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I recently read an article in one of my favorite magazines, Entrepreneur, that talked about one of my pet peeves ... the use of jargon. Somewhere along the way we have lost the art of communicating to individuals as just that. Individuals. Jargons may help clarify and even communicate within a company or culture, but outside of that it lands as gibberish.
Terms like actionable, commoditize, deliverables, ideate and top-line metrics were listed among their objectionable list. Terms I often hear in my consulting work. Terms that I often wonder if the user actually knows what they mean. And I've often found their customers, vendors and even clients often don't. But in a culture where no one wants to look bad, they just nod along.
Collateral is one such word. I grew up in he financial services world. Collateral meant what someone pledged as security against a loan. You know, securitization! Oh, yeah ... another word that was twisted to mean a grouping of mortgage loans to be sold to the secondary market. But in the marketing world, collateral refers to the pamphlets, flyers, cards and such that used to be called advertising pieces or promotional materials. Same word, two very different uses and definitions.
I broke myself of using jargon years ago when this happened to me: As I said, I grew up in the financial services industry. The term solicit, or SOL for short, was used to signify a green light to sell someone a product or service that had proven themselves eligible. So one day (probably more than a day, but I don't recall the time frame) I went through all 800+ accounts (ledger cards) and for everyone that was eligible for more money I wrote a big fluorescent green "SOL" across their card. At the bottom, in small red letters I identified how much money they were eligible for on top of the loan amount they already owed. The staff was trained with the expectation that every time they talked to the customer, they solicited them for the amount at the bottpom when they saw a green "SOL" and documented their conversation on the back of the card (pre-computers).
Job done. Worked great. So proud. Until one day one of my best customers came in and, during the friendly chatter that occurred when customers came in to bay their bill, he suddenly became incensed. After raising his voice to the clerk he asked for me and when I came over to find out what was wrong and to see how I could help, he pointed to the big green "SOL" and exclaimed "I thought I was a good customer! Why do you have a big note on my account that says "Sh&% Outta Luck!?"
My use of jargon ended then and there and from then on I've made an effort to talk to my customers, clients, employees, colleagues, vendors and prospects as individuals.
My challenge is that you look within your organization to see where you can clean up your communication and just tell your story ... one individual to another.
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Recently one of my dreams came true in that I got to stand on the very "porch" that Ford, Edison, Firestone Jr. and Sr. and others stood many years ago at Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. I've always said "Can you imagine being a fly on the wall, listening to the world-changing conversations swirling around on that porch!?"
Some stones were repaired or altered over time, so the typography has changed slightly since the original photo was taken. And there is now a platoon of rocking chairs that clutter up the space. And then there's the constant flow of tourists, making picture-taking of the spot nearly impossible. Any hope of taking in the energy in a quiet moment was squashed with the constant buzz of people going in and out, to and fro, back and forth.
I must admit that I've always has a jealous spot for people who changed the world. Ford, Edison and the Firestone. Rockefeller and Carnegie. Tesla. And John Lennon.
As I took it all in I didn't get a sense of anything other than something cool happened here a long time ago and that it was a busy, grand hotel. And then it dawned on me. We all have the opportunity to change the world in our own way. A helping hand, an encouraging word or simply listening can change the entire direction of another's life.
Never underestimate the impact you have on the world. Someday there may be someone standing where you are right now, telling others that you slept here!
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No matter how positive you are it's going to rain one day.
A key employee will fall into a crisis just when you need them most. Someone will hack your website and offer a pair of panties with every order. The Fed Ex truck with your employee's paychecks in it will roll over on the interstate spreading their checks in the wind on a Friday right before a holiday. You can't stop it. It's the circle of strife.
It's not about that it's going to rain. It's about where your umbrella is when it happens.
What does the umbrella look like? A business plan. A business strategy. A marketing strategy. A social media strategy. Employee training and development. Policies and procedures. It looks like a lot of things but without it the storms will ruin the day.
Take one action today to protect yourself against the storm. It might not be today, but it's coming. And when it does, you can duck for cover or walk with confidence.
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I learned long ago that if you're not making mistakes you're not doing enough. That point was brought home when I recently watched an interview with Jeff Bezos of Amazon. His position is that if you're mistakes are not huge, you're playing a small game.
The magic comes from what you do with the mistake. If you learn from it and adjust accordingly, then consider it an education worthy of a diploma. If you make amends and turn a disgruntled customer, employee, employer, vendor or family member into a raving fan you have accomplished great things. Clean it up. We're all human and what sets us apart from other beings and creatures is our ability to listen and to speak into existence through words and actions what it takes to set things right.
There are countless stories of companies who made major blunders. For those humble enough to admit it and make it right, those mistakes were forgiven. For those not willing to do so (in their arrogance) ... where are they now?
Today's challenge is to identify a mistake and to do something over-the-top to make it right.
I'd love to hear how you did just that!
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We've all heard the adage. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
I tend to apply truths to the business world and in that context it's the work ... the daily grind ... that keeps you on the right path to financial health. I must confess that I'm as big a dreamer and creator as anyone, but it's when I get down to the doing ... taking action ... that things get done.
I recently heard a quote from Darren Hardy (Success Magazine and Darren Daily) that brought this point home. Using the same analogy (an apple = the work), he stressed daily. Eating all seven apples for the week on Friday does not result in the same benefit as eating one a day.
I'm blessed to be writing this at the side of the pool. Now, I could have taken a dip or fixed myself a poolside drink and basked in the sun, and no one would have been the wiser. Except me. And my results.
Have you eaten your apple today? Your financial health, and those who count on you, will thank you if you do.
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At a time when the building of a wall is the topic of current events I find it unfortunate that I don't hear talk of building bridges. Not from the perspective of politics or immigration, but in our day-to-day language.
In our humanity. Bringing cultures together to make society stronger. Neighbor helping neighbor. Friends putting their busy-ness aside to help a friend in need. Families burying the hatchet in order to create a bond that so few are lucky to have.
In the workplace. Employers, employees, peers, colleagues and, yes, competitors working beside each other to build a better company and industry.
For a bridge to be effective it needs to be strong, it needs to span a divide and it needs to lead somewhere. Remove any one of those and it just becomes an obstacle.
May you be known as a great bridge-builder, starting today.
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"L'eggo my Eggo". ""It's the real thing". "My bologna has a first name". "Just do it". "Crush It!" "Purple Cow". Each of these award-winning and catchy marketing slogans conjures up memories and brings a mental picture to the forefront for those old enough to remember them (if you don't Google them).
Long forgotten are countless other slogans that did not resonate with the consumer. And therein is the challenge. Are you memorable? When someone hears your name, or your company's name, is their mental picture a positive one?
Today's challenge is for you to do something so memorable, so over-the-top, that your brand effectively drives it's stake in the ground. I'd love to hear how you made a difference today!
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In 1964 the Rolling Stones sang "Time ... is on my side, yes it is". I hate to break the bad news to you, and to my English teaches at Augusta Elementary, please forgive my English, but ... no, it ain't!
The Steve Miller band, however, got it right. "Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future".
In a world where your prospect's/customer's/client's attention span is that of a gnat, time is what you DON'T have. Waste their time and they'll be gone before you ever get to introduce to them how you can help them. And they're too savvy to fall for gimmicks. Show you care and listen and they'll give you all the time in the world.
Make the most of the time you've been given. You have something valuable to give. Don't squander your time and rob the world of what you can be.
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I've spent hundreds of hours listening to my mentor, the late Jim Rohn, while in my car (now it's #AskGaryVee). Of the hundreds of Jim Rohn quotes, perhaps the one that really altered my life was "Formal education will make you a living, self-education will make you a fortune."
Don't get me wrong, you can read every book and listen to every audio ever made and without execution ... doing the dirty work ... all you'll end up with is a library and an Apple account the size of the national debt. But, if you apply the vast knowledge that is available through the creation of the spoken and written word, who knows what you can and will achieve?
I must admit that any time I'm stopped at a red light and a car pulls up blaring some incoherent crap so loud that my windows vibrate I think of what a wasted opportunity of the precious time we have been given that is.
What are you feeding your mind with? I'd love to hear!