Thursday, February 15, 2018

Public Speaking Can Be a Career Builder or a Career Breaker

Public Speaking Can Be a Career Builder or a Career Breaker

If you follow The Lobster I am betting that your interest in career development will make public speaking a career builder for you.

Unfortunately, if you are unprepared and try to wing it, a speaking opportunity could well be a career breaker.

When I went off to Ohio’s Defiance College I was a tongue-tied 18-year old. The few ideas I was able to articulate were delivered in a thick East Coast brogue and cadence which left my audiences wondering what they had just heard.

That was until I fortuitously was scheduled into Prof. Robert Pearce’s Speech class.  The dean of students must have caught my act at some point and placed me there. Professor Pearce had what I thought was the coolest job. Companies would hire him to give speeches of behalf of executives who could not clearly articulate the company’s message despite their business acumen.

Company communications flacks would give him the content and overall message which he would deliver in a beautifully crafted speech. Being an adjunct professor for inarticulate knuckleheads like me seemed to me like slumming it.

After four undergraduate years and a graduate degree from one of the country’s most prestigious universities and a long career in business, I tell everyone that Prof. Pearce’s speech class was the biggest career builder I had.

Not only did I have one career, I had several, all involving public speaking. For several years I was high school teacher, bringing the finer points of Hamlet to 16, 17, and 18 year olds.

From there I became a broadcaster, speaking to unseen audiences. My first boss in broadcasting and my business mentor was Mr. Fred Palmer, the owner of WATH in Athens, Ohio. Not exactly a 50,000 watt flamethrower. Mr. Palmer was my Prof. Higgins who taught me how to speak properly and connect to an audience.

After I left Mr. Palmer I continued in the broadcasting industry.

I next parlayed my broadcasting experience into a long career in marketing and PR. This career has given me numerous speaking opportunities which have raised my industry profile. This has brought in more and more new clients.

I meet many business colleague who assiduously avoid opportunities to get up in front of a room of several hundred decision-makers and influencers. This I believe is one of the biggest mistakes a businessperson can make.

If you receive an unexpected invitation to speak at a conference or other function, follow these 3 steps.

1) be positive and thank the person who rendered the invitation.
2) ensure that you know the audience.
3) quickly go online to make sure that your knowledge of the topic is up-to-date.

Invitations to speak can sometimes appear from nowhere. In a business setting, always be mentally prepared to speak if asked. One good way to do this is to evaluate other speakers for what they seem to do correctly or wrongly. As they speak notice how the audience responds to them. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Chaddsford Planning Associates in the News

We recently publicized our participation in the 20th annual EBT-the Next Generation conference especially Front Page Focus which centered on the positive impact of the SNAP program on disaster recovery in Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

As a result, our press release garnered 6500 unique views including 1600 in the first hour. 30 viewers clicked over to this website for more information. 13 percent of the viewers  were referrals from over sites.

2000 of the interested viewers were from Virginia and 1600 were from California. 1600 views originated in Ireland. 

The most social media mentions about Chaddsford Planning came from Illinois and Pennsylvania. Nearly 80 percent of the social media mentions were on Twitter.

The social mentions potentially reached 24,000 people in the first week after release. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Contracting to Managing the Farmers Market EBT Equipment Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has posted a Request for Information to determine the feasibility of a small business set-aside to provide Farmers Market Support Services on behalf of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

It is the intention of the Food and Nutrition Service of USDA to issue a procurement for the subject requirement in Fiscal Year 2018. The Service is seeking statements of capability from interested parties who might potentially submit an offer to provide the subject requirement.

This will be a small-business set-aside for a businesses that demonstrate the experience and staffing to perform the subject requirement as stated in its capability statement.

The Government is seeking responses from qualified small businesses able to providing "performance-based contractual support for the Electronic Benefit Transfer Equipment Program".

The contractor will be responsible for administering the distribution of EBT Electronic-Payment terminals and services to Farmers Markets and farmers who sell directly to the public and who are authorized to be reimbursed by USDA for the cost of eligible food covered by the SNAP (Nee Food Stamp) program.

The Request for Information number is P-18-011. Interested vendors can find the RFI through the federal business opportunities website,, by searching for this number.

The NAICS number for this procurement is 522320, financial transaction processing. The small business threshold is 38.5 million dollars.

There is a very specific set of requirements which you are advised to read before submitting an offer.

If you are interested in this opportunity, questions are due to the agency by Friday, December 1. Email your questions to with a copy to

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Negotiating Government Contracts

Negotiating Government Contracts

The following advice is based of 30 years of experience negotiating contracts with government agencies. The basic rule that many contractors forget is that contractors and their client agencies are on the same side of the table. The agency is not the adversary. The adversary on the other side of the table is the status quo. The agency has a problem to solve and you presumable have the solution. Or what you believe is the solution.

Sure, both the contractor and the agency want to cut a deal that best benefits it. But government contracting is not a zero-sum game. Neither should want to irreparably harm a mutually beneficial relationship. If the agency overpays for the solution the contract could be voided and the agency could go back out to bid. If the negotiations result in a contract that fails to cover your costs and a reasonable profit given what other buyers are paying for the same product or service in the same market, you will probably walk away from the opportunity and welcome a second bite at the apple in a rebid.

So, we recommend that contractors avoid adversarial posturing and accept the fact that both they and their client agency are on the same side of the negotiating table and that the adversary is not the agency but the status quo, which contractor and agency want to vanquish.

One frustrating aspect of government contracting, of which many would-be contractors may not be aware, is the bifurcation between the contracting agency and the purchasing agency. In most state governments the purchasing agency is responsible for procuring the goods and services that the other departments require in order to operate.

So the agency that will use your product or service won’t be the agency with which you will negotiate.

Another fact of which would-be contractors should be aware is that government contracts are of a specified durations such as 1, 3, or 5 years. Short durations protect the agency in the event that technological changes render your solution obsolete during the term of your contract.

So, if the initial term of the contract is up, be ready with Rev. 2 of your offering.

Monday, August 14, 2017

They’re back: Biometrics were once touted as a failsafe security technology for financial payments.

They’re back: Biometrics were once touted as a failsafe security technology for financial payments. That was until a myriad of cost, privacy and operational issues reared their heads between the conceptual and implementation phases.

Biometrics make “know your customer” a “no brainer” But while you may know who your customer is, the question is at what cost. Also unknown is which biometric technology is best suited for a particular customer base. Also, to be determined, is how to capture and securely hold customer biometric data.

In the face of these and other issues, many financial institutions and providers simply gave up and settled for other, less problematic, security technologies, such as EMV.

However, as James Bourne, editor of TechForge Media, writes is the LinkedIN Payments group blog biometrics may be making a comeback, if something that has never been can come back.

Since 2011, MasterCard has been driving an interesting biometrics project in South Africa in partnership with the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). South Africans who receive social security benefits access those benefits on a SASSA Mastercard debit card.

The single debit card replaced a system which manually disbursed cash on behalf of multiple agencies to a recipient population equal to 1/2 the general population.

The Mastercard solution allowed for multifactor authentication, including voice print, finger image, and PIN. One time per month each beneficiary must perform a proof-of-life demonstration through a voice print or finger image in order to receive his benefit for the month.

Although this is a government benefit program, beneficiaries are mandated to sign up for bank account.

The SASSA project also requirers merchants who wish to accept the SASSA card as a form of payment to have biometric readers in place at their front-end in order to process SASSA transactions. The SASSA card is an open-loop network card with a restricted-access geographic limitation, meaning that it can only be used in a pre-defined region.

While the technology is costly, the government enjoys higher payment efficiency, payment accuracy, transparency, and dramatically lower cost of disbursement operation and reduction in payment fraud estimated at 3 million.

Beneficiaries enjoy faster delivery of benefits, increased benefit accuracy, increased security through the elimination of cash and the addition of biometric protection as well as achieving financial inclusion through the mandatory bank account.

Editor Bourn provides background information on biometrics and the financial services industry and also pimps last June’s Biometrics in Banking and Financial Services Summit, an annual event.

Email Etiquette

Here are 4 common email faux pas that are rude and disrespectful and won’t win you any points from the person you are emailing and trying to impress, such as a prospective new employer. 

We are use to the wild-west atmosphere of online communications, some of which is due to the limitations of the various forms of social media. For example, the 140-character limit of Twitter doesn’t allow for a proper salutation. 

Failing to address the person whom you are emailing. This is rude and obnoxious. It would be as if you just walked up to a person on the street and started talking to him without introducing yourself. If the subject of your email is short and perfunctory you still need to be polite. And while we are at it, don’t forget a proper closing. You would never end a phone call by simply hanging up. So sign off your emails with a proper closing. Even a simple “goodbye” or “thanks” will do.

Asking your addressee to overlook any typos or other mistakes in your text. This tells the person to whom you are writing that he or she is not important enough for you to take a few moments to proof the body of your mail. It also marks you as an unserious, superficial person. 

Being tone-deaf. Email communications, by their nature, are impersonal, which is why we sometimes opt for them as our form of communication. Nevertheless, we sometimes “personalize” them by editorializing with the tone that shows how we really feel. Sometimes, we don’t even realize that we have done that. It could be a scolding tone or a “I don’t give a damn” tone. Just be aware of the effect that your tone has on your message.

Failing to read an email in its entirety. The fact that we are communicating electronically vouches for the fact that we are busy. But there is no excuse for not reading completely an email to which we are responding. Doing so is rude and insulting to the person with whom you are communicating. 

None of us is expected to be a perfect wordsmith. If William Shakespeare were writing for today’s demanding editors, Hamlet might be 5 pages. Just be aware that your emails may say more about you than you intended. Whether this extra messaging is good or bad is up to you.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Is it Time to Rid Ourselves Of the Blight of Social Media

Is it time to abolish social media? So asked Jonathan Crossfield in a recent article in Chief Content Officer magazine circulated by the Content Marketing Institute.

Unfortunately for the abolitionists, Social Media has become part of the fabric of our postmodern existence. We could just as easily abolish nuclear weapons, vulgar music lyrics, or every middle schooler having a personal website.

As Crossfield explains, there is an inherent buzzword feel to the term “social media” which makes disagreement over the meaning of social media likely in the newsroom or marketing department. This should not be unexpected in a technology that has experienced such rapid adoption.

Another issue created by this rapid proliferation of social media is that we focus more on the channel, or the medium, rather than the message.

The traditional media will report that President Trump issued another statement on Twitter, and excoriate his use of language. but rarely do they bother to report the substance of the President’s message.

However, the President’s use of Twitter fits the purpose for which social media was intended. That is to allow users to communicate directly with others. In the President’s case this means directly reaching out to voters without the filter of often-hostile reporters and editors in between them. That is called disintermediation. That is the social aspect of social media. Please see for a better understanding of the concept of disintermediation.

So who knows exactly what social media is? To try to answer that question, Crossfield turns to law makers who in their efforts to regulate the technology need to first define it. First up in this exercise in futility is the California legislature, which struggled to differentiate social media from other forms of digital communications.

The Golden State solons defined social media as “photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or Internet Web site profiles or locations”  As Crossfield points out personal photographs of the nature the Supreme Court wrestled with in trying to define pornography stored on a mobile phone would qualify as social media under this definition.

Crossfield has examined a variety of social media policies and finds them similarly lacking in the objectivity necessary for enforceable government policy. These include this attempt by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

“Social media also included all other emerging electronic/digital communication applications.”

That narrows it down.

I was recently reminded of the benefits of social media in my own small home town which was the location of a road rage shooting. Law enforcement agencies credited social media for providing several clues that helped break the case quickly and bring the shooter to justice. The police were able to use the social channels to reach out directly to anyone who had pertinent information about the crime. This was 1 of 3 violent crimes lawmen here were able to solve over the last couple of months by monitoring Twitter and Facebook

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Best Cities in which to Celebrate the Founding of the Repupu

Since we are in the July 4th season we bring you a list of the best places to celebrate Independence Day compiled by our friends at WalletHub ( These cities were ranked based on 18 measurements related to how well they balance fun and cost. These metrics included the cost of beer, how long their fireworks displays last, and their July 4th weather forecast.

Based on these metrics, the best city in which to celebrate the birthday of the nation is Atlanta, Ga. The A is followed by the City by the Bay, San Francisco. Coming in third in the list is the City of Good Neighbors, the often overlooked Buffalo, NY.

Fourth in the July 4th sweepstakes is the birthday boy’s capital, Washington, DC. In fifth place is the always beautiful San Diego.

Places 6 through 10 are occupied by Madison, WI, St. Louis, MO, Milwaukee, WI, Orlando, FL, and Seattle, WA.

The WalletHub number crunchers also say that We the People plan to spend over 7 billion dollars on food this 4th. We are reputed to be the nation with the most overweight people so was there ever a doubt how we would spend the 4th. Eating our way from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania to Alaska and Hawaii. From Scrapple to Poi.

To soak up all that food we are told we will spend more than 1.6 billion dollars on beer. An estimate that places July 4th at the top of beer-guzzling holidays.

The WalletHub math whizzes figure we will spend over 800 million on fireworks this holiday.

With all those bottles of beer and bottle rockets be careful while celebrating. The statisticians predict that 2/3 of all fireworks injuries this year will occur within a month of the 4th of July.

So we have time for all that Bacchanalian eating and drinking we have FDR to thank. President Roosevelt in 1941 signed the bill that made the 4th of July a paid holiday. All that fun and you get paid for it.

Have a good time, but don’t be stupid. And don’t forget the reason for the season. Make time to take in a July 4th parade. Many veterans participate in them. Take time to thank them for their service.

Today, only 52 percent of Americans say they are proud to be American.

Tonight, after the eating and drinking are done and you have had your fill of fireworks and parades hit your knees and thank the God under whom this nation exists for all He has given this country and We the People.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Semper Avanti 
A good beach read this summer

Semper Avanti is a tale of love and redemption, of struggle and overcoming personal crisis, of being tested beyond what you think your capacity to respond is. 

On the surface, Semper Avanti details author Nancy Bucceri’s battle to hold her life and family together following word that her husband has suffered a near-fatal stroke while away on a business trip. However, any reader who has experienced personal struggle can relate to the story.

Although this plot line doesn’t seem to fit with sand, surf, and suntan lotion, as the subject of the book I can tell you that it is an uplifting story and a yarn well spun.

So far the reviews on the January 2017 release have been universally good. One reviewer wrote of Semper Avanti that the “writing is unobtrusive which serves the story well, and the narrative is breezy, funny and warm.

The review continues, “despite the subject matter, Semper Avanti is an entertaining read”.

Another reviewer calls Semper Avanti “a thoughtful and well-intentioned work that details personal crisis management” Semper Avanti, which means always forward, ends with the author’s 10 suggestions for managing personal crises.

The Lobster heartily recommends Semper Avanti. It is available in paperback or as an e-book. ISBN number 978-1-5320-0381-3. The website for Semper Avanti is You can check out the book there, order it, and register for the author’s blog series. It is also available on and And if you enjoy it, please share what you liked by posting a review.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Getting High Goes High Tech

Digital Currency Solution May Legitimize Fringe Cannabis Industry

The evolving cannabis industry is pretty much a cash-only business which provides cannabis users and thus the industry as a whole with the mask of anonymity necessary to drive retail sales. And while some two-thirds of states have legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes, the federal government which charters banks still considers cannabis an illegal drug. The specter of getting sideways with the federal government can limit the number of banks willing to take on cannabis customers.

Another drawback to this cash-driven business model is that businesses that throw off that much cash without the electronic audit trails provided by the banking system quickly will be subject to suspicions of money-laundering. This is another factor which can make it difficult for cannabis retailers or suppliers to find banks willing to provide banking services to them.

Because of such perceptions banks which are heavily regulated by the federal government may be reluctant to do business with the cannabis industry. The banking industry is itself driven by the Know Thy Customer policy which becomes the way banks view their customers. If a bank can’t know its customers and the customer’s business it may be reluctant to do business with that customer.

Such perceptions can make it more difficult for an industry that revolves around something many people did recreational in college to go mainstream and set up shop on Main Street.

The cannabis industry has a large footprint. Currently, 37 states and the District of Columbia  have legalized some form of marijuana use or possession. Nevertheless, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, hence the reluctance of federally regulated banks to get involved with the industry.

One enterprising company has stepped forward using modern banking technology, the electronic payment wallet, to step in where the banks have faltered. That company is Amercanex which bills itself as the first fully electronic cannabis marketplace.

Its CEO explains that Amercanex is is a real payment system with a regulatory framework that allows the government to regulate and collect taxes.

The Amercanex wallet, dubbed ACE Pay, provides an account and allows money to change hands electronically similar to PayPal.

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Memorial Day Remembrance

Welcome to The Lobster Shift, the Chaddsford Planning Associates blog. The "lobster shift," sometimes called the graveyard shift, is the period of work between 11:00 at night and 7:00 in the morning. In other words, the overnight shift. My father worked an overnight shift. I worked one as a reporter. Nurses, fire fighters, police, factory workers, and disc jockeys all know the joys of going to work when the family goes to bed and coming home to eat dinner when everyone else is eating breakfast.

Fact of the matter is your biorhythms never let you adjust to living your life backwards. Just as a lobster shuffles along backwards, overnight workers live their lives backwards. Breakfast at noon, dinner at daybreak; awake when everyone's asleep. Asleep--if you're lucky--when everyone's awake.

The Lobster Shift seeks to do the same thing--to provide news, commentary and analysis on business issues in the electronic payments and marketing segments--but in ways that may be contrary to how others are looking at the same topics. When you check in with this site during the day, you'll find interesting analysis and commentary on issues that may have kept us up at night.

So welcome to The Lobster Shift, to the world of contrarians.

 Now get some sleep.

A Memorial Day Remembrance

The Lobster is taking a detour on this Memorial Day. Today I ask you to stop and help me commemorate the death of my uncle in World War II. Long-time readers of The Lobster will recall this post from its original run in December, 2013.

Over 400,000 Americans were killed during World War II. Each one of them is a story to memorialize. This is my uncle's story which deserves to be repeated this Memorial Day.

Sgt. Edward H. Bucceri was a member of the 351st Bomb Group stationed at RAF Polebrook, England in World War II.  The base was 80 miles north of London. Ed died long before I was born. We know little about the incident that took his life other than it was his eighth combat mission and it occurred three days before Christmas.

What information we have is preserved in The Chronicle of the 351st Bomb Group, by Peter Harris and Ken Harbour, which is the basis of this post.

Sgt. Bucceri's plane, serial number 42-39778 and known as "Lucky Ball," was part of the 511th Squadron on a 34-plane bombing run that took off on December 22, 1943 from its base in Polebrook, England on a daylight mission to bomb a steel mill in Osnabruck, Germany. In command of Lucky Ball was the pilot, Lt. Lewis Maginn of Rochester, New York. 

It was to be the plane's fifth and final mission.

The Final Mission

According to Lt. Maginn's recollection of the event, Lucky Ball was anything but lucky on that mission. It had just been overhauled, with two engines ripped out and replaced by rebuilt ones. Lt. Maginn recalls being uneasy with the fact that the plane was pressed into service without the rebuilt engines having logged some more running time following the overhaul.

In addition to having to make the run with untested engines, two of the regular crew could not go on the mission and were replaced in the ball turret and tail gun positions.
Early into the flight, the pilot realized something was wrong. Bomb Groups assigned to the position behind them were rapidly gaining on Lucky Ball. Lt. Maginn put the hammer down to "near full power" and still found himself falling behind his formation.

And then the oil pressure in the number four engine began to drop.
The pilot killed the four engine and, being close to the target, tried to make the run with three motors. Then the oil pressure on number three began dropping.

With two engines out on one side, and an impossible task to keep up, Lt. Maginn made the decision to break formation and turn back to base. The crew jettisoned its bomb load, ammo and equipment in hopes of lightening the load on the two remaining engine.

The End

The crew then mistook an American plane for an enemy fighter and dived into a cloud bank. But the maneuver cost the crew "precious altitude," according to Lt. Maginn. Then the oil pressure in number two began to drop. 

The crew began to take flak from German fighters, worsening their altitude situation. The pilot was forced to shut down number two, leaving Lucky Ball one engine.

The crew dumped all remaining equipment, guns and ammunition and began a desperate run over the North Sea to the English coast. Sgt. Palmer, the radio man, sent out the SOS. 

But there was no luck for Lucky Ball that night as it struggled westward into a gale headwind.

With the English coastline in plain view, the crew came to the realization they would never reach it. They prepared to ditch their craft into the chop of the North Sea. 

Cruising low above the waves, the pilot cut the last engine and tried to glide to a straight landing. The bomber hit the water at 85 miles per hour, breaking in half.

Lt. Maginn describes the intense cold of the North Sea in late December as "instantly numbing." The crash landing had jammed the cables on the life rafts, forcing the crew to "take to the water," their flotation devices their only hope for survival. 

Huddled together in the freezing water they watched Lucky Ball sink below the waves. The first big wave to break over them scattered them about the sea, each man to his own.

Sgt. Palmer assured Maginn that the rescue squadrons had a fix on their position. But it would be 45 more agonizing minutes before the first boat appeared. 

During that 45 minutes as the men drifted apart, Lt. Maginn later said, "the wind and bitter cold water took its toll rapidly." Five of the ten-man crew were rescued. 

Perishing that night were the navigator, Lt. James McMorrow of Akron, Ohio, Sgts. Albert Meyer of Roswell, New Mexico, Docile Nadeau of Fort Keat Mills, Maine, and Clarence Rowlinson of Des Moines, Iowa. Sgt. Meyer was the only one whose body was recovered.

Sgts. Nadeau and Rowlinson were the replacement ball turret and tail gunners fatefully assigned to the flight that night.

The fifth crew member killed was my uncle, Sgt. Edward H. Bucceri of Jersey City, New Jersey.

No memorial marks the spot where these men went to their final rest. There was no military funeral at a national cemetery, no 21-gun salute, no honor guard. No one made a movie about the Lucky Ball's last run, and no Grammy-winning folk singer penned a mournful song . The crew that perished that night were just five of the more than 400,000 Americans killed in action in that war. Today I remember one of them.

Rest in Peace,  Ed. Merry Christmas. And thank you.

Les Fleurs de la Mémoire

A post-script: Les Fleurs de la Mémoire (The Flowers of Remembrance) Society is a French service organization. Its members “adopt” the graves of fallen American service members who are buried in the American Cemetery in Normandy. 

The father of our French nephew has adopted two such graves. Each spring the Les Fleurs de la Mémoire members decorate the American graves with fresh flowers and loving care, offering thoughtful prayers for those Americans who gave the last full measure of devotion, as Lincoln said, to a cause of liberty shared by both peoples.

The media do a good job of ginning up political conflicts between France and the U.S.  Sometimes they go so far as to suggest that the French are ungrateful for the sacrifices made by Americans in France during the World Wars. But I can tell you that nothing can be further from the truth. Les Fleurs de la Mémoire shows the strong bond between the people of the two countries. 

As a relative of someone killed in the European theater and someone who preserves that bond, I say merci.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

EBT the Next Generation Solutions Showcase

EBT the Next Generation Solutions Showcase

On Tuesday, November 7, I will be hosting and moderating an Electronic Benefits Transfer Solutions Showcase at the annual EBT the Next Generation conference to be held at the Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

Confirmed participants that will be demonstrating and showcasing their wares include Verifone which will be showing 2 new families of terminals, Nova Dia Group, a software development company that creates innovative solutions for the distribution of nutrition benefits, and LexisNexis, a provider of information and risk management services to government and other verticals.

As many as 3 more organizations may showcase their products. The emphasis will be on solutions and outcomes not on technology or bits-and-bytes. 

For more information on the agenda, speakers and how to register visit

Attend to learn more about how standard electronic-payment technology is being used to deliver publicly funded benefits more efficiently, safely and securely. And check back here frequently for the latest updates prior to the conference.

Now in its 20th year, EBT the Next Generation will again feature 4 workshops, 10 breakout sessions, 3 plenary sessions and over 700 minutes of networking time spread over three days. That's almost 12 hours of networking or 1 and a half business days of building relationships and business.