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A Little Song and Dance

What if every time a problem came your way you sang a little song and did a little dance?  What if you smiled your biggest and thanked the universe?  What if you ran instead of walked, skipped instead of slouched, laughed instead of cried?  The snow is going to fall anyway, the temperature will drop regardless, some customers will complain no matter what, so come what may and love it.

There is a whole lot outside of your control, and more than enough reasons to feel like shouting, or fighting, or throwing a fit and throwing in the towel.  But a little song and a little dance could make all the difference.

(H/T Seth Godin)

What’s your Badger?

Last summer I lost one of the greatest, most influential men in my life, my grandfather. The following quote by James Earl Jones sums him up quite nicely – “More and more, when I single out the person who inspired me the most, I go back to my grandfather.”

He was the kind of man that never met a stranger and he would give you the shirt off his back and his last coin if you needed it. Not only was he kind, but he was funny. He also had his trademarks. For years and years he was known as the candy man. He never left the house without pockets full of candy. Every kid and even adult knew this. His candy of choice was Tootsie Rolls. All you had to do to get a piece was say the magic word, “Badger.” It sounds strange I know, but you wouldn’t believe how many people in Denver, Colorado that knew the magic word. Again, he never met a stranger.

One particular memory I will never forget was a couple of summers of ago when we were visiting, he was so sick from the cancer that was ravaging his body and he could barely eat. I asked him what I could get for him. He requested a chocolate milk shake from Jim’s Burger Haven (they make the best by the way). I hurried on my way to get him one, but before I could leave, he handed me a handful of Tootsie Rolls and told me to pass them out to those that would serve me there. I felt I little strange doing it, but I couldn’t deny him his request. Once my order was taken, I held out my hand with the candy and immediately the server knew who they were from and she asked how he was. She also said, “Badger.“

Those small pieces of candy and his kindness were his trademarks. He wasn’t a man of fortune or fame, but he left his mark. And believe me, he is sorely missed.

So my question to you is, what is your trademark? Do you have one personally or professionally? How do you make your customers feel? If you no longer provided your services, would they be missed? When they interact with you, do they leave feeling better for it?

Just some things to think about. Now go find your “Badger.”

What Will You Choose?

Happy New Year!  I love the start of a new year and the idea that anything and everything is possible.  It’s a great time to let go, to recommit, and to choose what I want to accomplish.

Speaking of choices, when it comes to marketing technology, there are a plethora of tools out there.  Last year, Scott Brinker put together a visual image of all the marketing technology solutions and providers he could find.  It included 947 different companies!  Well he’s done it again, and this year has nearly doubled!  Check out the graphic above which includes 1,876 companies in 43 categories, and read more about it on his website.

With so many choices out there the possibilities for your business really are endless. So where will you go this year?  What will you do?  Who will you become?  What will you choose?

 

You Get What You Give

Social Media is everywhere. It’s not just a buzzword anymore. It’s more like a way of life, or at least how we seem to communicate in life. Heck, even my eighty-one year old grandma is on Facebook, and that’s how she keeps us all updated on her life. Don’t get me wrong, I still call dear grandma, but for every day communication, Facebook is it.

Of course social media is not just for personal communication, it’s also a great way for businesses to connect to their customers and or other businesses. You can create a great symbiotic relationship if you are willing to put in the effort. What I mean by that is, you get what you give in the social media arena.

First of all, you will need to do your research. Follow those that closely align to your goals and purposes on hand. Not only follow them, but reach out personally to them through direct or private messaging. Once you have established a relationship, you will need to take the time to see what posts or advertising they are sharing. Be a good friend and follower, by commenting, sharing, or retweeting. Believe me, most will be willing to do the same for you in return. Again, you get what you give.

Believe me I know this sounds easier said than done. It will take effort and constant attention, but the fruits of your labors will be sweet. So go out there and get social!

 

Black Friday

Black Friday seems to be a term that both delights and incites people. It has been true even before the term was associated with the shopping craze we all think of now. The term was coined by the Philadelphia Police Department in the 1960’s. They used it to describe the chaos that ensued the day after Thanksgiving due to shoppers taking advantage of the first holiday sales. That weekend all officers were to be on duty and they hoped the term would deter shoppers. The term has also been associated with the fact that so many workers used to call in sick the day after Thanksgiving, prompting many businesses to make it a company holiday. By the 1980’s it was used to describe the start of when retailers go from being in the red to into the black.

Still today it has both positive and negative connotations, especially in recent years when retailers are choosing to open on Thanksgiving to get a jump on those sales. Social media is jammed with petitions and posts pleading with shoppers to boycott such activities. Despite the cry about the social injustice of it all, the trend continues. Retailers have been successful in overcoming the backlash that has been ever present across every form of media. Shoppers are still flocking to the stores earlier and earlier in search of promised deals.

Whether you agree or not with the tactics or trends, Black Friday or now Thursday isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Not with so much at stake for retailers. Some retailers can make twenty percent of their profits for the year during Black Friday.

So the question is even with so much negativity how are retailers still thriving in this environment. It’s simple … they’re giving the consumer what they want. And in the end, for any business, that’s the key. Give your customers what they want. Of course that’s easier said than done, but if you want to be successful, that’s the price that must be paid. It’s the only thing that will ensure your bottom line is always black instead of red.

And just so you know, on Black Friday, you will find me at home slumbering peacefully with perhaps visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.

Happy Thanksgiving Y’all!

Why I am Thankful for Apples

1. Pie – I love all kinds of pie (a lot), but there is nothing like a warm slice of sweet apple crumb pie made with tart Granny Smith apples and a scoop of smooth vanilla ice cream for dessert.

2. Sauce, butter, bread, juice, cider – you name it, you can make it with an apple.

3. Pie – did I already mention this?

4. An apple a day…

5. Variety – big, little, sweet, tart, crisp, soft, red, yellow or green. Did you know there are over 7,000 types of apples?

Ideas are like apples. There are a million varieties, and you can make anything you can imagine with them. But just like apples, if you sit them on a shelf for too long, they will rot, and some ideas will grow old and die. Fortunately, unlike apples, most ideas can be brought back to life if given the opportunity.

Apples are meant to be eaten. Ideas are meant to be shared. What will you share with the world this coming year?

How Do You Handle Adversity?

I love BYU.  I had an incredible experience there, got an excellent education, and am a fan for life.  I also love college athletics, so my Cougars were giving me all I could wish for when the football team started the season 4-0 with a serious Heisman Trophy contender at quarterback in Taysom Hill.

Then game 5 came along.  We were getting beat decisively at home early in the game, but with our quarterback a comeback was not only a hope but real possibility.  After all, it was only the 2nd quarter.  That’s when the unthinkable happened.  Hill was tackled at an awkward angle, and just like that, a season-ending injury knocked him out of the game.  Four games later, the Cougars are 4-4, all Playoff, New Years Day Bowl Game, and Heisman Trophy hopes dashed.  Perhaps the saddest part is the fact that the offense has continued to produce (if not as prolifically), averaging almost 30 points per game since Hill’s injury.  There are problems, but the way the defense has fallen apart has been the most glaring weakness of the past 4 games.

The last few weeks have given me plenty of reasons to give up on the Cougars, to call it a season and move on, but I haven’t and I won’t.  I am a fan!  Sure I wish they were winning, I wish our starting quarterback was playing, and I wish there was more to cheer about, but I’m in for the long haul.  The team hasn’t given up, so neither will I.  BYU as an institution took care of me and earned my loyalty, and they are still giving me reasons to be loyal.

Do your customers feel the same way about you and your institution?  Have you put the time and effort into building loyalty so that when adversity comes they will stick around?

Perhaps the single best way to handle adversity is to take care of your customers before it comes.  Seamless customer experience is all the rage now, and with social media and the interconnected nature of just about everything and everyone, a single problem can become a mountain of issues if the customer isn’t getting the experience he or she expects, both off- and online.

A recent blog post by eMarketer referenced a study by the CMO Council noting “a lack of alignment within [...] organizations derails projects to enhance the customer experience—an objective that requires finance, marketing, sales and customer service teams to be on the same page.”

BYU’s season got derailed by injuries, but their alignment within organizations ensured that even though I’m disappointed at the moment I’ll stick around.  Do the same for your customers and whether or not you “make the playoffs”, you’ll have fans for life.

Go Cougars!

 

An Artist Cannot Fail

“True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.” ―Albert Einstein

This is my new favorite quote. And it must be true if Einstein said it. As I recall, he was a pretty smart guy. But more importantly, I know from personal experience that it’s true. I also believe we are all artists, but the key is finding what type of artist you are. How does your art take form? Once you figure that out, you’ve unlocked the key to success.

When my husband and I were first married, and just starting out in the world, my uncle told us to find careers where we loved what we were doing. He said if we did that, we would be successful. And you know what? He was right.

Sometimes, it can take a long time to figure out what our art is. For some of us, it doesn’t come naturally, per se. For some of us our art isn’t obvious like singing, or dancing or even designing software. It may take years to discover our hidden talent or art, but it is worth the wait. Just make sure to make the most of it once it emerges.

And remember that success and monetary rewards don’t always go hand in hand. You can find success in your art without ever making a dime. And who can really put a price on happiness?

And remember…”An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.” – Charles Horton Cooley

The Time Will Pass Anyway

How many of us have a five year plan? How many of us even think it’s necessary? How many of us have strayed off our five year plan or even revisited the five year plan since we wrote it ten years ago? So maybe it’s time to dust it off and take another serious look at it. It may be a fruitless exercise, but did you know that you’re 33% more likely to achieve your goals if they are written down. And honestly, when you think about it, five years isn’t really that long. At least it isn’t the older you get.

                One of my new favorite quotes is by Earl Nightingale – “Don’t give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” It is simple, but profound. Easier said than done. But look back at your last five years. Did you accomplish what you set out to? If you didn’t, what held you back? Is your dream worth it? Do you even have a dream? If the answer is no, I challenge you to get one, and quick. The great things about dreams are they are yours whether they are outlandish or realistic, but they make life worth living.

                To begin (after you figure out what your dream is), take a look at your life as a whole. Is it leading you toward that dream or is it propelling you in another direction? What changes can you make to shift your life toward your dream or goal?

Or maybe ask yourself if it is still a worthy dream or goal, maybe there’s a reason you’re being propelled in another direction. I’m not saying to give up on dreams, but sometimes I think it’s good, healthy even, to change dreams or adjust them based on what we’ve learned since setting them.

                I know in my personal and professional life, I’ve been surprised by the twists and turns and what dreams were turned into. Many of the times it has been completely different than I imagined, but nonetheless satisfying. But in the end, if you know it’s a worthy dream or goal, keep going for it. Remember, “The time will pass anyway. “

It was Persistence

In 1939, nobody was taking color photographs of nature.  Black and white was king; it was art, and color was kitsch, a novelty, nothing to be taken seriously.

Eliot Porter felt differently.  Over a 50 year career as a scientist, environmentalist, and nature photographer, he helped elevate color photography to its own art form and the standard in the industry.

I was fortunate to take a class in college from an excellent photographer who knew Eliot Porter.  During a difficult time early in his career he received a letter from Eliot Porter with this bit of wisdom on being successful: “It was persistence.”

That is how Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, how the Wright brothers learned to fly, and  how DeepTarget has published The Microphone monthly for 5 years (not quite on the same level, I’ll grant you, but the principle is the same).

Persistence is how Eliot Porter changed photography for the world, and it is how you can find success at home or at the office, in your town or around the world.