Mindful, structural, artistic, experiential

Because being AWESOME is the only way to succeed today!

Project managers? Who is trained for that!

It was a mild revelation that occurred to me, one morning, in the dusting of winter snow that was falling that day. But one of the most under utilised professional trainings that there is out there is stage-manager!

Think of what is required to accomplish the task of any project.

-Having the ability to organise complex activities
-Managing diva personalities
-Being able to organise thousands of objects in time and space.
-Coordinating people and actions in real time with picture perfect timing.
-Maintaing the integrity of a vision and a plan over extended periods of time, regardless of partners or participants.

While engineers, architects and contractors are taught how to deal with the mechanics of their professions, they do not spend years of gruelling pain laden hours of organising some of the most over complicated, disorganised human beings that roam this green and blue ball we call Earth!

So the next time you want to get something done consider giving the job to a stage-manager and watch the show go on!

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Why no one likes an asshat

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Without having to say it again there aren’t many arrogant self-centred people that you want to ask out for a beer or hang around with. So why would you want to hire someone like that?

Generosity is the key to social media marketing. When you want to attract people help them. Give them everything that they need to advance things themselves. When it becomes really hard they’re going to want help because doing the hard stuff alone sucks…now who are they going to call when it comes down to the hard stuff…the one who helped them with the easy stuff. The chances are better.

Generosity is a trait that we seek. People are communal by nature. We seek out people who support us and people who make us feel capable. Be that kind of company. The kind that helps and gives things away.

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The dangerous power of expectations

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The problem with promises, implicit or tacit, is that they create expectations.  So what?

Here’s the problem with that:

As business owners we make promises, whether you want to or not.  When we make a promise we are creating the future for other people.  People come and expect that something will happen within a reasonable delay and with respect and a fair price.

I have stopped using stores for numerous reasons, all related to failed expectations.

One of the local sporting stores wanted to charge me for warentee support for a product that they sell and carried a lifetime guarentee!

Fail

I had to chase after the regional distributor and then finally the manufacturer in Germany to get warranty service from my local vendors.  It took me almost two years of intermittent effort to get a lifetime guarantee honoured.

This is exactly the opposite of what we expect of a company that offers a strong warranty on their products.  No one said to me when I purchased my product that the service would be fast and easy.  They just said that they would replace them if they broke due to manufacturers defects.  But our expectations turn around something will happen within a reasonable delay and with respect and a fair price.

So the only way for us to satisfy our clients is to allow them live fulfilled expectations.  So it is up to us to manage the things that we can.

We have to justify:

  • the time it takes
  • the price
  • and the relationships

If you can manage those things then you will be able to have happy clients with fulfilled expectations. They will thus have nothing but good things to say about them because you held up your end of the bargain.

Be proactive and control the promises and turn any tacit agreements into voiced agreements so that people won’t be surprised by their own expectations being unfulfilled!

Good luck and take control.

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The Double Edged Blade of Charm

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Charm is a wonderful thing.

I love a charmer, someone who comes along with a big smile and is eager to help.  That is the best kind of reception that we can receive; if they have a desire to fulfil your desires and expectations.  All of these things are really pleasant to find in your environment.

But there is another side to the charmer’s personality.  They expect you to say yes to their effort.  They are not used to being denied for no other reason but you don’t feel like it.  You are supposed to be polite and accept their effort as cash and feel bad if you say no.  So, we as customers will avoid that guilty feeling of denying effort by saying yes.

That works with lots of people, but not really.  If you leave with the feeling of being taken advantage of you will be an unhappy customer and avoid that store in the future because you don’t like that icky feeling of being used.

So it is important that your best charmers are well trained in being able to take no as an acceptable answer to their charm.

It was quite funny this morning when I was sitting in the coffee shop where I wrote this article and I wasn’t quite ready for anything and a lovely waitress comes up with the full blown charm machine running and asks if I would like a good capuccino or a café au lait in a bowl…I said not yet; and I was briefly reminded of Bilbo’s Gollum moment in the Lord of the Rings:

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I think I was momentarily scared…fortunately there were witnesses so I was okay.

But it is to be remembered as the supervisor of the sales force that our clients are more than just tools to fulfil  our objectives.  They need to be listened to and empathised with.  So make sure your charmers leave the clients charmed and not mildly terrified, queasy or guilty.

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Respect vs. duty: The Forgotten Power of Complicity

In any hierarchical relationship there is the a social contract in play.  You may ask “Why are you writing about this, Aaron?” and you’ll see that it makes a difference to your clients how your employees feel about their work and workplace.

This image comes to mind…

underpaid worker

This whole thing is related to broken window theory.  The less you maintain your workplace the less people respect it, the more you maintain it the better people feel about being there.  As the owner of your business, you have to provide a number of things to your employees to make sure that they feel that they are respected and honoured individuals in the work place.  If you can manage this you will create something far more important than DWYL(do what you love).  Because people are far more interested in working at a place that respects them and treats them as honoured members of the team than they are in simply getting paid.  That doesn’t mean we can underpay workers it just means that once fair wages are in place we have to begin with aspiration management.  So I will argue that as both employee and employer, the most important feature of our personal self-respect is the ability to accomplish goals and advance our perception of what we think we should be doing.

So should you love your job? No, but you should be able to respect what you do and the people that you do it with and for.  When we get up in the morning and we look forward to working with our co-workers, because we have fun together, the world is a different place.

When we get up in the morning and you’re going to work with a gang of morons, it’s harder to get out of bed.  So choose people and employees based on whether you think that you can respect them.

Now I walk into two different businesses and here is what happens

1) respect absent:

There is tension in the environment and the people destined to serve the clients are under motivated.  They are there to collect their pay-cheque until they find another job.  I am disinterested to buy here because I become uncomfortable in the environment.

2) Respect present:

People are having fun and like to work with the people in their environment and feel more at ease working as a team.  I get better service and am at ease dealing with the people, because I am also being respected in the environment.

So the more effort you put into maintaining the excellent relations inside your company the better your client relations will be and the more your business will flourish.

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The Lie of DWYL

The entrepreneur is perhaps one of the most privileged classes of society that exists.  But it is our job to remember that one thing is more important than any other:  The old adage of “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day of your life” is the most acceptable form of class suppression that modern society has come up with throughout our history. DWYL ( Do what you love) is something that we tell our workers as a way of making them responsible for their choices.  As a consequence, it also removes our responsibility to take care of them as humans who lift us up to higher realms of possibility.

DWYL is simply a stupid thing to expect from those who are taking care of our privileged lives.  No one loves changing diapers; no one loves working in a sweatshop; judging by the turnover, no one loves working in a call centre.  What they love is having a life that they can live because they get paid.  It is our job to make sure they are paid a living wage!  One of the excellent memes that is doing the rounds right now is Walmart Vs Costco like the following image

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The least we can do as business owners and entrepreneurs is make sure that we are creating a better world.  That is done by taking into consideration the things that we ask those below us to do!  I would never want to work in a factory in China.  But what we ask those that do, is to make the horrible choice between health and disaster.  I don’t think that those workers have passion and love of their labour in mind, more likely they are concerned with not dying of hunger.

And you know what?  There is great honour in doing what is necessary to make sure that the roof over your head is stable and the food on your table is healthy.  So, when you start talking about DWYL, keep in mind that you are perpetuating a classist argument, designed to rob people who don’t love their job, of their dignity and the respect that they deserve for doing the shitty jobs that we need to get done as a society.

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Style may change but motivations stay the same!

If you do business with people you need to understand the above image of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs! (we’ll look at attachment theory in the next article!) But you need to understand what your client needs to get done.  What level of need do they need to fulfill.  It will heavily taint your approach…or at least it should!

When we consider for example why most men buy a lawn mower, it’s not because they spend all night wondering whether the grass blades are too long.  It’s because they have multiple pressures coming at them from all kinds of angles.

  • Social pressure: the neighbours will judge you on your lawn’s quality
  • Municipal Laws: You will often get a fine if your lawn is left to grow.
  • Desire for a look.
  • Desire to be accepted
  • Desire to feel good because you’re doing what is expected of you.

None of those reasons actually have anything to do with the action of cutting the grass: it is all about the results of cut grass.  So You don’t buy the lawn mower for its capacity to cut grass but you do so to fulfill different levels of needs above.

Now needs are always the same.  But how you fulfill those needs are cultural.  So if you want clients from different cultural backgrounds you have to understand why they have the needs.  While these differences may look superficial, they are often deeply ingrained.

Take the simple act of buying something at the store.  Here we are used to prices being fixed and being non-negotiable.  We establish a price based on cost and margin.  While other cultures value the nature of the relationship with whom they are doing business first and not the relationship with the company.  Some cultures are more willing to make concessions to support the long-term nature of the relations.  North American approaches may well be more of a “take-it-or-leave-it-attitude.”  More about the transaction than the overall.

So we see how different needs are being fulfilled by the simple act of negotiating.  Take this with you when you begin talking with clients and ask yourself what it is that they need and you will have a greater respect for your clients and they will feel understood.

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