Things You Should Be Able to Do

  • Develop a well constructed thought in writing
  • Hold a naturally flowing conversation
  • Ask insightful questions
  • Create a useful spreadsheet (with formulas)
  • Develop a budget
  • Develop a One Page Marketing Plan
  • Create a One Page Website
  • Buy a URL
  • Understand how Facebook/Instagram/Twitter works
  • Take photo with your phone and post it to Instagram
  • Create a short movie
  • Create a Youtube/Vimeo Channel
  • Make a podcast
  • Create a Blog
  • Create a Mailchimp/Constant Contact program (including the email to be released)
  • Explain RSS
  • Understand how a personal computer works
  • Understand how the combustion engine works...and how a car moves
  • Understand how a camera works
  • Be able to explain the “cloud”
  • Be able to solve interesting problems
  • Inspire others to change the outcome of something
  • Greet strangers and make them feel welcome
  • Smile...a lot
  • Be wrong
  • Create art
  • Plan an event
  • Describe far-off place you have experienced
  • Share your Core Values
  • Share your Dream...your Purpose
  • Share the last five books you read
  • Share what you do for fun
  • Share what you are learning now
  • Share something you have made (created) in the last year

Living Room Effect

Treat your lobby, entry, showroom, etc., like a living room. Make it feel warm, friendly and engaging. 

  • Let no one leave this space without connection. 
  • Let no one leave this space unhappy. 
  • Let no one leave this space without seeing a smile.

Bonus points for handshakes, hugs, refreshments and pleasant surprises.

If you don’t have a living room in your business…make one. 

Care Obsession

People notice caring. And analysis shows a clear correlation between caring and a person’s  willingness to pay a premium...through price, with their attention, loyalty and referral. 

Everyone and all organizations should care. But care isn’t easy. It requires thoughtful attention to detail…the kind of detail that exposes a clear focus on the receiver and not anyone else.  It requires emotion…the kind put forth by artists, people who do more than just show up, especially when no one is looking. It requires meaningful design…of processes and products that solve someone’s problem, perhaps one they haven’t thought of yet.

Care isn’t part-time. It’s not something you do just when most people show up…at prime time. It’s something you do all the time…and behind the scenes as well as on the main stage. It requires an obsessive focus by everyone in the organization all of the time in order to make a clear difference. 

If Care is built into your culture through everything you do…it gets noticed. It also gets noticed when you don’t. 

Meaningful Work, Choice and Art

If you had the choice, would you do the work?

Turns out the most meaningful work isn’t what we are told to do or that which needs to be done because someone else thought it was important…the stuff on the job description or the test. The most interesting and impactful work is that which we choose to do…because we want to do it. Voluntary work gets the most input, effort and emotion because we care about it. Voluntary work becomes art. And art gets noticed. The job itself rarely does…unless we choose to move beyond the list and make it something else.

Your turn to make some art…we’re waiting for it. 

Marketing

Marketing is about influencing. It's about convincing or satisfying someone that your values are aligned with theirs. You can do it through coercion, gaming and parlor tricks. Or by sharing authentic stories that resonate with the audience you are intending to affect. 

Marketing is like most things, easy is rarely the correct path if you want to be noticed for something meaningful. And overselling and under delivering is actually fairly easy to pull-off. While earning trust through genuine action requires a significant investment of emotion, time and transparency. So most choose the easier, faster and seemingly safer path. The beauty then is that the harder work is reserved for the few...those that actually care about the people and how their work will make them feel.
Three questions to ask yourself when you start writing your marketing plan...
  1. Why are we doing this?
  2. Who is it for?
  3. How will they feel?
If you don't know or like the answers...start over. 

A Learner's Non-Traditional Study Guide

There are many choices when it comes to learning. Whether you're just venturing out or starting over, here's a list you should spend some time on before you decide which path to take...

Books by Seth Godin
Books by Others
Video/Audio
Leap First (audio)
Blogs
Michael Chaffin (of course)
Classes/Courses- Self Learning
Leadership Workshop (Seth Godin)
Specific Ideas/Posts on School
Stop Stealing Dreams (TedEx video)

 

(Thanks Haley for the inspiration to share it)

Bespoke Grad (or UnderGrad) School

Here’s the all too familiar dialogue (often between parents and student)…
Go to business school.
Why? (What is the expected result?)
Graduate with a better degree.
Why get a “better” degree?
Get a better job.
What’s a better job?
The answer is rarely clear. So we make an investment of time, money and emotion going down a path without a clear goal in mind. This could be a huge mistake.
The most important step then is the first one. You need to define the desired outcome…what does success look like? Perhaps being happy and fulfilled…while working in a hotel. Or is to earn more money out of the gate? Or is it a guarantee to be picked (which I doubt there is). To make it even more fuzzy the traditional expected outcomes (more money and an improved chance of landing a job) are not realistic, especially outside of education, science or advanced accounting.
So, what sort of education is best to get me that result? University coursework? Maybe. Or perhaps it’s a highly customized educational plan complete with unique work, life and social experiences. A plan that also includes coursework and book learning, but not necessarily in the institutional sense. Here’s a list of books (to satisfy the part of you that says books are a necessary part of learning)...
Now, build your own MBA…
Develop a list of books to read
Develop a list of jobs to work
Develop a list of projects to complete
Develop a list of people to connect with
Develop a list of places to explore
The point is to develop a plan…get it funded…and go learn! 

 

Leadership Attitude

It’s simple in concept...
  • Surround yourself with high levels of aptitude
  • Generously give others the credit
  • Take responsibility…put yourself out there to be ultimately accountable.
I’ve never met a great leader who didn’t embody these qualities. And more importantly, I’ve never met anyone who acts this way that isn’t a great leader…no matter their title.
Really hard to execute…but it starts with a mindset, a world view that this attitude is what it takes to lead and to make change.

Hostess vs. Innkeeper

Hostess...
  • hides behind a podium 
  • smiles and says hello
  • moves you along
  • processes
  • assigns tables
  • takes you to your seat
  • keeps things moving along
  • says good bye and thank you
Innkeepers...
  • position themselves to “dance"
  • welcome
  • get to know
  • seek to understand why you’re here
  • pick up clues
  • deliver the unexpected
  • make new friends, and...
  • remember old ones
  • create comfort and trust, so...
  • they can get the truth when people leave
Innkeeping requires vastly different skills than hostessing. But first you need to understand why you’re doing it…so you know who to hire.

Marketing Simplified

The work that gets noticed and gets talked about changes lives for the better. So do things that matter…ignore everything else.
The best way to spread the word about your work is through other people…people willing to go on a crusade with you about what you’re doing.
And the only way to build a tribe of loyal raving fans is to develop trust…by sharing the purpose of your work through personal connections and by keeping your promises.
Simple ideas…really hard work. 

 

Sucking Down

Really enjoyed this recent Tom Peters quip...An effective brand you knows "sucking DOWN" is 10-100X more important than "sucking up."

It reminded me of the single most important life lesson I've learned in my adult time on the planet. Pandering to those above you (or to yourself) is never as effective as investing in the development of healthy relationships with your peers, team member and family. This is where leadership starts...and ends.

 

Happy New Year...Now Go Learn

In the course of my work I'm often asked what sort of education is best which is usually a clever disguise for wanting to know if a college degree is worth pursuing. Well, that's really hard to say. An institutional product like college education is just like any other thing or service we buy. It has varying levels of value depending on your goals, values and world view. There is no one answer that fits everyone. I know that's the system we've been taught (or conditioned or even bullied) to believe in. But it simply isn't that simple...anymore. We grew up believing that if we had the money or could borrow it we should (must) get a college education because it would open the doors to opportunities (higher paying jobs) we would otherwise not be in a position to secure. Well now that model is being blown to bits because learning and the product of knowledge have been completely redefined. In the matter of just a decade what you once had to go to a classroom in a famous college to consume...you can do so from your house anytime you want. In that same amount of time, the job of teaching has gone from a privileged minority (those that went to college) to virtually anyone who takes the time to do so.

So the point on this celebrated day of new beginnings is not to decide where to learn but rather just to start learning of any kind. Here’s a list of inspirational blog posts to help get you going. Now go Choose Yourself.

Happy New Year!


 

Create or Consume...it's a matter of choice

Generally speaking I tend to busy myself with creating stuff or experiencing new things. And I actively limit consumption, particularly of the media sort. In that vein I only pay attention to those I trust and care about. So the chances of me tuning-in to the morning news is highly unlikely (here's a better explanation of this effect). Technology makes it easier than ever to fall into this trap...to consume vs. create. Technology also makes it possible to connect with anyone, anywhere at virtually anytime. It's a remarkable point in history. You can learn anything from whomever you want. You can make things and give people a peek or show off your skills to precisely the audience you're looking to attract. You can build your own fan club. So the choice is yours...be entertained or do the entertaining...choose wisely.

The Investment in Feedback

Assuming you’re interested in what people notice about you and/or your business. And assuming you’re interested in thanking people for taking the time to let you know, I offer the following guide to the business of customer feedback.

  1. Make it easy…No arduous processes (multiple layer menus or long lists of questions or multi page comment forms).
  2. Make it genuine (human) and brief. Best to get it in person upon departure. But if you can’t a brief follow-up soon after will do.
  3. Make it heard…act like you’re listening and that you care. The request should be personal. And the request should come from the top (or very near the top).
  4. Thank you…everyone who provides feedback should receive a personalized response thanking them for their time and contribution (repeat customers should get extra attention). Yes, it’s an extra step. But it shows you care.
Now apply this to your internal customers as well…now there’s a twist.

Of course this sort of attention takes time…probably at least an hour or two each day depending on the size of your business. But if you do this well, it gets noticed and builds trust. And that’s one of the best assets you can build…definitely worth the investment.

You.com

I interview people for jobs almost every day. And almost as often as I interview I’m disappointed in the lack of preparation. Not the kind of preparation you’re probably thinking of…a resume with no typo’s, a conservative look, a memorized list of their skill set and a forced smile. But a way to show me why I can’t possible ignore them. Before computers and the internet you relied heavily on testimonials (former bosses, co-workers and anyone else who would sing your praises) to instill confidence that you were the right choice. Smartly, some people figured out that providing references before someone asked for them was the big bold move…everyone else chose me, shouldn’t you? Now there’s a better way. And sadly very few use it. We use the internet everyday…to consume. But few people actually claim a spot and take the time to make something. Something that could be shown off, something that can’t be ignored, something that helps you choose yourself.

I would take this a step further. I wouldn’t show up for an interview without my own website. Not Facebook (although the right content there could be powerful). But a site you build yourself…about you. If you can’t get your namesake URL, get one that resonates with you. And then have some business cards printed with only that URL on them. Hand them out. The obvious question then…what to put there? Everything and anything that you are proud of…that screams you need me on your team. Sure you can have your resume there. And a few photo’s. But surely there must be some way to show how you can solve interesting problems and how you’ve led and inspired others to achieve remarkable work. There must be some evidence of a school project, a hobby, a craft or special interest. Surely there must be a really long list of the books you’ve read…and perhaps a short report on some of them. And surely you’ve had some interesting things to say and you’ve captured that in a blog or a video or two. Surely…

The point is that it’s easier (and cheaper) than ever to show-off. Please start.