Jedi Nights

“Jedi Nights”

Yes, I know that’s spelt wrong.

It’s the “Jedi” bit that got me going. I was just about to spend out more money on yet another internet-based offer of information on how to sell effectively… …when the ‘still, small voice’ inside said, “You’ve got plenty of knowledge already; you need to take action!

This then reminded me of JDI – Just Do It!- the Nike trademarked campaign (how can you trademark a phrase like that? Incredible.) So I can’t use that. Then I wondered what “JEDI” could stand for. The answer came quickly, “Just Enthusiastically Do It!”

You see, the moment you take action, everything changes.

Nothing can remain the same because you live in a dynamic system where everything connects to everything else. In fact, everyone connects to everyone else! The flap of a butterfly’s wings in Ushuaia, Argentina can caused a cool breeze to blow in Swanage, England.

This isn’t a Jedi Mind-Game. Physical action makes the difference. You’ve got to say something, touch something, type something, move something.

Peter Thomson says, “Action is the key.”

There are many types of action, but by far my favourite is “enthusiastic action” – doing something as if you are really enjoying it. Sometimes the thought of the end result is enough to help you find the enthusiastic motivation you need to drive your actions forward.

Vanda North shared a story with me years ago. It was about the rich kid who wanted a pony for his birthday. The parents already had stables, and a stall ready for a new pony. On the dawn of his birthday, the lad leapt out of bed, and, still in his pyjamas, ran to the stable. The stable was full of poo – horse poo. With a yelp of delight, he mucked in and started digging into the pile of poo with total enthusiasm. Bemused, his parents joined him and asked him what he was so excited about. He answered with a grin, “Mum, Dad, with all this huge amount of poo, there’s got to be a pony in there!”

So why, “Jedi Nights”?

Well, I think it’s a great idea to never let a day go by without taking enthusiastic action. Like the lad who desired a pony, set your ambition boldly for the day. At the end of the day, when night comes, you may discover you’d really only been sifting and shifting shit all day, but you will have enjoyed the journey because you did it with all your heart. The poo might be the same, just in a different place, but you will be different. Same shit, different day? Not really, because you will have become stronger and more resilient in the process… and nothing will ever be the same again.

Just Enthusiastically Do It!

And here’s an example of Team Jedis

 

High Time for Apple to Evolve

With the demise of the old-style Mac Pro, Apple reaches a technological ‘T’ Junction and a potential parting with some of its important fan-base.  To the left (i.e. those of us left behind) may have to turn the hundreds of thousands of professional audio, video, and graphic artistes who have bought into expensive dedicated processing cards.  These won’t work with the new architecture – not without expensive breakout boxes.  Heaven forbid, we may have to go back to basics… to the PC.  At least PCs have slots.

To the right is the Steve Jobs paradigm: I’m right, you’ll catch up someday.  And you know what?  He was right.  His paradigm of the rugged indiviualist, the innovative entrepreneur was right… for the 20th Century.  It’s 180 degrees facing in the wrong direction for the 21st Century.  In the Wiki-Worlds, it is www: wrong, wrong, wrong.

The way of the 21st Century is collaboration.  The dinosaurs that don’t get that deserve to go extinct.  Evolve and involve people!  In a world of connected-customers, the way of the dictator cannot stand… even if the dictator is benevolent (which I’m not sure Jobs was!)

Before I go any further, let me state in unambiguous black print on a white page: I love my Apple kit.  I love it’s beauty.  I love its functionality.  I love its easy of use (most of the time).  It’s Apple, the culture, that has life-threatening problem.  The 21st Century is the time for symbiosis – win-win on equal terms with the partners who are its customers.

Living Organisations or Zombie Companies?

A Living Organisation – one that will survive and thrive in the 21st Century – will be one for whom all the seven aspects of life are true.  Two of these are showing warning signs on the Intensive Care monitors for Apple:

  • Respiration
  • Sensitivity

Respiration

Respiration is the give-and-take that all living organisms have within their environment.  They take what they need to live on, but they also give out.  There is a balance of Nature.  For an organisation, this means way more than doing something noble for charity.  It means a living and breathing relationship with their customers and suppliers.  I don’t experience that with Apple, nor with the other “Usual Suspects” that I will mention below.

Sensitivity

Sensitivity does what it says on the label: it senses.  It keeps track of the internal environment and it makes sense of the external environment that it depends upon for life.  Without it, the organisation becomes a zombie.  It is ‘animated’ as if it is alive, but it is just going through the motions.   The spotlight was turned on Amazon recently in the UK – with a television documentary showing just how ‘sensitive’ the mighty Amazon are to their staff.  Staff are customers too in my book.

Adobe and Mindjet

Two of the companies I depend upon for my creative tools have recently gone down the ‘subscription’ route.  With marketing spin on this, this is positioned as good for the customer.  Yeah, right.  It’s great for rich customers, but not for those of us who have saved hard to get access to this technology.  For those of us whose cashflow is uncertain, this marks another T Junction.  You stop paying your subscription?  Find out what happens next.

I love marketing but I hate some many marketing smart-arses.  Listen up people: Win-Win or no deal.  And now: Win-Win, or WIN-WIN, but not WIN-win.

So what’s the difference between Adobe and Mindjet?  Mindjet are sensitive to their environment.  They changed the model to suit their customers – from all payscales.  They restored the option to buy the upgrade.  Top marks.  Mindjet’s Alive!

Amazon proudly told me they were the World’s most customer-centric organisation.  I was really excited by this.  I wanted to know more.  Couldn’t reach anybody.  Didn’t get any response.  Knocked – nobody answered.  Guess I was the ‘wrong’ type of customer.  I applaud the dream Amazon – now talk to your customers and listen to your staff.

Zombie companies like Adobe, Akai, Amazon, Apple, Avid, and, to break up the ‘A’ list, Yamaha who forget their customers have a past dedicated to their products, deserve to cease to get our support.  There is a value on customer loyalty – it should lead to mutual respect and benefit.  Get a load of the ongoing success of the John Lewis Partnership.  John Lewis has it stayed vibrant, vital, and vivacious – by choosing the symbiotic route of partnership.  It’s worked for a long time and will continue to do so.

I want Apple, Avid, and maybe even Amazon to succeed – but only if they return to their senses.

[Ed – btw, when I typed “zombie” into my tag field, “Eurozone” came up – is there a message there?]

Moodscope: The “Interested” Card

The Interested Card

“Interested” – defined by Moodscope as: “wanting to be involved in something”.

This is a lean-forward, edge-of-the-seat, cock-your-head-to-one-side type of mindset.  Notice how many of those phrases are physical.  When we want to be involved, we naturally incline our body forward.  We are ‘inclined’ to be involved!  When we want to listen attentively, we most often move our heads to an angled position – perhaps to get a better ‘stereo’ sound reference.  Why we do it is not as important as the fact that we do it instinctively.

Walking in Agreement

Psychology and Physiology are the best of friends.  “Can two walk together unless they agree?”  (Amos 3:3)  They ‘agree’ with one another.  They are congruent with one another.  As with the mind, so with the body; as with the body, so with the mind.  Every time you shift your posture – you have to change your mind.  Why?  Well I’m playing with words but what I mean is that you are triggering a different pathway – a different pattern of neurons.  These patterns of ‘thoughts’ group together in clusters of associations.  So, your body knows what position it should take if you feel uninterested just as your body knows the position it should take when you’re interested.

So what?  Well we do the Moodscope cards because often we are not interested in being involved in something.  We’ve lost our Oomph!  Our get-up-and-go, got-up-and-went!

My suggestion (and I’m looking forwards to your suggestions) is to run after our get-up-and-go!  How?  By moving.  By moving our posture forward towards something.  By breaking any pattern in our body posture that ‘says’ “I’m not interested.”

Practically, if I’m finding it hard to stay engaged in a conversation, I deliberately sit up, move forward on my seat, lean forwards, and put my head to one side as if listening more attentively.  I don’t know how it works.  I don’t know why it works.  But I do know that it does work.

When you change your (physical) attitude and position you change your (mental) attitude and position.

Folks, the consequences of this are utterly life-changing: if you ever get stuck in an attitude you don’t like, you can only stay stuck if you stay stuck in that position.

If you ever get stuck period – change your physical position and new patterns of thought will flow.  Keep changing until you get some thoughts you like.

What’s your inclination today?

Assume the position!

5 to 10, 60, 24, 7, 31, 90

5 to 10, 60, 24, 7, 31, 90

Can you crack the code?

I’d like to share some numbers from one the most important graphs I’ve ever come across.  I call the graph:

Sliding down into The Depths of Forgetfulness or Surfing the Recall Wave

– which would you prefer?

Recall 1

Here’s the code:

  • 5-10 = 5 to ten minutes – meaning you remember more just after the end of a meeting if (and only if) you can reflect without distraction;
  • 60 = an hour
  • 24 = a day (but you’d guessed that)
  • 7 = a week
  • 31 = a month
  • 90 = a ‘season’ or 90 days/3 months – whatever sticks in your mind.  I like it as “A Season of Review”.

Bottom line?  If you don’t review what you’ve learned and committed to, you lose 80% within 24 hours!  [Science: this is an over-simplification to make a point – many factors are involved.  But under laboratory conditions, these are the findings (Hermann Ebbinghaus)].

That’s the last of the bad news.

Recall 2

The good news is, if you review at certain key points on the memory time-line, your recall gets better.  The knowledge is never lost, it’s just lost to recall, but it can be recovered and improved upon with the right strategy…

Recall 3

The waves just get better…

Recall 4

…and better.  Ready to go from ‘good’ to ‘great’?

Recall 5

And, yes, it is the infinity symbol because it is the tipping point of recall.

If you review after 3 months (a ‘season’, 90 days), you end up with more than 100% recall.

How is this possible?

Simple: you’ve made it your own and added your own knowledge to the mix. You’ve invested yourself in the process.  You’ve made it ever more relevant to your own needs and created something very, very special.

Even Surfing that Wave is a waste of time without action, so…

What could you do to review something cool you’ve learned recently?  How could you do something similar at each of the review points?  How could you get them in your diary?

Thank You!

Thanks for your time – I’ll never squander it because it’s the stuff life is made of.  That’s a thought worth reviewing!

Lex

…Oh, do you want the bonus?

This is the perfect way to create “Customer Delight”.  If it’s true that you should never forget a customer and never let them forget you, this graph offers you the schedule for staying in sight, in mind… rather than the terrifying out-of-sight, out-of-mind.  Here’s the action timeline: Wow them by under-promising and over-delivering… then follow-up BUT BUT BUT this must be broadcast on Wii-FM.  Wii-FM is the only broadcast station that everyone tunes in to.  This means that you future contact with your customers must be on their wavelength.  The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil – and people sense that.  So it’s got to be win-win.  People love congruence and integrity.  Use this schedule with congruence and integrity and you will get memorable results!

The Ambassador

The Ambassador

And the Embassy that Celebrated Customers

I love to write. I love people. I love ideas… but more on these three strands in a minute.

The Customer Evangelists: St Jan and St Darren

Jan Walsh (BT) and Darren Cornish (E.ON) are two senior executives whom I have found to describe themselves as “Customer Evangelists”.  I think this is a great way to send a message about how important the customer is to an organisation.  Vast sums are invested nowadays on Social Media and PR to promote the ‘goodness’ of the organisation to the customers we want to keep and to the ones we want to ‘convert’.  In fact ‘evangelist’ comes from ‘evangel’ – which means ‘good news’.  St Jan and St Darren have good news for their customers – their organisations care and have good news to share.

From Evangelists to Ambassadors

A more frequent description is of our colleagues as ‘Ambassadors’ for the brand.  This sounds magnificent – even ‘Stately’, and adds great dignity to the rôles of Customer-facing staff.  (N.B. I think we are all ambassadors, regardless of whether or not our rôle is internally or externally facing.  We all represent the brand and we want the internal ‘customer’ to be proud of it too. There must be utter congruence throughout the inside and outside of the company – a congruent continuum!)

The idea of the Ambassador inspired me, early this Sunday morning.  You cannot have an Ambassador without an Embassy!  And what is an ‘Embassy’?  An Embassy is a permanent diplomatic mission, but to whom?  I believe each organisation has an important diplomatic mission to the nations of customers!

Through PR and some Social Media, most of this mission is outgoing, like evangelism, but many organisations are missing an absolute goldmine of opportunity.

The Customers who want to give

When we open our eyes, ears, and hearts, we find that there are a lot of customers who want to give freely back to the organisation.  People are naturally creative.  The output of this natural creativity is ideas.  People also love to share.  It gives a giver great pleasure to share a gift that is well received.  Ideas need to go somewhere!

Thus we come to the flow of ideas that often pour into organisations.  Eventually, most of these ideas are responded to – usually as a secondary part of someone’s role – and usually it takes far too long.  Too often, in my experience, there is no response!  I believe this is a grave mistake.

The Embassy that Celebrated Customers!

This is where the Ambassador’s role comes to the fore.  I would laud and applaud any organisation that set up an Embassy to the United Nations of Customers – an Embassy whose main diplomatic mission was to respond to those customers.  It would be “The Embassy that Celebrated Customers!”

The rôle would be straight-forward and the impact would be enormous.

The Ambassador would have an appropriately senior position, and their mission would be to respond rapidly and personally to each and every customer idea.  (I’m not talking about ‘Customer Services’ dealing with complaints – that’s another valuable opportunity for another blog.  This one is purely about positive ideas and contributions given freely to the organisation.)

Every idea and contribution (e.g. photographs) would be acknowledge and responded to – and understanding of the ideas reflected back accurately – not just with a generic idea or form letter.  If I was the Ambassador, my responses would be sent in a personalised greetings card, and signed.  Why would I take such trouble?  I would make such an effort because the customer has made a pilgrimage.  It takes a lot of energy for a customer to have an idea, articulate that idea, and then send that idea in.  That’s a lot of effort.  It’s a personal effort that deserves, even ‘demands’ a personal response.  Good organisations go the extra mile – so I think anything that shows ‘the personal touch’ is a great way to match and then exceed customers’ expectations.  This builds brand loyalty and personal commitment far more powerfully than Facebook competitions!

I’m sure you can see how this is easily a full-time rôle, even for a small organisation.  How would it pay for itself?  Clearly, not all customers’ ideas are practical or actionable, but their loyalty is worth its weight in gold.  For those ideas that are practical, an opportunity arises for the organisation to improve its performance and its credibility.  By nurturing such customers, an organisation can even create devotion – becoming a ‘Love Brand’.  I promise you that the vast majority of customers do not require any more reward for their contributions than the recognition of acting on their idea or publishing their photograph (and thus publically acknowledging it).  I personally see no loss in also thanking the customer with products or services as a token of appreciation.  This is low cost to the organisation, and high value to the customer.

The alternative is quite sad.  I love to share.  I have shared hundreds of ideas with organisations – free of any strings attached or hidden agendas – over the years.  Many of those organisations haven’t even bothered to respond.  The logical result is that I’ve stopped the flow of ideas to that organisation, and, wherever possible, shopped elsewhere!  These very same organisations continue to send me emails and newsletters and catalogues, saying how wonderful they are, and how focused they are on customer satisfaction.  Yeah, right…  Which customer?  Clearly not me!

The rôle of the ‘Ambassador to the Customers’ is a central rôle for PR.  After all, isn’t PR all about ‘Public Relations’?  The Ambassador’s rôle is to meet and connect.  This is why I said at the start of this blog that I love to write, I love people, I love ideas.  These are the Ambassador’s core skills.  An Ambassador must be articulate in their response to each and every message from customers.  They must love people, otherwise another message will leak through their prose.  Also, the Ambassador must be a Creative – someone who can take an idea and really work it until it is proven valuable or becomes a stepping stone to a better idea.

An Ambassador is a Diplomat – and thus must be diplomatic!

Diplomatic Tennis

An Ambassador must also play diplomatic tennis.  By this I mean that a good game of tennis involves rallies – a back and forth – just as does a great conversation that builds rapport.  I can say, hand on heart, that even the organisations that have responded to me in the past, have cut the rally off with their response.  The door was not left open for partnership in developing the idea.  Again, I can only authoritatively speak for myself, but I would have happily developed most of my ideas for free – just for the satisfaction of being creative and being acknowledged.  (To the cynics who might be thinking, “I bet his ideas are rubbish then!” I would say that some of the organisations I have shared with have used those ideas without acknowledgement – at least proving the worth of the ideas.)

The rôle of the Ambassador would therefore include promoting a rally – a back and forth of exchanges to engage our brilliant customers into partnership with the organisation.  This builds rapport.  Outstanding customers could then be given a visa to join us!

Of course, this is what many organisations are trying to promote with Social Media – and I see Social Media as an important set of diplomatic channels for the Ambassador.  My chief point today, however, is to harness the ideas and contributions that come from customers and are freely volunteered.  The customers that share these ideas, if treated with respect, become ambassadors themselves – absolutely the best (and most economically sustainable) form of PR any organisation could wish for.

The bottom line is that many of your customers know your business better than you do, and they certainly know their own minds better than you do.  We must listen, and respond rapidly, and become the Embassy that Celebrated Customers, if we are to harness this power for good.

Signed

Lex

An Ambassador in search of a new Diplomatic Posting!

Afterthought

If you drive a company vehicle that broadcasts the brand, don’t drive the company van like a devil!

Sensible Credibility is Sensory Credibility

I woke up this morning with one thought: “faith comes from hearing”… My customers need to hear about me and hear from me if they are to ‘believe’ in what I do.  My customers are amazing but they are not, on the whole, mind-readers.  As soon as I am out-of-sight, I am, unfortunately, out-of-mind.

Which leads me to the flip-side of the coin of credibility: “Seeing is believing”.  If “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” is a truth, then this also might be a truth: “in-sight, in-mind”.  Where does this lead me?  It leads me to two decisions this morning that I believe will serve you well too, if you are in business.  The decisions are to place more relevant content on 1) SoundCloud, and 2) YouTube.

I am not sure how well MySpace is doing nowadays, but I know that SoundCloud and YouTube are the ‘go-to’ sites for audio and visual content respectively.  Unlike Facebook’s really confusing setup, both SoundCloud and YouTube are relatively easy to use and then to embed in your own sites.  They are also often the first places people search for content, inspiration, and entertainment.

My idea this morning then is that people will develop far more belief in your and my credibility if they can ‘sense’ how credible we are.  And by ‘sense’ I specifically mean if they can sample how our offerings ‘sound’ and take a ‘look’ for themselves.  Faith comes from hearing, and seeing is believing!!

I’m pretty sure you’re the same as me – we get bombarded with a thousand emails and links to websites that make wonderful claims.  I would far prefer to ‘hear’ what an organisation or an individual has to ‘say’ for themselves… and, even better, to ‘see and hear’ through the medium of video before I commit.

Opportunity Knocks… did you ‘hear’ that?

A good example has happened to me twice in the area of online NLP and Hypnosis Courses.  Both companies’ marketing material was wonderfully seductive.  When I received their CDs, however, the audio was astonishingly bad.  Thus we have an amazing opportunity knocking at our door because much of the YouTube and Audio content out there representing companies is very, very  poorly made.  I had enormous Buyer’s Remorse once I actually got to hear the content.  The result is that I am very unlikely to ever again buy any audio based training until I hear a sample.   In fact, I shouldn’t buy again until I hear, simply because of the Chinese Proverb, “if someone strikes you once, shame on them; if they strike you twice, shame on you!!”

So, here is where we can turn the situation around.  There will always be elements of what your organisation does that you can give away without compromising your revenue stream.  If your potential clients can hear or see this in advance of any purchase, you and I will be ahead of the mainstream – and our quality will make us stand out from the crowd.  Our clients will see us as credible – that our offering literally ‘makes sense’ – and will begin to trust us.

And, “Action!”

And so to action.  I’d encourage you to look into setting up a SoundCloud account, if you haven’t already got one, and then get down to recording some Podcasts that give potential clients good and practical advice.  I’d also encourage you to do something special for existing clients as a ‘thank you’.  This will keep you in-sight, in-mind, remembering that they’ve already acted upon their faith in you.

Secondly, check out the new YouTube format.  There are so many ways you can link SoundCloud and YouTube to your other Social Media channels such as Twitter and Facebook.  Video content takes much more care and attention, but there is an excellent short-cut: Camtasia Studio from Techsmith.  Camtasia is a video screen-capture programme for both Mac and PC, and is a super way to add Keynote or PowerPoint slides to an audio presentation.  If you then provide a link for potential clients and existing customers to download a PDF of your presentation, you’ve got the best of all worlds.  SlideShare can help with this last point.

[Of course, like most of these professional companies, Techsmith will let you download full working trial versions of their software.  So if you were to prepare three slideshows and record the audio in advance, and then activate a trial, you’d really make the most of this grace period… and you, yourself, could see and hear if it works for you!  And, no, I’m not on commission!]

Here’s my own action plan for the next three months:

The cost?  Your time and ideas if you are comfortable with recording your own audio and video.  No expensive agencies!  And if you’d like any free advice – I’ve been recording and making videos for a while… and I’ve made lots of expensive mistakes that I could help you avoid!!!

Thank you for your time and your attention – I am nothing without an audience!

Oh, and by the way, I’ve just passed the cat sprawled out on the bed. I stroked the cat and made the noises the cat likes, and what did I get?  Purring!  I didn’t need further convincing – the cat was a happy customer…

Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na, Batman!

Two Comic-Book Hero theme tunes have stayed with me since childhood: “Spiderman” and “Batman”.  Basically, you can improvise all manner of new lyrics over these catchy tunes.  I know my colleague, Peter Cook, is big on Rock, Punk and Modern Music, but I feel there’s a place for learning a lesson or two from our Comic-Book Hero’s and their theme tunes.

(Btw, what’s your Theme Tune?… and that’s the subject of another blog!)

Today, it’s Batman’s turn… and I’m talking about the wonderful days of Adam West’s Batman… Pow!  I’m going to re-write this for us to sound like this: “Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah, BATNA!”  (Did anyone actually count to see if I had enough “Nah”s?)

I am in the enviable position of looking for a new job now I’m in my 50s.  The market has changed.  I need a hero.  BATNA is my crime-fighting Hero, and he’ll be your protector too.  He fights against the crimes of “wasted potential” and “ageism” so often perpetrated against the over-50s.  I have to say though, if you’re switching off because you’re not over 50, I can promise you that you are suffering under the crime-lords of prejudice too… just a different kind of prejudice.  Let BATNA come to your aid.

BATNA – a kind of Self-Help Hero

BATNA is an acronym, and he stands for “Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement”.  He’s all about seagulls and sparrows, pigeons and crows.  Why?  Well seagulls and sparrows, pigeons and crows will eat just about anything.  They’ll live just about anywhere. They are flexible – they’ve generated more choices for themselves, multiple options.  They have alternatives to any ‘negotiable’ environment.  So many of my mature friends are heading into desperate waters, and they are giving off distress signals.  This doesn’t make them attractive!

I believe it is vital to have a few confidants to whom you can open up and bare your soul – but outside of these few relationships, shut and lock the casement of your heart – you’ve got work to do.  And what is this work?  It is to find your BATNAs… even to generate them!  First, to the Bat Cave, and then to the Bat Mobile to stop the bad guys Robbing.

Business Revisited, or a New Career?

Yes, the market has changed.  Yes, times are tough.  No, no-one owes you a living!

This really is a chance for you to redefine your destiny – to take control, and to steer the course of your life.  How?  Generate options.  If you’re going for an interview and you have no other interviews in the pipeline, you’re a bit needy, aren’t you?  If you have one choice, you’re stuck.  Just consider all the terrible things that have happened in history because, and I quote, “I had no other choice!”

If you have two choices you are pierced through by the horns of the dilemma – “Should I stay, or should I go?”

If you have three choices, you are beginning to develop some positional power – and BATNA has come alive in you.  And this is where the “Nah Nahs” come in.  You’re going to get a lot of them… negative inputs, no-no responses.  But just remember, these are only the build up to the triumphant declaration: “B-A-T-N-A!!!”

Conclusion of the Matter

So, as you face the uncertain future, lay down your fear – it’s a mind-killer, generate your choices, and take up your options.  You are creative enough to find more options.  And wise enough to embrace change – I approach my close with my favourite quote for a hopeful future.  It comes from the epic novel and movie, Dune:

“…a person needs new experiences. They jar something deep inside, allowing him to grow. Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The Sleeper must awaken.”

Wake up!  Destiny favours the well-prepared and their Super Hero: BATNA, Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah.