Thursday, October 6, 2011

Losing Jobs

Yesterday, we lost Steve Jobs.

In one quote he summed up his life, your life, my life:

"Almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

I'm typing this on my MacBook Pro.  This morning I read The Wall Street Journal on my iPad.  In a few minutes, I'll get in my car and plug my iPhone into my car's audio system and listen to any radio station in the world, via an app.  Or maybe I'll listen to the music I've downloaded from iTunes.

Steve and his Team make all of this possible.  They make it much easier for me to follow my heart -- as a writer, learner, connector.

So, what if...
You ignored all external expectations, all pride, and all fears of embarrassment?

What if...
You wrote down your dreams and your passions -- and what it would feel like to achieve them?

And then, what if...
You followed your heart?

I think you'd realize that...
Your potential is limitless, regardless of circumstance. 

There will only be one Steve Jobs.  But if you visit an orchard this fall, you'll realize there are an unlimited amount of Apples.

And one of them has your name on it.

Pick it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Logo Storytelling

A logo tells a story.  Good one's are unique, credible, consistent, and offer a benefit I care about.

If I saw this logo, from a distance, I'd know who it was even if I couldn't read the words.

The use of a comment box in place of an apostrophe -- brilliant.  The font isn't remarkable in and of itself, but it's so simple that it makes me feel that Angie's List is too.  So it is remark-able.  It's worth spreading.

Unique?  Nothing like it.
Credible?  Yes.  A list of service providers with honest comments from customers.
Consistent?  Always.
Benefit to me?  Yes, if I need a plumber, an electrician, or a dentist I can count on the list of reviews from others like me.

And in my subconscious, it's all directed toward me.  It's not about them.

All of that -- in two words.

And Angie helps make it all come together.  She appears to be honest, caring, and one heck of a good businesswoman.

What story does your logo tell?  Because no matter what it looks like, it does tell a story.  The question is -- does it tell the story your potential customers want to hear and see?
Helpful?  Insightful?  Worth spreading?  Hope so.  Please share this -- it'll make you feel good :-)


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"No, thanks."

Recently, I was contacted by a potential new client.  (Actually, it was the advertising agency for the client who called.)  A very successful company with a hot product.

We had a nice initial conversation.  They were interested in having me write radio copy for the personalities who do endorsement advertising for their client.  I shared with them that I don't write copy -- I tell stories.  They said they liked that and understood the difference.  So we agreed to have a conference call with the client the following week.

But something didn't feel right.  So I sent them an email suggesting we meet in person to build a solid foundation before moving forward.  No response.  A couple of days later I sent another email suggesting we talk before getting on the phone with the client.  No response.  So I called twice and left messages with the same suggestion.  No response.  (But an assistant was sending me emails to confirm the day and time of the call.)

Then it was time for the conference call.  I dialed in.  The agency folks got on the line and let me know that the client couldn't make it, something came up.  I said, "Great, we need to talk first anyway."  So we talked about current marketing campaigns -- what's working, what isn't, etc.  Then I reminded them that in order for me to help the talent tell authentic stories, I'd need to meet with them or at least have a conference call.  (I brought this up on our first call as well.)  They said that couldn't happen because the client manages those relationships, exclusively.  I reminded them that I couldn't do my best work unless I could talk to the radio personalities and hear their thoughts and ideas.  "Nope, not gonna happen."  Then they said they'd reschedule the call with the client and get back to me.

After the call I sent them an email and shared my feelings in a nice way and said, "No, thanks."  The tone of the email was upbeat, positive, and left open the door for future possibilities.  And since then, you guessed it, no response.

So as I think back to when our initial phone meeting was over, I knew something just didn't feel right.
But I gave it one more shot.  In the end, we're both better off not working together.

Oh, and by the way, I could use the money.  Not desperate, but not filling up my savings account right now either.

Trust your inner voice.  It's always right.  And don't let money make the decision for you.  By saying, "No, thanks," you're reminding yourself of what you do, how you do it best, and most importantly, who you are.

One door shuts, another opens.  I'll let you know who's behind the other door, as soon as I find out...

NOTE:  This blogpost is spreadable.  Make some toast, grab a knife, and spread it...thanks!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Stop Writing Copy

I will explain...

The word 'copy' comes from the French 'copie' and the Latin 'copia' -- both of which refer to a reproduction or transcript. write copy is to deliver a reproduction or a manuscript of an event or an idea.  But a good copywriter doesn't write copy, she tells stories.

(How boring was that?  Oh, sorry, it wasn't a story.)

Anyway, if you have a company (or work for one) and you want to attract more business, tell a story.  Have a conversation with your customer, don't talk at her or him.
Instead of, "the best selection..." or "aisles and aisles of incredible prices..." how about putting this on your website, in written form or in a video (makes a great radio commercial too)...

"Yep, we'd like to grow our business.  And the best way to do that is to give you the same thing we want -- affordable choices.
We're not perfect.  We carry lots of cool stuff but we don't have everything.   When we price our (insert; clothing, shoes, groceries, lighting fixtures, etc.) we do everything we can to stay competitive.
Thankfully, you've told us you like shopping at out store(s).   
It means a lot to us when we see you come back.   We smile because we know we've done our job well.  But if we ever let you down, please let us know.  We'll do everything we can to fix it, immediately.

Thank you for your business.  See you soon!"

Isn't that what we all want?  Affordable choices, a two-way, respectful relationship, and a "Thank you"?

Here's another way to do it, with even more storytelling...

"Mary came back to our Tri-City location this week...

She told us that the (thing) she bought didn't work out like she had hoped.  So we took it back and helped her pick out a different one.  It took her a while because there's a lot to choose from.  When she found what she wanted she looked like a tween about to enter her first Justin Bieber concert.  We love that look!

So please check out the cool stuff we've got.  Too much to mention here.

And when you find what you're looking for, and see how affordable it is, we're pretty sure you'll have that same smile on your face.

Thanks for your business.  See you soon!"

No, "money back guarantee".  No, "great customer service".  No, "low-price guarantee".

Just a story, that's says so much more.

What's your story?



Friday, June 17, 2011

Have You Seen Her Movie?

Your boss, a peer, or a direct report at work.  A client or a customer.  Your mom or dad, or a friend.  Or maybe it's that 300 pound person who just ordered a triple-cheeseburger.

Do you find yourself saying, "Why did they do that?"  "Why did they have to say it that way?"  You'd do it differently, wouldn't you?  You'd say it in a nicer way, wouldn't you?  And your way is probably better, isn't it?

About a year ago I read a remark-able book,  The Fifth Agreement.  Authors don Miguel and don Jose Ruiz present an interesting perspective, and through my lens, it looks like this...

Imagine you walk into a dark movie theater.  You notice someone sitting alone, near the front.  You walk down and sit just behind her and to the side.  As your eyes adjust to the dim lighting you realize that it's your mom, or that client, or your boss.

And then the curtains open and a movie starts to play.  It's her life story.  You see her birth.  Who was there?  Who wasn't?  You see her play and argue with friends.  You see her bullied or maybe she bullied someone else.  You see her as she experiences her first early teen crush.  You see her as she experiences joy, sadness, envy, love, and so many other emotions.  And you watch as she witnesses the same emotions in others.  And since she's nearby, you also get to see her re-living those experiences.  You see see her laugh and cry as her movie plays right in front of her, and you.

And then your face appears on the screen.  You look a bit different than you thought you did.  And then it hits you.  She sees you differently than you see yourself.

In your life, in your work, in your relationships -- there are decisions to be made, risks to take, work to be done.  And when someone doesn't do it the way you'd do it, it might help to realize that you haven't seen their move -- and they haven't seen yours'.

When we judge others we are doing it through our own lens -- through our worldview.  It can be helpful to realize that other perspectives are in play and that they're just as valid as our own.

Do the Work Be passionate and determined.  And find that place within yourself where empathy resides.  It will take some weight off your shoulders and make the whole process more enjoyable -- for everyone.

If you find this blog post to be interesting or helpful (or maybe even better than that) please pass it on to someone else.  Thank you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Who's On Your Wall?

About ten years ago I attended the annual managers' meetings for the company that employed me at the time.  It was in Las Vegas and there were about 500 of us.  At the annual gala dinner our entertainment was Jay Leno.  He was much funnier than on The Tonight Show (but I digress).  I worked for the executive who orchestrated Leno's appearance so he invited me to go backstage after the show and meet Jay.  There were about 10 of us backstage and Jay was very gracious, posing for pictures with each of us and asking sincere questions.  He couldn't have been nicer.

For several years I had that picture on my wall or on my desk.  And then one day it hit me.  "If Jay had a copy of this photo would he display it?"  Of course not.

So I took it down and put it in a box somewhere with the other pictures of me with "famous" people.  I thought I'd include it in this post but I can't find it.

Self-esteem, self-respect, and self-reliance come from within.  They're developed by overcoming obstacles, solving problems in a unique and creative way, and by making mistakes and learning from them.

Jay does many things better than me.  I do many things better than him.  And we both have a similar number of shortcomings.  We are equals.

You might have a picture on your wall of someone who doesn't know you.  Maybe you find inspiration when you look at it.  My challenge to you is to ask yourself if the inspiration you seek might be best if it comes from you.

Who's on your wall?  Whose wall are you on?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Happy Date You Were Born On

Had a recent birthday.  Received calls from family and friends, and lots of nice messages on Facebook.  Got a few e-cards too.  Several companies I buy from know the date of my birth so they sent me some formula birthday greetings.  Got one from my home and auto insurance office--never met her.

And then I got this, from a radio station in Minneapolis that I often listen to online:


I don't know them and they don't know me but it looks like Sarah Jane would like to meet me.  And she's willing to give me six FREE cupcakes to start our relationship, with no strings attached.

When you click on her site, there she's Sarah Jane!  She looks like she cares, doesn't she?   She looks authentic.  Spend some time on her site, read 'About Us.'  You'll quickly realize that she's your mom, your aunt, or your childhood neighbor.  The site, the pictures, the words -- authentic, schmaltzy, genuine.

If I lived in Minneapolis I'd be placing my order today and I bet Sarah Jane would have a customer for life.

The next time your company wants to acknowledge a customer's date of birth, why not partner with someone who can do more than that.  Find someone who can help you say HAPPY BIRTHDAY...and mean it.  They'll thank you for the connection.

I really feel (not just think) that Sarah Jane wants me to have a Happy Birthday.  And she's pretty sure that her cupcakes will do the trick.   I feel she's right.

Oh, and FREE always works.  Because when done right, it doesn't cost a thing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pudding Face

Jello, a division of Kraft Foods (not a client of mine), makes 17 flavors of pudding.  They also make several pudding sizes and varieties such as; 100 calorie/fat free, snack sizes, pudding mixes, etc...

But take a look at this commecial

How remark-able is that?  Just the sheer joy of having Pudding Face.  And notice that they don't use the words joy, happiness, or tastes so good.  They let the Pudding Face tell the story.

I bet this is happening somewhere, right now...

A spoonful is consumed, she grins from ear-to-ear and says, "Look, I've got Pudding Face!"

And the story spreads.

It can be hard to fight the temptation to say too much, to talk about all of the flavors, to try and convince everyone.

Everyone?  C'mon.  Impossible.

Just give me some Pudding Face!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

"A Rainbow Of Colors"

Heard a radio commercial today for a women's clothing store that's touting its new Spring Collection.  "A rainbow of colors, the perfect way to get Spring fever," is what I think it said.  Did anyone hear that, feel that, see that?  Nope.  Cliches -- way overused.

How about this...

"Remember in The Wizard of Oz  -- the house is spinning, everything's in black and white and grey.  And then...crash...the house hits hard and wakes up Dorothy.  She slowly makes her way to the door...and then...she slowly opens it.  Do you remember what it looked like?  So many colors!  Take just a second...can you see it right now?  You can at XYZ -- we call it our Spring collection..."

Did you see that?  Sure you did.  And it looked a little different to you than it did to me because you created it yourself, in your own mind.

But they won't say that because it takes too much time.  It doesn't give them time to talk about their "great customer service" or their "large selection of sizes" or  "ample parking."

And they do this because they think the message has to have something in it for everyone.  Who's everyone? 

What about you?  Do you let your customers use their imagination?  Do you tell them a story they can spread? you go from cliche to cliche listing "benefits" that nobody hears?  And then, lemme guess -- you probably wonder why very few people show up.

"The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size."  Oliver Wendell Holmes

Take each customer on a trip.  Expand her mind -- it won't return to its original size, but she might just return to your store.


Friday, May 13, 2011

The light is green...


Wanna lose weight?   Start.

Have a great business idea?   Start.

Feel the desire to repair a broken relationship?   Start.

Here's your nudge. A quote from W. H. Murray:
"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, Providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: 'Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness had genius, power and magic in it.' Begin it now."

Start. And listen, to yourself. You might hear yourself say, "But they won't like it." "What if I fail?" "I don't have time!"

Every great artist, every successful entrepreneur, and every world-class athlete has heard that voice too. And they didn't ignore it. They owned it and then they turned it upside-down, inside-out.

So when you hear it, and you will -- talk to it, laugh at it, and let it know the gig is up. Take it out of the shadows and expose it -- shine a light on it. Give it a name if you want. Dress it up and give it form.

Fear hates to be exposed.