Lee Distad

Lee Distad

Lee Distad is a rAVe columnist and freelance writer covering topics from CE to global business and finance in both print and online. Reach him at lee@ravepubs.com

Why Even Have Resellers If You’re Going to Cut Them Out?

March 8, 2023

In order to tell this story I need to set the stage. Here’s what you need to know. When I start work in the morning one of the steps in my routine is to log in to Alberta Purchasing Connection: that’s the portal of the provincial government that aggregates all the RFQs and RFPs for […]

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Things I Never Expected

February 22, 2023

No matter how long you’ve been around, you can still be surprised. This Christmas season, several of our brands ran Q4 sales contests and promotions for our dealers. There’s nothing unusual about that, lots of brands run promotions for Q4. It’s Christmas, and you have to make the most of what we always hope will […]

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And the Sale After That …

February 8, 2023

Whenever you meet with your financial planner, and they discuss investments like mutual funds, one of the standard cover-their-ass sentences you see in the printed materials is “past returns do not predict future performance.” That’s true of many things. What was once Hot often becomes Not, and occasionally vice versa. So, I had a meeting […]

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Something to BRAG About

January 10, 2023

If you are old enough, some of you will remember a TV commercial from the 1980s in which an actor said, “I’m not a doctor, although I play one on TV…” I want to preface this column by saying that I am not a project manager, nor have I played one on TV. But I […]

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You’ve Got the Look

December 21, 2022

Before COVID, I spent a lot of work time in the field in a lot of public places: offices, retail stores, shopping malls, parking lots. Especially parking lots. I joke that I have two offices: my home office, and the Tim Hortons parking lot on 39 Ave NE in Calgary where the Wi-Fi signal is […]

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Managing Client Timelines

December 7, 2022

With the holiday season in full swing, my dealer partners are in the middle of one of two modes, depending on which channel their core business is in. The retailers are nose-down, hard at work to maximize their revenue between the just-passed Black Friday and the still-to-come Boxing Day. Meanwhile, my B2B dealers, who focus […]

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Understanding Friction Versus Inertia

November 16, 2022

No, this isn’t a physics lesson. Okay, maybe it is, in a way. I talk a lot with my clients about processes — the ones they’re using and, just as importantly, the ones they aren’t. With the processes that they’re using, the questions center on what’s working, what isn’t and what changes can be made […]

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Coming Out of COVID

November 1, 2022

The last couple of years have been eventful, to put it mildly. Even now, things are getting back to normal while still not really being back to normal, if that makes any sense. In my store visits to my retail partners, I’ve noticed that it’s about 50/50 between places that have taken their plexiglass sneeze […]

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Staffing Levels

October 19, 2022

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the aphorism that “to the person with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” I knew someone who had to read “Boom, Bust & Echo,” the book by demographer David Foot and journalist Daniel Stoffman, in college. After doing so, they related a factoid — no matter how […]

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When Testing Goes Wrong

October 5, 2022

Long story short, we were cleaning out the basement, and purging clutter when I found a subwoofer that I forgot I had in storage. I packed it up when we moved house nearly three years ago. It was great when I had a dedicated media room in the basement with good acoustics. However, the new […]

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Always Defer to Expertise

September 21, 2022

One of the things I’m fond of reminding people of is the quote from Pablo Picasso that everything “is either easy or impossible.” I can usually be counted on to suffix that by adding that the difference between the two often comes down to having the right tool for the job. Just the other day […]

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Asking Probing Questions

September 7, 2022

Since you all know I like kicking things off with an aphorism, here’s a two-for-one deal: business author Alan Weiss wrote, “Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is a pattern.” Before that, Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels (you may have heard of him) wrote, “Once is happenstance, twice […]

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Doing the Right Thing Is Easy

August 24, 2022

Since I start off columns with a quote more often than not, I begin to feel like it’s expected of me. So let’s lead off with this one, it’s one of my favorites: Salvador Dali said “[Everything] is either easy or impossible.” Normally when I bust that aphorism out, it’s in reference to having the […]

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Just Like the Good Old Days

August 17, 2022

Just like how the smell of a freshly baked cookie inspired author Marcel Proust to write an entire book — “Remembrances of Things Past” – I just had an experience that inspired waves of nostalgia. I was in the middle of my early morning get-started-for-work routine, which includes things like firing up the remote desktop […]

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Learning to Laugh at Logistical Hassles

July 29, 2022

In my columns, I often write about how one should focus on what they can control (as opposed to trying to exert influence over what they can’t). There’s only so much someone can do, after all. So, I think we should worry about what we can actually do to achieve the outcome we’re looking for. […]

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Keeping Your Cool — Part 1

July 20, 2022

Sitting here in my home office on the warmest day yet of summer makes me reflect on two things. First, I regret that we have not yet prioritized installing air conditioning in the house. I mean, where I live, you only need it two months of the year, but when you need it, you need […]

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The Wrong Darn Cable

July 6, 2022

Hands up, everyone who keeps a box or boxes of leftover cables, adaptors and parts stashed away because you never know when you might need one of them. What’s that, everyone? Yeah, that’s what I thought. We all joke about how ridiculous that whole mindset is, but deep down, we all know it is serious […]

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Customer (or Contact) Relationship Management

June 29, 2022

Ask a qualified fitness professional what the best workout and nutrition regimens are, and they’ll tell you that the best one is the one you can consistently stick with because that’s how results are achieved: consistent effort over time. Just like working out and eating healthy, the best business systems are the ones that get […]

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Okay, What Now?

June 15, 2022

Okay, what now? I’ve said before that the motto for this decade should be, “Oh no, what now?” Maybe it’s confirmation bias, or maybe it really does seem that industry is plagued by one challenge after another. From COVID shutdowns, to supply chain issues caused by COVID, to natural disasters, and supply chain issues caused […]

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Don’t Say ‘No.’ Say ‘No, But …’

May 26, 2022

I’ve been told that there are two kinds of people: The people who say “there are two kinds of people” and the ones who don’t. That reminds me of the favorite joke of one of my old sociology professors, who told us “there are two kinds of people: those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.” […]

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Communications and Client Management 

May 9, 2022

The key to a healthy relationship is open, clear communication. That applies to not only personal relationships, but also business ones. And central to having a positive relationship with your clients is how well you and they communicate with each other. That clarity has to begin right away. In the initial discussion and subsequent needs […]

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Finding Rapport With Your Clients

May 4, 2022

The Germans always have the best words for everything. In particular, “schadenfreude” is a real banger. If you don’t know, it means “enjoying the misfortunes of others.” I bring this up because we all love talking about work problems — ours and other people’s. Often, we’re all gossiping about the not-perfect clients who range on […]

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But I Have People Skills!

April 19, 2022

One of my friends who owns a small, specialized, successful distribution company once characterized the people on his team to me as either “nice guys who don’t know anything” or “guys who know everything about every product but have zero people skills.” It sounds like a stark generalization, but since I know the people he […]

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Trust or Price?

April 6, 2022

Last week I got an email from one of my biggest dealers that was so out of the ordinary that I had to read it three times. Even then, I had to call my contact there to verbally confirm what I was reading. It was just … wild. No matter how old I feel some […]

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Working With What’s Within Your Control

March 25, 2022

Talking with my various contacts (dealers, vendors and whoever), discussions lately always seem to turn to whatever new and unforeseen complications have made life difficult. It’s been a real smorgasbord, from supply chain delays and material shortages to climate disasters and more. And that’s just the last six months. It really does feel like the […]

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What Has — And Hasn’t — Changed About Broadcast Boxes

March 16, 2022

Somehow the future we’re living in seems to be dumber and more complicated than the one that was predicted. It wasn’t that long ago — ten years ago (if that) — that there was much talk about “cord-cutters,” consumers who were canceling their broadcast TV subscriptions and getting all their entertainment over the internet. Many […]

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Dealing With Schrödinger’s Inventory

March 16, 2022

Back in the 1990s, when the comic strip “Dilbert” was still funny, there was one where the manager said, “I’ve been saying for years that ’employees are our most valuable asset.’ It turns out I was wrong. Money is our most valuable asset. Employees are ninth.” (Eighth was “carbon paper,” which gives you a clue […]

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Introduction to Incremental Improvements

March 1, 2022

There’s one phrase that I don’t often throw out into discussions, but when I do, I have good reason to. I drag it out when I see people putting an inordinate amount of time into things that have either a very remote chance of a payoff and/or a payoff that’s incredibly small. I call it […]

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Visualize The Funnel

February 22, 2022

It’s been said about time management skills that the workday is the daily tension between the important and the urgent. There are the tasks in your calendar you know you have to get done, and there are the ones that you didn’t know you had to get done until they drop in your lap. Oh, […]

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Tis the Season — For RFQs

February 14, 2022

The new year doesn’t just mean a chance for friends and family to celebrate. A lot of organizations and institutions mark the new year with a  celebration I call “burning through the budget.” That liminal period between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve can be a busy time as organizations put out a flurry of […]

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Unwelcome Surprises 

January 25, 2022

Everyone likes surprises. I know I do. At least, I like fun surprises. You know, like parties, or free marzipan. To be fair, not all surprises are fun, and most of us don’t like those ones. The series of natural disasters that have assailed British Columbia for a month (although it feels a lot longer) […]

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A Holiday Unlike Any Other

January 20, 2022

This has been a holiday season like none other I’ve experienced. It was so different from past Christmases that it’s difficult to quantify it. Considering that we’re two years into COVID-19 and its effects on, well, everything, that would make sense. It’s just that this Christmas season is even different from 2020’s season, the first […]

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