Hi, I'm Don Neal and welcome to what I hope you'll find is a fresh approach to how you think about your business, your job and, occasionally, your life. I Iook forward to hearing your questions, ideas and feedback.

Thanks, and here's to the future.

Don's Blog: Do you "get" your audience?
We all want to be understood: to be heard, listened to, cared about.

We want those who are close to us to “get us.” It’s high praise when you can say to someone, “you get me.” We all know what it means and what it feels like. To get someone you have to care about them. We have to want to know what makes them tick. And, in most long-term professional relationships, no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care (cheesy but still true).

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Don's Blog: Who is your Alexa?
Marketers have long known about the awareness continuum–the process of moving a shopper or a potential new customer from a state of unawareness to awareness, then to interest, consideration, trial, purchase, repurchase, and ultimately loyalty and brand advocacy.

In a recent WSJ article, Amazon Takes Over The World, I was surprised to learn that 55% of searches for products begin on Amazon, not Google. The author points out that “Amazon could be described as a search engine with a warehouse attached to it.”

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How many questions do we ask each day?
But by the nature of his questions.” This Voltaire quote has long inspired me, and after watching a commencement speech delivered by James Ryan, the new president of UVA, it got me thinking. How many questions do we ask each day?

While there is no precise data, there is some evidence that children ask about 125 questions a day, and adults, six. Even with a big statistical variance, I believe we do stop asking questions as we get older. There are many reasons: we know more, we think we know more, we don’t want to be embarrassed, we lose our curiosity … the list is long.

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We all know what it feels like to be in the company of someone who is: not paying attention, not hearing, not listening, maybe even looking away—in a word, not being mindful.
Have you ever thought what it means to be preoccupied? We all know what it feels like to be in the company of someone who is: not paying attention, not hearing, not listening, maybe even looking away—in a word, not being mindful.

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We all know what it feels like to be in the company of someone who is: not paying attention, not hearing, not listening, maybe even looking away—in a word, not being mindful.
Like many of the quotes that catch my attention, I saw “Change Is Inevitable … Improvement Is Optional” outside of a church that I was driving past. And it got me thinking.

One truth I have come to know and accept is that change is not only inevitable but that EVERYTHING changes. Seasons, relationships, temperature, minds, bodies, governments, currencies, plans … everything. Change occurs from within us and from within the conditions and environment of the world in which we live.

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The Standard Deviation of Life
You remember the concept of standard deviation from high school statistics. It’s the measure of a set of data relative to a mean or a norm. It’s a way to quantify variation. A quick example, courtesy of Wikipedia, tells us that the average height for adult men in the United States is about 70 inches, with a standard deviation of around 3 inches. This means that most men (about 68%, assuming a normal distribution) have a height within 3 inches of the mean, or one standard deviation, and that almost all men (about 95%) have a height within 6 inches of the mean, or two standard deviations. If the standard deviation were zero, then all men would be exactly 70 inches, or 5ʹ10ʺ.

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Who Is Your Competitor?
Seems like an obvious question. Your competitor is anyone operating in your market that offers a similar product or service to yours.

Think for a minute, however, about alternatives to what your organization does as indirect competitors. Think beyond your core direct competitors.

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A Different Kind of Eclipse
Today marks the first total solar eclipse in the United States since 1979. Most of us will either experience it live or watch it on video. This will be a shared national experience, a nice momentary intermission from our daily groove, and I, for one, am looking forward to it..

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Right Now Is the Youngest You Will Ever Be for the Rest of Your Life
Having recently celebrated a birthday, I was thinking about being young and being old. I decided that it’s really just about being. Being who I am, at this age, at this moment in my life, at this stage of my career, my life, my journey.

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If you want great cheese, start with great culture
One of the great technological breakthroughs of our earliest civilizations was the process used to make cheese. This technology was built upon the use of “starter cultures” to control the “ripening” process of converting milk sugar into lactic acid.

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