Tag Archive: customers


Day 6: A renewed focus

I set my alarm for 5:45am.  I was going to get up early and be at the park by 6:30… yeah I snoozed the alarm several times until 6:30.  Waking reluctantly, I let Beanie out to take care of business, and fixed a large glass of water to help me wake up.  Regretting not buying bananas while at the store over the weekend, I settled for my water and let Beanie back in.

He was wild.  Turning in circles he urged me to move faster. Despite our week’s break he seemed to know that today was a walking day.  I slowly pulled on my athletic gear, layering up for the early chill that I knew would soon burn off with the rising of the sun.  I slowly tied my shoes, pulled my upside down hair into a clip and athletic headband, not worrying so much about it’s appearance, but more about not scaring my fellow exercisers on the path.

Beanie’s agitation grew with each step I took as I dragged myself out the door to face the brisk air.  We loaded up and headed out, forgetting my gloves.  Upon arrival at our favorite park, I knew I was going to want those gloves and more.  I zipped up my sweatshirt, pulled my hood up, and buried my hands in my pockets.  I would miss some added exercise by not swinging my arms, but I hoped that the rising sun would raise temps as my walk progressed.

We had our usual stilted start, Beanie bounding from bush, to tree, to trashcans.  Finally he settled into the rhythm of the walk and trotted on.  I tried to focus on nothing but the sound of my steps.  Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak. I had tied my right shoe a little loose but didn’t feel like stopping to fix it.  I was clearing my mind, focusing on the repetition and trying to push out the concerns of the upcoming workday and other worries.

I read an article yesterday on WebMD that had led me to this new “Zen” mission.  It was Blissing Out: 10 Relaxation Techniques To Reduce Stress On-the-Spot and I was determine that my walk would be my meditation for the day.  Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak. Beanie pulled on the leash, wanting to linger at the drop off for the doggie bags.  I pushed on.  My mind wandered, I brought it back.  Relax your toes, relax your shins, Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.

We were already around the back side of the park, I knew my pace was a little slow, so as I came to one of the gentle slopes up I pushed a little harder to speed up.  I have never been one for speed walking.  My aunt often complains when I walk with her about my slow pace.  I enjoy the walk too much, she pushes to sweat, burn, and get done.

Focus Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.  My calendar loomed in front of me (a calendar that is giving me problems with my blackberry right now) and I began to plan out my time working at the local coffee shop, and when I would have time to write this blog.  Then I jumped to what time should I take lunch.  I was not meditating.

Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.  I cleared my mind, and before I knew it we had made the first loop.  Beanie strained wanting to head up to the car, but I urged him on.  I knew the second lap was hard for him, it was hard for me.  I was going to start slowing down, my breathing would get more labored, I would most likely begin coughing towards the halfway point.

We got down the path and Beanie made several attempts to turn me back to the car.  4 times he turned 180 degrees and walked as far as the leash would allow.  I reigned him in and locked the leash at a closer length until he gave in and dutifully trotted in front of me.  We had reached the back side of the park again. I wasn’t meditating.

Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak. Beanie’s bag dispenser slapped haphazardly against the leash.  The roar of a bulldozer for a nearby road expansion came rolling into the park.  I saw a bench up ahead.  It looked like a cozy couch in my mind.  I pushed on, picking up the pace despite my labored breathing.  I began to wonder how many people ever actually just sat on that bench and enjoyed nature.  I decided it got much more use as a stopping place to stretch, tie shoes, or check a pulse.  No one sits on benches in parks anymore, except for old, slightly overweight white men, in political thrillers.

Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.  We were easily halfway, I pushed on and pushed all thoughts but my pace out of my mind.  The coughing began.  I knew I should have taken my allergy pill before I left, but hindsight is always 20/20.  I pushed on, letting the coughs come, but trying to not let them slow my pace.  We neared the edge of the woods, and a waft of cigarette smoke caught me.  I coughed some more and wondered who would want to smoke at a park.  I had only seen people exercising like me, who combines that with the cancer sticks.  I never did when I smoked.

I turned back to my shoes. Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.  Push on, almost there.  Beanie decided to stop for one last gift to nature.  We were almost there, the home stretch.

At last we finished, I deposited Beanie in the car and his present in one of the special receptacles placed around the path.  I threw some trash away out of the car as I was near a trash can.

We had done it.  We were both out of breath and wanting water and I hurried home to satisfy our thirst.  It had been a good walk.  I felt renewed in my goal to be starting Couch to 5K in another 2 1/2 weeks.  I decided I should come out over the weekend and take a leisurely walk, maybe even check out the cross country trails in the park that beckoned me as I passed their trailhead markers.

Meditation, check minus.  Sense of accomplishment, check plus.

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I love Follow Friday! Don’t know what that is??? Well if you’re on twitter you should! It’s only the best day ever!

Follow Friday happens every Friday in the Twitterverse! Twitter users send out reccomendations to their followers of other Twitter users that they enjoy following.  They tag their posts with #followfriday or #ff so that others can easily find them in a search of Twitter posts.  If you’re new to Twitter or decide to join, this is a great way to find interesting people to follow.  It’s also a way to thank people who follow you!

Why do I love it so much? Easy. Follow Friday is almost like a book club.  Here are all your friends reccomending a good book to read.  This is a chance for you to find new people to interact with, network with, share ideas with! It’s also a chance for you to acknowledge the people you follow so they know that what they are sending out into the Twitter ether is appreciated.

Follow Friday is so often overlooked or rushed through. Some users always reccomend the same tweeps.  Others just retweet users who reccomend them, a little self serving but not altogether bad.

So here’s a challenge! The next Follow Friday, go onto your Twitter account and really think:  “Who do I love on Twitter and why?”.  Then send out individual posts to each one of these people with a note about why you enjoy them! I promise it will make your Twitter experience more enjoyable and you’ll see a better return from your followers!

The Ticking Clock

I recently saw an ad while watching Hulu that was extremely effective but also a little anxiety inducing.
What a great way to represent not only the importance of acting now but for whom we act. Why is this unnerving? Easy, just the sound of the ticking clock. It makes me think of the crocodile from Peter Pan, and Captain Hook. Captain Hook
Now he had a real reason to be afraid of the sound of a ticking clock, but me I just don’t like to be rushed!
I’ve learned that to be effective in any effort you have to take your time. Rushing through a project because of a time crunch or because you just want it to be over will only result in one thing, a half done project.
You see this all the time in business. Stores rush to put together a sale, when customers come in, there isn’t enough signage and half the staff doesn’t know what’s going on. You rush a proposal, and you can lose the job to someone who’s more prepared. You rush the growth of your business, and you end up providing poor service because you can’t accomodate the increase.
The fan in my home office where I often work, has a habit of making a ticking noise. One of the chains taps against the light fixture. I often put on music, or a movie I’ve seen, to drown out the noise. This allows me to stop thinking about how much time is passing and focus on my project and doing it right.
How can you stop the ticking clock in your life? Do you need to step out of your surroundings more? Maybe take 15 minutes everyday where you just enjoy the business you’ve built, the employees, and the customers. Step out of the office or your store and take a stroll, get a new perspective. Go visit your competition and get ideas!
Don’t be Captain Hook, afraid of the ticking crocodile.

Are you still there?

I was checking my voicemail today, and one in particular required me to write a reminder to myself in my calendar.  As I wrote, the dulcet tones of the voicemail lady (who wants that job?) instructed me on my many options as to the storage and disposal of the message.  When I did not enter in a numerical response, she politely asked “Are you still there?“.

Wow, did that get my brain turning.  Of course I was still there, but was I really there in my mind.  I had already begun planning the return call, the steps to complete my task, and the possible solution.  I entered in the code to delete, hung up the phone and began contemplating the larger question.

So now I’m going to pose this question to myself, my clients, and you the reader.  When you started your business where did you want it to go?  How did you feel about the endeavor in the early stages (first weeks, first months, first year)?  Are you still there?

We’re taught early on in life to plan things in advance.  Set goals, reach for the stars, have a desired outcome.  Yet somehow once we reach these goals we suffer a huge letdown.  After the first dollar bill is framed,

First Dollar Bill Frame

First Dollar Bill Frame

the grand opening party over, grand-openingor the first profit shown on the books we feel deflated.  We set other goals bigger numbers, more success, but often these don’t live up to that initial fervor.  Is it just a fact of life?  I don’t think so.

There is a hunger that all of us feel in the first few days of a new job, new project, or other activity.  Over time that fades with the monotony of the activity or the lack of stimulus or improvement.  The goal is to remember that feeling, to keep that dedication, to strive to improve and excite.  Every week, month, year you should be asking yourself Am I still there? In essence, you have to continue to promote yourself to yourself.

The definition of promote is: to contribute to the growth or prosperity of . Don’t you want to contribute to your own personal growth and prosperity?  As a promoter I often have to coach clients to think big, set goals, and move forward when they’re unsure.  I never ask them to do something I wouldn’t do myself.  The hardest goals to set are stretch goals.  We all set a vision for ourselves and our companies.  But to truly attain that vision we have to stretch ourselves and set bars high.  We can set quantitative goals, weekly goals, or even recognition goals but they must be large enough that they challenge us and excite our minds to dream.

Find some time for yourself, sit down and come up with a vision for yourself and one for your company/job.  Then stretch your mind and set some great stretch goals.  If it’s a quantitative goal, add 10% to what you think you can do, or even 20%.  If it’s a weekly goal, challenge yourself to complete it before the week’s end.  If it’s a recognition goal, double it!  You’ll set smaller milestones for yourself that may need to be accomplished in order to reach these stretch goals, but each one will give you the sense of accomplishment we all  crave.

So did you come up with an answer?  Are you still there?

Related Links

http://www.leadershape.org/home.asp

Ah Cauliflower, the often overlooked, delicious alternative for so many vegetables.  That’s right cauliflower. I know what you’re thinking.  Does she mean the boring white vegetable that I sometimes eat becomes it comes in the bag with the frozen broccoli?  Yes I do, and look again.  It’s not white, it’s a wonderful shade of ivory with tints of green in the stem.  It’s the combination of broccoli and cabbage.  A wonderful nutty flavor, with a smooth texture, it’s no wonder restaurants have started substituting it for mashed potatoes.

So how does this help your business?  Easy, go to the store, buy some cauliflower, follow one of the recipes at the bottom of this blog, and be pleasantly surprised.  Don’t you want your customers to be pleasantly surprised when they visit your store or use your services?  I do, and so I am becoming cauliflower.

Branching out is one of the easiest ways to turn your business around.  Just as cauliflower is made up of several branches of yummy clusters, so can your business offer many alternatives to it’s client or customer.  Many times I hear clients talk about new avenues they’ve thought of in the past or always wanted to try, but they then shake it off as if it was an incredulous thought, too grand for their business.  Sometimes it is these ideas that could open new roads and possibilities.  A bar that puts in a kitchen, a salon and day spa that treats every customer as if they are there for the full treatment.

Are you one of many of a type of business, a seemingly plain vegetable among the many colorful ones?  Sure you could be flashy and change your logo, or your ad strategy.  Or you could focus on being consistent, and letting the quality of your business speak for itself.  Spending your time and money on flashy new ads and out of the box promotions are not the way to invest in a business.  You can bring in all the new customers you want, but if you can’t keep them coming back and you’re losing your regulars, then you’re not making any money.  It’s the one in one out strategy that bars use to keep numbers down for the fire marshall.  They hate seeing the one leave, because he was spending more money to keep the party going, then the new one who is walking in will spend all night. The new clients you bring in aren’t as loyal as the ones that have been sticking by you in these rough economic times.

So now to the best part about cauliflower!  It’s an amazing anti-cancer vegetable.  It has at least 2 identifiable chemicals that fight tumor growth and cancer in general.  I didn’t even know that until I researched it for this blog!  No I’m not telling you to fight cancer, I’m telling you to surprise yourself and your customers with what you are capable of.  Pitch some of your new ideas to your most loyal customers and see how they react.  Want to add a new service  or product?  Offer it to your best customers or the ones who would benefit the most from it.  Just one positive experience could be what you need to make the decision to offer it to everyone.

The recipes below are simple and surprising.  They accentuate the natural goodness of the cauliflower.  Try one out and while you eat make a list of products or services that you can add to your business that will only improve the nature of your business, without changing your quality.  I myself just ate a delicious dinner with cauliflower and brussel sprouts.  Brussel Sprouts?  Oh yes, but that is for another day and another blog.

Recipes

Roasted Cauliflower (what I just ate)

Roasted Curried Cauliflower

Cream of Cauliflower and Stilton Soup

Cauliflower Cheddar Gratin

So often clients take for granted that their business is clearly defined or understood by the general public. If someone doesn’t know what you do, or has the wrong impression, why would they use you. The key is to always be educating them, and sometimes that means hiring a teaching assistant. That’s where a promoter or marketing firm comes into play. Let them become your gardner, they can sow the seeds of new business.
Trying to fight a fire when you’re not a firefighter is an exercise in futility and dangerous. So is wading into the world of promotions and marketing without any training. Every day new companies pop up that promise quick results. Your company is not a product on an infomercial so why hire someone who will treat it like one. A good client/marketer relationship is key to succeed where others will fail.
So how do you know if you’re picking the right one? Well some of it is a gut instinct, if you don’t like someone or the way they talk about their business or yours, don’t hire them. Just because they are successful, doesn’t mean they’ll be successful for you. A promoter or marketing firm should be as excited about your business as you are. They should be invested in its performance. Local companies are going to be more effective as well, because they know the market and live in the community.
Can you get online, post your info, and sign up for several sites? Sure. But do you have time to manage the information once it’s out there? Take what you make in a year (if you own your company and don’t take a salary, use your gross profit) and divide it by 8,760 (total hours in a year) that is how much you are worth on an hourly salary. Want an even bigger number? Divide by 2920 (total work hours based on an 8 hour day). Is it worth your time to sit at the computer online all day, or would you rather pay an expert in the field who can maximize their time and your money with targeted posts and pages.
We are beyond the age of websites. Everyone has a dot.com name. I just bought my own name as a domain today, it was still available, so why not? It doesn’t mean that now I’m famous or that my business is going to grow exponentially. Navigating the mine field that is Social Networking, is not for everyone. It’s like the old adage sometimes you have to spend money to make money.

Other Resources
PR Sarah Evans
Behind the Creative Curtain
Open Forum by American Express