Funny thing happened in a simple coffee meeting this morning…
I was meeting with the CEO of a company in the main lobby of a building, just outside of a Starbucks that was part of the complex. We decided to get our coffee and sit in the comfortable lounge chairs in the lobby rather than the barstool-style chairs in the cramped coffee shop.
We found that the two lounge chairs were situated next to each other theater-style. Karl said, “I’ve got an idea,” and promptly moved his chair so that he was facing directly at me making it a more intimate conversation situation. The funny thing was as he did it, he cited a quote from George Bernard Shaw on the concept of “making your own way.”
Not 5 minutes into our meeting, the lobby attendant vacuuming the floor said to him, “You can’t move the chairs.”
Karl asked, “What’s the thinking on that?”
Lobby guy: “You just can’t move the chairs.”
Karl: “Why not?”
Lobby guy: (still vacuuming) “You can’t move the chairs…but while you’re there I will vacuum the spot.”
Three business concepts to consider from this story:
- Rules without reasons are just stupid. Obviously, a rule was set up for not moving furniture, yet not even the attendants knew the reason for it. Rather, like lemmings headed for the cliff, they blindly and complacently abide. How many rules without reasons live in your organization? If you hear phrases like, “We’ve always done it that way,” or “I don’t know why we do it this way,” or “I’m afraid to ask why,” then you may have some organizational rules and realities that are getting in the way of progress.
- Employees without autonomy and authority are like an albatross around your company’s neck. Lobby guy not only didn’t know (or care) about the rule, nor did he have the ability to make a decision on allowing it. Karl might have swiveled the chair all of 3 feet. It was clear he was going to put it back the way he found it. An employee with authority and autonomy would have simply let it go and made sure it was replaced. How many employees in your organization simply take space and don’t apply their talents because they are being held back by micromanagement or “rules?”
- Common sense is needed more than ever in business. A lot of my practice revolves around principles and practices of common sense. Interestingly, I can’t see this scene unfolding 30 years ago. For some reason, it seems that many employees and team members (through fear of rejection or retaliation), simply don’t do enough thinking, questioning, or challenging. You want to have a company of thinkers, questioners, and challengers. The consequences of not doing this is you end up breathing your own exhaust. The that do provide authority, autonomy, and common sense will thrive even when the chair does get moved. (By the way, let’s give Lobby Guy some credit for common sense…he vacuumed the area vacated by the moved chair!)
Bottom line: As you head into the end of one calendar year and begin a new one, maybe it’s a good time to assess if your organization has created a culture that wants people to be robots or rock stars.
Move the chair, rock the boat, and unleash your talent. Life and your business will be better that way!
© 2015 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Topic – Control
© 2015 Toro Consulting, Inc. All rights reserved
I recall vividly listening to radio growing up in the 1970s. As a kid, I enjoyed listening to the local radio “jocks” playing music and waxing poetic in between Top 40 songs. Radio personalities like Casey Kasem made a name (and a brand) for themselves in those days. As the decades passed, I also started regaling in the opportunity to listen to sports talk. As a sports junkie, I listed to all the local radio “jocks” opining their own thoughts as well as taking calls from listeners. For all the years of avidly listening to some format in radio, the “working end” of the interaction was always hidden. Like the Great Oz behind a curtain, we had no idea what anyone actually looked like; only identifying with their voice. The joke was always, “He has a face made for radio.”
That’s all changed…
Today you can literally watch your favorite radio personalities go about their business. The genre doesn’t matter – sports music, politics, news – it’s all available either live on TV or streaming online. The industry has basically lifted its curtain and let you in to its lair. For example, every morning after I get back from the gym, I watch the Dan Patrick Show (popular sports journalist and host) being broadcast live from its New York studio. I see all the producers; all the equipment; listen to them speaking to someone on the phone; and often watch live interviews. On Patrick’s show, they even show the breaks and interactions between the staff.
You might be asking, “So what, who cares, what’s in it for me?” What’s this mean for you and your business and career?
Plenty. If you want to build your brand, you must be visual. Our society has changed from static yellow pages advertisements to You Tube promotions. You can’t bank on the fact that hiding behind a phone or email will be the accepted method of communications now or in the future. I spent 60 minutes on a business call with a colleague in Florida on Google video conference. I didn’t even shave, but my beard masks all those facial flaws anyway…
Here’s the deal – find ways to make your company and you more visual. Learn how to utilize videos as part of your website marketing, your blogging, and your messaging. Use images in your speaking to enhance your presentations (note I said images, not text). Become skilled in video conferencing for webinars and client/prospect calls. Many customer service platforms in the insurance industry now offer video chats. Can you do the same? You need to throw back your own curtain and be prepared to have your market see you in all your glory.
Video killed the radio star back in the mid 1980s when MTV and VH1 emerged. It’s progressively evolved in entertainment and business. If you stay static and unseen, you’ll end up going the way of the yellow pages. If you commit to being cutting edge and creative when it comes to showing off your business, you’ll become the next rock star in your world.
© 2015 Toro Consulting. All Rights Reserved
Practicing what I preach – check out my latest video blog.
I see that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is bowing out of his presidential bid after a pedestrian performance last week in the Republican debate. I think more will start following suit.
But this is NOT a political blog or article. It’s a metaphor for comprehending where your business is now and where you aspire for it to be. Allow me to explain…
Before Walker dropping out, there were 16 candidates (or so…I lost count). There were so many that many of them had to eat at the kid’s table in the debate structure….that is they were the not ready for prime time players according to the polls. Carly Fiorina made such a splash in the first debate, she moved her way up the chain and forced her way to the adult table for Round 2. In the second debate last week, you had 11 (and at times it seemed more) candidates trying to get a word in edge-wise. The result was that a few improved their position (including Fiorina) and some others dropped like the proverbial lead balloon…Walker among them. If you are following the debates at all, you’ll notice in such a large field, not everyone can capture the attention. Those that don’t are left in the abyss, while others rise.
Here’s my point…
YOU have competition. Sometimes it’s others that do what you do, or live in the same industry. Often, you have competition within the organizations you’re trying to attract as clients (e.g. consultants getting push back from internal sources). Whatever the case, if you’re not adept at becoming an object of interest, you may be yourself eating at the kid’s table and not even know it!
In presidential races, it’s often the loudest and most bombastic that take the lead. Ultimately, the ones that are most skilled at influence rise to the top. The same is true with you. There may be others that are louder, but the ability to influence, persuade, and be interesting usually wins the day. Here are some quick tips to do that:
- Don’t shrink from being contrarian. Everybody regurgitating the same ideas gets boring and lost. Find a way to get your message across in a way that’s brand new and thought-provoking.
- Defend your position. If someone challenges you, that’s fine. Make sure you don’t shirk away from controversy. I’m not talking about being obnoxious. I am saying that you need to be prepared to defend your position with interesting examples, stories, and facts.
- Avoid vanilla. Delivery is everything. How you express your message is just as important as your message itself. It’s steak and sizzle. You need both becasue without any sizzle, nobody will buy the steak!
- Being ordinary gets you pushed down. In the debates, that means going to the kid’s table. Its really about distinguishing yourself. Can you distinguish your products and services versus your competitors? How do you know?
- Never get fazed. The ability to smile in adversity and remain cool is noticeable to others and carries great power.
Bottom line – your business (no matter the size) needs to distinguish itself as THE front-runner; and that is up to you. How are you faring in your own “polls?”
© 2015 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
This is my September column for the Kitsap Business Journal / Kitsap Sun. I’ve been a monthly columnist since 2010. You can find many of my recently archived columns on my website.
Do you remember being advised by someone at some point in your life that you never get a second chance to make a first impression? It might have been your mother or boss, yet the concept generally was centered on how you presented yourself — your clothes, your hair, your grooming. You were encouraged to make sure that the first impression you were giving was professional and pleasant.
How good is your company’s first impression in the digital age? Is it attractive and presentable, or does it look like a virtual unmade bed?
Last month, I was a speaker at a conference of life insurance company executives. One of the other speakers stated that research from last year indicated that 71 percent of Americans did online research on life insurance companies prior to buying it. Long gone are the days of static Yellow Pages advertisements and zealous agents in plaid pants pitching their products. Today, life insurance buyers are increasingly doing their own research on insurers and products first, and making judgments on the veracity of the company before they even call anyone. This is forcing life insurers to adjust their online presence and marketing in order to assure they are giving off the desired first impression.
What is your company doing to accomplish the same thing?
It doesn’t matter what business or industry you’re in today. Social media, websites and online resources are driving consumers to (or away) from you. Buyers of your products and services under the age of 30 have grown up with technology and are very competent in using it. They are also very discerning on the quality of the website translating into the quality if the company. Just in case you don’t catch the magnitude of that last sentence, allow me to be very clear — the quality of your company is being judged by others based on the quality of your website. This means clients, customers, prospective customers and potential employees. In the case of the latter, you can think of it this way … one might ask if the website is outdated and bland, why would anyone want to work there?
You may be saying, “Dan, I understand this. We keep our website current.” My response is that “current” is no longer good enough. “Current” is a given, not a nicety. Your web presence (including social media) needs to be dynamic. It needs to be interactive. It needs to be cutting-edge. The reason? It’s because the bulk of your market is going to go there at some point and check you out. If you’re just “current,” you may not make the cut!
Here are my seven strategies to make sure you are staying on the digital cutting edge:
1. Change your “look” at least every six months. Change and creativity are considered innovative. The same old look is considered stale. By changing the look (images, services, products, pages and interactions), you invite people to keep coming back.
2. Make testimonials ubiquitous on your site. The best heralds for your products and services you can have are happy customers and clients. Why not have their words on every single page, so others can see them? Don’t be shy; ask for and post your testimonials and references liberally.
3. Be pretty. Show images, smart graphics and visuals. You don’t have to go overboard with pop-ups or flying graphics, but you do need to be attractive. Your executive leadership, your sales staff and your customer service team should all have their pictures available with their contact information so they can be seen as real humans.
4. Create interactive options. This is new to my strategies because I just heard about the proliferation of “gaming” modules at the conference. An increasing number of companies are using games to promote, deliver value and recruit. People love to use games, and if you can implement a game that allows you to keep people on your site and interacting, you will be considered innovative.
5. Create exclusive programs. Many websites have private pages dedicated to clients that access them with a username and/or password. There is always something very appealing about being special, and making clients special will keep them coming back for more.
6. Videos, please. Our society is becoming more visual because of technology. Take advantage of that by giving them something to watch. Use video for testimonials, promotions and recruiting. Keep them under four minutes, and pack them with an optical punch.
7. Dynamic, not boring. I see a lot of boring websites. Be bold, take risks and have fun in your language, your images and your message. You need to get your website visitors to navigate through your site, and the only way to do that is to be interesting.
If your website looks the same as it did one year ago today, you’re long overdue for a change. Use professionals to build your site, to dress it up, and to send a strong first impression of your company and its people. If you want to start a relationship with new clients, and sustain the ones you have with current ones, then make sure your declaration to the world is that you’re a 21st-century business.
It never hurts to get a new haircut every once in awhile. You can start with the new virtual face of your business.
© 2015 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
© 2015 Dan Weedin. All rights reserved
Earlier this week, you may have read the tale of the great escape as told by the escapee, Captain Jack. The dude showed he’s still got game when it comes to getting unleashed – or in this case running with the leash still secured to him. He explained the extra “baggage” kept him from being able to fully maximize his agility and nimbleness, so he was quickly corralled by yours truly.
All that being said, one can learn a few post-event from his response.
Although being scolded, Captain Jack showed no remorse. He trotted home accepting the fact that his adventure was short-lived; he drank up the entire bowl of water; went to the window to get a full stretch, and then settled in for a much deserved nap.
Very often, when we humans fail at some attempt at a new opportunity – maybe it was a sales call, an interview, a misunderstanding, or just a good attempt that went awry – we allow that failure to become “leashed” to us for hours, days, months, or even years.
Dogs have it figured out better. They chalk up failure to happenstance or serendipity and just move on. They are seeking out that next smell; or that next opportunity. Wasting time on failures means you just might miss that next chance for success.
Take it from dogs – Be bold and courageous and do your best. If it works, great. If you fail, then you’ve learned something. If you walk away from failure without having learned something and improving yourself, then the failure wins. If you walk away from failure and let it stick around and rent space in your brain, then it wins again. The only way you win is to dump the leash and be free to check out new smells and new opportunities to run.
© 2015 Toro Consulting, Inc. All rights reserved
Read more Captain Jack in my (or our) new book, Unleashed Leadership. Pre-orders now being taken with a substantial discount. Order today and assure you get a signed copy on the first release in October!
“This book has arrived at a great time for you, because no matter what stage of growth you currently occupy, Dan will help you to grow further and faster. He creates positive change with positive psychology, but also creates sustainable results through the mastery of the skills and behaviors required for ongoing success. Make no mistake, this isn’t a “self-help” book. You need Dan’s help, as so many others have.” Excerpt from Foreword by Alan Weiss, author of Million Dollar Consulting and 60 other business books in 12 languages