Tag Archives: communication

Steve, Sam and the Hard Mattress

Give me a mattress, make it a double

Give me a mattress, make it a double

My good friend, Steve, was on a mission.  His wife told him to get a mattress for his teenage kid.

“Don’t forget the mattress, don’t forget the mattress,” Steve repeated to himself as he left for work that day.

Steve remembered.  He made it to the store for an early lunch, the only customer there.

“I need a double mattress please,” he demanded, satisfied that he remembered the size.

The salesman berated Steve with questions: What ‘softness’? pillow top? what springs do you like? have you seen this?  How much do you want to spend?

“I just need a mattress….double.” Steve was deflated.

The salesman almost refused his request…”We don’t sell that here,” he said with his eyes.

“Just give me the list of mattresses and I will pick one..now,” Steve blurted out with his last bit of life before he walked out.

Steve got the list, picked one and checked out.

He is Simple Steve.  The guy who salespeople don’t need to ‘sell.’ They just have to lead him to water for him to drink, he walked in thirsty and just wants to consume the product and be done.

His cousin, Sophisticated Sam, is a different dude.  He has done some research, knows some detail and wants the salesperson to talk the finer points.  Sam walks into mattress stores with time, money and a willingness to learn.

If the salesperson complicates Steve’s life, he will get pissed and leave.  If salesperson goes simple on Sam, Sam will be left unsatisfied and go where he will be taken care of.

Sam and Steve are easy to identify, a few pleasantries will get you there.

I am Steve, hear me roar.

 

Wasted Breath

How was the flight?

Truth is, it was fine but I’ll do us both a favor and spare you the answer.

I waited for my baggage the other day and had to listen to some lady tell her friend the details of what was a mundane trip.  Turns out she had to walk a little bit to meet her connecting flight.  She also was apparently the only one on our flight who experienced a ”hard landing.”

Why not just eat another bag of peanuts and shut your freaking mouth?

What is the function of idle chit chat?  Does it fill the silence?  Serve as an ice breaker?  It’s unneeded, there is way too much comical, important or necessary things to talk about.

Next time, save the useless banter and talk about the good shit.

The Brands That Own Me

amazonapple hiltonstarbucks

I don’t like or trust corporations but I love capitalism. I relentlessly fight against marketing but I ‘believe’ in some brands. Why? The reasons are listed below but the bigger reason is that they have maintained a decent standard of quality while ensuring personalized customer service.

Apple: Their stuff just works and better yet, it all works together. I’m a family man and the fact that our phones, laptop, tablet and TV device all work together and work every time makes me a believer. Call them if you have a problem, they give a shit.

Starbucks: I think the environment inside a Starbucks is nauseating and artificial It’s garbage and I’m almost 100% sure I don’t agree with the founders or workers politically or morally. All that being said, a freshly brewed Pikes Place is the best cup of coffee I can get. I travel so I try local coffee as much as I can. Most every other cup of coffee I have had sucks compared to a Pikes Place. They’re consistent and that’s why large chains dominate. They actually train their employees too, nice touch.

Hilton: First off, the Embassy Suites is smart enough to offer the government rate in every city I go to. Second, they have a free, real breakfast (I’m not talking about those fucking Belgium waffles) and free boos every night; can you beat that? Yes you can. Third, they have a great rewards plan. I earn free stays and status quickly. You got me Conrad Hilton, nicely done.

Amazon: Dear Amazon, you have made it too easy for me to buy exactly what I need anytime. I am a Prime Member; you sold me ‘free’ shipping and other nice benefits. You have reduced my trips to Walmart and department stores by 87%. Thank you. I even own kindles and borrow books for free. On a few occasions I have had to call or chat with you; Hamza, you are now on my Christmas card list.

Maker’s Folly

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I try not to comment on trendy topics but this really got my attention.

Maker’s Mark bourbon can’t meet customer demand this year.  What a great deal for the PR guy.  He can do anything with this.  This situation calls for his creative skills to protect the brand and potentially gain some good press about it.

Add water?  Ummm, that’s not exactly what I was thinking.

What a terrible move.  Instead of enjoying customer demand and the press that was generated by the lack of  inventory, Maker’s Mark decided the best course of action was to add water and charge customers the same price for watered down bourbon.

Knob Creek sent T-Shirts to customers during their drought.  Maker’s Mark added water.

Weak.  Probably (I hope) a case of the boss not listening to his PR guy.  Fail.

Read More:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/02/11/171732213/less-potent-makers-mark-not-going-down-smooth-in-kentucky

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/11/makers-mark-bourbon/1910773/

 

 

Just Stop Talking

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Remember the other day’s post about listening? You can listen while you talk too, in fact, I recommend it.

Watch the audience or the person you’re talking to. Listen to their body language and comment.

It should be clear if they are getting it or not. If it’s not clear, ask.

If there not getting it, start again, reframe your point and see if they catch on.

If they still don’t get it or just don’t care about what you’re saying, stop. Please, just stop.

Your prudence now will pay dividends later. People will see you and say, “See that guy? He doesn’t have diarrhea mouth.”

They might not say that but they might be more receptive to listening to you later.

Courtesy: http://www.improbable.com/2009/11/29/please-stop-im-bored-mug/

Courtesy: http://www.improbable.com/2009/11/29/please-stop-im-bored-mug/

You think I’m listening because I care?

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The truth is I do care.  But, I’m also listening for selfish reasons.

I’m looking for a bridge that I need to use to get you to where I need you to be.

While at work, much of the time I have an agenda.  I need to get things done, I need a resource, support or a decision.  My talking points are always in my back pocket.

When I’m listening to you I’m getting to know you more.  I appreciate you and your deal, whatever that is.  At some point during your talking you will present an opportunity for me.  An opportunity to bridge to my agenda.

I will use what you are talking about to insert some of my talking points.  You will see that I was listening (because I referenced what you just said) and feel heard.  You’ll be happy.  You might even listen to me.

I care about what you are saying.  I also care about what I need to say.

Thanks for listening.

The Toothpaste Presentation


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I just need some toothpaste.  There are so many choices.  The toothpaste aisle is a dark fluoride forest and I don’t have a map (or fresh breath).

Whitening, Tarter Control, All in One, Mouthwash Combo.  ProHealth?  I thought they were all pro-health?

Worse yet, there are a different set of choices than last time I had to buy toothpaste.  Apparently, 9 of 10 dentists recommend them all.

Why can’t I just find fucking toothpaste?  The kind that cleans your teeth.

You can do the same thing at work, when you’re talking.  If you don’t plan ahead you can give your audience a confusing menu of ideas clouding their understanding of the point you’re trying to make.

Ask yourself:  What’s your brief about?  Why is what your talking about an issue and/or  what do you want from your audience?  What will be solved by getting what you want?

Don’t give your audience too many choices, give them what they need to make the decision and leave.  They have other shit to do like choose toothpaste.

Customer Service – What get’s it done?

The gym I go to has a great front desk staff.

Their greetings are strong when I come in, smiles big, very receptive to the few requests I’ve had and bid a great farewell when I leave.

Every time, all of them.

Most of the other staff seem to be on board as well.

So what is it?

Does American Family Fitness pay really well?  Do they just hire the right twenty somethings?  Are they consistently trained and managed?

I’m not sure exactly but what I am sure of is that the culture is right.

Regardless of hiring practices, pay or training models the culture set by the leadership creates the environment for success…or failure.

In my experience culture is determined through time by communicating with your peeps often, by being forthright with standards and expectations and, most importantly, by explaining “why.”  Explaining why means explaining to the staff the enduring end-sate, the objective, the second or third desired effect.

Your people are smart and will help you to your goal; if they know what it is (exactly) and you allow them to.

Leaders need to take some time to reflect, communicate and observe; this, done over time, will start an organization on an enduring path to success – it will create the right culture.

Answering lots of email doesn’t.