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Funny Bus(y)ness

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Bumpus a.k.a. Snowball?

Bumpus a.k.a. Snowball?

Funny Bus(y)ness

It’s Friday and it has been a very busy week.  Time for something fun.  

Funny things happen when you’re really busy.   It’s true.   So here’s to this week’s funny moments (mine anyway), for they are precious levity in the crazy busy times.  Maybe a bit of levity for you too.

  • I so badly butchered the word “glorious” sending an email on my IPhone, that it autocorrected and sent as “halitosis” as in “Your daughter’s wedding must have been a halitosis day!”  The guy is only a valued partner of my company is all.
  • On Monday, there was a project kick – off meeting in the morning and then seriously, the first project meeting for that same project, was 5 hours later.
  • “Did Snowball go potty recently?” I asked my wife Tuesday night as I walked downstairs toward the back door.  Our dog’s name is Bumpus.  I don’t have, never had, and never will have an animal named Snowball or beach ball or butter ball.  And just look at him, makes no sense.
  • I watched “Bridezillas” by accident.  I don’t think I realized what was happening as I stared at theTV.    I’m feeling better now, thank you.  Though some things, once you see them, you cannot unsee them.
  • On a conference call with about 11 people Wednesday, a beep came on and the meeting owner actually said  “ I think someone else just joined the call, if you need to tell us who you are you can,  but we are gonna just keep going….’ 
  • Kellogg’s Raisin Bran for dinner Wednesday night.  Yes, it was awesome. 
  • In less than 2 hours Thursday my team created a 3 minute quality training video for hundreds of employees from concept, to design, to development, to production and delivery all with imagery, animation, voice over, and video because…..that’s what was needed. (Nothing funny here (except the timeline!) – (Shout out to simply the best L&D team in the history of the world!)

That’s my week (so far).  I think it would be awesome if you share some of your signs of a busy week – that would be fun today. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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Written by Mark McCarthy

October 11, 2013 at 8:39 am

Lucky For Us

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Man silhouette2

Lucky For Us

I’ve only known him for about 10 years.

But I know today, a whole bunch of people are about to get lucky.

He’s worked on things he can’t talk about with his family that protect you, me and this country.  He’s worked on things we take for granted.  He was there at the beginning when we first started bouncing signals off satellites to tell us where the heck we are in the world.  Most of us can’t get to the next town today without frankly, him and the team back then.  He’s not stopping being smart.  More of us will get the chance to be a little bit smarter now.

He worked is butt off.  For his family I suspect mostly.  But for himself I think as well. There’s a cause that drives him or there’s a code, I’m not sure, but it doesn’t really matter – he needed to do.  There were too many hours on the job I heard, too many moves across the country for work but there really never was a choice for him.  Work is hard.  Work is rewarding.  Work provides. There’s no ‘feet up” for this man.   He’s not stopping working hard.  More of us will benefit from wherever he decides to work hard.   

I’ve heard the stories from my wife about how Dad and Mom would dress like a “king and queen” for the occasional Military Balls and how glorious that was.  Must have been a sight for those 5 young kids – as far as they knew they lived in a castle with Mom and Dad back then and sleeping all in the same bedroom was awesome.  He’s not stopping being a veteran or sacrificing.  More of us will get to see and emulate him.  

Selfless is a word that gets tossed around too much and smacks of hyperbole but I can’t help it here.  Life happens big and small and he’s just… there.  Most of us marvel at what he does after work and on weekends and think – could we ever, would we ever, is it possible for us to be so generous in time, support and advice for others?  It’s genuine.  If you let it slip you happen to be out of something it often magically appears that afternoon at your front door. When the bigger needs arise he’ll drive, fly or call you and listen.  And then without so much as a few words, he’ll just plain help. He’s not stopping being selfless.  More of us will feel that kind of generosity now.   

Like I said, I’ve known him for only about 10 years.  But I’m just one of 4 sons- in- law so what the hell do I know.   I’ve never lived in his home or worked with him every day but I’ve sat and talked and listened and watched.    He and his wife raised four girls (I got to marry one of them) and a son.  These lessons aren’t lost on the children, the grandchildren, the neighbors, his colleagues or the community.  None of that is stopping.  It’s not in him to stop.  More of us will get to learn now. 

**

As this post publishes today, no doubt Poppi is driving into the office for this, his very last day of work.  And when this day is over and he gets in his car and heads home on 495 perhaps a bit anxious or apprehensive, he needn’t worry.  Things won’t really change that much.  He’s not stopping being smart, working hard, sacrificing or being selfless.  Nope, not for a second.  Best I can tell, that’s who he is. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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Written by Mark McCarthy

September 30, 2013 at 7:34 am

4 Minutes with Little Miss Dangling Arms

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next window please

4 Minutes With Little Miss Dangling Arms

I  am not one of those people.  I write about great service, not bad service.  If I write about bad service it’s usually about how we the consumers aren’t as saintly as we like to believe we are.

But then Monday happened.  4 minutes of shock and awe(ful)

It was so bad it was almost funny.  It was actually funny.  Like out of a movie funny.

I’m not sure of the lesson here today.  Maybe it’s to say that even in a highly competitive market with technology alternatives ( and really, isnt that true for all of us? ) that service like this still exists or maybe it’s just to prove the old adage that you will indeed tell 10 people ( or um..a bit more if you have blog :)) if really bad service happens to you.  Not sure, but here goes.

Monday 11:41 am.

I had to go to this unnamed place.  You’re familiar with it I suspect.  It is a place where you can get a package to someone who needs it.  And boy,  was that ever true.   My 16 year son who lives with his Mom during the week 80 miles away, left his Galaxy S4 Smartphone on my kitchen counter Sunday as we were leaving.  For my son ( and for many of his ilk), that’s like leaving your severed limb in the wood chipper and knowing that in mere hours, certain death will ensue.  

“Hi, I need to make sure I get this package to my son tomorrow, I’m not sure the best way to do it.”

 “Where does it need to go?” she said.

 I gave her the town name. 

“Do you have the zip code?” she said.

“No, I’m sorry – I don’t remember it.”  I replied.

She stared at me.  Slight smile.  Arms relaxed by her side.  She stared at me some more. 

Awkward.  Really awkward I thought.  I concentrated and gave her a zip code that came to mind.  She typed it in.  “Nope,  that’s not it.” 

She stared at me.  Those arms dangling by her side.  Dangling by her side.

Finally I said “Do you want me to look it up?” I asked, as I reached for my IPhone.  I didn’t know what else to do.

She just smiled.

I googled it.  It took 2 sites and 5 clicks to finally get the zip code and I gave it to her.   And yes, as I googled it,  the shocking irony occurred to me.  I am standing in a place where the Zip Code must be King, where The Zip Code is probably an Ebook with a 5 part ethics pledge employees must swear to and where TV shows like 90210 run continuously in the break room.   And I can’t get a bloody zip code from anyone but me. 

And it wasn’t over. 

“Just fill the out the To and From addresses right here on this and it will be $16 dollars. ” she said.

“And when you are done with that,  Ann can help you.” she added. 

Ann?  Who’s Ann?  I thought.   I looked up from writing and then past Little Miss Dangling Arms and saw no one.

Before I could figure out who Ann was,  Ms. Arms slid forward a big plastic sign under my nose that said “Next Window Please”.

I looked left and saw who must have been Ann at that next window with 2 customers in her line. I returned my gaze to my now staff-less service desk and realized my 4 minute transaction would be much more than that as I was about to be getting back in line to Ann.

Heading back to my car after finally getting my son’s smartphone shipped off in an ice packed cooler, I realized the effort Little Miss Dangling Arms took to overtly not help me and make darn sure no one and nothing was getting in the way of her 11:45 am break.  Wow.

Now you know one of the all time lows in customer service.  Not sure how that helps but I think now I know why I wrote it -  I feel better having told um,  let’s call it 10 people. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Written by Mark McCarthy

September 26, 2013 at 8:06 am

Seniors On Combines?

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farm equipment

I volunteered at the senior center last night for a bit.  I noticed there’s an old piece of farm equipment in the field behind the building.  Made me think about an experience regarding seniors some time ago.

A few years back I had a trainer in NJ who’d been in my organization for less than a year.  I finally had a chance to ask her about her background when I got down there to visit.    She shared she was from the south (Arkansas) and before she got into training she used to do photography.  She would travel all around the south taking pictures of seniors she said.   She’d pull them right off the combines, haul em’ into barns and take their pictures. She even added she brought clean clothes to dress them in sometimes.   I thought to myself…. why would anyone pull old people off dangerous farm equipment and dress them up to get their pictures?  I asked her nervously..  ” Did you put them all in a book or something?”  she said “Yes for sure they all went in the book that was the point”.

I almost asked if she had her photography book nearby but was a little unnerved so I nodded my head and changed the subject.  She was a great trainer from what everyone said but I admit I was a little worried after that about what she would do if she had older folks in her class. 

About a 6 months later I remembered her story and told my wife with all the disgust and concern I could muster reflecting on the way she treated the elderly.  My wife listened, pause and said “You are a moron, she was taking pictures of High School Seniors for their Senior Pictures!  And she had to haul em’ off the combine I bet because that’s what kids do in the South after school.”

Oh.  I felt silly.  ( still do actually).

But the point is ( other than to make you laugh to start your day perhaps – I sure did thinking about it again) is that for at least 6 months of my life – because I misheard or misunderstood something,  I thought this woman trainer was something maybe akin to the Buffalo Bill character in Silence of the Lambs.  For 6 months (and maybe for the rest of my life unless I’m careful)  - it made me think oddly about photographers – especially if they are from the south.  It made me think and worry about the elderly on farms and how vulnerable they are. 

Misunderstandings are usually small.  Sometimes they are big.  And sometimes they are way bigger than the one in which my poor trainer who forever when I see her,  I’ll think of her dragging old people through corn stalks and pig troughs to snap their photo like some Life Magazine photog.

But misunderstandings can also be powerfully damaging as you can tell.  It seems to me we need to watch using the phrase “It was just a misunderstanding”  — that “just” has got to go.   Take it from me, dig a little deeper.  If you are honest and in places you don’t talk about at parties- there are those things you learn in a meeting, or in book, or in a deep conversation with a loved one that blow your mind.  You realize you misunderstood.  You misunderstood for maybe months or even years.  You realize you misunderstood something that might be a lot less funny than me and my trainer in New Jersey.

I’m heading back to the senior center Sunday to help out a bit more; it’s a luncheon.  Heard they’ll be taking pictures for the paper.  Here’s to hoping that machine in the field doesn’t start up.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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Written by Mark McCarthy

September 5, 2013 at 9:12 am

Scarcity Sells Yum

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Scarcity Sells Yum

 This picture paints a thousand words.   It paints Curiosity and Interest.  It even paints Worry.  Best of all,  it paints  Urgency and Action.

steakchop (9)

I snapped this pic at my local market this week.  Marinades for meat.  Yum.

Wait?  What the heck is that?  What is in that gap?  Only a few left?

Gee, must be popular.  Must be tasty.  Must be the best!

 Almost none left.  I don’t want to miss out. 

 I’m going to try this.  I am going to get this.  I’m reaching in!

Scarcity Sells.

You know this.  You are drawn to those empty spaces be it at a supermarket, department store or even a bake sale

Looking at it the other way;  Popularity is contagious.

 Make sure your products or whatever it is you sell, literally or perceptually,  look scarce because they are so popular. 

 It sucks people in. 

 And it creates interest and action.   That’s very good for business.

 [By the way, the Marinade is Lawry’s Steak & Chop and it was awesome!]

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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Written by Mark McCarthy

August 14, 2013 at 11:37 am

The Luckiest Man in The World

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couple-silhouette-istock

Nothing’s changed.  Except I feel even luckier.  Happy Anniversary Susan.

**** 

 

The Luckiest Man In The World

I admit I’m not an expert on marriage and have the track record to prove it.   But my guess is that you’ll be alright if

You marry someone who feels it is more important to be there for others who have less or are in need, than to be there for everyone.

You marry someone who works hard, never misses a day, and defines her performance only by the happiness of her customers.

You marry someone who when she first met your child of 6 years old, knelt down, looked at him eye to eye, said hello and then gave him a big hug.

You marry someone who loves with all her heart, the movies from the 30’s and 40’s because they always have happy endings.

You marry someone who cries tears of joy almost daily just upon hearing that a total stranger had a baby or if she happens to she see two toddlers walking, holding hands.

You marry someone, a single mother who from her teenage years has raised a beautiful person in her daughter with the crazy belief that “I want to raise her not to be like me”.

Susan, your daughter is just like you and it is the greatest gift you have given her.  My son has known you nearly half of his life and I swear, he loves you as much as I do. 

Saturday, I get to marry you.

I think we are going to be more than alright.  It’s a trite statement but there is a reason someone came up with it.  Now, I know.

I am the luckiest man in the world. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

June 11th, 2009

 

Written by Mark McCarthy

June 12, 2013 at 11:34 am

Posted in Life

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Trust Your Wince-tincts

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wince

Trust Your Wince-tincts

We Wince.  And wincing is a big deal. 

Think about the Wince: our eyes squint up, we squeeze our shoulders together and we wish just for that moment,  that we weren’t there to see or hear whatever it is that is making us wince.

Wincing is not good.  Not good at all.  But it can help you figure out stuff for the better. 

Sometimes bad acting will make you wince (Hugh Grant comes to mind).  Some movies are 2 hours of a Wince fest (I’m still scarred by that kid movie Chicken Run a decade ago).  Nick Jonas as Marius in Les Miserable 25th anniversary show is probably this century’s greatest wince to date.  But many times you wince in the marketplace or at work.   That’s something we can fix. 

In the marketplace you often sense in advance the wince is coming like when the store clerk says to the customer in front of you “ Do you have a rewards card?” then you wince and immediately drop your eyes to the ground.  Why? Because you know what’s coming – the horrible cross sell -“Would you like to sign up for one..?”  And the wincing isn’t over because its your turn now –you’re about to get the same WinceDom from the clerk.  Ugh.

I wince when the waiter gets too familiar too soon and leans down and just about cuddles up next to me to share the day’s specials (just as he was trained to do I am sure).   I Wince at the airport when I hear the gate agent say “And now we welcome our Delta Super Flyers, Northwest Perks Puppies, Frequent Flyer Super Dupers and Platinum Star Cadets” or whatever it is they say.    It’s so rote and boring and there are just so many titles that it is meaningless and downright embarrassing.   I also wince when I hear at the end of a phone call;   “Have we met all of your needs and are you satisfied with your experience with me today?”   This is a Wince slap no matter how I feel.  Ugh.  What do you think I’m gonna do if I’m not happy?  Pick a fight?  Just tell me “Thank you for your business” and let me go.

I’ve come to think that Wince is a very good word and tell for uncomfortable sales and service.   It’s a great descriptor and is great for identifying those moments that need real help and that need to be fixed because wincing is very truthful.  You have a hard time faking or making up a wince on the fly – It’s just the way it is.    Those moments you wince in any experience are called Wince Points.

Wince Points are no fun.   We should make them go away. 

What about you? What are the Wince Points for you?   When you listen to your colleagues over the wall or listen to client interactions remotely, or along side a sales rep in the field; what makes you wince? 

I wince with my eyes squeezed shut when I hear stuff like “I’m calling just to check in…” or “We have 1/2 off anything new if want something”.  I wince when I see vendor slides that begin with their credentials and not what they’ve learned about me first.  I wince when I see 10 bullets on a WebEx, hear a dog barking in the background in a virtual meeting, see an unchanged automated invitation to me to connect on Linked in, read emails with suggested times to meet but no indication of time zone and I wince when someone tells me to consider then earth when deciding whether to print this document just to name a few more.

Wince Points are everywhere.

Focus on the winces.  And trust your “Wince-tincts. They are truthful and honest moments.   Make a plan, create a process, get a training or get some coaching to help get rid of the winces.

If it makes you wince, there is something wrong with that moment. Don’t fight it, just go and fix it.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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1 Minute Helpful Videos Anyone?

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I’m experimenting with a new media but with the same goal of giving you something to help.   I’m a little addicted to it I admit this week while traveling.   So two for you today.

3 Powerful Words and How to Avoid Sales Pain in the Shower.  How can you resist?  

If they help you grow your business even a little bit, that would be (as we say where I’m from), wicked awesome!  Have a great day!

 

 

 

 

 

 Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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-10 Under Par!

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minigolf

-10 Under Par!

I took great joy in beating the two 16 year olds Saturday.  Crushed their souls I did. 

But I took greater joy in beating up the golf course.  10 under par was my score – that had to be some kind of record! 

At least for me it was.  I am framing that pictured scorecard and it is going right downstairs in the Man Room on the wall where it belongs. 

10 under!  Some team of golf course architects sat in some design laboratory in Florida years ago when they designed this course figuring out that the hole called “Cliffhanger” was a par 3 and that so was “High Anxiety” and so was that monster hole “Bear Cave”.   Heck, the Masters has names for their golf holes like “Magnolia” and “Golden Bell” and that is one tough course.

But these golf course gurus did not expect my 5 holes in one Saturday (including 4 in a row!) and nor did my son and his friend. “Go build your fragile self esteem and confidence somewhere else” I said, (like I literally did say that).  I was on fire!

I knew my concentration and skill were better than the two teenagers and that I would win, but the best part was I was way better than the “standard” of good golf – by shooting a 34 on a par 44 mini-golf course.  Expert mini golfer in the house!  I’m a darn near pro!  I will always have good feelings about Max’s Mini Golf. 

Now when you think about it, par 44 is probably a bit liberal assessment of the course difficulty.   And probably on purpose by said architects in my vision.  But it made my day. Quenched my competitive spirit it did.   It really did.  Silly I know.  But not really.   There’s something about it that’s good.   And smart.

I wonder if that “better than standard” thing has some value in the workplace and in business. – Actually, I know it does:

  • It’s the crux of the silver, gold and platinum airline classes as well as the credit cards.  Everyone knows “most people” aren’t or don’t perform at these levels so already that kind of “achievement” and expertise ( think all the “professional traveler” commercials you see of late)  taps into the emotional competitive attachment of individuals and to that of the company. 
  • Gamification is  huge in the world of learning today.  In some businesses you log into “game portals” – play games (and learn), earn points, badges and medals advancing through levels and certifications of expertise.  You know all the way along how you compare to “standards” and your peers ( where you rank) in oodles of categories.  On purpose.
  • Pizza joints love the “Beat the Pizza-mageddon” where in the space of an hour two people must eat a pizza the size of a man-hole cover and win prizes and publicity in the local paper.  “Nobody’s done it yet” the sign says.  That’ll drive more than just 2 adults to dare- they’ll bring all their friends too and order up! Bring your competitive spirit and your emotional attachment to the joint like, forever.

So fun is good.  Winning is good.  Earning stuff is good.  But having the chance to walk around town as the perceived professional mini golfer, the professional traveler, or even the pro eater is well, good for business too. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Written by Mark McCarthy

May 14, 2013 at 6:03 am

Stumped

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stumped

Stumped

Nobel Prize winning Psychologist Daniel Kahneman said  “The remarkable thing about your mental life is that you are rarely ever stumped.” 

How interesting.  This little quote has roiled around in my head for a month.  Can’t shake it.

Think about how true it is.   Heck, I’m gonna do this or I’m gonna do that.  Or goshdarnit, I’m going to do nothing!  Bottom line is most of the time,  I know what I’m gonna do.   And most of the time we make judgements and decisions in a flash and rarely are stumped or stuck in a quandary.

I read Kahneman’s quote in the Heath Brothers latest book called “Decisive” ( big thumbs up from me). The book has some compelling methods to help us all make better decisions of course ( if we ever allow ourselves to be stumped) but that’s for a later blog or two.

Lets just chat a bit about the stumped thing.  Stumped is what I think we should be more of.  Here’s why:

  •  When was the last time you talked to a prospect, did some great discovery, built credibility and commonality, talked pain points and said, ” You know, you’ve given me some things to think about and I’m not sure exactly what the best thing to do is, let me get back to you in a couple of days.”  Answer? Never.  You’re in sales, you’re never stumped and you and I both know it. 
  • When was the last time you launched a project to tackle a problem and didn’t  pretty much have the answer already embalzoned in your brain about what you think is the right solution?  Way less than you think.  You’re not stumped.  No Never.  Not you. You can, like nobody else, see the future clearly.
  •  When was the last time you didn’t judge, label or categorize someone you just met because you were so comfortable with “waiting and seeing” what this person was really about?  Not often enough.  You’re never stumped when it comes to giving an opinion on the new person even if you just give that opinion to yourself.

The you here is me ( and yes, likely you too). 

I’ve pitched an idea or a solution well before I knew what I should really do – I should have been stumped.   I’ve launched a project ( just this week as a matter of fact) tackling a problem that I am brazen enough to think I already know the answer to, until my LEAN mentor smacked me upside the head and said “You need to be stumped in the beginning for this thing to work.”  I’ve judged someone in just 20 minutes of conversation and another in probably 30 seconds – and did it not long ago either – both are awful things to do.  Not fair and frankly, stupid.   Stumped is what I needed to be there and always. 

Not being stumped can get us into trouble; that’s the message here.  Conversely,  being stumped can do some great things like impress the hell out of a customer and get them the best help possible.  Being stumped can get your problem solved better because you didn’t presume you knew the damn answer.   And being stumped is certainly the best way to treat people you meet all the time and to get the most and the best out of that relationship.

Stumped ain’t bad.  Stumped is good.  So all you people out there with the answers ( and that means you too McCarthy) quit talking to me, I gotta work these things out like I don’t have any idea. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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