Category Archives: Marketplace Scans

He can mix a great drink OR position you correctly on the X-ray machine

#agreesharon

Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.

Let me know what you think.

colorful puzzleThe age-old question of “What do I want to be when I grow up” is never easy to define….and I am always fascinated by the stories of those who truly changed the direction of their work, using skills in a completely different application.

I was recently making small talk with an X-ray technician. He told me about decades spent as a bartender and restaurant manager. Earlier days included time in the military.

It was humorous ….. and then the career links became oh so obvious: Helping others. Customer Service. Measuring items that come together within a followed formula. People-facing. Patience. Ability to handle emotionally charged environments.

When was the last time you used one of your skills in a completely unrelated situation?

puzzle coming togehter

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Get Real! Purpose + Calling + Balance

The New York Human Resources People and Strategy Group recently hosted an insightful presentation featuring social entrepreneur Aaron Hurst.

In this interactive and provocative session, Aaron presented his concept of a “Purpose Economy”, in which purpose will replace information as the dominant economic driver. Embedded in this new definition of purpose are the concepts of:
• Choice
• Calling
• Self-awareness

The desire for purpose, calling or self-fulfillment is not new. However in today’s society which allows 24/7 connectivity, availability and choice…… the boundaries between our work and personal lives is often non-existent. The concept of work: life balance has become a concept of work: life integration. The premise of seeing one’s act of labor as fulfilling and satisfying —regardless of the role one plays in the world of work—- provides the consistency that allows us to thrive in everything that we do.

Research has shown significant levels of employee disengagement and frustration. Further studies surmise that the disengaged workforce is less productive, less dependable, and less loyal to the work-team. Infusing the purpose approach into every aspect of our lives becomes critical. The concept starts with an attitude. Individually, we create purpose by choosing how to approach a job vs. only looking at the actual content of the job that we are doing.

Some industry articles attribute this shift in philosophy to the millennial; I think the fundamentals of the purpose concept have been percolating for a very long time. Our aging society, sandwich generations and millennial attitudes have allowed these frustrations to be channeled in a positive direction. As a member of the Boomer generation, I grappled with work: life balance as I entered my parenting years and was an active participant in remote work schedules, freelance contracts and career off-ramps. The Purpose Economy addresses the personal interests and demands of individuals by “allowing us to publicly balance our multiple obligations”.
balancing act photo
How can we combine passion and expertise consistency in our lives –vs. – looking to our volunteer work and hobbies to fill in these gaps? Does each of us have the ability to work with purpose and to live with purpose? Is this a learned activity? Will this increased awareness obligate everyone (the employers, the employees, the clients and the providers) to realize that work: life integration is reasonable and attainable? The answer is a definite YES!

Aaron shared four recommendations with the audience that can be viewed as opportunities for both the individual as well as the collective employer/work environment to support purpose-oriented activities. They are:

1. Develop individual self-awareness. As an employer, strive to assist your employees in building their self-awareness.
• Those who demonstrate calling in their daily lives see their actions as being bigger than them. They are motivated by the ability to impact others in positive ways. They are confident in their actions being consistent with their driving emotions.

2. Tailor your work to reflect the purpose(s) that motivate you. As an employer, allow the employee to tailor their work to boost their own sense of purpose.
• Doing this involves the deepening of relationships, defining opportunities for growth and maximizing the impact that someone can make in a situation.

3. Connect your personal purpose with your organizational purpose. As an employer, allow your employees to understand the impact of their labor on the bigger picture.
• People who behave from a position of purpose or calling see their efforts as providing positive growth. The power of continuous learning is important to all of us.

4. Celebrate and connect with others who share your approach to life. As an employer, create opportunities where individuals who share a common perspective can learn and grow together (This does not mean that they work together, Rather that they serve as motivators for each other.)
• I note that this example was given within the context of bringing people together who tested with similar purpose profiles. People with different functionalities and backgrounds were able to gain a new perspective on subjects that they had no understanding— when the sharing was made with someone else who shared a similar purpose-perspective. As a marketer, this reiterates the importance of the emotional connections that we create within all aspects of our lives.

May the spirit of purpose guide us successfully into a fulfilling 2015!great miinds quote

Ah-ha Moments for Competitive Intelligence

Competitive Intelligence can have a huge impact to the bottom line of a business. This knowledge comes in many forms, and ultimately, it is the application of human intelligence and human logic that reveals the value in the data, the trends and the inconsistencies.ahha moment lightbulb

With this in mind, the “aha” competitive intelligence moments will often reveal themselves where you least expect to uncover them. Here are some questions to help you find the “aha” in non-traditional places, creating competitive advantages for you and your organization:

1.     Does it really matter what the competition is doing?

Competitive Intelligence is not just about looking at what your industry competitors are doing; it is about seeing your business through a completely new set of eyes.

Better stated: The activity of your peers is only one part of the equation.  In fact, case studies show that many innovative breakthroughs came from non-industry competitors. Yes, know the industry competition and, do position yourself favorably. However, do not spend so much time on the competitor activities that you forget to focus on the activity of THE most important piece of the marketplace: the customer!

2.     Can you make lemonade out of lemons?

We know that every production line output includes first quality and imperfect items. Does your business allow you to develop a secondary distribution channel for the “seconds”? For example: “ding and dent sales” for furniture or appliances or consignment stores for manufacturers over-runs.

The lemonade concept has been successfully applied to situations where fixed costs render heavily discounted, last minute offers a preferable option for the business. Last minute vacation websites (think Travelocity, Cheap Tickets) alongside of theatre ticket offerings (think Play-by-Play and Theatre Mania in NYC)  have trained many consumers to plan these activities at the last minute, thereby allowing themselves  an experience that may otherwise be unaffordable.

3.     Do you have a diversified reading list?

We’ve all been trained to regularly read the daily newspapers and the industry journals for our business specialties. However, Best Practices are often industry-agnostic; can you imagine any call center manager disputing the value in real time call monitoring and feedback loops? Reading industry journals from any other industry but your own; reading political articles that you do not agree with and occasionally scanning a forever classic Dr. Seuss book….can move your mind into new directions and thought patterns that can impact your business?

4.     Does this really have to be a seasonal item?

Back in graduate school, I prepared an advertising campaign for matzo as an all year round cracker choice. Fast forward to today’s metropolitan grocer and you are likely to find boxes of matzo year-round. In a similar fashion, Gold’s Horseradish has created another category of condiments and eliminated horseradish as a seasonal product.

5.     How can you change consumer behaviors?

Slowly is the pessimist’s answer. By speaking to emotions is the more logical answer. Create a competitive advantage for yourself by focusing on the emotional level appeal.

Forget the product benefits – Focus on the storyline. This is another great example of seeing a situation through a different set of eyes. Madison Avenue examples of this:

  • Nike is not about shoes and running shorts. It is about a state of mind: Just Do It. Get out and exercise
  • The L’Oreal tagline” Because You’re worth it” moved the emphasis off of the products and onto the consumer. Yeah, I am worth it – I am beautiful
  • What if we could apply this to our children’s chore-list? Imagine: “A neat room is a higher test score”
  • Zappos is a customer service company…that happens to sell shoes!

SUMMARY:

Competitive intelligence is not just about looking at what your industry competitors are doing; it is about seeing your business through completely different sets of eyes.  And using these new and varied viewpoints to maximize opportunities.

 

Original posting: FIVE KEY Questions on Competitive Intelligence. New Places to find the “ah-ha” by @sharonlewisnyc #EQlist buff.ly/1gsE3Dz  via @CASUDI