Monthly Archives: May 2011

How do you spell Success – Creativity or Innovation?

Sheryl Eldene, MA, MBA

It is said that creativity consists of thinking new things, while innovation consists of doing new things. How do you spell success?

When we talk about success, it depends on the goal or the end one has in mind, whether creativity, innovation, or same-old-same-old might pave the road to success. If my goal is to increase marketing share, innovation may be necessary, depending on the maturity of that market. If feeling alive as a CEO and creating a long term sustainable business is the goal, then innovation is core.  However, when I’m working with different groups of people, how I might think about women, or men, or hispanics, or gen Y’s will color my success so here, creativity and thoughtful intention will be needed. If having dinner prepared in time, then same-old-same-old works better. Like Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind” and the process, tools, and resources present themselves.

What paves your road to success as you move toward your intended goals?

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Filed under Balance, Business Planning, Intentions, Sheryl Eldene

Carousel of Customer Service

By Gail Z. Martin

We’re big Disney fans in my household, and usually, Disney is synonymous with exceptional customer service.  That’s one of the expectations with a Disney vacation—all of the usual hang-ups and headaches that come with traveling, hotels, etc. just don’t happen when you’re with the Mouse.

We forget that even Disney employees are human, and one of them provided a real case study in customer service on a recent trip.

We were on the Carousel of Progress, a moving theater where the audience’s seats move around a stationary core with an audioanimatronic show.  We had barely gotten started, when a voice came over the loud speaker telling everyone to stay in their seats, that it was not OK to leave the theater.  Now on this ride, there are four audience sections that are divided so they can’t see each other.  No one in our section had moved.  We’d been yelled at, but no one knew why.

The ride stared up again, but a few minutes later, the same voice came one again.  It was uncomfortably loud, and he was telling everyone to get back in their seats and sit down in a voice that was more first-grade teacher than entertainment employee. No one in our section had moved, so we were looking at each other wondering what was going on.  This time, we had to sit through one part of the show twice because apparently, someone somewhere was misbehaving.

This kept happening until it got to the point where the guy on the PA system was totally strung out, shouting at adults to get back in their seats, threatening all kinds of things if everyone didn’t listen.  Now, people in our section (who hadn’t gotten to see any of the show uninterrupted) were getting up to leave.  Kids were crying because the announcements were painfully loud.

What went wrong?  For one thing, the guy on the PA didn’t make it clear up front that this attraction was different from all the other Disney theaters, where the live host actually invites people who have to leave to just quietly find an exit.  Because the audience section moved, having people leave caused a safety problem, but first-time guests wouldn’t know that.

Secondly, the host forgot that we were his guests, not his subjects, or its kids.  Instead of just stopping and offering to let everyone out who wanted out, he tried to force a largely adult group to stay in their seats like children.  He forgot that it was our vacation, and he was there to make it enjoyable.

And third, he lost his cool—big time.  By the end of it, he was shrieking at us over the PA system like a stressed out parent about to go postal.  He’d gone from ordering us to threatening us, to shouting us into submission.  He forgot that he worked for us.  Our admission tickets paid his salary. But he also tried to control something he couldn’t—the actions of other adults—by force.  Had he explained the safety issue, and given people a chance to leave if they wanted to, odds are that the rest of the show would have gone smoothly.  Instead, it became a show no one will ever forget (and from the line of people who gathered afterwards and demanded to see his supervisor, I don’t think he’ll forget it either).

The moral of the story—lead, don’t force, and always remember to serve your customer

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Marketing, Social Media

Making a Living, or Making a Life?

Sheryl Eldene, MA, MBA

There’s a bumper sticker that I see around that says “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go”. It just breaks my heart, and I find myself wanting to pull over the driver and, in my fantasy, be that altruistic millionaire from the TV show, and invite them off that hook with a big fat check. I shortly snap myself back to reality, though, and realize that it’s really all about intention, and a million dollars won’t help someone whose intention is to just go to work and drudge through the day.

If the intention is to make a living, create enough cash flow to stay out of debt and to put a roof over your head, then the way you get out of bed and the creative energy you use is specific to that intention. In this mode, you may get out of bed with an alarm clock to help you punch in at work on time. You get out of bed grumbly and drag yourself to work. Your creativity and joy are buried under a heap of that gumbling and you have very few areas of your life that are energizing or fun.

If your intention is to make a life, you may very well go to exactly the same job in the previous scenario. You still get up with the alarm clock, but, since this is the life your are creating, you might enjoy a morning walk with your tunes, your dog, or even a friend. On the way to work, if finding joy at work is the life you intend, then you may be thinking about the day’s projects and the day’s contacts and how you can enjoy them. If not, you may be thinking about your lunch plans, and crafting in your mind how to teach your young-in to catch better or memorize history lessons.

You can make a life while making a living, and some people make a life out of making a living (those career focused people – of whom I am one).  If, however, you find those times when you’re just making a living and not loving it – that might be a good time to revisit your intentions.

  1. When you were 16 or 18, before you began your adult life, what did you dream it might be? 
  2. What part of that dream might you incorporate into this day? 
  3. Is it time to step back and ask what it is you really want in your life? 
  4. What values do you live by that need to be expressed in your life?
  5. What brings you joy, and how can that be incorporated into your day?

As we focus this month on intentions, we’re inviting you to examine your deepest intentions, and explore how they might  be expressed.

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Filed under Balance, Intentions, Motivation, Sheryl Eldene, Uncategorized

Too busy to notice

By Gail Z. Martin

I do a lot of signings in bookstores.  My table is always right up at the door, and I try to greet everyone who comes in with a smile, a free bookmark and a 10 second question to connect with people who like to read my kind of book.

It works well for about 75% of the people who come in.  And the rest?  They’re too busy to notice.  Many of them are talking on their cell phones.  They’re so busy talking to people who aren’t there, they have no time to meet someone who’s standing right in front of them.

Others are in a hurry.  They brush past you without making eye contact like they’re afraid you’re going to spray perfume on them or ask for a buck.  Sometimes, they cut me off before I can finish my “Did you get a bookmark?” question with a curt “Don’t want one.”  How would they know?  They have no idea what I’m offering them  or who I am, or why I’m there.

So what did they miss?  Well, they missed meeting an honest-to-goodness author, which for some people counts as sorta cool.  They missed finding out about a book they or someone they know might have liked.  But they could have missed out on a million dollars, the love of their life, or their next job for all they know, because they were in too much of a hurry to find out what was being offered because they were too busy.

What are you missing out on because you’re too busy to notice?  Flowers in the garden?  Kids who won’t stay the age they are forever?  A spouse who is trying to talk to you?  Neighbors who might turn into friends?  Acquaintances who might become clients?  You’ll never know until you slow down enough to listen.

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Inner Coach, Marketing

Finding your Sasha Fierce

By Gail Z. Martin

If you’re a Beyonce fan, then you know  that according to the star, she’s actually not as “out there” as her stage persona.  In fact, Beyonce psyches herself up for performances by mentally playing a role, a character she calls Sasha Fierce.

I think that’s brilliant, and it got me wondering—have you found your own Sasha Fierce?

There are so many times in business that you have to go public when inside, you’re thinking “I’m not ready yet!”  And yet, you have to go.  It may be doing a presentation that you wish you had another month to practice, or making a sales pitch to a prospect that is a big opportunity.  Maybe it’s rolling out a product that is as good as you can make it but not perfect.  You focus on the maybes and the fear, instead of strutting your stuff.

Time to find your Sasha Fierce.

Pretend you have an alter-ego (all the superheroes do, why not you?).  This alter-ego is whatever you think you’re not—extroverted, comfortable on stage, never at a loss for words, quick on her feet, good at closing a sale, etc.  Imagine you’re writing a play with the alter-ego as a character.  Describe him/her in detail.  Make it like a real person.  And when you’re done, try on your “secret identity” for size, like a suit of clothes.  (Ever notice that superheroes always change clothes when they go from alter-ego to hero?)  You don’t even need a phone booth (what does Superman do now that everyone has cell phones?).

Step into your version of Sasha Fierce, and pretend you’re the actor playing the role.  No one needs to know except you.  In the role, could you be bold?  Could you take charge of the situation?  Make the sale? Close the deal?  Could you get on stage without shaking?  If so, then you’ve learned what Beyonce already knows—everyone needs a Sasha Fierce.

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Inner Coach, Sales

Amnesia, anyone?

By Sheryl Eldene, MA, MBA

I’ve been fascinated with movies about people who wake up, usually in the hospital and don’t know their name, and don’t remember their roles (wife, husband, employee) or their habits (happy guy, quiet person, music lover).  While on the one hand, that seems like a nightmare that you’d want to wake up from, my fantasy is that it would be the most freeing day of the year.  As we talk about being your own coach this month, what if you could start tomorrow on an absolutely clean slate – what would you create for your life?

An important part of Big Dreams is the ability to dream them.  So often yesterday’s definitions about who you are, what you can do, and how you act keep yanking you out of your dream.  If tomorrow were actually the first day of your life, and you’re starting with the advantage of you can already walk, talk your language, and you know some social mores like shaking hands, smiling when spoken to, remaining clothed in public – you can go forward into this brand new day anyway you like.

We’re suggesting this month that you exercise your inner-coach-muscle.  How about beginning with as blank a slate as you can and moving forward into your day with new Big Dreams.  If you catch yourself making the month’s plans by rote, just because it’s how you’ve always done it, see if that inner-coach-muscle might flex in a different way.

I’m doing a big break-out from the mold this week.  I’m taking a vacation by myself to a health spa, just because.  I’m sure that if I woke up some day in a hospital and couldn’t remember my name, as soon as I remembered how to travel, and discovered that I had enough money in my accounts to cover a few days at a spa – I would jump on the chance.  So I’m doing it – and I even remember my name and my husband and children’s names (although maybe for just a few days out there on the ranch I won’t even care what my name is).

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Filed under Dreams, Motivation, Passion & Potential, Sheryl Eldene

In Murder and Marketing, Intent Counts for Everything

By Gail Z. Martin

If you’ve ever watched a detective story on TV, you know that (at least on television), when it comes to murder, it’s not just a matter of figuring out who did the deed, but also determining the intent behind the deed.

That’s one thing that murder and marketing have in common. Intent means everything.

For your marketing to be effective, it’s not just what you do, but why you do it and what effect you mean for your actions to achieve. Too many business owners flail around, wasting time and effort, with a “throw something against the wall and see if it sticks” approach to marketing. They have no clear intent, so the marketing achieves no clear outcome.

You can do better than that.

Sit in a quiet place for 30 minutes with a piece of paper and no distractions. Write down your intentions for your business this year. Begin each sentence with “I intend”. Your intentions can be to hit a revenue goal, enter a new market, hire staff, re-work your strategy, move to a new building, gain a specific number of new clients, attract a specific type of new client—it’s up to you, just be specific. Don’t say “I intend to get more clients.” Instead, say “I intend to attract five more ideal clients at the $1000/month level.” See the difference?

On the next day, take another uninterrupted 30 minutes. Review your list of intentions. Now think about how you’ll need to make some changes in your marketing to align your marketing efforts with what’s necessary to achieve your intentions.

Maybe you’ll need to do more personal networking. Perhaps you’ll need to re-work your schedule to permit for more travel, more time spent finally writing that book you’ve meant to write, etc. Maybe you need to hire a coach to help you gain new skills or revise your strategy. Make sure you state each action as an intention, beginning every sentence with “I intend.” Make it specific, and add a time-frame for each intention.

Creating a killer marketing strategy isn’t hard—if you’re clear about your intention.

If your marketing strategy were against the law, would there be enough evidence of your intentions to convict you? However, there are some marketing strategies that you may consider, like 3D billboard advertising. They offer a unique way to grab the attention of passersby with their eye-catching and immersive designs.

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Intentions, Marketing