When I was a kid growing up on Miami Beach, the public service announcements we saw regularly were about the evils of littering and the dangers of silos and rock pits. Because of the constant brainwashing I received, I am a virulent anti-litterer. So much so that when I see someone litter I actually have a negative physical reaction.
I don’t have the same reaction to silos or rock pits because I never knew what they were – apparently there are not a lot of either to be found on Miami Beach.
They haven’t gotten any safer, though. Geology.com reports that accidents in the rock pits found at abandoned mines and quarries claim 20 to 30 lives per year, mostly due to drowning. And silos are just as dangerous. A 2012 article in The New York Times blames silos in farming communities for more than 80 deaths since 2007 and at least 26 deaths in 2010 alone.
Funny then that the advertising industry is fond enough of the word “silo” to use it to describe the different groups of consumers that it reaches out to. Different demographic populations are differentiated and placed in silos based on their various attributes, so that marketing messages and media can be created and utilized based on whom the advertisers are trying to attract. And so strategies, campaigns, and even specialty agencies are created to reach not only general market consumers but also African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and LGBT customers as well as groups defined by age, income, marital status, education, and more.
You can often see this especially targeted work when you watch television, read magazines or surf the web. And if you spend time with specialized niche media – magazines aimed at the gay and lesbian consumer, for example, or a TV show that targets younger consumers, or a Spanish-language website – you’ll notice that the advertising is chock-full of the people, languages, and cultural cues (fashion, music, dances, etc.) that the advertisers assume their intended viewers will appreciate.
Unfortunately, these seemingly well-reasoned attempts at consumer-specific advertising often go awry because the practitioners ignore a simple fact of the modern demographic experience: Today’s niche consumers don’t live in one silo but can occupy many at the same time. So it should come as no surprise that a consumer could be a black, Spanish-speaking, gay man with small children or a young, affluent, single Asian woman. And both consumers, as different as they might appear, could have a preference for J.Crew jeans, Starbucks Coffee, Rolex watches, and Prius hybrids.
But it gets worse. Not only do these multiple-silo consumers make up a greater and greater percentage of today’s population but, in fact, we all move from one silo to another depending on what, when, and where we’re purchasing our favorite products.
Think about the last time you went to the grocery store. If you were buying items for a fancy dinner party or your most special recipe you probably splurged on the ingredients without much regard to cost, much the same as a one-percenter might shop. But then if you were buying laundry detergent, say, or cat litter – something you don’t care much about – you might be as price conscious and penurious as a low-income shopper because the product you were purchasing had little value to you.
When you’re buying over-the-counter drugs, perhaps you save money by buying generics because the FDA requires that “generic applicants must scientifically demonstrate that their product is bioequivalent” and you know you won’t sacrifice performance. But then maybe you splurge on luxury vodka because you think it tastes better even though the ATF’s (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) standard legal definition assures us that “it’s neutral spirits… treated as to be without distinctive character, aroma, or taste.”
And so, like their lethal counterparts that dot the rural landscape, marketing silos can be just as dangerous to advertisers who treat them casually and without thought and respect. The answer is to be sure that your marketing messages are carefully created to be All About Them, built to generate specific consumer responses, and not to simply meet a convenient demographic standard.
Are you mature enough to remember when radio was a significant influence in your life? I wasn’t old enough for the golden age of radio – Amos N Andy, The Thin Man, Tommy Dorsey, and the like – but for me radio was the soundtrack of my childhood in the sixties and seventies.
Numerous musicians and writers talk about listening to radio in their formative years. Boz Scaggs said, “I’ve always listened to the black side of the radio dial. Where I grew up, there was a lot of it.” And Salman Rushdie wrote, “In the ‘50s, listening to Elvis and others on the radio in Bombay – it didn’t feel alien. Noises made by a truck driver from Tupelo, Mississippi, seemed relevant to a middle-class kid growing up on the other side of the world.” Of course we’ve all seen the movies where a pre-teen in the fifties or sixties brings his radio to bed and listens to faraway stations under the covers. And speaking of movies, nostalgic shows like American Graffiti and Diner used radio broadcasts as their defining soundtracks. Cousin Brucie, indeed.
Like many things we loved when we were younger, radio grew long in the tooth and lost its vibrancy to the encroaching powers of commercialism and new technology. Local DJs and programming went the way of the dodo bird as multi-state networks such as CBS and Clear Channel gobbled up hometown stations. Real live voices with local accents and geographically specific music gave way to computer-generated song lists and nationally recognized celebrities and bland voiceovers. And many listeners abandoned traditional radio when they turned to iPods, CD players, satellite radio and Internet music providers such as Boomer Radio, Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, and others.
But while the industry is being consolidated, disrupted, and disintermediated, it’s also being innovated. And entrepreneurs are figuring out what they can do with the newly democratized technology.
On April 23, 2014 Apple announced a new milestone when it uploaded one billion podcast subscriptions via its iTunes store. “From comedy to hard news to sport to innovative educational content and so much more, podcasting has transformed the global media landscape,” Apple said. “The heart of podcasting is finding your favorite voices in this exciting field, and subscribing to the best ones.”
One billion! And that’s just from Apple’s servers. Clearly podcasting is not a passing fad but a genuine and quantifiable new media. Perhaps it will actually be more influential than traditional terrestrial radio. Maybe it already is.
Speaking of influential new radio ideas, my friends Marcy Rosenbaum and Seth Werner have just thrown their hats into the fray, debuting their online streaming concept, Entrepreneur Radio. According to their website, “we provide programming in the ‘how of success’ for people launching and growing new businesses. We provide unique insight and perspective into the entrepreneurial mindset through in-depth interviews with successful business creators.”
Rosenbaum, a management development coach and Internet radio pioneer, and Werner, a veteran real estate and finance businessperson interview successful entrepreneurs and ask them how they started their companies and what they’ve learned – what worked, what didn’t, and what they wish they had done differently. Every two weeks, they upload new interviews with business creators who are willing to share the true stories of how they got where they are. It’s one part inspiration, two parts information, and a whole lot of entertainment. With their direct and insightful questions, Werner and Rosenbaum draw out honest, personal perspectives you won’t hear anywhere else.
I was lucky enough to be the first guest they interviewed. Not truly convinced of my own entrepreneurial standing, I mostly talked about the most powerful entrepreneur I was lucky enough to know – my father. By sharing the things he taught me I figured I could both honor his memory and provide the show’s listeners with real, proven information and anecdotes they can use to build their businesses. Give it a listen HERE and let me know what you think.
Only time will tell if Entrepreneur Radio has figured out how to take advantage of radio’s future. But it’s clear that Marconi’s invention is now about on-demand programming and unrestricted access to voices and information free of corporate filters.
With his dark sunglasses, slicked back hair, and untucked short-sleeve shirts, Mr. R was the coolest dad in our Miami Beach neighborhood. He’d pick us up in his enormous navy blue Lincoln Continental, and let us slide across the slickly mink-oiled cordovan leather bench seats while he screeched around the corners. He’d never even ask us to make sure the car doors were locked before we slammed into them.
At bar mitzvahs and weddings, Mr. R was always the cool dad slipping us drinks – usually screwdrivers or Jack & Cokes – even though we mostly didn’t want them. And Mr. R even let me fire his handgun when we were tramping through the sable palms up in Cocoa Beach, looking at a piece of property he was interested in developing.
But the best part of being with Mr. R was that he would park anywhere – in loading zones, in driveways, even on the sidewalk. When we’d tell Mr. R that he was parking illegally, he’d tell us that he wasn’t – we were just reading the signs incorrectly. According to Mr. R, the signs didn’t say, “No Parking Anytime” but were actually responding to the question, “Is it true I can’t park here?” with the answer, “No. Parking Anytime.”
Of course, we now recognize all of this as bad behavior but back then we felt like we were living large with a real-life member of the “The Rat Pack.”
Mrs. S wasn’t a cool mom but she was a great cook. The best night to have dinner at her house was when she grilled lamb chops. With three sons between 12 and 16 and their friends sitting around the table, Mrs. S would bring out never-ending platters and platters piled with the fragrant crusty chops. At some point, one of us would stop stuffing our faces just long enough to compliment Mrs. S on the great dinner.
“Of course, sweetheart,” she’d respond “I always get my lamb at Maxwell’s. You can’t beat their meat.”
“YOU CAN’T BEAT THEIR MEAT??!!” Hearing our friend’s mom say, “You can’t beat their meat” would throw the table full of adolescent boys into paroxysms of laughter until one of us could catch his breath long enough to sputter, “And you can’t lick their chops either,” before erupting back into waves of hysterics.
Mrs. S would just “tsk tsk” bemusedly and shuffle back into the kitchen, never letting on that she was aware of what just happened. Of course now we understand that Mrs. S knew exactly what was going on and the joke was on us, but back then we had no idea.
My hilarious friends Brian Walter, Ron Culberson, David Glickman, and Bill Stainton have taught me that humor comes from the unexpected – Mr. R’s sign reading, perhaps; or Mrs. S’s double entendres. When you anticipate one thing but experience something else, that can be funny.
I’m not a customer service expert like my friends Shep Hyken and Holly Stiel, but I do know that your brand is built not just with logos and banner ads but also through every touch point between your company and your customer. Where this gets dicey is when our interpretation of the messages we’re sending out is different from the messages our customers perceive.
Just like Mr. R’s interpretation of Miami Beach’s parking signs, our customers look at what we say and decipher our messages the way they want to – not necessarily the way we plan. And so, my mantra of “All About Them” reminds us that we have to work doubly hard to make sure we are building brands and brand messages that not only reinforce what we offer, but also resonate with our customers. Otherwise, our actions can actually work against our desire to build our brand value.
Whether they knew it or not, Mr. R and Mrs. S built their brand value not with logos and taglines but with every single bit of their actions and behaviors. Whether you know it or not, you do too.
Walking into a meeting, church or synagogue, or maybe a theater, I’m sure you reach into your pocket and turn off the volume on your phone. But because not everyone is as thoughtful and considerate as you, a phone invariably rings during the presentation. Sadly, that’s no surprise.
What always is a huge surprise is that a second phone rings a few minutes later. Didn’t the first interruption remind everyone else in the room to turn off their own phones? How is it possible that a phone will ring every few minutes throughout the same session?
I was listening to an entrepreneur talk about her new business and how she’s reaching out to men and women simultaneously. Over and over she explained how her perfect customer is not defined by sex and how her outreach has to consistently be gender agnostic. But when it came time for Q&A, the very first question she got was whether she’s marketing to just men or to both men and women?
Aren’t these people listening?
Gritting my teeth through these annoyingly common occurrences has led me to believe that in today’s digital, always-connected, 24/7 world, people are simply not paying attention. This is particularly troubling because I’m in the business of advertising, and speaking and pontificating about branding on television, so if I’m going to get my clients’ messages across I need people to watch and listen.
Case in point – this blog you’re reading is successful not when I write it but when you read it. If people aren’t paying attention, that means I could be yelling into a bottomless chasm just waiting for the occasional echo to stumble back to me. Like the proverbial tree falling in the empty forest, I make no sound.
Today’s digital communication comes jam-packed with metrics that tell us how many people clicked on our sites or received our emails, but those metrics don’t tell us if anyone is actually paying attention. It’s only when people reply to our posts – either online or in person – that we have any idea if they actually read what we wrote.
Last May I spoke at TEDx and a few months later they published my talk on their site. I did nothing to promote it and a few months later it had attracted about 1,800 views. Last week I found out that TED had selected my video as their Editor’s Pick Of The Week, and already the watch list has increased to over 4,000. But before you act impressed, you should know that there are videos with millions of views out there.
Of course, view counts don’t mean people actually paid attention to the videos – they only mean people clicked on them. In fact, because I want to increase my viewership numbers I am shamelessly asking you to click on my video link. Just like The Beatles sang, “Dear sir or madam would you read my book, it took me years to write, would you take a look?” my presentation also took me weeks of writing and at least twice that much time rehearsing, and I’d love it if you’d watch and enjoy it. But you can’t do that until you first click on it.
What happens after you click on the link is where the magic lives – perhaps you’ll like the video so much you’ll forward it to others or tweet the link or post it on Facebook or Google+. Maybe you’ll take a point or two that I discussed and actually use it to increase your brand value. Maybe someone you send it to will also pick up a great idea they can put to work for them. And maybe, just maybe, just like singing “Alice’s Restaurant,” we’ll start a movement.
“… the only reason I’m singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if you’re in a situation like that there’s only one thing you can do and that’s walk into the shrink wherever you are, just walk in say, ‘Shrink, You can get anything you want, at Alice’s restaurant.’ And walk out.
You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he’s really sick and they won’t take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony… they won’t take either of them. And if three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singing a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out? They may think it’s an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singing a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out? And friends they may think it’s a movement.”
The point is that while there’s a world of potential bubbling under every opportunity to tune in, nothing will happen until we actually do pay attention. Otherwise the content of my TED talk (c’mon, have you clicked on it yet?) – and everyone else’s – along with all the wisdom in unread books, unheard lectures, unwatched movies, unviewed art, unlistened to music, and unheard sermons, will lie as fallow as unsewn seeds.
You’ve all seen the sordid headlines by now—there’s nothing useful I can add. LA Clippers’ basketball team owner Donald Sterling made disgraceful racist remarks, and now the team’s market value is plummeting and the NBA and others are scrambling for a way to rescue their failing brand.
But let’s look at the big picture for a minute – the WTF moment. As we’ve discussed here so many times before, WTF doesn’t mean What The F**k any more than it means Whiskey Tango Foxtrot or Wow, That’s Foul. What WTF means is Where’s The Future? In other words, what’s going on here that we can learn and benefit from?
Simply learning that racism is ugly is something we all should have picked up on a long time ago. And finding out that billionaire bigots say things that make the rest of us cringe isn’t news either. What is interesting is the knowledge that this is not going to be the first of these disgusting occurrences we’re going to watch play out on the public screen. No, Sterling’s descent into infamy is just an early harbinger of things to come.
Blustering bullies and bigotry have always been a bad combination. But in the good old days (read pre-smartphones and social media sites) most blowhards could shoot their mouths off without much chance of getting caught. After all, few people would be stupid enough to act badly when a camera or recording device was around (except of course for Gary Hart who sacrificed his run at the U.S. presidency after a photo of model Donna Rice sitting on his lap was printed by The National Enquirer).
Today, however, everyone’s listening to what you say and do. And it’s not just the NSA. Sterling was outed by his very own girlfriend who allegedly recorded his racist outburst and then anonymously posted it online. It’s one thing to have to be wary of the government and corporate espionage. Now your misdeeds are just as likely to be shared with the world by your friends and loved ones.
Yes, the ready availability of digital recording equipment is one important part of the equation. But it’s just the tool that makes the crime possible. There’s something else even more to blame for the outburst of “private” conversations and activities we’re about to be subjected to.
The images and recordings we’re talking about are going to be uploaded to social media sites such as Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, among others. But it’s not just the availability of these sites that incites usage. Instead, it’s an entire generation that has grown up without a traditional sense of privacy. Because today’s most ardent social media users have grown up online, where things don’t actually exist unless they’re posted—and liked—online, moving private conversations and activities into the public is going to become more and more common.
Whether or not this virtual transparency is ultimately good or bad for society is something that will be discussed by technologists, ethicists, historians, and more for a long time to come. But what is clear is that we’re going to see a lot more digital train wrecks before bad behavior catches up to the potential for its distribution and promotion.
It used to be that public figures—like actors and politicians—were subject to the intrusions of paparazzi because the belief was that by putting themselves in the public eye celebrities gave up some of their right to privacy. And it can be argued that by owning a professional sports team, Donald Sterling also gave up his right to and expectation of privacy. But now, every person you talk to or walk in front of has the technological means to publish your words and deeds while lacking the discernment to know the difference between the public and private sector. Citerazi – citizen paparazzi – are all around you and you engage with them at your potential peril.
The universal learning – which we all need to accept, prepare for and maybe even exploit – is that there are no longer public and private worlds. Those quaint notions have collided and will never be torn apart. What this means is that people in business—not just in the public eye—need to change their SOP, ASAP.
When social media became commonplace, the rule of thumb was to avoid a public post of anything you wouldn’t want your mother to read. Today, it would be more prudent to say that you shouldn’t even utter something you wouldn’t want your mom to know. After all, if you say it there’s a very good chance she’ll hear it.
Some very good news (or my shameless bid for self-promotion)
My TEDx talk, Forget Mindfulness, Try Nevermindfulness, was chosen as TED’s Editors’ Pick Of The Week. This is a pretty big deal because my talk was chosen from over 40,000 speeches and is featured on their home page.
I’d love for you to watch it (CLICK HERE). And then I’d love for you to share it on your different social media sites and ask all your friends to watch it. I’m eager to see how many people I can get to view it and your help making it go viral would be truly appreciated. Here’s the link if you’d like to share: buff.ly/1fA72kv. Thank you.
Randy Gage taught me how to deliver a keynote speech.
His main theme? A keynote speech is a speech about a single thought you want your audience to follow, understand, and learn.
His supporting evidence? The name keynote speech.
According to Gage, the name “keynote” explains exactly what the presentation should be – a speech about a single message. A key note speech, get it? Once you see Gage’s way, could it be any clearer?
Because I’m lucky enough to be on Melissa Francis’ show and others on FOX a few times a week, friends call me when they’re going to be on TV. I don’t do media training but I’ve taken enough of it—and been on TV enough now—that I can sometimes make some useful recommendations.
One thing that’s become clear to me is that the interviewer on whatever show I’m lucky enough to be on actually represents the viewers themselves. Johnny Carson represented a wide swath of the American audience back when advertisers cared about white middle class viewers. Larry King appealed to so many viewers because he was an everyman (a big schnook like the rest of us) in awe of the celebrities he was interviewing. Oprah Winfrey represented a new emerging audience, not just African-American, but female and empowered.
Anderson Cooper looks young enough to be handsomely aspirational to middle-aged viewers but with a headful of gray hair so we can relate to him. Bill O’Reilly — the interviewer whose brand essence is most congruent with his viewers’ wants and needs — regularly beats up his mostly urban, mostly educated, and mostly affluent guests simply because his audience would like to but can’t. And on the other end of the spectrum, my friend Melissa Francis is so warm and gracious that she always makes her guests look smart and witty (as long as they’ve done their homework and are telling the truth).
This didn’t strike me until I was in front of the camera more than 100 times. But the name interviewer should have clued me in immediately. The interviewer is the filter between the guest and the audience. The key words — inter and view — tell you so.
Onomatopoeia is the formation of a word from a sound associated with what the word names — sizzle, swoosh, and hiss are good examples. Advertisers have taken advantage of these mnemonic devices for years, probably most famously in the classic Alka-Seltzer jingle, “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.” You don’t just hear the words; you actually hear the pills splashing and effervescing to make you feel better.
But in the case of keynote and interviewer, we have something more: These words don’t sound like what they mean; they actually represent the meaning.
A little searching around onomatopoeia lead me to literal language. Wikipedia describes it as “words that do not deviate from their defined meaning,” which would explain both terms.
Literal language is not always so obvious. We regularly use the words aesthetic and anesthetic without noticing the relationship between the two. Aesthetic refers to the senses and anesthetic means to shut off or deaden the senses. Pretty clear once you see it, huh?
Of course, literal language is not always a good thing. How many investment brokers or real estate brokers would want to suggest that they make their clients broker? How many consultants would want to be known as sultan(t)s of cons? Perhaps it’s good that while we don’t see the explicit meanings hidden in some words, we also don’t see the negative implications that are just as obvious in others.
What’s more fascinating to me is that these meanings and implications are hidden in plain sight, adding richness and meaning to our conversations and helping to build our brands.
You’d have to be living under a rock not to notice that the Catholic Church has gone through some cataclysmic shifts of late. From the horror of “pedophile priests” to Pope Francis’ refreshing reframe, the seemingly immovable institution has changed plenty. But surprisingly enough, a strong reaction to where the Church’s brand has been heading is not a new occurrence.
Historically, when there has been a threat to the Church (Gnosticism and the Protestant Reformation are two of many) there has always been a vigorous response — from the Synod of Rome in 382, through the Counter Reformation (beginning with the Council of Trent in 1545), to the changes of the Second Vatican Council in 1962. In fact, the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI (the first papal resignation in 598 years) and the election of Pope Francis could easily be interpreted as a modern day “brand revise,” created to rescue an ailing brand.
How is Pope Francis changing the public’s perception of the Catholic Church’s brand? How about the fact that he was named the TIME magazine’s 2013 Person of the Year? Not enough for you? The Pope was also named Person of the Year by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender-interest magazine The Advocate. When was the last time THAT happened?
Then there’s the Church’s commitment to “New Evangelization.” Books such as The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet are required reading for those Catholic activists who want to make a difference.
And it’s not just lip service from the top, by the way. The new Pope even has a Twitter account with over 3.5 million followers around the world.
But the big difference is that thanks to today’s democratized media, new evangelization doesn’t just come from the leadership. Much like the Gutenberg Bible used a state-of-the-art invention to innovate the distribution of Church doctrine in the mid 15th century, today’s savvy believers are encouraging new evangelization with the same technology you might use to read this blog, find your way home, or even play Angry Birds — an app.
Through a 21st-century mashup of the centuries-old story of the Catholic Mass and today’s Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite (DPS), graphic designer Dan Gonzalez wrote, designed, coded, and deployed Mass Explained, a robust iPad app with sound, video, 360° panoramas, 3D objects, and all the other digital ‘bells and whistles’ we’ve come to expect from the most sophisticated apps.
Gonzalez used Adobe’s new technology to target a specific issue facing the Church that he believed he could change. According to Gonzalez’s research, Catholic college students and young Catholic adults are at a pivotal point in their lives where they either accept their parents’ faith or detach from the Church altogether. In her book, Forming Intentional Disciples, Sherry Weddell reports that of the Catholics who leave the Church, 80% do it by the time they turn 23. Gonzalez believed he could stem this tide through Mass education. And what better way to reach this generation of digital natives than through an engaging tablet app?
The Catholic Church has a vast inheritance of paintings, sculptures, vessels, and vestments, all of which help illustrate the evolution of the Mass. The Church also has a treasury of prayers in Greek and Latin, Gregorian chants, and liturgical music, many of which come alive on Gonzalez’s app. For example, Gonzalez says that hearing the Eucharistic Prayer along with the Hamotzi (the ancient Hebrew blessing over bread) dramatically reveals the source of the Catholic prayer, adding profound richness to the Mass experience. In the same vein, Gonzalez says it comes as a surprise to many to learn that Vivaldi’s familiar Gloria is actually sacred liturgical music. And while nothing can compare to actually seeing the art, visiting the architectural sites, hearing the music and prayers or holding sacred objects in your hand, modern technology allows for a more engaging user experience than static text on a printed page. Especially to a tech-savvy generation that has come to expect this type of interaction.
Many of today’s most successful technological innovations are nothing more than the combination of something old and something new. eBay, for example, is simply a flea market or bazaar (perhaps the world’s second oldest business) combined with the Internet. Gonzalez’s Mass Explained, too – combines centuries-old ritual and dogma with up-to-the-minute technology.
Who knew the Catholic Church could be so au courant?
I am sitting in the audience of a breakout session at the NSA (National Speakers Association – the ones who talk, not the ones who listen). An online expert is putting on a fascinating presentation about how to generate web traffic. Right now he’s demonstrating his theory on how to build a powerful podcast.
His outline is simple:
1. Identify the customer’s challenge.
2. Personalize it.
3. Offer three ways to solve the problem.
But that’s just the basics. Besides the simple structure, he also showed us how to make the pitch personal and compelling. He even demonstrated some brilliant examples of how to do just that.
The speaker asked the audience to take five minutes to create their own presentation following his specific instructions. At the end of the allotted time, he asked for three volunteers to get up and make their pitch.
The first volunteer got up and spent his valuable few minutes in front of the crowd explaining why he didn’t do it the way the expert suggested, but instead wanted to check if his way of building his presentation was correct.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the woman the speaker called on next stood up and did an eight-minute soliloquy on why certain professionals aren’t successful in business and how annoying it is to work with them – a screed that had nothing to do with what the speaker was teaching us. I didn’t even hear the third volunteer because I couldn’t stand it anymore and slipped out of the session.
In the hallway, I ran into a guy who asked me if I’d take a look at his marketing materials and let him know my thoughts. He pulled out a notebook and started flipping through the pages, showing me what he’d done and explaining to me why each specific item was included on each page.
My suggestions were simple. As I’ve tried to explain so many times in this blog, all he needed to do was change his focus from company-centric to customer-centric. In other words, reframe his messaging from an intellectual sell to an emotional one, away from himself and towards his potential clients. But no matter how many times and how many different ways I tried to explain he wouldn’t listen – all he cared about was having me validate what he’d already done.
So here’s my question: What good is good advice if you’re not going to take it?
If this sounds like a rant, I’m sorry. I am peeved and banging the keys on my laptop a little harder than usual. But the reason might surprise you. Believe it or not, I’m not that annoyed about the people I just wrote about. Instead, all of this makes me wonder how often I’ve been exposed to great ideas and didn’t listen or pay heed because I was too busy defending what I’d already done? How often did I miss the opportunity of learning from an accomplished expert because my focus was elsewhere? And most important, how can I make doubly sure it doesn’t happen again?
I texted my wife and told her my dilemma and her simple response was, “Deep breath. ILY.” After thinking about it for a while, I think she’s right. The simple way to make sure that we’re open to opportunities is simply to breathe. Don’t be so quick to respond, don’t be so quick to defend, and don’t be so quick to disagree. Instead, I’m going to try to simply be open to the information I’m lucky enough to receive and save both the evaluation and the retaliation for later.
Needless to say, the information I get may or may not be accurate or helpful but how can I know the difference if I’m too busy explaining why I did what I did? There will be plenty of time for evaluation later. For now all I’m going to do is breathe and pay attention. How about you?