Friday, 30 November 2001

Newsletter Issue 36, November 2001

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 36, November 2001
Hi guys,
For those of you who have just had to write out all your Xmas cards by hand and still haven't got your mailing lists automated to any degree, there are a number of things that you can do to make contacting your clients with the compliments of the season a whole heap easier ready for next year. Check out part one of Mail Outs below.
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Mail Outs Part 1

There are lots of ways that we can make mailing out information to clients much easier though using the computing power of our desktop to do the grunt work for us.
The trouble is we rarely take the time out to do the set up work: instead we are running to the wire every month, and think "I'll just get it done and set up a system for next month". False economy, when for an investment of a few hours we could get rid of the hassle forever. 
Interested for 2002? Then read on.
Contacts First
Your first order of business is to enter all of the intended recipients into Outlook. 
Start Outlook, go into Contacts (click the icon on the Outlook Bar, or the line in the Folder List), and create new Contact cards for anybody who isn't already on your Contacts list (click the New button and fill in the blanks). 
There are a few tricks. If you want to personalise each newsletter or message, you need to set up each Contact with that personalised information. 
If you want Word to pull the name you want - such as "Dear Leanne, Carolyn, Jane & Jo," - for your newsletter when you come to mail merge, then you had better enter "Leanne, Carolyn, Jane & Jo" into the First Name box. 

Set Categories
There are lots of ways to tell Word which Contacts it should use when printing envelopes or generating email messages, but the easiest method I've found is to use Outlook Categories. 
A little bit of thought at this point goes a long way. Usually, I'll be sending out two kinds of greetings: SnailMail and email. 
The SnailMail people get hard copy and printed envelopes. The emailers get electronic messages (and remember that the hardcopy doesn't have to be the same as the email. I'll get to that another time tho).
And just to make things even more complicated, most of us send out cards and messages to three different groups of recipients: friends (that is, people we know on a first-name basis), business associates (people whom you wouldn't address by first name), and companies (same as business associates). 
You need to come up with a set of Categories that you can live with for QUITE a long time as you won't want to muck about with this too much once you have set everything up. Effectively there are still three groups: 
  • Companies and business associates where you only need a printed envelope (no personalised greeting on the page)
  • Wired friends who get email messages
  • Snail friends who get hardcopy personalised greetings, and an envelope
Creating Categories: make sure your Contacts list is showing, and click Edit | Categories. Outlook responds by giving you a list of built-in categories. You'll want to add the categories you've chosen, so click the button marked Master Category List. 
Type a name for each of your new Categories, one by one, in the New Category box, and click Add. At this point there are several more tricks. 
Outlook comes with lots of built-in Categories, including one called Holiday, and another called Holiday Cards. These are confusing because the names are so generic: should Mr. Gates be listed as "Holiday" or "Holiday Card" etc. Make your Categories more specific, and assign them names that tell you more about the Category's purpose. 
Three Categories will usually do us; called something like Business (for companies and business associates), Email (for wired friends) and Snail (for Snail friends); whatever is easiest to remember what each Category means. 
You will probably end up using your Categories all the time, so use an old naming trick; call those three Categories ~Business, ~Email and ~Snail. The tilde (~) character at the beginning of the Category name ensures that they appear above the others, so you don't have to hunt down the categories list for the ones you want. 
Finally, if you commonly update your Outlook database from your Palm, Handspring, iPAQ, or whatever, do a test run to ensure that your new Category names survive a round trip between Outlook and your PDA. 
Apply Categories
Now that all of your contacts are in Outlook, you need to tell Outlook which Category each Contact belongs in. 
At the same time, you can quickly scan to make sure that the information you have for each Contact is at least minimally accurate. 
Here's how the fast way:
  • Bring up your Contacts list
  • Click View | Current View | By Category. You'll get a list of all your Contacts in each Category. If you haven't assigned any Contacts to any Categories yet, you'll just get a long list identified as "Categories: (none)"
  • Scan the list. When you find somebody who should be in one of your holiday greeting Categories, double-click on the entry, click the Categories button (down at the bottom of the Contact card), check the appropriate Christmas Category, and click OK. The Contact will get tucked into the list under the chosen Category. If you have a lot of Contacts it may take a while, but in the end you can breath a sigh of relief: the labour-intensive part is over. 
  • Trick 1: Use the Category View combined with the Field Chooser to run a quick visual check of your holiday greeting recipients: those destined to receive an email message should certainly have an email address, and the ones on the Snail Mail side of the fence better have a mailing address, city, and the like. 
  • Trick 2: If you want to have Outlook show you the email addresses for everyone on the list, right-click a blank spot up on the field names (one of them probably says Full Name, for example) and choose Field Chooser. Click and drag the Field Chooser entry called Email Address, and all the email addresses will suddenly appear. Similarly, dragging the entry called Mailing Address to the field name bar will show the full address. 
A quick glance at that column now can save you a lot of headaches later.
Catch you next time when we look at the Word Mail Merge end of the deal. 

How to Make Meetings Fun

If you want people to be creative, innovative, and flexible, it certainly helps if you can provide an environment where people can have fun. This includes meetings. 
People are more productive and think laterally if they are relaxed enough to have a laugh.
Ice Breakers
Where you get a group of strangers together, ice-breakers are a very good idea. While accepted practice often appears to be getting people to stand up on their own and say a little something about themselves, this is often enough to send any slightly shy person crawling under the seat.
TWO MINUTE INTRO: Talking to someone else for two minutes in pairs, and then the other person introduces you (and vice versa) is a good way to go for Kiwis. You can also sometimes share a certain piece of information. For example, "The one thing I am particularly proud of is..." We seem to be a pretty reticent bunch and that works fairly well with a low investment of time.
SUPERLATIVES: Have attendees write down one or two adjectives describing themselves. Put these on a stick-on badge. Have people find someone with similar or opposite adjectives and talk for five minutes with the other person. 
I'VE DONE SOMETHING YOU HAVEN'T DONE: Have each person introduce themselves and then state something they have done that they think no one else has done at the meeting. If someone else has also done it, they must state something else until they finds something that no one else has done. 
FIND SOMEONE: Each person writes two statements on a card, such as favourite colour, interest, hobby, or holiday. Pass out the cards so everyone gets someone else's. Have the owner find the person with their card and introduce themselves. 
FAMOUS PERSON: People write a famous name on a piece of paper and pin it on someone else's back. Each person tries to guess what name is pinned on them by asking others around the room yes or no questions. Variation: Use famous place instead of famous person. 
MY NAME: People introduce themselves and tell what they know about why they have their name (like their friend Diane at school was too lazy to say their name in full).
Quiz Show
How about a "quiz show"? This is a great icebreaker where people know each other, and also educates the audience by using questions like: "Who edits the company newsletter?" or "Who is our export agent in Taiwan?" 
This could be expanded and small prizes could be awarded for conferences (life conference pens or taxi chits). You get the audience laughing while learning.
The Priorities Game
When trying to streamline administration processes, bring examples of all the administration to the meeting with you and get the attendees to work in pairs or threes debating the priority for handling them. This is a great way to find out how the individuals think and a superb opportunity for analysis. 
By making the process "real" you are not only more likely to get a solution that works better for all involved, you are also likely to pin point issues and solutions that you might have missed had you just talked through things.
Sharing the Chair
For regular meetings, share the chairing of the meeting amongst the attendees. Not only will each person have a different focus, but the added responsibility will also make those people who are inclined to coast actually do some work.
Have fun! 

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you (a couple of real oldies that have cropped up again recently);
  • dll, Dynamic Link Library. Gungho, can-do, driver files, effectively.
  • PDA, Personal Digital Assistant. Palm, Handspring, iPAQ etc

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Short+Hot Keys... and now tips
Another Function key for you - this time it's all you can do in MS programmes with a straight F2
  • Access "To switch between Edit mode (with insertion point displayed) and Navigation mode; To display the complete hyperlink address for a selected hyperlink; To rename a selected object; Toggle between edit mode and cell selection mode" 
  • Excel "Edit the active cell and position the insertion point at the end of the line" 
  • Outlook "Turn on editing in a field (except icon view)." 
  • PhotoDraw "Show or hide a workpane" 
  • PowerPoint "Select the text box (with text or an object selected inside the text box) or select the text within a text box (with the text box selected)" 
  • Windows "Rename an item" 
Hot Linx
Want to find out the top NZ songs for the month? Then check out the NZ Music site. You can get the top hits of all time or the daily top 10 as well... 
If the phrase "Leading the world to higher consciousness through mockery and cheap publicity stunts" appeals to you, you had best check out
Another quirky place is which provides some rather skewed entertainment
Want to punch in your own TLAs and find out what they are PDQ? Then check out
This site is a bit weird: it details the history of eating utensils throughout history. But it is interesting. Go see at

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here