from collective learning over time.
14. What’s your advice to my someone interested in starting their own business?
Stephen: Be ready for the long haul, continually re-evaluate and improve the value of your product, come up with your own ideas so you’re different, and develop your toughness and confidence – because there will always be moments or periods of time that will test them, and you’ll need to pass that test to succeed.
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