Resolutions and Reading

Resolutions and Reading

For a change of pace, we decided to share a vlog post today in honor of this being a new year.


For more information on how we can help you make this a great year, please visit us at Learning Without Scars.

Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing

Mets Kramer

Digital Marketing: Billboard vs Engagement

“At the moment, our research shows buyers making 90% of their purchase decision before contacting the dealer.” And there it was. I had been having thoughts like these swirling around in my head for a few months now. But when Charles Bowles at Trader Interactive spoke with me, I had no idea how much our industry had shifted.

I have a theory about Digital Marketing in our construction equipment industry and I believe it can be considered in two ways.

  • First, is what I’d like to call Billboard Marketing, which refers to digital strategies geared towards establishing and maintaining digital visibility. These approaches are often additional marketing strategies, while continuing the existing methods of communication.
  • The second approach is called Engagement Marketing and includes digital activities to connect and develop engagement opportunities with your target audience. Dealers who implement Engagement Marketing consider their digital marketing presence as transformative and suggest these methods could replace most, if not all, past marketing approaches.

There are three aspects of Digital Marketing that I would like to look at and compare Billboard and Engagement strategies. They include Websites, Email Marketing and Advertising campaigns.

  1. Websites

Most dealers have a website today, which is a great start, but the buck doesn’t stop there. Listing your equipment, providing contact information and location falls under the Billboard approach: you present your information to visitors and hope they contact you. However, for Engagement Marketing, your website should provide a virtual visit to your dealership; images and videos of your inventory, and related documents showing the quality of the equipment and records of its health and maintenance. The icing on the cake would lead the visitor to a button they can click on to take them onto the next step. (Replace “Contact for more information” with “I’m interested in Buying”) But let’s be real, this call to action isn’t the icing, it’s the entire cake! How do you measure whether you are leading your visitor into an engaging relationship? Make sure you provide ample information about the machine so they can decide on the spot. If there’s not enough detail, Bowles says 90% of visitors will go to check out another listing to find what they need. Hop onto Google Analytics to help you assess whether you’re Engaging or Billboarding.

  1. Email Campaigning

The next common aspect of Digital Marketing is email campaigning.  Email campaigns are a great way to stay connected to customers and present new products. To use email campaigns effectively, it is important to consider your audience and develop strategies in order to create a continuing conversation. Mail programs such as Constant Contact or Mailchimp provide the tools to send information to tens of thousands of people.  A Billboard approach sends the same message to everyone who drives by it – no matter who they are or what they are looking for. We don’t want to use email campaigns the same way. Instead, consider a more strategic approach, engaging different segments of your audience based off their interests. Provide a mixture of Equipment For Sale messages and industry, fleet focused education. Use the tools provided by the email platforms to understand who is interacting with your campaigns and change the messaging and frequency for each segment to further engage your audience. While email campaigns can feel like a one-way communication, change your mindset and remember, email is most effective as a conversation tool. So, create campaigns that encourage your audience to talk back!

  1. Digital Advertising

Finally, Digital Advertising, whether Google, Facebook or others, are designed to bring visitors to your digital dealership: your website.  The Billboard approach will stop at bidding on generic words (ex. Caterpillar excavator, Komatsu bulldozer, Case backhoe, etc.)  which will hopefully bring visitors to your website to see what your dealership has to offer. But let’s keep in mind that digital advertising can be expensive, so the set up and focus of your advertisements should be focused for an Engagement approach. Let’s milk every opportunity! How about bidding on specific machines that are in your inventory? Specific combinations like Komatsu D65EX, for example, will have less bidders, making them cheaper and bringing visitors exactly to what they are looking for, the machine on your website.

The digital marketplace is real and becoming the source of future sales.  All leading industries are showing signs of transformation into the Engagement model of digital marketing.  Automotive sales, Commercial trucks are some but do not forget about Amazon and similar services. We are all proof that Engagement Marketing and Sales keeps us coming back for another slice.

We will continue this discussion soon.

To continue to develop your expertise in Marketing, please visit our website at Learning Without Scars.

You Have to Keep Moving Forward

You Have to Keep Moving Forward.

You Have to Keep Moving Forward

This year has been a challenge to everyone and everything we had in 2019. Our health is at risk. Our jobs are at risk and in some cases are gone. Our businesses are at risk. Bankruptcies are on the rise. Everything has changed. And the very foundation of our life in the United States has also been challenged. Our history and traditions. Our safety and security. This is hard for me to imagine.

So, what are we to do? I am not going to become a victim. I want to try and control my own destiny. I am going to move forward.

I believe that what ever we have in front of us we have to face it. Whatever the market is going to be or is, all of us are in the same market. Let’s just compete within whatever world we find in front of us.

In the very first blog we posted after updating our website I wrote “James Belasco and Ralph Stayer, authors of the book “The Flight of the Buffalo,” couldn’t have said it any better “Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.”

This time I suggest to you change is easier. We don’t have any choice. Working From Home has become an acronym WFH. Imagine? I read an article today where while working from home some people are using Virtual Reality headsets to make it more understandable. Wow.

I want to suggest that we get going again. In their book “Built to Last,” Jim Collins and Jeremy Porras cite BHAG’s – Big Hairy Audacious Goals. I want you to consider that. Don’t nibble around the edges now go for “Game Changers.” Something dramatic. Step outside of your traditional boxes. Spend less time in meetings and more time doing. Minimize long detailed position papers. Get to work. Clarify roles and responsibilities. Ask everyone to contribute. From the buyers to the warehouse floor and to the field sales force, from the office clerks to telephone sales employees. Everyone can contribute.

It has been said that Being Good is the enemy of Being Great. And Being Great is the enemy of What’s Possible. In other words, making progress is better than seeking perfection. Desmond Tutu famously said “If it is to be it is up to me.” Back to you.

The Time is Now.

We Don’t Have It That Bad

Maybe we don’t have it that bad!

It’s a mess out there now. Hard to discern between what’s a real threat and what is just simple panic and hysteria. For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in 1900.

On your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war. Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million.

On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.

When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet. And don’t try to catch your breath. On your 41st birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WWII. Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war.

Smallpox was epidemic until you were in your 40’s, as it killed 300 million people during your lifetime.

At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish. From your birth, until you are 55 you dealt with the fear of Polio epidemics each summer. You experience friends and family contracting polio and being paralyzed and/or die.

At 55 the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. 4 million people perish in that conflict. During the Cold War, you lived each day with the fear of nuclear annihilation. On your 62nd birthday you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, almost ended. When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.

Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How did they endure all of that? When you were a kid in 1985 and didn’t think your 85-year-old grandparent understood how hard school was. And how mean that kid in your class was. Yet they survived through everything listed above. Perspective is an amazing art. Refined and enlightening as time goes on. Let’s try and keep things in perspective. Your parents and/or grandparents were called to endure all of the above – you are called to stay home and sit on your couch.

A Guest Blog from Ed Gordon #talent #guestbloggers #talentshortage

“Ignoring America’s Talent Desert Won’t Solve the Problem!”


Reports of talent shortages continue to proliferate:

  • The National Association of Manufacturers reported an all-time record high of over 500,000 vacant positions (September 2019).
  • A National Association of Home Builders Survey found that over half of contractors had shortages in 12 of the 16 categories of construction work.
  • An October 2019 member survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) reported that 53 percent of small business owners had great difficulty finding qualified workers (88 percent of those hiring), This year finding qualified workers has consistently been the top business problem in the monthly NFIB survey.

William Dunkelberg, NFIB Chief Economist warned, “If the widely discussed showdown occurs, a significant contributor will be the unavailability of labor — hard to call that a ‘recession’ when job openings still exceeds job searchers.” This quote is based on official Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports: the 5.9 million Americans classified as unemployed (11/1/19) and the 7 million job openings reported in the Jobs Openings and Labor Turnover Survey issued on November 5. The BLS also reported that the number of U.S. vacant jobs has exceeded the number of unemployed for the past 17 months (August 2019).


The official BLS estimate of unemployment (3.6% in the 11/1/19 report) is based on an extremely narrow definition: only those who actively sought a jobs in the past month are classified as being unemployed. We believe that this measure of unemployment is very misleading. The BLS also currently estimates that about 95.2 million Americans over the age of 16 are “not in the workforce.” This is an remarkably high number that has persisted since the 2008 recession.


Our analysis of the probably characteristics of this group of 95.2 million Americans is:

  • Approximately 55 million people over age 55 have retired.
  • What about the other 40+ million people not in the workforce? The latest official BLS survey of this group finds that nearly 4.4 million respond that they want a job. About 1.2 million report that family responsibilities, schooling, medical issues, or transportation or childcare difficulties are keeping them out of the workforce. The significant growth of the populist vote in this nation indicates that a large number of people who lost their jobs in the wake of the 2008 recession have been unable to find full-time employment due to such factors as skill deficits, age discrimination, or inability to move to areas with relevant job opportunities. A variety of sociological data provide evidence that a sizable proportion of unemployed Americans are poorly educated and have few of the job skills businesses now demand. But we estimate that as many as 27 million Americans who are willing to work are educationally qualified but lack some skills needed for currently available jobs.


Including the 5.9 million Americans who the BLS officially reports as unemployed, these 27 million Americans could potentially help fill the 10.5 million jobs we currently estimate are vacant across the United States provided that they receive training from employers to update their skills. Based on these figures, the actual unemployment rate is over 16 percent!


A September Rand Research Report warned that the education-to-employment pipeline has changed little from previous decades despite technological advances, globalization, and demographic shifts. This has resulted in major shortfalls of workers due to: (a) inadequate general elementary and high school education, (b) limited enrollment in and completion of  post-secondary education programs, and (c) lack of access to lifelong learning and training supported by employers. We believe that a staged transformation into a suitable 21st-century education system should occur at the regional level involving the leadership of major community sectors. These programs are already underway in many communities. We have coined the term Regional Talent Innovation Network (RETAIN) for such undertakings. They, however, have not gained enough traction to have an impact on the overall unemployment situation.


In 1970 the United States had the world’s best educated and trained workforce. Today America is a spreading talent desert with too many poorly educated workers who do not have the knowledge and skills to fill the new jobs of the 4th Industrial Revolution.


We are now on an unsustainable labor economic course. A Deloitte and Manufacturing Institute 2018 Skills Gap study projected that 2.4 million manufacturing jobs would not be filled between 2018 and 2028 due to skills shortages with a potential loss of $2.5 trillion in economic output over that time period. We believe that other sectors of the U.S. economy will also experience significant economic losses because of the encroaching talent desert.


The time as arrived for regional public-private collaboration rather than empty political and business rhetoric. It is better to rebuild quality workforces at local levels rather than passively accepting continued skills declines and government programs that are ineffective or underfunded due to political divisiveness at the federal and state levels.


Edward E. Gordon is president and founder of Imperial Consulting Corporation

The More Things Change…

The More Things Change…

Do you remember the first day of your career? That first day? Perhaps you can even remember the interview that got you the job. How about when you walked in the door, was there excitement and anxiety that first time? Then things changed a bit. Do remember what you thought about the work and your coworkers after you had been on the job for a few months? The question that came up a lot “Why do we do things that way?”

Now I would ask you to transfer yourself into the minds of the first day employee today. Are they any different than we were? Are they any less anxious or excited? And what do they think of how things are done after a couple of months?

But we aren’t happy with this new generation. “The millennials.”

They don’t want to work as hard as we did. Remember the truth of our memories. You have no idea how good I was back then. Rose colored glasses.

Can you imagine accepting, deeply accepting, that this new generation is better than we were? Not really. However, they are so much better than we were in almost every aspect of knowledge today.

They are lazy. They are not patient and they don’t do what they are told very well. They want to get paid too well for what they do. They want a fast track to the top. Don’t forget that the world has changed.

Then there is the talk by Simon Sinek, that I have referenced in previous blogs, that highlights that the millennials have been innocent victims of a series of unfortunate things.

They get participation ribbons and trophies, winning at anything has been debased. It isn’t as important as trying. Working hard to succeed is frowned upon in some quarters.

They have been told that they can accomplish anything. They can do anything. They are so good at everything. Then they get a job and find out that those comments were lies, or at the least exaggerations.

Now my generation, the baby boomers, is closing in on retirement. Most of my generation has already retired. Now we are dependent on the millennials in our retirement. They pay into social security so that we can take out of social security.


I believe that my generation has become brittle. We are change resistant. We have become obstacles to fresh thinking. The kind of thinking that the millennials bring to us and our workplace. Paul Daugherty, the Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, at Accenture says:
“Learn, Teach, and Live. Learn every day: challenge yourself to learn more – a new area, a new fact, a new technique – every day, and continuously curate your list of learning sources. Teach others; share your knowledge with colleagues, teams, others – teaching is the path to leading. Live means that you should focus on balance, values, and purpose. That’s the only way you can be your ‘best self’ daily and over the course of a career (and smile and have fun along the way).”

Yet today many companies are promoting what has become named “the hustle” society. It is no longer “rise and shine” it is now “rise and grind.” This is not a good thing is it? We are always on duty today. Cell phones, texts and emails happen 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Apparently, these transitions and this work hustle has been a feature of society ever since the Industrial Revolution and the “mercantilism” of the 16th century.

So how would you respond to this? How should these fresh employees respond to this? They are going to be working for the next fifty years. Think about that. That is a long time. How are they going to stay relevant on the job? How long will their education serve them until it needs to be refreshed and made current? The rates of change over the past fifty years are been eclipsed by the rate of change going on today. Can you imagine the changes coming over the next fifty years?

The workplace seems to be the same as many other aspects of our society today. It is segmented, some would say fractured. It has become more tribal in nature. There are more “Us and Them” moments. How did this happen? For some time now we have heard about “Silo’s” in the workplace. Departmental differences and jealousies. How did this happen?

Well I suspect that WE are to blame. WE let this happen and we are the only ones who can fix it. Unless we step up to make changes in how we operate and think – it will only get worse.
YOU need to embrace all coworkers irrespective of what “tribe” they come from. When they walk in the front door and every day that they continue to walk through that door, they are part of US. We are all on the SAME TEAM we are all in the SAME TRIBE.

Don’t you believe it is much easier to accomplish things if we all work together? We have common goals and objectives, as a team. Working together it much easier than trying to do it all ourselves.

The TIME is NOW.

The Biggest Challenge You Face

The last post we made was on December 25th, 2018. I hope each of you had a joyous holiday season and I wish you, and yours, all the best for 2019.

The Biggest Challenge you Face

I was struck recently at the population growth rates across various age demographics.



I found that data to be quite surprising. I understand what has been happening as a direct result of my situation. My grandfather who emigrated to Canada in the 1920’s was physically finished, his body was spent, in his 50s. My father was spent in his 60s. By extension then, barring disease, my body should be spent in my 70s. But the type of work we have done over these three generations has changed. It started as quite physical and has morphed gradually to be more sedentary. Rather than that decreasing our life expectancy it has increased it. I am now in my 70s and see no reason to believe that I should not be spent until at least my 80s and perhaps even my 90s.

In an article published in Scientific American in 2011 the authors Rachel Caspari and Sang-Hee Lee, noted in the “evolution of our grandparents” that mankind marked for the first time in human history that three generations might have coexisted.

This is an extremely significant change.

People are living way beyond their typical retirement age of 65 years of age. This change is putting extreme pressure on retirement incomes and medical program costs. It is also putting pressure on the leadership of organizations. At the same time the “education sector” is no longer delivering “work ready employees” as they have in the past.

The major challenge, in my view, for at least the past ten years, has been “find and retain” talented employees. I further believe that this problem is going to get much more significant.
As a result of these truths we need to look at the workforce in different ways. Let me put forward three things that I believe should be discussed, debated and addressed in the coming five years.
1. We need to engage potential workers at a much younger age, when they are in high school. We need to offer part time work that can be done after school and on Saturdays. This will perform two valuable functions. The Employers can evaluate the potential employees and the Employees can evaluate the Employers.

2. We need to become much more serious about continually upgrading the knowledge of the current workforce. Different societies and different countries have taken differing approaches over the years. I suggest for soft skill work that two weeks of learning is required each year. For work involving technology that time should increase to four weeks. For leadership there are organizations in South America that require a one-year sabbatical every five years for the executive and senior management team.

3. We need to recognize that the “older” workers need to be retained for a longer period of time. The retirement age of 65 should be changed. It should be dependent on the decisions of the Company and the Employee. As an example, I am still working today.

4. We need to explore offering part time work for differing circumstances. Europe provides a very different approach to parental leave. Both parents, father and mother have, in some cases, six months leave with their job protected upon their return. There are many job functions that could be performed for two or three days each week, or even two or four hours each day, by older workers. This work can even be done from the employee’s home.

We are all aware of our own personal biases and societal impressions of differing generations: from baby boomers to millennials. We need to stop making these generalizations and look at each of the people as individuals. We are all the same with the same needs and wants. What I see with the “younger worker” is someone who is much better educated than I was and much more technologically savvy than I was. My granddaughter, and her friends, are a good example of another item. She text communicates much more than she telephone communicates. Don’t judge whether that is right or wrong, that is a fact. That is different than my generation. My generation looks askance at that fact. WE have to get over it. She is what she is and that is how she operates. We have to adapt. There are many other similar examples.

So, I truly believe this will be your biggest change over most of your remaining life. Finding and Retaining talented people. Think it over and make some decisions. If you don’t adapt and adjust you will be left on the side of the road.

The TIME is NOW.

Why Do We Do What We Do?

Why Do We Do What We Do?

One of the most widely watched TED talks was by Simon Sinek called “start with why.” It has been four months short of fifty years that I have been involved working in this Industry. When people questioned what I wanted to do with my life when I entered the work place, I had no real answer. I don’t think I was very different from most people. Unless a teenager has a clear purpose of medicine or law or other specialized careers most people are looking for a job that is fulfilling and provides a reasonable income.

I bounced around through a reasonable number of different “temporary” work assignments until settling on working as a social worker in a custodial setting for Juvenile delinquents. I had been unsuccessful at landing a job in the computer Industry and settled on reconnecting with my heritage as my great grandfather was one of the founders of this institution. I was hired as a “control figure.” I was large and fit. This work involved being on the job from 7:00 AM until 11:00 PM daily and on call overnight. I had one day off every two weeks. (During which I slept.)

After six months of this I quit as it was too stressful for me. In the first task I was given there, eight of the twelve young men were there for murder. I had never experienced that side of society before.

I also was involved in teaching at a University in Montreal. I developed and taught a program within the Physical Education Department to teach aspiring coaches in swimming.
From that work my family got a call from the father of one of my University students inquiring as to my availability for an interview. The rest is history.

I was afforded wonderful opportunities to learn. I was given direct training on the job as well as an OEM who took an interest in my development. I am very sensitive to the need for employees to feel that they have a role to play and that the Company is interested in their professional development and growth. Prof. Sinek has an additional interview on YouTube addressing Millennials in the Workplace. It is very helpful.

One of my associates, Edward Gordon, a University of Chicago professor, author and consultant writes regularly on jobs and the workplace. His book Future Jobs is one that everyone in leadership positions across the world should read. His November report includes the following excerpt:

“Employer job training is only a part of the solution to the jobs-skills gap. The U.S. education system is not producing enough graduates with the credentials sought by American employers. Although 68 percent of high school seniors enroll in post-secondary programs, after six years only about 33 percent complete a certificate, apprenticeship, or degree program. Students who are required to take remedial courses (usually in math, reading or writing) drop out at far higher rates reflecting the difficulty of making up for past deficiencies in attainment. Clearly American education is out of step with current societal and economic needs. I agree with David Brooks who recently wrote, “We build a broken system and then ask people to try to fit into the system instead of tailoring a system around people’s actual needs.”

This brings me to Learning Without Scars.

We have been in the Industry since 1969, I have worked with thousands of dealers around the world. One thing is common with every employee with whom I have worked. EVERYONE WANTS TO DO A GOOD JOB. I believe our challenge is first to help employees understand what doing a good job means for each of them and how they can progress to better and better things according to their particular needs, wants and desires. That is why we do what we do. I hope that is also true of the leadership in every dealership in the work. Help each employee to be better at what they do and to help them reach their individual potential.

The Time is NOW.

A Reintroduction

A Reintroduction

We are very pleased to announce the latest news from Learning Without Scars.

Our goal here at Learning Without Scars is to provide cost effective, comprehensive, content-rich dynamic learning products. We have developed these programs from the classroom programs which we used and which evolved from our training assignments worldwide over the past thirty years. These programs have been used in our classroom programs attended by over ten thousand people worldwide. The content has also been derived from our consulting engagements with several thousand dealers across the world.

In the past several years, online learning software has advanced to allow the online based learning experience to become much more effective. It has allowed measurement of the content absorbed by each student, even when their teacher is not in the room with them. We have adapted these learning software programs to our training and learning products. The foundation for all of our learning programs is a subject specific program we call Learning: On Demand (LOD.)

The Learning: On Demand (LOD) products cover specific learning objectives through four stages; preparatory reading, a pre-test, an audio video presentation consisting of a slide show with audio tracks and film clips inserted at strategic positions throughout the programs, as well as a final assessment of the learning absorbed. There are currently more than eighty of these programs. Each program requires an investment of two hours from each adult student. At the conclusion of each program there is a program evaluation.
The Learning: On Demand (LOD) products have been used as a foundation for our job specific programs, called Planned Specific Programs (PSP), as well as our Virtual Classroom programs (VCR). They are also packaged in our management training programs which we call Planned Learning Programs (PLP).

With the Planned Specific Programs (PSP) we are providing training opportunities to specific job functions. Each PSP provides four different programs requiring eight hours of learning. We offer twenty-two of these programs across the parts, service and product support selling and marketing groups. Employee development within the job functions spans three years and cover different levels of learning; fundamentals, advanced and professional.

The Virtual Classroom (VCR) programs which will be introduced in 2019 are for individuals identified as earning a “fast track” of training. This is a four-year program with each year requiring ten hours of learning. It is intended that the VCR programs will be capped with the final year of the Planned Learning Programs (PLP).

There are eight learning products available in the “Planned Learning Program. (PLP)” The intent of the program is to provide a path for individual professional development for the management and supervision of the Parts Business and the Service Business over the course of three years. There are also Learning Products available for Product Support Selling and Parts & Service Marketing groups. The planned program (PLP) provides ten classes each year which requires an investment of twenty hours of personal time from each student.

We at Learning Without Scars are pleased to present to you our latest learning model, tailor made for 21st century employee development, in these extensive and comprehensive Learning Without Scars programs.

The time is now.

The Big Reveal!

Most of you know that we have created a wonderful image of “Socrates” as our Company Logo. A special thanks goes to Joanna Slee-Poulos, who created this image. She is a huge talent. We chose to use Socrates deliberately.

Socrates, who lived between 469 BC and 399BC, is credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy. He also introduced a form of teaching that involves a commonly used tool in teaching in which a series of questions is asked, not only to draw individual answers, but also to encourage fundamental insight to the issue at hand. our learning business. This is a bedrock principle of our learning platforms.

Today I want to introduce our latest entry into the blogosphere, “Socrates Says.”

I would like to thank Jason Brown for his skills in producing this animation. I hope you enjoy it in which case you can “like” this post. Comments are always welcome as well.