Creating Moments In Business

This month I read the book The Power of Moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. The book was about how to create moments in business that will stick with and thrill customers, which is certainly something that many businesses are talking about right now (the customer experience), so there were lots of ideas and examples to contemplate with regard to creating experiences. Early in the book the authors reminded that it’s not just about making experiences or moments, it’s about all of the wasted and missed opportunities to make people feel included, welcomed, supported and appreciated.

So what is a moment? It could be something as inexpensive as an ice pop or cup of coffee, it could be even cheaper and be just a thoughtful email sent out at the right time. It could also be something that takes a lot of time, resources and effort to create, like reaching the top of Everest. Moments like Everest or graduating college are somewhat predictable in that you are almost certain it’s going to happen and when it will happen. However other moments like ice pops or coffee or emails are a surprise to customers, but should be something that you as the business have planned and work into your marketing and customer appreciation strategies.

Something they talked about at the end of the book was the fact that if you really want to create moments in your business for your customers, you have to start with a great employee experience. Employees are the people who can turn a bad experience into a good one (in one study almost 25% of positive experiences were based on how well an employee resolved a service failure), so why do so many businesses put so little effort into caring for and supporting their employees and empowering them as team players for caring for customers? You can easily create more positive customer experiences by educating and empowering your employees on the broad range of ways they can turn issues and failures around, as well as give them a number of “freebies” each week of ways they can surprise and delight customers.

Finally, the book talks about the fact that you don’t have to try to make every aspect of your business a “moment.” Not every detail needs to wow as long as some moments are magical and picture-worthy or worthy of sharing with your social connections. Yes, you should be aware of and work on fixing both the really big issues and the smaller issues that will overshadow or ruin any moments you try to make. In conjunction with that and after that, once you’ve got an experience that is reliable and dependable and you have a competent team, then you can work on consistently making “moments.”

Are you making moments in your business? What do customers say surprises and thrills them about you and your team?

A Chinese New Year Success

This past weekend was the start of the celebration of the Chinese New Year. If you’re not familiar with the holiday, it begins 15 days of celebrations of the Spring Festival and Lantern Festival, both ways of bringing in the new year. Each year is represented by an animal, and this year is the rat. So today I thought we’d see what lessons we can learn from this celebration, from another new year and from the rat.

History shares that the rat is the first of the 12 zodiac animals. While we may not all see it this way, one of the reasons the rat was chosen in the first place is because in Chinese culture rats were seen as a symbol or sign of wealth, because of their ability to reproduce. Both of these are good insights about success, because sometimes it does matter where you are when it comes to time or position, and being first does often give you some benefits that aren’t available to those who come along later. The saying ‘first come, first serve’ is a famous line that speaks to this. The ability to multiply or grow is also a huge aspect of success, you really can’t be successful if you’re not growing or multiplying.

Another important thing to remember about success that the Chinese New Year festival speaks to, is that sometimes it takes time. Yes, there’s one official Chinese New Year day each year, but with that one day comes 14 more after and several before that encourage preparing, thinking, praying, celebrating, and family time. Sometimes success can be achieved in a day or a short time, but more often than not it’s a multi-day or multi-year process. These extra days means those who celebrate the Chinese New Year aren’t pushing things, they’re letting the celebrations unfold in a natural, unhurried way.

Finally, it’s really hard to miss all the decorations for Chinese New Year because they’re all in bright cheerful lights and colors like red and gold. Yes, success is usually directly connected with hard work which isn’t always fun or cheerful, but even if you only celebrate at the end when you’ve achieved victory or your goal, there should be some celebration. One of the reasons I think some struggle with success is because it’s not as bright, cheerful and motivating as it could be, or all that gets lost in the background as you work forward.

So go ahead, take time to celebrate your successes, give your successes the true time they need to grow and develop, and always build on your success and the success of others.

A Life of Moments

This week I’ve been reading my business book of the month which I’ll be sharing about in the coming week on the topics of creating moments, and it’s got me thinking about the moments in our lives that have nothing to do with commercialism or marketing (although some of those moments can be pretty awesome). Most of us don’t have memories like a video camera, rather we remember snapshots or short clips from different times during our lives, which usually amounts to only a portion of our lives. When we think about them it’s often like we’re right back there in that moment, that’s how clear our memories are. Those memories/moments are often based in or surrounded by strong emotions, both positive and negative ones.

I don’t think we should have a goal of trying to create a “moment” out of every second of our lives. For one, it would take the magic from true moments. I also think it would be too frustrating if we tried to make everything a ‘moment’ and most of it didn’t work out that way and wasn’t even close to what we tried to make it. However, I do think we can do a better job with not only having moments, but teaching our kids to embrace life and working ourselves on thriving more than surviving. To get to more moments we have to live, do, be, see or have more.

One simple example are books. I absolutely love to read and there are tons of new books that are published each day. No one will have an interest in every book, and not every book will be good let alone readable. But you have to be willing to take a chance on some books if you want to find the really great ones. Because those really great ones are worth wading through some that are just OK or those that aren’t even worth finishing. So maybe the answer to having more moments in our lives that are worth remembering for years to come is simply to try more.

So this week with your kids (and your partner) I encourage you to try a little harder, do something a little different and lean into experiences that could create moments.

Distracted Leadership

One of the biggest challenges to being a successful leader and business owner are all the distractions you could face in a day. Of course, there are certainly people, who I hesitate to call leaders, that just avoid all of those and as a result have very high turnover in their organization, both with customers and with employees. They let the distractions get the best of them and as a result have more struggles than the average business owner, and do poorly managing the struggles they do attempt. Part of being a leader and business owner is having the skills to manage all that comes with a business, including having the right people in the right places, time management and communication. If you aren’t able to do all of those things and you only have a drive for the product or service portion of things, you need to partner with someone who can support that aspect of the business.

Distractions come in many forms, from the very obvious to the not so obvious. Very obvious distractions include people who want your attention all times of the day and you never have time to do what you need to do, emails, social media and family. Less obvious distractions include the inability to make decisions, the inability to communicate and the inability to manage your time, all of which are connected back to a focus issue. I get it, we are very busy and there never are enough hours in the day, especially if you’re making time for family or sleep or health like you should. Which is why it’s more important than ever to be able to focus when you’re working and effectively manage not just distractions but all aspects of your business.

One of the most typical ways to manage distractions and your business is to hire people who can be your gate keepers, and in general giving your team the right amount of unsupervised delegation. You should always be checking in with your team, but if you don’t have people in position that you can trust to do right for the business and your customers, you’ll never be able to get done what you need to. Another way to manage distractions is to be greedy with some of your time each day or week. Lock yourself away and let people know they can’t disturb you then, and really buckle down and get stuff done. Another great suggestion I heard recently was to have office hours rather than having an open door policy. This lets people know you’re accessible, but that you respect their time and would like them to respect yours as well. Finally, don’t shy away from the benefits of having a schedule. Yes, we often run a business because we want more freedom, but creating a schedule can help to give you the freedom you wanted in the first place.

What distractions are most challenging to you in your business and how do you deal with them?

Beyond First Successes

Yesterday was the official remembrance of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but many people started talking about him in the days before the holiday and will continue to do so for the rest of this week. As I thought about what to share in this post today about success, there were many thoughts that came to mind. Dr. King certainly is a great example of someone who was successful, but not in the financial regard that many people automatically assign to the word success. Instead, he was one of the few who not only was successful about getting his message out there, it’s a message many people not only remember but can repeat words from, some 50 years later. All of those are incredible feats in and of themselves, but as I was thinking about what to write today I thought about the topic of legacies and about the words that most of us know from his ‘dream’ speech and the other things that I was reminded of or learned over the past few days of reading and hearing about him and his work.

While the ‘dream’ speech is certainly a legacy to be proud of, there was a ton more to this man than just one speech. He was a husband, father, minister, black man, friend of many, resident of Georgia, student, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, courageous soul, and person who stood up and said something when injustice was reigning strong. What I’ve seen these past few days is a great reminder that like success, Dr. King was more than just one thing. Yes, most of us are exceptionally good at one thing or best known for that thing. But success in that one area or through that one avenue is only part of the story. We are much more than just that one thing. Dr. King is more than just his ‘dream’ speech.

I do hope that this year is one of great success for all of us, whether that success is with health, family, work or finances, or some/all of the above. Maybe it will be like dominoes, that when you knock one down, the rest fall so perfectly in line after and it all just works out as you hoped and planned. But don’t let your focus on one thing so distract you or hold you back from the rest of your life. Don’t rest on the joy and victory of one success, continue on pursuing greatness for the rest of your days as well.

Relationships to Believe In

The other day I was reminded of the importance of supporting your partner. I know that sounds really simple, and in some ways it is that simple, but there’s also more to it. A relationship is filled with opportunities for personal growth and learning, both who you are as a person and how you work with others. Relationships also come with challenges to face and they can go through very rocky patches. Even with the best matches, there will still be things that you have to work through, that will frustrate you about the other person and you’ll have to learn compromise. The most successful relationships are with people who learn how to give and take, support each other, communicate, and work together.

But beyond that what I was thinking about this week was about believing in your partner. To believe means to “to have confidence in the truth, or the reliability of something or someone,” “to have confidence in the assertions of (a person),” “to have a conviction that (a person or thing) is, has been, or will be engaged in a given action or involved in a given situation.” Believing in your partner and them in you and both of you in your relationship is a level deeper and beyond just supporting each other, it’s a level of commitment, confidence and conviction that doesn’t exist in all relationships.

What do you believe? Do you believe in your relationship? Do you really believe in your partner? Do you believe in what they bring to your relationship? Do you believe in and support their dreams? Do they believe in you and the relationship as you do? If you believe but are feeling a little tired or frustrated, that’s one thing. It’s another thing if you’re just counting time and sticking it out and you don’t believe in them and the relationship or they in you and the relationship. If that’s the case and you want the relationship to be one you believe in, then it’s time to have a serious conversation about where the relationship is going with your partner. If you aren’t at the place that you need a relationship and partner you believe in, then just enjoy what you’ve got until it’s time to move on. Are you in a relationship you believe in?

New Year, New Sales

Since the new year has begun, I’ve purchased phone cases for my new phone, broken a garbage can lid (thus needing a new garbage can), cleaned up and packed away some holiday decorations, knew several people who have passed away and attended services and after events for one of them, gathered with family and extended family, and looked into clearance sales. What was the hardest part of all of this (other than losing people I knew)? That there weren’t hardly any emails or marketing from companies that I might have purchased from if I knew they were doing sales or had the products I was looking for.

Yes, the weeks of mid-November through Christmas are some of the busiest when it comes to marketing, and it often costs more to market at those times and is often harder to get in front of your target audience since they’re seeing so many messages. Yes, people also are willing to spend money then in part because they know that there will be sales and they know they have to buy gifts. Yes, many people cry when they see their January credit card bills. But the fact remains, just because the holidays are over, doesn’t mean that people stop spending money.

I’m not suggesting that you should be doing marketing or even sales/selling at the level that you did during the holiday/year end shopping season, but what I am saying is that life happens, people need to eat, things break, and people still have needs they’re going to be shopping for, and if you’re not sharing your offers with them, they will go with the cheaper, easier or more obvious choice. And while they may get lucky and end up buying exactly what they were looking for, chances are good that they would have preferred to know their options, and might have been more satisfied with the product or service you were offering but didn’t know was available.

So go ahead, put a little effort into your January marketing, because people are out there shopping. You’ve probably got a better chance of your potential customers hearing you now that they’re not inundated with holiday messages or spending as much time with family and friends. Plus, it’s a great time to set the standard for how the rest of the year will go and be an excellent communicator, building relationships and connections with customers and potential customers.

Relationship Challenges and Choices

I’ve talked with a few people last week whose partners are either ignorant, selfish, not considerate or completely overwhelmed. Of course this means that the people I’ve spoken with are overwhelmed and very frustrated in their respective situations.

Is it a communication issue? Is it a personal issue? Is it a lack of commitment to the relationship issue? All of these are possible, and all of these could be partially involved in the issues that have come up. Another part could be that they’re just not meant to be together. Sometimes you have to know when to pack it in. The resentment can just continue to build if both partners aren’t equally willing to put the time, effort and communication into having a healthy and satisfying relationship.

With this new year it’s a great time to evaluate your relationship.  If you’re struggling with your partner and you haven’t had a conversation about it in the past, the first thing to do is let them know and sit down and have a serious conversation about it. If they don’t respond after you’ve tried to clearly, completely and calmly tell them several times that you’re struggling to pull weight for both of you in the relationship, bring in professional help like a coach or pastor you trust. If they won’t go with you or without you to see that professional, you have to decide if you want to go by yourself, want to stay with the relationship and you’ve just got some unrealistic expectations and desires, or if it’s time to do a trial or permanent separation.

Relationships are some of the best and most challenging aspects of our lives, so it’s important to stand for what you need and be the supportive person your partner needs.  What steps do you need to take in your relationship this year?

Cohesive Marketing Communication

This week I had someone approach me asking about their Facebook account and why they weren’t getting subscriptions from their ads or their page. I asked them to send me their links and I took a look and didn’t even have to get as far as seeing the ads to see some issues that could definitely be the reasons why they weren’t getting subscriptions. When they followed up on my feedback, they asked if they should just scrap their FB page and start over. My answer was that the issue really wasn’t with their FB, although there were things they could improve there, but with the offer they were presenting on their website and a lack of cohesive communication on their offer, and if anything needed to be scraped, it was the website.

I share this with you today because it’s not an isolated incident. I talk with companies on a too-regular basis that do absolutely have issues with their social accounts, but they have far larger issues with the offer they’re presenting and/or their website. You can send all the traffic you want to an offer on social media and then through to your website, but if the ad isn’t clear, if the ad doesn’t match what’s on the website, if what’s on the website isn’t clear and understandable, very little if anything is going to convert.

If I could encourage you to do anything with this new year it would be to review everything about your company online that you can get your hands on and make sure it all is current and lines up clearly. If you do this yearly, unless something big has happened, you’re probably going to just have a few small changes to make and it won’t take long. If you want an outside opinion, shoot me a message with your links. If you know after taking a look at everything that you’re due for an overhaul, I’d love to work with you on going through it all and making sure that you’re set up for your best year ever, and able to support more people in this new decade.

New Year, New Commitment

Just based on how the first few days of the year have gone, I think this year is going to be different than others before. I haven’t gotten near the number of emails that I usually do regarding the new year and plans that people are making or what they’re thinking about with the new year. I don’t know if people are waiting for the first full week back to really think about that stuff, or if they’re just going with the flow, or if no one is making resolutions or intentions for this year, but it’s definitely piqued my interest.

One of the things I have heard brought up a couple of times is an echo back to the 1920’s and calling this new decade also ‘The Roaring Twenties.’ I’m going to have to go and do a little research and see if I agree with that or not, but I don’t feel like we’re roaring into anything. If anything, many people I’ve talked with have a feeling of peace and freedom moving into this new year and new decade.

If you’re feeling that you need something new in this new year, go for it. If you’ve been waiting to feel the motivation to move or change, and you’re finally feeling it, great, and take advantage of that. But maybe you’re not so sure about what this new year means or brings. Maybe what you need this year isn’t something new, but a new commitment to do better with what you/we have. Maybe it’s going to be a maintenance, management, and preparation year for you, a time to take a step back and reconsider and make commitments that will better serve you in this decade and future decades to come. No, we don’t really like to commit a full year of time to something like that, and I’m not saying it has to take a full year. I am suggesting that you give it the full time and effort it may take to really do it right.

What are you committing to this year?