Inherently Suspenseful

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golf

Inherently Suspenseful

The Wall Street Journal published an article touting the growth of golf on play-by-play on radio.  “So what” you say? Well, hear me out – there’s a lesson for us.

It’s true that golf on radio is growing – but that wasn’t what struck me as the most interesting point of the article.  The article touted how popular golf is on TV and  I admit I’m a huge fan.  I’ve always told people that I like to watch TV golf because it’s relaxing and frankly, being from New England, the weather is always better there than out my window.

That’s why I think I like TV golf.  But I know now that’s not the reason.

The writer of the article (John Paul Newport) said this about golf on TV,  “Television discovered that watching the little ball sail through the air for several long seconds, to land who-knows-where, was inherently suspenseful.”

Brilliant insight.

So that’s why I watch it.  It is inherently suspenseful.   And sure I like the physics and geometry of it all; playing angles and surfaces and the wind which by the way, adds to the suspense of where that little white ball is going to land.

And I got to thinking about those fleeting moments every day that are inherently suspenseful for us;  getting the mail ( what’s there?), getting an email ( what is this about?) , a comment, a poke, an update or a post ( I wonder what this is?).  And what about the scratch cards, the monopoly tickets, even the daily specials – we are suckers for this stuff.  We love small things that are inherently suspenseful.

Add up a bunch of those inherently suspenseful moments and maybe you get to be like golf on TV with some eyes watching you.  How good would that be for business?

Each Apple IOS release is inherently suspenseful ( what new features and benefits to me are there?).  Each TED series talk is inherently suspenseful (where will this go?).  These days even the smaller businesses are getting in the suspense game;  will the pizza place write out a joke inside the box cover?  Trade shows are inherently suspenseful ( what will be in the booth? What’s new?) and of course social media tools done right deliver suspense ( FourSquare, Facebook and YouTube).

Inherently suspenseful is attractive.  There’s surely a ton of great ways people are doing it today you can discover, but keep your head down and that left arm straight and look for those moments in your personal interactions with clients or in your business’s interactions and string some fleeting moments of suspense together.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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10 Things You’re Doing Wrong at Work

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wrong

You’re Doing It Wrong

Duh.  Sad part is at some points in my life (and some more recent than others) I’m guilty of every one of these.

  1. Coaching to “gaps” first.  Neurological and observation data proves coaching to strengths first and more often than coaching to gaps, results in better performance.
  2. Thanking a customer for calling.  How silly.  Welcome them, Greet them or Wow them and then Thank them (profusely) for the business at the end of the call.
  3. Nobody has ever asked anyone, in the entire history of the world, for more PowerPoints to help them learn something. But we keep on giving.
  4. If what you bring to the sales or service party is the exact same thing that can be found on your website, brochures or catalogs, you’re doing it wrong.
  5. Thinking that in this global, democratized and highly connected world that the real selling is over when they “sign on the line that is dotted”. Au contraire – it is just beginning.
  6. Time snobbery.  Obsessing and devaluing content, books, blogs and videos if their origination date is more than 6 months old. Newer is not always better or different or smarter. Quit it.
  7. 8 days and near 24/ 7 hours spent in a war room to fix a run of bad performance and just 8 minutes on a conference call celebrating landing a large client or exceeding performance for the month.
  8. In your office.  All day.  On the phone.  And you haven’t seen a manufacturing floor, the call center, some customers, suppliers or a lunch with a department in months.
  9. Asking a question of a client or prospect that has no apparent immediate benefit to them to answer.  That’s just not smart.
  10. Reading this post and agreeing (or not) and just leaving it there.  Pick one, two or six that resonate with you and make a plan and execute upon it today.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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Simple Remote Love

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neon clock

I have a ManCave.   Yep, I do.

It has cool signage like “Eat Bacon”, “Hydrate with Beer” and has an awesome neon clock.   It also has a classic table hockey game, a framed Jaws movie poster, a nice TV and of course, the DVD Tommy Boy (the Holy Schnieke edition). 

But what I love most about the ManCave is the TV remote control.   It’s so… simple.

I don’t have a sound system like surround sound or a sound bar in the man cave.  I have just the TV/ Cable and as such, just the one remote.

What a joy to sit back thinking of bacon and barley and when I want to turn the volume up or down—I just use the remote.  The one remote.  The simple lonely silver remote that turns on the TV, the cable, changes the stations and controls the volume.

Remote controls are by their origin, the birthplace of simple 40 years ago but as you all know, they have become anything but that (don’t tell me about the “universal remotes” out there—I’ve tried those—they don’t do it all no matter what you say).

Upstairs it takes no less than 4 remotes (TV/Cable, Sound, DVD & the TV Standard (to change Input)) to manage wasting hours and hours of your life you will never get back (upstairs is where stuff like “Bridezillas” and “Sex in the City” reruns play). 

Last night in the ManCave during the Red Sox game (Go Sox!) I turned to my wife (she is permitted into the Cave with advance notice) during a commercial break and said “Don’t you love that you only have to use one remote to do everything here?”  She about jumped off the couch and said “Like you would not believe!” She continued with “It’s so simple..I love simple..”

And that’s the lesson today.   In an effort to simplify we often create confusion, frustration and stress.  It’s great to have social media sites simple to use to keep us connected but to have like 11 of them where you need a bloody presence to get through your work or personal life day is maddening.  It’s great to have smart phones glued to your hands but the chargers, the connections, the storage, the email boxes and the updates are maddening.  It’s great to have a quadrillion websites with information, education and tutorials, testimonials, ratings, opinions and pontifications but figuring out which of these quadrillion you can trust is maddening. 

Every one of us I suspect longs for something simple that just plain “works” today.   Something you can find, something you can trust, something that is simple to use and something that doesn’t make you feel like there are 7 more things just like you I have to go check out or “I’m not doing it right”.    

If you can do for a business or consumer what my remote control in the ManCave does – you’ve got a winner. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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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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Lucky For Us

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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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4 Minutes with Little Miss Dangling Arms

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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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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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