Friday, May 30, 2014

Everyone Can Be in the Discussion

I was reading a Facebook post (and then subsequent comments) about a somewhat controversial issue the other day.  I know this is generally a bad idea because no one has ever changed their mind based on an anonymous argument they have over the internet with strangers, but I read it anyway. 

The argument (and I am NOT looking to re-hash it here) was about the current Public Education System in the U.S.  There were, as you might expect, many opinions on what is wrong with the current state of affairs.  Then, one of the people stated, "If you have never taught or never been a teacher, you can't be a part of this debate."

And this is when all debates go off the track.

No matter what the debate, this seems to be the default setting for dealing with those that disagree with us.  We either shut them completely down (and stop listening) or we label them as evil.  In neither case can we learn from the other side, meet in the middle, grow, or help. 

And most importantly, we never find a better solution.

So the next time you are in a debate (not on Facebook please, that will never make it better!), make sure you are willing to listen to every side of the debate.  We all should be a part of the conversation.  We all have a viewpoint...and most of them are valid. 

I am pretty sure a teacher taught me that.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

What Do You Put In First?

Yesterday, as a part of my morning routine, I was having a cup of coffee and checking over emails and my social networks.  During this time I noticed a feed that a friend had commented on, so I checked it out.  What I found was, unfortunately, a complicated angry debate over a complex issue.  I read through the comments and found myself getting "sucked in."

The good news is, I did not comment or engage in it.  Not because I don't like to debate (trust me, I do), but because I am not sure anyone in the history of the internet has EVER changed anyone's mind this way.  It's a waste of time.   More importantly, it's a waste of energy...and yesterday it was mine!

I found myself thinking about the exchange the rest of the morning.  Then without realizing it, I let it frame my mood for the rest of the morning. 

It comes back to, what do you "put in" your mind first thing in the morning?

Most of the time I try to put something interesting, productive or positive in my mind first thing.  I find that the first thing I put in, is what I get out the rest of the day. 

So today I start the day mindful of what I am "putting in" first thing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Conversation with Dana Zezzo

One of my favorite things to do is to sit down with smart people and discuss ideas that make me think.  I really enjoy the give and take.  I also love it when someone opens my mind with a new argument or new perspective.  I am energized by those interactions.

Recently, I had the chance to sit down and chat with the VP of Sales and Marketing at Jetline, Dana Zezzo.  Dana was gracious enough to spend the time and talk to me about my book, social media, the promotional products industry and more.  It was a lot of fun!

The entire conversation felt like a fun conversation between friends.  But I broke it up into smaller pieces as well.  So if you want to know:

Why I wrote the book, you can find that here.

Who is the book for...that's here.

We had so much fun that we decided then to flip the script and I interviewed Dana as well!  Here is a clip where we discuss Jetline, Commonsku and partnered promotion between the two!

I left that day feeling energized.  I think that's what happens when you partner with fun people and work to lift each other up.  Just talking about it has got me feeling good about today.

Have a great day everyone!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Profits with a Purpose

I spent this past week at the Inc sponsored "Grow Your Company (or GROWCO for short) event in Nashville.  What a great week!  I had the opportunity to meet Jeff Haden (one of my favorite writers with Inc.), took a class with Kevin Daun who challenged me to change the way I pitch my business, and listened to Les Mckeon about creating leaders in my organization.

I even was in the room when Mark Cuban created a controversy about race by telling the truth...but that's another story.

The one glaring thing that I took away from the GrowCo event this year was the Power of Purpose in growing an organization.  Bert Jacobs, from Life is Good, was really impactful.  Wearing a t-shirt that said "All Who Wander Are Not Lost" Bert told the story of his company and what they are all about.  His company, from my perspective, really understood their purpose.

The purpose of your organization is what drives passion, innovation and even profits.  The purpose is why you want to get out of bed in the morning...and why your employees want to rock stars for you.  Your purpose can even make hiring and finding talent easier, because it helps find people that want to be a part of what you are all about.

So I think what this event made me do is dig deeper on this issue.  I am excited about that.  I have always wanted to create a great company.  I have always wanted to make the world a better place from me being in it.  My hope now is that by targeting that purpose, I can do both...even better.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Put On Your Mask First

This weekend, my wife Amy and I, went out of town for just a day and a half.  The purpose of the trip was to spend just a few minutes to reconnect, recharge and refocus.  On it's face, that sounds simple enough.

The challenge with a trip like this is that "life" sometimes gets in the way.  When planning it, you consider all of the things you need to do.  And even on the way, you can often be overcome with guilt thinking of all the obligations you are not doing.  But the thing is, if you want to properly "give" to others consistently, you do need to "give" to yourself sometimes too.

I am reminded of the speech they give on airplanes when cabin pressure changes and the breathing masks drop from the ceiling of the plane.  "Make sure to secure your mask first BEFORE assisting those around you."

Sometimes you need to take a moment to get your own mask right.  Then you can help others. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Leading with Who...or Why

As business owners, entreprenuers and marketers, we are usually very good at telling people "what" we (as a company) do.  Often we will even spend a great deal of time telling them "how" we do it.  We will drone on for hours about the widgets we create, the processes that we have, the stuff we sell. 

The problem with that is, no one cares.

As customers, we don't gravitate toward the "what" message.  Now don't get me wrong.  Of course you have to have the right "what" in order for me to have the need to buy from you.  The challenge is, most likely there are other companies that have the same "what."  The same is true for the "how" message. 

Customers gravitate toward another message.

Simon Sinek has a powerful book called Start With Why that explains (in detail) the power of the "Why" message.  The concept is simple, customers are much more attracted to the real meaning behind the company.  And if the truly understand and value your "why" message, then they will be much more loyal and powerful customers. 

I think that is becoming true about you "who" message as well.  Increasingly, customers are interested in who you are as a company.  What do you stand for?  Do you have a cause? 

Who are you?  Why do you exist?

If you truly know that answer (beyond making money) great.  Do your customers know?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Importance of Consistency

Consistency is one of those things that customers value more than entrepreneurs.  It's a really important factor in the customer experience that very small businesses focus on.  I think, partially, because lack of consistency rarely shows up in a survey or comment card.  We hear about quality, service, timing, etc.  But rarely do we put our finger on the fact that our experience is just unpredictable.

I ran into this recently as a customer.

The place where I stop to get breakfast recently changed a procedure.  Before, I got a to go box and filled my container with my food and went to the check out to pay.  Now, the staff serves it for me.  At first, I was actually (almost subconsciously) offended.  What?  Do they not trust me?  But then I got past that and decided that it was fine.

The problem with the experience now is that it is simply not consistent.  Some days there is a person right there.  Some days not.  Some days I get a normal serving.  Some days it's a giant serving.  They put the food in different places.

At the end of the day, the quality of the food is the same.  The price is still a great value.  But I just don't know what to expect.

They really have not done anything "wrong" with the service or quality or timing.

This is not a rant to complain about my breakfast.  It's a reminder that, as a company, we need to work on producing a consistent experience for our customers.  Obviously we want it to be consistently great!  But we need it to be the same for customers each and every time.

It sounds "over-easy."  But most of the time it's "scrambled."

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Saying NO More

One of the hardest lessons I have learned is how important it is to say "no."  Seth Godin's post today is spot on here.  The fact is, if you want to give your best to the things you are excited about, you HAVE to say no to the things that you are not.

One of my favorite sayings about this came from Derek Siver.  He said that "unless your answer is 'HELL YEAH', then it's 'NO'."  Only commit to things you are that excited about.  Otherwise, the things you are not excited about will detract from what you really want to do!

Get an accountability partner on this.  I had a project that I felt somewhat obliged to help with last week.  I was lamenting this with my wife when she said, "Kirby, is the answer 'Hell Yeah!'?"

The answer was no.  Thanks Amy.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Letter to Sky and Jade...Take a Breath

Dear Sky and Jade,

I love you both.  You are both good girls that have the ability and (I think) desire to make the right choices.  And you know how I feel about choices!  You have heard me--again and again--say that life is all about choices.  If you make good choices, you will have a good life.  The opposite, of course, is true as well.

But sometimes things happen TO you.  These are the things in life that you have no control over.  You did not plan them.  You did not cause them.  They might be as simple as the weather, or as frustrating as a teacher or a parent handing down an unexpected assignment.  But whatever they are, you still have a choice. 

There is a space between what happens TO you, and your reaction that is all yours.  You control that space.  And by controlling that space, you control your reaction. 

So instead of simply reacting (and often flying off half-cocked), take a breath.  Take some time between the action and your reaction.  Sleep on it if you can.

Almost always, you will be glad you did.

Love ya,