Tag Archives: #ahha

Red Light Green Light

#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.

It is that time of the year and NYC traffic congestion is everywhere; the traffic guards working extra hard to move the traffic in an orderly fashion. The following story represents a great glimpse into human behavior: WTF.

Imagine this scene: The traffic guard was directing cars with every ounce of her voice and gesturing hands. A traffic light was also available to guide the activity. So when the traffic light changed color and the guard kept moving cars forward in the direction of the red traffic light, confusion appeared and impatience erupted. The horns were pounded and the car windows opened as drivers yelled at the traffic guard who was not facilitating the traffic flow in keeping with the traffic light colors. For what seemed like forever, I watched the traffic guard in a pseudo-aerobic exercise dance as she persevered in maintaining the traffic flow as she saw fit.traffic-jam

And then, it became obvious! Twelve black Escalade vans appeared, driving in the same direction that she was indeed facilitating movement. There was logic to her actions and the override of the traffic light messaging. For a nanosecond, the car horns and driver obscenities subsided. WTF?

Was there a small smirk on the face of the traffic guard as the caravan came to a close and she turned her attention to traffic flow in the opposite direction?

How often do we assume that someone is doing something wrong or stupid because it breaks from what we expect to experience?

feedback

How do I Know What I do Not Know?

This question can have a pivotal impact across any aspect of our lives. If only, I had known that? Why didn’t someone tell me? Can I backdate it?

“Knowing everything” is impossible however creating an infrastructure of information/data which heightens your awareness of issues that are applicable to your situation can be improved. Here are six ways to increase your chances of asking the “right questions” to ensure that you are getting more of the “right information” coming your way:

question marks

1. Ask incident related questions vs general questions.
Instead of asking: How is it going today? Or how is business, start asking more specific incident-related questions:
• Tell me about the last new piece of business you closed
• Tell me about the last employee you hired
• Did John give you an update on the five client requests made during the March 10 meeting

2. Ask the same question more than once to different people.
Did you ever call a utility company or insurance company and receive completely different answers to the same question — from two different people within the same 60 minute period of time. It happens every day and it goes beyond the quality of the service training. It reflects the experience and the empowerment levels of the person handling your request. Hang up the phone and call back if the answer is important enough to you!

3. Let me tell you what I am going to tell you, and then tell you what I told you that I would tell you.
Creating awareness and interest is a never-ending marketing challenge, Studies show that making an impression on someone can take anywhere from 7 to 20 exposure points across multiple channels of influence.
In addition to telling your story multiple times and in multiple ways, remember to stop and ask questions that are as specific as possible. In small discussion settings, pull from your knowledge of the participants history to open up the dialogue. Whenever possible, the goal is to understand how someone else handled a situation. Are there insights that would help you ask different questions?

4. Can I prevent this from happening again?
We all have situations that annoy the heck out of us, especially since they keep happening again and again. We come up with a plan to remedy the situation so that eventually we are less annoyed and more adept at handling the situation. However, have we truly resolved the core reason behind the incomplete transaction, the never-ending disruptions, or the repetitive errors that need to be corrected?
The application of: How do we know what we do not know in this situation is to make sure to let others know how a problem was solved. This supports continuous improvement in work flow and case management so that the root cause of the situation can be adjusted!

5. Ask someone who really cares.
Some people give their heart and soul to specific causes. Find those who have walked in your shoes. Others devote their lives to providing the support services to the situation you are seeking answers. Ask someone who truly cares, as their answer will point to both the emotional and functional issues that are pivotal to your success.

6. Having the courage to take a leap of faith.
The amount of information in our domain is doubling within brief periods of time. Analysis-Paralysis is no longer possible. A smart pilot program can mitigate the risk. Small changes that can be seen in a conservative culture as acceptable iterations to the process……..move the process forward.
Former NY Mayor Ed Koch created an environment of wanting feedback by including his famous “How am I Doing” question with every appearance. How do you know what you do not know? Start by taking an inquisitive nature to life, always looking for new ways to make the questions you ask more insight.

In keeping with this philosophy, I ask you to share a question with me that you now ask on a regular basis that has made a difference in your life.

 

 

Yikes! How Do We Tame the Elephant in the Room?

You, too, can tame the elephant in the room

You know that feeling you get in your gut when a difficult subject needs to be addressed and you suddenly become the world’s master of procrastination. Is there an elephant in the room? What do you do if:

  • The customer service center was unable to handle the volume of inbound leads generated by your Facebook campaign
  • You hit “reply all” on a conversation which included sensitive subject matter intended only for “reply to sender”
  • An entire electronic file appears to be missing and the intern is still working on updating the documents
  • Cash is missing or you realize that someone chipped the heirloom figurine and neglected to tell you
  • Your toddler, who is in the middle of toilet training, decides to show off their new skills in the toilet remodeling department of Home Depot (Just saw this LOL scene on TV)

No matter how much training you have in mediation or facilitation, these sorts of situations are rarely viewed as light-conversation. Unaddressed, these issues foster confusion and make everyone distracted, preoccupied and sometimes fearful. All of these emotions waste valuable time and hamper productivity.stresses business

Wikipedia describes the elephant in the room phrase as “an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed….. an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss”…..

Recognizing the elephant is an important first step, however the real finesse comes in acknowledging  the elephant in a manner that allows everyone to feel comfortable enough to participate in the discussion and then to move past it. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that we can tame the proverbial elephant in the room”

  1. Open up the discussion by expressing the issue and inviting input from others. To do this effectively necessitates that you share your views with little or no emotion. Why? Because emotions are contagious and at this point, you are looking to ask others to share.
  2. Asking others to share their viewpoint displays consideration for their perspective. Stop and listen – really listen to what they say. Acknowledge their input and demonstrate a sincere interest in their comments. Creating an environment where someone feels like they can share allows you to discuss a potentially “forbidden” subject and sets the tone for continued dialogue. As the dialogue continues, you collect more information that can be used for a reality check.
  3. Do a reality-check: Is this really an elephant or can we resolve this with less drama? Your attitude on this may set the tone for others and alleviate stress or awkwardness. Honesty expressed in a calm and thoughtful manner can help to disarm the elephant.
  4. Be honest, direct and convey confidence. A difficult issue becomes an elephant in the room when it is ignored, despite everyone being aware of it. By naming what others may be avoiding, you will transform the elephant into an obstacle—obstacles are far less overwhelming to the psyche to handle and move off of.
  5. Move forward: Thank everyone for their inputs. Summarize the next steps. Ask others to concur with your summary. Where possible, ask others to take on a responsibility that increases the likelihood of maintaining harmony

Deep breath. You can tame the elephant in the room and move forward.

A version of this posting was made on the MENG blog in Nov 2013.

Water Bottles on Demand

water bottles

Give a man a fish and he eats a meal; Give a man a fishing rod and he feeds himself forever. Give a man a bottle of water and he can drink throughout the day. Maybe…..however it is worth taking note of the modern version of a hotel water fountain. It certainly makes it easier for us to stay hydrated in an environmentally-friendly format throughout the day.

Here’s an interesting water bottle factoid: “According to the Container Recycling Institute, 86% of plastic water bottles used in the US become garbage that ends up in landfills throughout the country. Considering that approximately 60 million plastic water bottles are used every day in the US, we can assume that nearly 18,834,000,000 end up in the landfill each year. Each bottle can take up to 700 years to decompose.” (Source)

Are you using a singular water bottle throughout the day — one that you carry with you and refill as required?

Make like a honey-bee!

#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.

honeybee 1Waiting on a store check-out line, I listened to the telephone conversation of the person standing behind me. The dialogue was around customer service. “ I want my customers to receive the best possible customer service from my staff. At the same time”, he continued, “I will not allow my own staff to be bullied or intimidated.”

It seems that a staff member was upset because the customer’s approach was something like: “This is what you will do to correct the situation now” as opposed to “I would like to see you do the following to make good on the situation. What would be the next steps for this to take place?”

In your own dealings: Do you ask them OR tell them what you want?  As my father-in-law used to say: You get more with honey than vinegar! Now, go make like a honey bee.

 

 

A Cargo Perspective

#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.

People have different perspectives on how to keep track of  their precious cargo. Imagine the following two scenarios which took place on a major midtown Manhattan avenue.

  • First, I see a young fashionably-dressed woman talking on her cell phone while a toddler waddles behind her. She is walking somewhat sideways so as to keep an eye on the child, however there is a distance between the two of them that measures somewhere between one-third and one-half city block.ducks walking
  • A few minutes later, I see a young man walking down the street. He looks like a sweaty tightrope walker. He is balancing some 6 (very large) trays of eggs in his arms.

Doesn’t it seem that the transportation method should have been switched up in these scenarios?

In the described situation, would you have said something to the young woman? Would you have offered to help the young man?

OR, would you have power-walked past both of them?

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

Bubble in the Starched Shirt

#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.

Walking by one of the fancier, established NYC hotels, I watched the starched shirt doormen assisting the well-dressed and casually-dressed hotel guests alike. The doormen juggled their assistance with the luggage, the hailing of the taxis and the requests for directions with never-ending smiles and cool composure.

So it is not surprising when I took a moment to pause because out of the corner of my eye, I noticed one of the clean cut doorman having a moment of rest —- and blowing a big bubble gum bubble covering up the bottom quarter of his face. Really??!!! Not quite the class act hoped for by the hotel management.

little boy blowing a bubble

And a good reminder that we all sometimes do things that are best done when not in the public spotlight.

Lesson reiterated……Someone is Always Looking. LOL

Future of Marketing: Collisions and Complexities

The Future of Marketing Summit 2015: Collisions and Complexity #FTMarketing is always a treat to attend. While conference attendance continues to drop these days, the live conferences allow us to share our real time views in more than 140 characters, giving some additional color to the speaker comments.

The conference explored relevance and personalization —objectives that marketers always strive to achieve — regardless of the available technology and in spite of the available technology.

“Content is king. Context is queen and she wears the pants.” 

Big data and the balance of personalized messaging, limited budgets and the creep factor caused by revealing the knowledge of too much individual data, continue to be a dominant subject on everybody’s mind. Ad-blocking is a relevant piece of the conversation as it impacts so many of the content development and customization strategies that we all are exploring.

content and contextWith so much free content available, what motivates someone to share the information that allows us/them to customize their stream of news? The answer lies in the value proposition. The importance of which is not new; the newness is in the never-ending expansion of resources that we can use to meet our needs.

Hence, if I can get the information elsewhere, I will get it wherever it is easiest and most obviously synergistic.

  • Exemplifying this example was Seth Farbman, CMO at Spotify. Consumer access to music at little to no cost delivers huge exposure for the artist. For those artists who do not have the marketing and label support, Spotify sees themselves as an avenue for artist exposure. Their goal is to build music fans. The majority of their users do not pay fees. However, the Spotify service is not free; it is advertising supported. Hence what happens to this business model when users go incognito?

Knowing that “Content is king. Context is queen and she wears the pants.” What can the marketer do to ensure the right experience for the individual customer?  Simultaneously, what can be done to maintain advertising dollar supports? Maintaining a robust exchange of information is paramount.

  • Businesses that are using Virtual Reality (VR) provided a good example of creating customer relevancy. In fact, one of the panelists shared his own story; it involved a dislike for camping activities which ended in the booking of a camping trip after a VR experience. Sounds like the adage: Try it. You’ll like it. Virtual Reality brings us closer to the experience than any copy deck or photo montage could achieve.

Storytelling: A Strategic Business Tool

8591351239_24bcb987df_nAnd, when VR is not possible, we know that a well-delivered story format is a readily affordable tactic to initiating an immersive brand experience. In the panel titled “Shifting the Brand Strategy in the Age of Empowered Consumer”, one message was unanimous: Brands can no longer speak to the customer. Rather, brands must speak with the customer. Be it a consumer or a  B2B transaction, the human being will make a decision and individuals want to buy things that reflect smart decisions and which make them feel like they are adding value to the situation.

When is yes a maybe? Marketers are still figuring this out.

Unraveling what the customer wants will continue to be an ongoing riddle. The true psycho-graphics behind one’s behavior are rarely available on an individual basis and just because someone looks at a website does not mean they want to use or buy the product….a challenge with programmatic marketing.

As marketers, we want to test everything to see how we can better create a dialogue with our customer groups. However, social media is still being challenged to prove the consistency of the measurable impacts that the tactics generate for a campaign.

  • There was an audible chuckle in the audience when Roel de Vries, Global Head of Marketing and Brand Strategy at Nissan Motor Company spoke to the “hobby-ism of doing things. If I have to sell x million cars, is 10,000 hits good enough to get me there?” And, hence, we must again balance testing opportunities with scale impact and the budget allocation.

The Basic Human Need for Emotional Resonance

As technology continues to alter the way we consume data for our decisions, there was chatter amongst the room for another proven behavior: The continued need for emotional resonance. No matter how technological our society has become, in the end, we are individuals with numerous personas that are all actively in play at any given time.

Reminding us of this basic human nature was the five step ecosystem that individuals use to make decisions. The buzz words have changed over time however the concepts remain intact. The five step ecosystem is: brain photo

  • Notice: Get noticed. Create awareness.
  • Curiosity: Generate interest.
  • Interaction: Offer an array of opportunities for interaction and the query for more information. Engage the customer/prospect in a dialogue that makes the impact of this product in their lives real.
  • Reinforcement: Create on-going reinforcement of the purchase decision.
  • Evangelize: With the ultimate goal of turning the customer into an evangelist your product

Some things do not change; they get modified and fine-tuned to reflect the modern-age tools.

Relevance, personalization and service excellence continue to be the critical success factors in establishing long term relationships.

If you found any of the subjects in this post to be of interest to you, please get in touch and lets continue the conversation.

Thank you to the Marketing Executives Networking Group MENG for my ticket. to this event.

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