Posted by: Tammy | December 30, 2013

Finding Peter Pan

Recently, I attended a meeting where members of a newly formed team shared something personal about themselves as part of their introductions.  One person indicated he used to play competitive soccer, another shared he used to snowboard, and still another told us he used to ride a motorcycle.   Their stories were interesting and helped me connect with each team member on a more personal level, however I also found it sad that some really smart people had given up spending time on things they enjoyed in exchange for “growing up”.

If you want to bring more happiness into your life in 2014 I invite you to take part in a little experiment with me.  Grab a piece of paper and a pen.  Now spend 30 seconds jotting down activities that brings you joy, make your heart sing and your spirit soar.  There is no right or wrong answer.  If it brings you happiness, jot it down.

Don’t read on until you have your list.  No cheating.

Got it?  Okay, good.

Next, if you have participated in the activity during the last 60 days cross it off your list.

Are all the items on your list crossed off?  If, so awesome.  You’re spending your time wisely on the things that matter most to you.

If you’re like most people though you probably have a few items left on the list.  If so, in 2014 I urge you to use this list as a guide for how you’ll spend your year.  After all, time is our very most precious commodity.  How we spend our live defines who we are and ultimately the happiness, contentment and peace we create for ourselves.

Don’t have time you say?  Try giving up just one hour a week of watching TV, internet surfing, spending time on Facebook or other activity that may give back to you only marginally.  I promise you the rewards are worth making a few small changes in your life.

In the words of Peter Pan “Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”

Wishing you an adventurous and a joyous 2014.

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Posted by: Tammy | August 8, 2013

The Road Less Traveled

It was about a year ago today I made a life changing decision, but not any kind of run of the mill life changing decision. And not even something I thought would be life changing at the time.  As I was traveling back from a business conference, on a seemingly uneventful flight, I decided I wanted a motorcycle license.

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Kind of crazy as many pointed out.  After all, riding a motorcycle it’s not a hobby that a directionally challenged, conventional, non-risk taking, middle-aged mom and wife from my walk of life or vocation would generally consider.

Maybe it was the lack of sleep after a long work week, or perhaps it was the realization that I needed better work/life balance, but traveling back on that flight the decision was made – I was going to get a motorcycle.  In fact it came over me so strongly and immediately that one might say it was divine inspiration. 

So armed with my enthusiasm (aka stubbornness) I shared the exciting news with my very surprised if not somewhat disbelieving husband, Kurt.  Announcements like this are very much out of character in my household so I’m sure he thought in the clear light of morning I might have a change of heart.  But far from it, I had caught a bug and wanted to ride NOW.   Within a matter of weeks I had completed the MSF (motorcycle safety foundation training), passed my motorcycle DMV test, purchased a motorcycle and joined Women on Wheels motorcycle club. My husband being the supportive guy he is, followed me on my adventure and did the same.

As I reflect back on this past year, I’ve come to realize and greatly appreciate how a seemingly small choice can have a significant impact on one’s life and bring with it so many gifts in return.  During the year I’ve experienced pure exhilaration, empowerment, freedom, joy, peace and a sense of accomplishment that has been unrivaled. I’ve traveled over 15,000 miles on my BMW F700GS, completed a long distance ride spanning California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming (totaling 2903 miles) and completed my first long distance solo ride from Ogden Utah to Colter Bay Wyoming (273 miles / 5.5 hours).  My biggest riding victory however was completing a 689 miles (10.5 hours saddle time) in one day.  But the experiences I have valued the most have been the new friendships I’ve formed that have truly enriched my life.  I will forever cherish the memories my new friends and I have created together.  Thank you ladies.

So while my sense of direction has only mildly improved, my sense of adventure has been expanded beyond my wildest dreams; all because of small choice I made on a late night flight back from Nashville on August 17, 2012. 

So if you’re facing a crossroads big or small I hope you’ll be encouraged to take the road less traveled. After all, you never know how a seemingly insignificant decision can bring some amazing gifts your way. 

 

Posted by: Tammy | July 30, 2012

Celebrating 20 Years

This past Sunday marked my 20th anniversary with Sage.  I know you’re probably thinking, “My goodness she doesn’t look old enough to have worked for Sage that long”.  Well thank you, since I still feel 20 years old most days I would agree with you.  :)  My hairstylist who I kept gainfully employed in hair coloring services however will attest to the fact that Sage doesn’t hire child labor.

Me and my Hairdresser (mom) in Boston taken after a BusinessWorks class I taught.

A Time for Reflection:  For me, major milestones are a time for reflection.  When I began my career with Sage (then Manzanita Software) in 1992, PC software was still in its infancy.  With its black screen and white flashing cursor, Microsoft DOS was the reigning king and 5.25 floppy diskettes were how desktop software like BusinessWorks got installed.  Microsoft Outlook was not yet main stream and when we needed to pass messages to each other in Manzanita’s support department we would scribble them out on telephone message sheets.

Mobile phones were available but I was one of the few people in my circle of friends that had one so there wasn’t really anyone to call.  And, while the Internet existed it was not yet being widely used so the idea that anyone would download an app to a phone seemed about as farfetched as the idea that a device the size of a deck of cards could hold all the music one could ever hope to listen to.

Big Software a Thing of the Past?  A lot has changed since I began my career at Sage.  Hairstyles are a lot less poofy and now thanks to the internet so is the software.  Cloud solutions, mobile apps and software as a service have introduced small businesses to the idea that you need only buy what you want to consume and for as long as the service provides value to you.

And while Sage’s history may have begun with robust applications installed on local servers its future is about smaller more intuitive applications deployed in the cloud and consumed as a service.  Thankfully, Sage not only has a strong vision for the future but has also made some very big (and difficult) changes to ensure we can get there.

The speed of change we are beginning to experience right now is like nothing we’ve seen in the past.  This is a very thrilling time to be in business of servicing small businesses (with technology) and I’m excited about Sage’s future and feel fortunate to be part of a team that’s making a difference in the lives of so many small businesses.

Thank you.  My relationship with the Sage has lasted longer than most marriages and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sage (Manzanita Software, State of the Art and Best), its employees, partners and customers for enriching my life.  I feel incredibly blessed and fortunate to be part of this community and get to work every day at a job I truly love with people I genuinely like.  A very special thanks to Robin DeLeone for introducing me to Manzanita Software.  I owe you big time!!!

Here’s to many, many more wonderful years together.

Cheers,

Tammy

Posted by: Tammy | July 27, 2012

Easy Money

The way we send and receive money has changed through the years but is beginning to evolve even more drastically.

If you’re like me, you probably don’t receive personal checks often but when you do it’s a real pain.  Who has time to go to the bank?  I’ve been known to hold on to a check so long that the account was closed by the time I got to the bank.  Good news for time constrained (hopeless procrastinators) like me, the days of driving to your local bank may be numbered. JP Morgan Chase customers can now deposit checks quickly, easily and conveniently using a smartphone or iPad.  The process is pretty simple.  After downloading an app from the bank, you take a picture of each side of the check, confirm the check amount and voila, the deposit is complete!

Paying and getting paid has gotten easier too.  Have you ever tried to split a dinner tab with a group of friends after a couple of cocktails?  Not the best time to be trying to do math, right?  Some banks (as well as PayPal) now offer the ability to request payment or send funds electronically using your smartphone.  It’s actually pretty slick.  While traveling I used the feature to send money to my college student son for books (aka beer/pizza money).  Using an app supplied by my bank, I simply typed in his cell phone number along with the amount, and it sent him a text letting him know he had money waiting.  On his end, he supplied his bank account and chose to accept the money.  That’s it.  The only drawback is he now realizes just how easy it is for mom and dad to send money.  :)

Even the Girl Scouts have realized that their customers rarely have cash on hand and have begun accepting credit card payments by combining a smartphone, a credit card swiper device and a cool app from Sage which is fully PCI compliant.  Click here to learn more about how easy it is to get your cookie fix.

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So what do these trends have to do with the B to B (business to business)?  One thing that nearly every business owner can agree on is the importance of getting paid by their customers more quickly and reducing the hidden costs associated with paying vendors.  While the technologies described above aren’t mainstream today, as consumers begin to adopt them in their personal lives, they will become comfortable with and later demand to leverage similar and even better services in their work lives.  After all, who wants to settle for antiquated practices when better, faster, more convenient options are available?

This is an exciting time for small businesses as they are able to take advantage of smart phones and tablets along with some very slick applications that will help them run their business.

Still not convinced?  I’d be more than happy to send you a payment request so you can see for yourself what a really cool experience it is.

Posted by: Tammy | November 18, 2011

To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

I wasn’t really one of those people that “got” Twitter or thought it was a useful, relevant business tool when if first launched in 2006.  In fact I was even guilty of thinking tweeting was for twits with way too much time on their hands.  It is true that in the beginning the Twitter conversation seemed to be a lot of folks sharing what they were eating, their plans for the weekend or what they were watching on TV (sorry but I don’t care). Much like FaceBook however, Twitter is growing up and is now starting to become a viable business tool.   To get the most out of Twitter though, it’s important to have a strategy.  Whether you’re an experienced tweeter or just starting out, below are some questions to ask yourself to help formulate your plan to get the value from Twitter.

What kind of content do you want/need to monitor?   As of June 2011, users averaged 200 million tweets per day.  http://www.marketinggum.com/twitter-statistics-2011-updated-stats/. Given the increased adoption of Twitter that number is likely much, much higher today.   That being said it’s important to determine the types of tweets you want to consume.  Choose those you follow carefully based on what you want to get out of your time on Twitter.  Also, don’t hesitate to unfollow individuals or brands if you find the tweets to be outside your strategy or lack business relevance.

When tweeting, what do you want to convey, what value do you want to provide to readers and what purpose do you want your tweets to serve?   Again, because there is so much noise in the twitisphere (if that’s a real word), there is a lot of competition for readership. It’s so important to provide differentiated value in tweets so that readers are compelled to want to listen to you.   Personally, I’ve found tweeting to be most useful when attending conferences.  It gives me a chance to interact with other conference goers I might not otherwise meet, share takeaways from the event, gain insight and it serves as a gateway for developing relationships.  As a presenter it also gives me a chance to tweak my presentation based on real-time feedback.

How do you plan to monitor and respond to comments made about your company on Twitter?  The absolute worst thing a business can do is ignore negative feedback received on Twitter either about their business or their competitor’s business.  Take my experience, for example, during a recent stay at plush hotel in Las Vegas, the hotel’s high tech integrated operating system experienced a 36 hour outage impacting television, phone and internet.  Shockingly, tweets from guests went completely ignored.  The hotel (which I’m told has a social media team) missed a huge opportunity to defuse the situation by apologizing to guests, keeping them informed on the progress being made to address the outage and mitigating fallout—virtually, or otherwise.  Furthermore, other local hotels missed the opportunity to leverage the outage to attract business.  For example, a competitor could have expressed concern for the inconvenience, offered free wireless access and discounts at one of their restaurants and I would have gladly packed up my laptop and worked at the competing hotel.   The lesson… while using Twitter to respond to glowing comments from your customers is fine, don’t forget to also have a strategy for how you want to deal with constructive criticism. As the saying goes, a complaint is a gift.

Regardless of how frequently you plan to participate on Twitter, defining your strategy will help you gain the greatest return on investment from this powerful platform.  Need help getting started or just want to chat about Twitter and social media?  I’d love to hear from you.  You can follow me on Twitter at @tammymathews or contact me the old fashion way at tammy.mathews@sage.com.

Tweet on!

Posted by: Tammy | August 10, 2011

Meet Tammy

Who: Tammy Mathews

Personal:  Happily married for 24 years, I met my husband at my high school’s first ever computer science class.  Kurt and I are the proud parents of a wonderful, smart, very funny son Casey.

Work:  I have the best job and the terrific fortune to work at Sage (www.sagenorthamerica.com) in various capacities since 1991.  Currently serving as the Senior Director of Product Marketing for North America, I work across Sage to help shape and evangelize our strategy.  Although if you ask my friends they’ll probably tell you I work for the CIA.  Ask me about it and I’ll tell you a story.

Passions:  I love riding dirt bikes, camping, playing with my three dachshunds, doing anything crafty (currently crocheting), writing, Zumba and spending time friends and family.

Turnoffs:  Chronic negativity.  The glass is only as full as one chooses to see it.

Disclaimer:   The views expressed in my blog are my own personal thoughts, and do not necessarily reflect the strategies, position, or opinions of my employer, Sage.

Posted by: Tammy | August 10, 2011

Royal Pains!

“Royal Pain” is not only a USA Network series, but also how I would have typically described the process of finding a new doctor.

It all began when my local M.D. decided that in order to remain competitive he needed to change his business model to a concierge medical practice, charging his patients an annual retainer for the exclusive privilege of his services.  Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the good doctor for trying something new but since I’m really healthy and only ever saw his nurse, the limit to how much I was willing to support his innovative spirit was apparently somewhere south of his new $3,400 annual fee.

Thus began what I thought would be a painful hunt for a new doctor.  Typically I would have asked colleagues at work, searched the internet, called a few relatives, and if I got really desperate I would have scraped the layer of dust off the old Yellow Pages I keep around to prop up my wobbly printer.

Months earlier I was successful at finding a new home alarm system using FaceBook so I decided to leave the dust on my phonebook for another day and solicit suggestions from my FB friends.  Within minutes I received a number of recommendations.  I was thrilled!  Maybe it wouldn’t be so painful after all.

Days later I contracted a strange infection causing my finger to swell up.  I made a same day appointment with my new doctor (Dr. Bakos) and was overjoyed to be greeted by his office manager, my FB friend I hadn’t seen since high school.  After catching up with Cyndi, next came the dreaded process of filling out all the paperwork.  Given my condition it was going to be even more painful than usual.

But wait.  What are those iPad like tablets displayed around his office? This wasn’t “my grandpa’s doctor office”.  My new Doc was high-tech!  The on-boarding process was easy using the touch screen or stylus (for the more germ phobic) and all the info transferred into their backend system seamlessly.  No misspellings of my last name (a common occurrence) and no asking me to help them make out my chicken scratch.  Dare I say it was actually enjoyable?   And while I was only sick enough to see the nurse who was absolutely wonderful, the overall experience was completely different than what I was used to.  Dr. Bakos’ office seemed to be in touch with how I like to do business and gave the impression (or perhaps illusion) that I was going to be treated by people that had a better understanding of contemporary medicine.

"Not your grandpa's doctor's office"

The moral of my story….

FaceBook is no longer just a fun place to catch up with relatives and post vacation pics but is quickly becoming a destination we use (and will soon become reliant on) to get advice on everything ranging from restaurant recommendations to something as important, personal and lasting as a new doctor.  If you’re not using FaceBook to drive business, why not?  I’m not saying you should barrage your friends with marketing messages, in fact if you do they’ll likely “unfriend” you, but you have to stay in front of your network so when someone needs your products or services you’re top of mind.

Service is a differentiator.  My previous doctor had over 3,000 patients, most like me probably never saw him.  He was quickly making himself dispensable.  However, by changing his model he effectively reduced the number of patients to less than 400 allowing him to provide higher value added services to a select few.  While not a good fit for my needs, his new business model will cater to an affluent clientele that are willing to pay for this premium service in a community where concierge medical services do not exist.

Last but definitely not least, change doesn’t have to be a “royal pain” and can actually have a positive outcome.   The processes used for finding and on-boarding at my new doctor were dramatically better than approaches used two years ago.  What courageous steps are you taking to embrace change?  To quote my friend and colleague Larry Ritter, “If you don’t like change, you’re really going to hate being irrelevant”.

But that’s just the world as I see it.

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