Friday, November 29, 2013

One Month

Whatever you’re doing this morning—recuperating, going to work as usual, sleeping in, getting ready to rake the leaves—you have just as much time until the end of the year as the rest of us.

So, what will you do with it?

Remember a year ago when you started coming up with those New Year’s resolutions? Or, you may be one of those folks who don’t make resolutions because you don’t want to break’em.

That’s fine.

The question is still, “You have a little over a month until the end of the year, what will you do with it?”

Pick one thing. Pick one short-term, relatively easy-to-reach goal and go for it. End the year on a positive note.

See you Monday. Have a big weekend and, if you’re venturing out, don’t let the stores make you crazy.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Black Friday...Bring It On!!

Yesterday on FaceBook I sent out a request for suggestions about how to deal with poor customer service when shopping during the holidays. I asked that folks understand that during the holidays we’re in a hurry and stressed. Here are the Top Ten best tips:

1.     Is it you? If you’re already in a stressed or angry mood—for whatever reason—you’re more likely to let a service glitch crank you up. So, check yourself first.

2.     Be Nice. Lots of folks offered this. Service people run into so many folks who are suffering from #1 so you being nice is a breath of fresh air for them.

3.     Be Nice #2. Thank’em First. Start off the encounter by smiling and thanking them for their help. This unexpected bit of Southern Charm, as Katherine Culbreth Martin calls it, sets a positive mood and leads to…

4.     You Be the Powerful One. Donnie Douglas says that allowing another person’s service to affect your mood/experience/day is surrendering a lot of power. You’re the one with the power. However, forget the one-upsmanship game. That’s not about power, that’s about ego and ego doesn’t get the job done.

5.     Ask for the Manager. A number of folks suggested this. It works if the manager can get to you quickly and make a decision. If not…

6.     Forget the Manager and Move On. You don’t have time for a United Nations discussion. Complaining on the spot makes things worse and you really won’t feel better. The Christmas shopping experience is all about what happens in that moment. Move on. Go somewhere else…even if it’s to another employee in the same department.

7.     The Waiting Game. If you are too busy or lazy or uncoordinated to wrap your own presents you’ll be waiting. Russ Seagle suggested stashing a book in your pocket or purse to give you something to do during the wait.

8.     Make a List and Check it Twice. Don’t be too picky. No matter what you might believe there is rarely ONE PERFECT PRESENT for the 20 percent of your list that really matters. Have a couple of options for your important people. Not being able to find that one perfect present cranks your stress level higher. For the 80 percent for whom you need to buy SOMETHING go with a generic gift (candy, book, gift card) that’s easy to find and buy a bunch of them.

9.     Give Yourself Rewards. Tell yourself that after this stop you’ll have a cup of coffee and a doughnut, a beer, do something fun, sit down and rest…whatever seems positive. Too often, shopping turns into some kind of Bataan Deathmarch. Break the experience up into short missions.

10.  Here’s the best one…as you’re talking to the person who is being difficult visualize the phrase “POOPY PANTS” tattooed on their forehead. The tactic will make you smile, give you a feeling of power, they’ll wonder what you’re smiling about and it makes the experience much more positive. But remember, don’t YOU act in a manner such that the service person is seeing “POOPY PANTS” on YOUR forehead.

Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Duh, We Was Watchin' Da Movie

A friend of a friend has a landscaping business. He and one of his employees visited Raleigh the other day to shop for some earth-moving equipment…not a low-price purchase.

He said that when he got to the dealership and walked out on the yard where the equipment was parked there was no one to greet them, show them around or, in any way, acknowledge their presence. The place looked like a ghost town.

After waiting awhile they walked into the dealership and found…(wait for it)…the entire staff sitting and watching a customer service training movie.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Nails In the Fence

This is Thanksgiving Week and the start of the Holiday Season that stretches from today until the week after New Year’s.

For the next six weeks, most of us will be connecting with people who are loved-ones, kinda-loved-ones, don’t really love’em but like’em, don’t really like’em but have to be around’em.

The story below came to me this morning and is one of those things that life sends us just to suggest that we pay attention. It came from The School of Practical Philosophy. The author is unknown:

Once upon a time there was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he should hammer a nail in the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. But gradually, the number of daily nails dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the first day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He proudly told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence.

“You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.”

Friday, November 22, 2013

Do Not Disturb

Do you have a Do Not Disturb sign you can hang on your office door, cubicle, chair, car or around your neck?

Finding time and space to plan and work uninterrupted is crucial if you’re going to reach your goals.

And yes, I get it that many folks work in open workplaces or have houses full of kids, but you’ve got to find a way to shut out the noise and interruptions.

I recently ran into a manager who’ll take his laptop out to his car in the parking lot, get into the back seat and work uninterrupted for an hour or so. I know people who block out an hour after the kids go to bed say they can get more done. I’ve met entrepreneurs who regularly rent a hotel room for a weekend and take their team to brainstorm and plan.

Look for ways to get away, to not be disturbed, to reach your goals.

Have a great weekend….see you Monday.                  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

You Know, You're Really Good at That

What do people tell you you’re good at?

Do they say you’re good at fixing things, or helping people, or caring about animals, or smart with money or patient?

Pay attention to what people tell you you’re good at, those things can be the seeds of gifts you have to give.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Handling Those Orphan Files

A friend asked about the changes I was making to be more productive.

“What did you do to your computer? Make it run faster?”

No. Let’s be honest. For most of us our computers run as fast as we need them to. If yours exhibits and uncharacteristic slowness you should check to see if too many “cookies” or other system factors are slowing down your processing.

Now, I’m not smart enough to tell you how to do that.

What I did to be more productive with my computer was filing or deleting all those “I’ll just drop this document here and come back and do something with it later” files.
I had a screen and document file full of bits and pieces

 So, I started doing five or eight at a time. Filing or deleting them as appropriate. When I was watching television I’d do them during a commercial. In the office, after finishing a few I’d go back to working on a bigger project.

Handling a few of these orphan files at a time is getting me cleaned up. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Move It Over Here, Not Over There

During the past week I’ve made changes to my office, computer and vehicle that should make working easier and more productive.

The process started with two realizations: I have some important goals I need to reach in the next few months. I was not being as productive as I needed to be to reach those goals.

Then, the answers to two questions pointed out what I needed to do: What do I need to be productive? How can I make sure that what I need is as close as possible to me at the times when I need it?

The answers caused me to rearrange my workspace, moving books, digital sources and materials closer to where I dock my laptop to work; consolidate or delete a lot of the files on my computer because I was seeing a TON of unnecessary files whenever I looked a the screen; and keep some work supplies in my vehicle so it’s easier to take a note or listen to an instructional book on cd.

So often, we make it harder to succeed than it has to be.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Leaf Blowing Philosophy of Life

Which is the better strategy: Wait until EVERY leaf falls and rake/blow’em all up at one time, or rake/blow’em every day or once a week until all the leaves have fallen?

My neighbors are great guys and yard Nazis and they’ll be outside every other day with nuclear blowers pushing their leaves to the curb.

Earlier this week I raked/blew my leaves ‘cause I didn’t want to be the neighborhood sluggo who pulled the neighborhood attractiveness grade down by having a bunch of leaves in my yard.

And it just about killed me. A few days ago I wrote about manhandling the blower as I stood atop my ladder so I could blow the gutters clean. My arms ached for the last few days from swinging the blower back and forth. I am not in the running for Yard of the Month so I may be in the market for someone to do that stuff for me.

Not to mention that the day after I did my neighborly duty a storm came up and blew tons of leaves down so now my house/yard looks EXACTLY like it did before I cleaned up.

But, I digress.

What’s the difference in waiting until all the leaves fall and raking/blowing, and doing it every other day until all the leaves have fallen and been cleaned up.

Nothing. Nada. Zip. Bupkiss.

Think about this as The Leaf Clearing Philosophy of Life: 80% of the time it doesn’t matter how you do things as long as you reach the goal you’ve set. Only 20% of the time does style matter.

Have a great weekend…see you Monday. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

More or Less Needs

I once asked a counseling professional what the objective of a good marriage is. He said, “You want to get more of what you want and less of what you don’t want.”

The older I get the more I believe that should be the 11th Commandment.
More of what you want and less of what you don’t want.

And yes, it means some things/ideas/people you love will get left behind. But you can’t have it all. That’s a child’s way of thinking.

More of what you want and less of what you don’t want.

The key is in understanding what you want…really want…and that moves over into knowing what you need.

In fact, there are times that I wonder if the phrase should be: More of what you need and less of what you don’t need.

Less of what you don’t need leads to a less cluttered life. You can spend more time on those things/ideas/people that really matter.

More of what you need means you’ll spend some time determining where you want to go because that determines what you’ll need to get there.

More of what you need and less of what you don’t need…maybe that’s the ticket.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Eyes Have It

Yesterday I cleaned out the gutters on my little house with a leaf blower. I’d climb the ladder, manhandle the blower into position and let’er rip. It worked great!

However, although I wore safety glasses (yes, in spite of what every teacher, coach, wife, relationship partner, police officer and movie attendant has said, I can learn a lesson) I evidently ended up with some trash in my eyes. Today they are irritated and itchy.

Did I plan for them to be irritated and itchy? No.

But, any time we do good things there is a chance of less-than-positive consequences we didn’t plan for.

The only way to avoid those consequences is to not do anything. And let’s be honest, some folks are good at that.

Let’s also be honest and admit that if you don’t do anything there are consequences that come with inaction.

So, the choice is: Do good things and maybe have to deal with some fallout. Or, don’t do anything and probably have to deal with some fallout.

Let’s get something done and worry about the fallout if it comes.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Heart vs Head

Did an online interview this morning with Martin Brossman, a success coach and small business instructor…kinda like a Skype communication.

We focused on the essential management skills for small business owners.

The foundation of many of the problems small business owners experience has to do with managing with the heart instead of the head.

Too many business owners, too many people in the corporate workplace, operate on the “I feel like I should do this” system. I’m not a details/numbers/systems guy by any means but I do know enough to look at problems, ask myself if someone has come up with a reasonable solution, and then seek out the solution.

As a quote on my kitchen bulletin board essentially says, “Pay attention to your feelings but always consult your mind when making a decision.”

Friday, November 8, 2013

Get It Out There

The new business model is based on getting your product, service or idea out into the marketplace as quickly as possible so the market can respond to it. Then, you make adjustments (minor, or major, or trash it) based on the feedback you get.

This is so different from how we thought in the past. The previous model was based on the strategy that your product had to be as complete and perfect as possible, then you introduced it to the marketplace with great fanfare.

And it lived or died.

A few ideas succeeded, but so many ideas died a quick death and were never seen or heard from again.

The new model allows the market to say, “We like this, but we don’t like that, change it.” Smart marketers make the changes, re-introduce the idea, and go through the process again until the idea is, hopefully, successful.

The best part of the new model is that, if you’re smart, you keep trying…you don’t give up. You also get to see whether the idea is a quick success and maybe you don’t have to make a lot of changes.

Whatever your idea might be get it out there…let us see, feel, taste, smell and hear it…then let us help you fine-tune it. If you do that we all win.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Are You a Crazy One?!

“Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” 
Apple Inc.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Try the Triangle for Creative Solutions

Here’s a simple creativity/management/problem-solving tool you might find useful:

Take a sheet of paper and draw a triangle. Make it a pretty good-sized one, because you’ll be labeling some of the points and sides.

Now, label the points of the triangle with three areas of life that are significant to you…let’s say you use Family, Work and Health.

Go to the mid-points of the three sides and label the connections you find: Family/Work, Family/Health, Work/Health.

Ask yourself, “What opportunities or challenges do I find when these two areas connect?”

For Family/Work you might ask yourself, “Am I spending so much time at work that it’s costing me family time?” Or, “Are there travel opportunities in my work that would allow me to take my family places in which we might create wonderful memories?”

Get the idea?

What if, in your work, you labeled the points, Sales, Production and Marketing? Or, Patient Care, Physician Management and Administration?

Pick any three areas of your life (try the exercise with three words that don’t seem to go together) and you’ll find all sorts of creative solutions and ideas.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Putting the Puzzle Together

When was the last time you put together a puzzle?

When someone dumps a puzzle out of a box and onto a table what’s your strategy?

I’m betting the first three things you do are: Flip over all the pieces that are printed side down. Locate all the pieces that have edges showing they are part of the border. Put the border together.

Once you start the way most folks begin the process it’s anyone’s guess what you do next…we all have our own way of putting the rest of the puzzle together.

Life is like that. Once some basics are in place we all find our own way.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ya Got Any Candy?

Last night we were walking around the neighborhood looking at Halloween decorations.

A car stopped beside us and what looked like a 14-15 year-old kid with no costume on sticks his head out the rear, passenger side window and asks, “Are you still giving away candy?”


Now, I’m sure this is just me, but when kids hit about 12 that’s it for the Halloween, door-to-door, Trick-or-Treating exercise. It’s funny when adults do it with their friends and neighbors, or college kids doing it for a party, but there’s about a 4 or 5 year gap where you look like a dope if you’re out begging for candy.

I started thinking that life is kinda like that; there are some things you grow out of…or should…and when you continue to do them they just don’t fit.

LOL!! The good thing though is that if we’re lucky we get to an age at which we can go back and do silly things and, as an old, or at least older, person, we’ll be seen as eccentric.

Which is why, when I’m 95, I’ll be cruising around with my walker and going up to people and asking, “Hey, are you still giving away candy?” And it’ll be the middle of summer.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to turn you clock back on Saturday night before going to bed.

See you Monday.