I’ve had some wonderful speaking opportunities in wonderful places. In the past few weeks I’ve been to Chicago, Naples, San Diego, Mexico, San Francisco, Maui, and New Orleans. And this week I’m lucky enough to speak in my own hometown – Miami.
All that travel meant a lot of time out of the office. But it’s also been a great opportunity for me to use – and further refine – all the travel hacks that make my journeys so much easier.
I believe there’s only two kinds of luggage – carry on and lost. So, it should come as no surprise that I’m obsessive about packing light and never ever checking bags. To accomplish this I’ve tested lots of products and figured out lots of ways to pare back my travel carry-on. Here’s a quick list of some of my best hacks. If you want more, go to my blog and search “travel light” and you’ll find many more posts on this subject.
If you spend a little time and effort on traveling with only what you need, you’ll find your journeys are less stressful and a lot more fun. And if you carry a credit card with you, you can always buy what you find you left at home and suddenly can’t live without.
Last Sunday was the Das Renn Treffen show in South Miami. Over 450 Porsches – from 60-year old 356s to brand spanking new 911 GT3s – were parked on the streets of South Miami. It’s the largest Porsche show on the Eastern Seaboard and probably the second largest in the country (after the Luftgekült show in Los Angeles).
Not only were the streets of South Miami loaded with Porsches, they were also loaded with people. And as you might imagine, a good percentage of the people roaming the streets were affluent consumers, interested in buying Porsche cars, eating brunch, and shopping for whatever else suited their fancy. To paraphrase the old saying, collectors of vintage German sports cars put the conspicuous in conspicuous consumption.
So you would think the retailers in South Miami would be overjoyed at their good luck. You’d think they’d not only throw their doors wide open, but they’d put out displays of unique products, maybe offer Porsche or racing-themed promotions, serve mimosas or do whatever they could to entice the gaggle of affluent shoppers wandering past into their stores.
You’d be wrong.
Believe it or not, most of the shops in the Sunset Road area were closed during the show. Not only didn’t they support what has grown into an enormous local event, they didn’t even bother to open their doors to take advantage of all the people in their neighborhood. Instead, store after store greeted their new visitors with darkened storefronts and “CLOSED” signs hanging in their windows.
Don’t forget that this is in a day and age when pundits are suggesting that bricks and mortar retail stores are spiraling downward towards obsolescence. According to Forbes Magazine, the Census Department release on retail sales for June 2017 gave a sobering look at the current state of American retail. Every major reporting category except electronics and appliance stores and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores showed a monthly decline. And PWC’s 2017 Retail Trends Report was even clearer, “To be sure, the trends are not good for store-based retailers, which generally complain of challenging conditions and frugal consumers.”
But what do these “store-based retailers” complain about when the throngs of people eager to visit their stores are not “frugal consumers” but affluent, eager shoppers? How about when the most “challenging condition” their customers might experience is having to make their way around a one and a half million-dollar Porsche 959 or an $850,000 Porsche 918 in order to enter a store?
My father used to say, “When opportunity knocks you can’t say ‘come back later.”
But what do you do when opportunity doesn’t knock but instead blares its autobahn-tuned air horns asking to come in and purchase when your store is closed?
Are you stressed out how you’re going to add an effective digital strategy to your marketing mix? Are you wondering how valuable Facebook “likes” and tweets on Twitter are to your business? Is the alphabet soup of online acronyms — SEO, SEM, HTML, ROI — driving you mad?
Maybe you need to take a lesson from the Swan Oyster Depot.
For those of you who haven’t been lucky enough to pull up a stool at the Swan and slurp down some briny fresh oysters, here’s what Condé Nast Traveler says:
“Opened in 1912, Swan Oyster Depot isn’t a restaurant, it’s a landmark. Today, the fifth generation is behind the original marble counter, and the ground rules remain unchanged. Except for the rich, creamy clam chowder, everything here is served cold. Cooking means tossing shrimp salad with Louie dressing, shucking oysters, or cracking crab. The stools at the long, narrow counter fill up during the lunch hour, so try to get there before or after noon. But be warned, the owners close when they sell out of the day’s inventory.”
What Condé Nast doesn’t say is that besides the freshest oysters, crab, shrimp, and sea urchin, the Swan also serves frosty Anchor Steam on draft and some of the best sourdough bread I’ve ever eaten. And they only take cash.
I’m one of those impatient people who hates to wait in line. Yet I happily stand out on Polk Street in the perpetual queue waiting for one of the few barstools to open up. I’ve never been there exactly at opening time, but I bet there’s a line then too. I’ve never seen the Swan Oyster Depot without a line out front.
As far as I’m concerned, the Swan Oyster Depot has it all – great food, great service, a great location, and a great story. But one thing they don’t have is a digital strategy. How do I know this? There’s a hand-written sign on the wall that told me so.
Swan Oyster Depot!! Does Not
Have A WEBSiTE!! Anything
you see ONLine is UNauthorized!!
We Only deal person to person!!!
Funny thing is that besides telling customers that the Swan Oyster Depot doesn’t have a website, the sign does tell you the other things that make the lunch counter special. The handwritten quality of the sign is indicative of their hands-on approach to their food, their décor, and their service. And the idea that they “only deal person to person” is a clear confirmation of the Swan’s friendly, personal, service.
Because regardless of how many people are waiting outside coveting your stool, the guys behind the counter will tell you to take your time, relax, and enjoy. And they’ll happily discuss the origin of the oysters, carefully slice your smoked salmon or tell you the story about when their grandfather bought the restaurant.
The Swan does all this because after 115 years in business they know who they are and why their customers keep coming back. Whether they know it or not, the guys behind the counter have carefully aligned their products and services and their authentic truth, with their customers’ aspirational desires. They clearly and consistently talk their talk and walk their walk and reinforce their brand value.
There’s a great lesson inside the Swan Oyster Depot for all of us. Not to mention a dozen Kumamotos and a pint of Anchor Steam.
Recently my very successful speaker friend Bill Cates was invited to do a TED talk.
Bill reached out to me to find out how I had enjoyed my TED experience and what specific recommendations I might have for him. After answering his questions, I directed him to my website so he could watch my talk:
Bill’s (edited) response:
“I watched your video. I can see why this is a great video for you. I gave it a like while I was there. 😊
The breakdown of Obama’s 3-word slogan is great.
I love your concept: ‘Your brand is based on 3 words, All about them.’ (Sounds like the title of a great book. Oh wait… it IS the title of a great book. 😊)
The most powerful part of the talk (for me) is this statement: ‘The most powerful brands, the most compelling brands, the brands that help you win your argument, sell your product, sell your service, do not make the consumer feel good about you. They make your customer feel good themselves!’
You could build a business on that!”
Here’s the funny thing:
I HAVE built a business on that.
And you can too.
Many of us have been trained to build businesses on what we do. It’s such a strong part of business culture that it wasn’t too many years ago that people actually named themselves based on their occupations.
Ms. Goldsmith was a goldsmith.
Mr. Baker baked.
Ms. Fletcher made arrows.
Mr. Bowman shot those arrows.
Carter transported goods. Smitty was a blacksmith.
But today, too many forces conspire against us being successful just by being good at what we do.
This is due to the ascendance of democratized information, the ubiquity of overnight delivery of goods, the consistency of computerized production, and the 24/7/365 nature of social media. Thanks to these factors, your clients and customers have unlimited access to people and companies who do what you do and sell what you sell.
Are you better than the competition? Of course, you are. Just Lake Wobegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average,” the members of my blog community are also the best at what they do.
But today that’s just not enough.
First, most of your customers and clients aren’t qualified to determine if you’ve done a good job for them or not. After all, if they were as good at doing what you do they would do it themselves. You spent years studying your profession. Then you spent more years honing your craft. Or, as the old saying goes, “you’ve forgotten more than they’ll ever know.”
Second, unless you sell an instant gratification product or service, your clients won’t know how well you did your job until days, weeks, or even years have gone by. (By the way, the same thing will happen if they choose to work with your competition.)
You might not discover the true outcome of your doctor’s knowledge and effectiveness until the end of your life. You probably won’t know the true extent of your investment professional’s techniques and talents until enough years have passed for your investment strategy to pay off (or not). And you certainly won’t know if your insurance broker recommended the right products for you until you actually experience the event they’ve helped you protect against.
So why do we spend so much time, effort, and money trying to prove that we’re better at something that our customers aren’t capable of properly evaluating in the first place?
Instead, the way to win your argument, sell your product or sell your service, is to make your customer feel good themselves. And you do this by creating an All About Them brand that speaks not just to your potential customers’ needs but to their prevailing aspirations.
Showing your customers not just how you can help them achieve what they want but how they can be who they want to be puts you in a singular position way above your competition. And making your customers feel good not about just what you can do for them but about themselves will secure your place in their roster of critical contributors to their own success.
To reiterate my friend Bill’s good words: “You could build a business on that!”
Did you know that more than 4.4 million working Americans are drivers? According to the Census Bureau, more than 2% drive trucks, 0.4% drive busses, and 0.3% drive cabs and other vehicles. In most parts of the US, truck driving is the most common job for men. In The Bronx and Queens, Southern Texas, and Southern California, up to 9% of workers are drivers.
You already know that self-driving trucks and self-driving cars are getting closer and closer to being the new normal, even if the technology isn’t quite ready for primetime. And even when it is ready, the transition away from human drivers will take time. But a driverless reality is undoubtedly in our near future and when that happens up to 10 to 15 percent of the male workforce will find themselves newly out of work.
As the seldom sensitive Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said: The reason Uber could be expensive is because you’re not just paying for the car… (But) when there’s no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper.
But chances are you don’t drive for a living, so why do you care? As you might logically see it, the advantages for someone who doesn’t make their living from driving will be great. A driverless future offers lower prices, safer roads, less congestion, and the improved fuel economy and lower emissions that computer-controlled driving promises. And while increasing unemployment rolls might concern you, one could also argue that technological advances have transformed many other industries and their employees have found jobs in the emerging opportunities the new technologies provide.
But what if your customers were mostly middle-class men? Would it concern you that up to 15% of your customer base would lose most of their purchasing power in the next five, ten or twenty years?
What if you sold guns?
In 2017, a Pew Research survey found that 48% of men say they own guns. A joint study between sociologists at Northeastern and Harvard universities found that despite the total number of gun owners decreasing from 25% in 1994 to 22% in 2015, the quantity of guns grew by over 70 million pieces. Fewer owners suggests that the same group of gun buyers have been steadily adding to their personal armories.
From that you could logically suppose that if those buyers suddenly lost their purchasing power, they would simply stop buying more and more weapons. And if you were in the armament business, it would make sense that you would be concerned about the diminishing income opportunities for an enormous swath of your customer base.
To combat this, the gun industry has set off on an active strategy of attracting disenfranchised male buyers. They are selling guns as the natural connection between arms and the diminishing sense of masculinity that comes with a number of occurrences, including joblessness. I thought about this after reading a fascinating thesis by Columbia University student Julia Udell. In her paper, Udell shows how the gun industry capitalizes on the growing zeitgeist of male insecurity.
As Udell explains it, the gun industry uses three points — aggression, protection, and hyper- sexuality — to build a strong connection between men and firearms. For example, on Piers Morgan Tonight in 2011, Ted Nugent said: “Anybody that wants to make me unarmed and helpless… we’re going to vote you out of office or suck on my machine gun.”
As Udell points out, besides his fervent gun lobby, Nugent was lobbying for masculinity. Nugent’s desire to be perceived as strong rather than helpless, along with the hypersexual nature of his threat, reflects the same strategy gun companies use to keep their customers buying.
Before you go all NRA or James Brady on me, please look at the bigger picture. Because regardless of how you feel about gun control, guns or the way consumers are manipulated into buying them, the learning for futureproofing your business is clear:
Your consumers’ reasons for buying what you sell, as well as their ability to pay for those purchases, is changing faster than ever before. And whether your customers are soon-to-be-unemployed cab and truck drivers or household purchasers who have just discovered Amazon Prime, it’s critical for your messaging and sales strategies to change as well.
Otherwise you will find your business as extinct as our country’s drivers are about to find theirs.
Each Monday morning I look forward to reading my friend and mastermind partner Alan Weiss’ blog posts. This week Alan wrote: “We live in an age of micro-aggressions and polarization… If you voted for the ‘other’ party, you don’t merely have a differing opinion, you’re stupid.”
That same afternoon I was a guest on Richard Quest’s news program on CNN International. Richard and I discussed Proctor & Gamble’s Tide brand and the problem they’re having with their TidePods. Specifically, teenagers are daring each other to bite into the brightly colored pods and swallow the liquid inside. Then they go on YouTube and post videos of themselves foaming at the mouth and vomiting. It’s kind of like today’s digital version of your mom accusing the teenage you of jumping off the roof just because all your friends did it too.
Except in this case kids don’t get banged up or maybe even break a leg. They poison themselves. ABC News says, “The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported eight deaths related to laundry detergent pod ingestion since these products hit the market in 2012, through mid-2017.”
Richard wanted to know what the proper PR plan would be for effective crises management. My recommendation was not what you might expect to hear from a brand specialist – I suggested that P&G immediately take the product off the shelf. I reasoned that the profits P&G was making from the pods would be dwarfed by the cost of the negative effects of this unfortunate fad. And because of the ubiquitous power of social media, the outcry and backlash could reach far beyond anything Tide could manage.
One of the great things about being on TV these days is you get instant feedback on how you’re doing. All it takes is a quick log on to Twitter to see what people are saying or if they even bother saying anything at all. So when I got off the show I pulled out my phone and checked my Twitter feed. Some viewers agreed with my thoughts. Some did not. And to Alan’s point, a few shared their micro-aggressions.
@ItoKish tweeted: “@BruceTurkel Your idea about TidePods is f<#%ing stupid!”
@TiffanyTillman posted this: “@BruceTurkel You’re an asshole for insinuating that @Tide should remove tidepod from shelves cause idiot teenagers are doing crap.”
It was immediate confirmation that Alan Weiss was right. Just because I presented an opinion @ItoKish and @TiffanyTillman don’t agree with, I am an asshole. Or as Alan wrote (rather more eloquently than those two, I might add): “This pathology is evident daily (online), that great societal mirror… if you disagree with the writer, you must somehow be ‘damaged’… because the writer can’t possibly be wrong or even entertain another point of view.”
Was I insulted by Ito’s opinion or Tiffany’s name calling? Ironically, they did me a favor. By calling me out and calling me an “asshole” they also called additional attention to my TV appearance and my opinion.
I have two main goals when I get on a national news program. I want to build my own brand awareness and I want to position myself as the go-to person when sophisticated clients have serious brand issues. Tiffany’s and Ito’s crude outbursts simply served to spread the word and help people recognize that I have a different way of looking at problems and solutions.
People who already know me have already made up their minds about who I am and what I know. I’m confident that whether or not they also think I’m “f<#%ing stupid” or “an assshole” has little to do with Twitter posts. And people who don’t know me either don’t care whether or not I’m an asshole or they might take an extra minute to click on the CNNi link to see for themselves.
Where could this lead? Again, let’s turn to Alan Weiss:
“You need to have a fascinating conversation with your clients and potential clients. When they realize you’re a thought leader with interesting ways of looking at things they want to keep you around and will find ways to utilize your skills.”
Without it being their intention, Tiffany and the other name callers used the power of profanity to spice up my CNN appearance. Their comments will bring a bit of conflict and controversy to my public persona. And while the metrics are hard to follow, it’s safe to say that more people will view the link now than would have seen it without the outbursts (when I published this blog post, 2,694 people had viewed the clip on LinkedIn alone).
Will these people be potential clients or influencers? Again, it’s hard to say but probably not. But who knows? The whole concept of online virality is based on the energy and actions of people distributing information to people who view it and pass it on and so on and so forth. And who knows where that activity will ultimately lead?
Time will tell. Because clearly, I’m too “f<#%ing stupid!” to know.
Retail purchases used to be made in bricks and mortar stores. Today, more and more sales are made online.
Politicians and celebrities used to communicate with voters through press secretaries, publicists, and multi-level public relations. Today, more and more of them tweet directly to their audiences.
Big organizations used to control the conversation with their customers. Today, more and more customers have larger social media footprints than some Fortune 500 companies.
Currencies used to be valued based on the strength of their securitization, be it precious metals or the good faith of their issuing governments. Today, more and more crypto currencies are changing the way people buy, sell, and invest with no clear country of origin.
People used to go theaters to watch movies and arenas to watch sporting events. Today, more and more consumers have high-def digital screens and use cable, satellite, and Internet connections to bring worldwide entertainment right into their living rooms, their computers, and their handheld devices.
Children used to be seen and not heard. Today, more and more of them are still not heard, but only because they’re too busy texting on their cellphones to actually bother to talk to their elders.
Chances are you nodded yes to most or all of the recent phenomena I’ve just listed. Yet chances are also that you continue to manage your brand the way you did before any of these things were creating successes and failures around the world.
IBM’s brand used to stand for computer equipment. Hell, their name was an acronym for International Business Machines. Today they sell middleware, software, hosting, and consulting services. Machines? Not so much.
Apple used to stand for home computing. Today they offer watches, music, apps, cloud hosting and operate a breakthrough retail business — both online and off. Yet with all that, their phone business outsells everything else they do.
Amazon used to sell books. Today they sell almost anything you can name, including logistics and cloud services and well as providing retail opportunities to small brands and manufacturers everywhere.
UPS used to sell package delivery. Today they’ve taken what they learned and moved into the logistics consulting business, selling their know-how to large companies, organizations and governments.
As we rush headlong into 2018 and the brave new world of ubiquitous connectivity, democratized information, and IoT adoption (Internet of Things), let’s talk about your brand.
Kentucky Fried Chicken changed their name to KFC to take “fried” out of their name.
Dunkin’ Donuts is considering rebranding themselves as Dunkin’. Why? To “reinforce that Dunkin’ Donuts is a beverage-led brand and coffee leader.” In other words, they want to take “Donuts” out of their name.
Does your brand still stand for the function you provide for your customers? Take a look at the companies above and you’ll see that perhaps that’s not the best strategy to follow into the future.
After all, a good brand makes people feel good. But a great brand makes people feel good about themselves.
Perhaps you’ve promised yourself one of these:
“I’m going to go to the gym every day.”
“I’m going to stop eating carbs, sugar, and everything else that’s bad for me.”
“I’m not going to procrastinate anymore.”
“I’m going to get at least seven or eight hours of sleep each night.”
It’s no wonder some of these resolutions might sound familiar. Each year we burden ourselves with lots of unrealistic promises that we simply know we’re not going to keep. Truth is, I think the less realistic we make the resolutions, the more easily we can ignore them. Perhaps we even subconsciously set ourselves up to fail.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Then it’s no wonder most of us look at New Year’s Resolutions as a fool’s errand.
But what if we could actually do something for the new year that mattered? What if we actually promised to do something that could really move us forward? Better yet, what if we actually prepared for the new year to give our resolutions a chance to actually work for us?
Here are a few suggestions that work for me:
My friend Karen Hirschfeld is a genius executive coach who works with Fortune 100 CEOs all around the world. From her perch in Geneva she helps the people running companies run their own businesses — and their lives — more effectively. Each year about this time Karen sends her clients a list of sentence completion exercises that helps them review what they accomplished in the year gone by and what they’re planning for the year to come. This way, their New Year’s resolutions are not random but rather are based on results from the past and thoughtful plans for the future.
I don’t know about you, but by the end of the year my various spaces are pretty untidy. My desk is covered with papers and business cards that I’ve been meaning to deal with. My computer desktop is scattered with files and emails that I’ve been planning to put away. My night table is stacked with books and magazines that I’ve been wanting to read. And my mind is cluttered with thoughts and projects I’ve been trying to get to. That’s why I declare the last two weeks in December “info amnesty.” I either put the stuff away or pitch it in the trash. Face it, if you haven’t dealt with the piles by now, you’re not going to next week or next year either. Instead, give yourself one last chance to do it or dump it and start the new year with a clean slate.
Pardon me for saying so, but your website sucks. So does your social media presence and your marketing materials. And so do mine.
It’s not because they were bad when we created them. It’s because the world has changed drastically since then. Things moved on while we were busy running our businesses and now our materials are so twenty minutes ago. So why not take the next few days to look at everything you’re using to promote yourself and figure out what you can do to upgrade them into 2018?
To help you with all these things, I’ve created a new online branding and marketing program called Brand Billions. It’s the new online environment where I’ll be able to share everything I know about brand building with all the people I communicate with. The goal of this new community is to get all of us ready to compete and prosper in the brave new world we all find ourselves in.
If you’re interested in learning more, simply go HERE. I know you’ll be inspired by what you find. If you take a look before the end of the year you’ll even find some very special new year’s gifts waiting for you. After all, if I want you to make resolutions that matter, the least I can do is make it worth your while to follow my lead.
In the meantime, I wish you a very happy and peaceful holiday season and a very prosperous new year.