December 27, 2009

Customer Experience by Craig Ferguson

Craig Ferguson, a brilliant story teller, shares his recent customer experience that far too many of us can easily relate to.



Thanks to Kevin at PracticalHacks for originally posting this humorous clip.

December 25, 2009

R.O. Blechman CBS Christmas Message (1966)

Clever little Christmas card video via Bad Banana Blog.

Posted via web from Todd's posterous

December 24, 2009

Underwhelmed or Overwhelmed?

When I recently asked a coworker how she was doing, she responded with, "Overwhelmed... but I guess that's better than being underwhelmed." I had never really considered those two concepts on the same spectrum before. So I looked up the definitions for the two varied extremes, learned the meaning of the root word "whelm," and created this quick visual.



At first, I totally agreed with my coworker's observation. After all, I would rather be a stressed out than bored. But the more I thought about it, both directions on the whelm gamut can lead to a drastic or unpleasant state. For me, the sweet spot is just to the right of whelm - engulfed and engaged in your roles and responsibilities, and in slightly over your head for that extra challenge and push to keep growing.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Where are you on the spectrum? Ideally, where would you like to be? What's the best way to get there? I would love to read your perspective in the comments.

December 10, 2009

Can I Get Your Name?

I like my name. I like hearing people use my name. And I like when people know my name. There is nothing special about my name, in fact, it's a little too common (some other Todd took @toddchandler on Twitter, so I had to settle for @trchandler). But it is MY name. And like Dale Carnegie wrote several years ago, "If you want to win friends, make it a point to remember them. If you remember my name, you pay me a subtle compliment; you indicate that I have made an impression on you. Remember my name and you add to my feeling of importance."

However, I think some service-based businesses have crossed the line of common sense when it comes to using customers names. At our local McDonald's, where I eat EVERY Saturday for lunch with my four children, the same one or two clerks behind the counter always ask me, "Can I get your name?" They write my name on top of the receipt, and when they place the last of the golden fries on my plastic tray, they say in a loud authoritative voice, "TODD!" As if I wasn't two feet away and saw them finally complete the order.

Not only does it seem like a unnecessary step, I'm starting to get more incensed that they've turned my name into a number. Oh sure, the kids have given me different names to use, and we've all enjoyed hearing them call out Derf, JoJo, and Mickey, but even that's grown old. Please stop asking for my name if you're only going to use it as a number.

The other night at Taco Bell, the woman behind the counter used the same technique with a little more finesse. She wrote down my name after reading it off my credit card. In some ways, that felt worse. Not only did she convert my name to a number, she wrote down information off my credit card. This Saturday, I think I'm just going to give them a number when they ask for my name.

December 7, 2009

Old Fashion Prestidigiation Marketing

I recently watched this Samsung Video (thanks to Josh Warner's post, The 10 Most Innovative Viral Video Ads of 2009, on Mashable). It's a very puzzling ad.



I was too impatient to try to figure it out. If you're like me, here's the secret.


November 26, 2009

Rosalina's Love Story

Jack (14) totally shot and edited this Super Mario Galaxy mashup of the love story between Rosalina and Luigi.

Posted via web from Todd's posterous

November 24, 2009

8 Ways to Effectively Butt in on Twitter

My friend Bryan is always quoting Newton's third law of motion, "For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction." Only he's not talking physics, he's talking economics. His theory is that there is no bad economic news at the macro level because when something bad happens in one area, an opposite and equal reaction transfers into something good in a other area. One person loses his job (that's clearly bad for him), but the company saves some money and others get to keep their job (that's good for them).

Personally, I don't buy into Bryan's distorted physics perspective on the economy. I see that a rising tide can lift all boats, or vice versa. But a couple of weeks ago, I was swept up in a spontaneous event that a least caused me to consider Bryan's perspective a little more seriously. Friends of ours (couple A) were planning to go see the musical "Wicked" with other friends of ours (couple B), when a bad action occurred. Couple A's son got sick. So Couple B called us and asked if we wanted to go in their place. We took full advantage of the good opposite and equal reaction and went to the theater with Couple B.

This is the first time the four of us were ever sitting together in comfy seats with very little leg room waiting for a major Broadway production on national tour to start. So it only seems natural that the conversation would lead to "Who has actually been to Broadway and what did you see?" Two of us had, and two of us hadn't. As we were sharing our respective views on New York, New York, the woman in the row in front us turned around and shared her enthusiasm and excitement for the city that never sleeps.

At first impression, she seemed friendly and engaging. "How nice to see strangers reach out and connect with others," I was thinking, until she started talking about going to visit ground zero. Then she went on a rant about how un-American it is that we haven't rebuild those towers. Which was a pretty strong opinion to state barely 53 seconds into this new relationship. She just went on and on about how disgraceful it was. She really brought the conversation down. But we were sitting waiting for the show to start, so we couldn't walk away, and she was sitting in front of us, so Couple B, my wife, and I couldn't even "debrief the incident" until the car ride home.

It was a clear example of how not to join a conversation. I recently read in Shel Israel's (@ShelIsrael) book, "Twitterville," that Twitter is perfect forum to hold conversations with others all around the world. In fact, Israel asserts, "Chances are that right now, there's a conversation going on in Twitterville that can impact what you do for a living." That got me thinking.

Since, I had just witnessed how not to enter a conversation, I brainstormed some tips on how to effectively butt in specifically on Twitter. Here are 8 to consider:

1. LISTEN FIRST >
It's as old as Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence Others," but it's still true. Do less talking and more listening. On Twitter, that means asking plenty of questions and affirming what others say.

2. BE HUMAN >
This one comes from "Twitterville." Don't hide behind a logo or fake avatar. Use your real name and a picture of you. People prefer to talk to people.

3. RETWEET OFTEN >
People love to get retweeted. If someone says something you like or you agree with, copy it and add a RT @source in front of it. But don't over RT, you could start to lose your credibility.

4. USE NAMES >
When you send a direct message to someone, still include their real first name. If you don't know it, you can often look it up on their profile page. I learned that nice touch from Shelly (@ShellyKramer).

5. OBSERVE CONVERSATIONS >
There are lots of programs that help follow conversations in Twitter. I like TweetDeck because of all the other features it has. All you have to do to see the full conversation in TweetDeck is click on "in reply to..." in the bottom right-hand section of the Tweet. When you find a good conversationalist, follow them (don't worry if they don't follow you back).

6. SEARCH TOPICS YOU'RE INTERESTED IN >
I love watching "The Amazing Race" (#TAR). It's our weekly family TV time. I'm such a geek I watch it with my laptop and have TweetGrid pulled up where I search for Amazing Race and each of the different teams. I read funny tweets to my family and reply to ones that jump out at me. Only about a fifth of them lead to conversations, but I enjoy seeing how others are responding to what I'm watching.

7. ASK QUESTIONS >
Joel Comm (@JoelComm) gives this perfect good, better, best example of how to tweet a conversation-starting question in "Twitter Power":
Tweeting "I can't stand violent video games" could get you a discussion started in response. Tweeting "What do you think of violent video games?" could have a similar effect. But getting the discussion rolling by tweeting, "My son plays violent video games. I can't stand them. What do you think?" increases the chances that your followers will hit the reply button and toss in their two cents.
8. GIVE A COMPLIMENT > Find something you appreciate that someone else said. If you read an article or see something online, look to see if you can find the writer on Twitter. Then give them a genuine compliment. These two students at Purdue do a great job giving compliments in person. It's a great way to make someone's day.

What other tips do you have? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

Hey, I guess this was another example proving Bryan's crackpot theory. The bad action of being interrupted at "Wicked" caused an opposite and equal good reaction of studying and sharing how to butt in effectively. Examples or not, I still think Bryan's theory is full of crap.

November 17, 2009

FROM THE BAD SIMILE FILES | Technology is Like a Train

Yesterday, I sat through a webinar about how technology could improve our business. One of the speakers boldly stated, "Technology is like a train. It's hard to stop, and once it leaves the station, you can't catch it." This image may have worked for the presenter, but he lost credibility with me by illustrating the power of innovation with such an "old school" image. After all, there hasn't been any innovation with the railroads since they decided to leave the caboose off the lagging end. It's like comparing technology to the buggy whip.

The second flaw with the simile was with the explanation, "Once it leaves the station, you can't catch it." I know trains can move fast, but I generally picture them going fairly slow, especially when they are leaving the station. Just think how many movie scenes there are where someone runs to catch the train, and usually makes it.

And finally, one of the most challenging things about dealing with technology is trying to figure out where it's headed. I can't think of anything more predictable than the path a train is headed down. You know the schedule, and the tracks pretty clearly map out where it's going to go.

What bad similes and metaphors have you heard? What would you compare technology to more accurately? Or more absurdly? Share your thoughts in the comments.

November 13, 2009

Did I Ever Tell You How Luck You Are?

One of the more memorable Dr. Seuss books from my childhood was "Did I Ever Tell You How Luck You Are," which begins:
When I was quite young
and quite small for my size,
I met an old man in the Desert of Drize.
And he sang me a song I will never forget.
At least, well, I haven't forgotten it yet.
The old man who is sitting precariously perched atop a cactus tells the young wide-eyed narrator:
When you think things are bad,
when you feel sour and blue,
when you start to get mad...
you should do what I do!

Just tell yourself, Duckie,
you're really quite lucky!
Some people are much more...
oh, ever so much more...
oh, muchly much-much more
unlucky than you!
The rest of the book is filled with example after example of characters in unfortunate and miserable situations. Think "Dirty Jobs" Dr. Seuss style. Yesterday, at the KU Natural History Museum, I saw a real life job that reminded me of the ones created in the book.

I feel so muchly much-much more lucky than the guy who has to clean tanks on the 6th floor snake exhibit. Although, I'm glad he has the job (and he appeared to enjoy it), because it provided great entertainment value for us. We went from cage to cage and watched through two layers of glass as he woke up a sleeping copperhead, unraveled a tiny bull snake from an artificial shrubbery, scooped up a water mocassin with a pole not nearly long enough, and kept a very close eye on a timber rattlesnake while he removed two dead mice from his lair.

What was really rewarding, was to watch the excitement and surprise from all the children in our group as he reached in and grabbed each snake. They were truly in awe as he calmly handled each snake. And then the real delightful moment happened. Once he had finished the last tank, my son said to all his friends, "Hey, let's go down to the door and when he comes out, let's all applaud."

Twelve children from 5-14 gathered in a small group and waited for a minute or two. When the twenty-something snake handler finally emerged from the restricted area, the children clapped and cheered. He smiled and took at brief bow.

Maybe he gets that kind of recognition everyday, but he truly looked surprised. I was proud of my son for recommending it, and really proud of all the children for sharing their gratitude. I felt ever so much-much, so muchly much-much more lucky to witness such spontaneous appreciation.

Patrick Dougherty - Stick Artist

Today outside the KU Natural History Museum, we saw an amazing stick sculpture by Patrick Dougherty. So I checked out his website where he has several videos of different installations he has completed. This is one of the longer videos, a little under 10 minutes, but I really liked the the way this one walks through the process he goes through in designing something specific for the location.

Posted via web from Todd's posterous

November 7, 2009

November 1, 2009

MAKE IT A GAME | The Web of Fortune

Yesterday, a good friend of mine was complaining about Halloween on facebook. The concern centered around the lack of gratitude and civility in 14 and 15-year-old boys knocking at his door. I had a sudden flashback to 10 years ago when I, too, was a Halloween Scrooge. I felt like October 31 was a panhandling holiday filled with bad-mannered kids and mandatory participation.

But then, I thought of my two sons (at the time they were 4 and 2) and the unsociable example I was setting. So, I started with the man in the mirror. I asked him to change his ways. Come on, you know what's next. No message could have been any clearer.

My transformation began with a simple question: what could I do that would make Halloween fun for myself? Well, I love games, and if kids were going to show up in weak customers and not tell jokes, then I could at least make them play a game. So I build the "Web of Fortune."


Every year we set up on the driveway, and ask trick-or-treaters to "Step right up and spin the Web of Fortune. The color you land on determines what kind of candy you win. If you land on a spider, you get an extra prize!"


The Web of Fortune provides a creative outlet for me, and the miniature ghouls, pirates, and princesses seem to like it as well. Sure, there is the occasional rude rug rat that screams, "That's not fair" at me because he only gets to spin once or didn't land on the spider, but I'm having so much more fun it outweighs those minor incidents.



What creative experiences did you see this Halloween? What other activities do you dread participating in that you could turn into a game?

October 25, 2009

Less is More

I recently heard a sales trainer wrap up a day long workshop with a review that included the following:
  • 6 OBJECTIVES listed at the beginning of the meeting.
  • 5 PRIORITIES for winning.
  • 4 BUSINESS DRIVERS for making business happen.
  • 7 PERFORMANCE FACTORS for determining gaps in results.
  • and 10 RESOURCES from the meeting to help attendees succeed.
I hope his goal was to overwhelm the group with ideas and not consistency and retention. Our brains (even the most brilliant of them) have limited shelf space. And once the shelf is full, you have to take something off to put something new on.

In training and knowledge management, we naturally think more is better. The more knowledge and ideas I share, the better they will do. The danger of throwing everything at your learner is that they will only remember a fraction of what you cover and that could be the least important part. Never sacrifice the most critical learning for some good ideas that could be helpful. It's better to give your learners bite-sized learning and have most of it stick.

I enjoy posting on Twitter and presenting at Pecha Kucha because they both force me to edit and be brief. They provide excellent practices in the fine are of concise communication.

October 17, 2009

Winner of Karate Dottie

video

Congratulations to Randall for winning the autographed copy of "Karate Dottie." For everyone else make sure you take advantage of this special discount offer to readers of Observation Paper. You can save 20% on price of "Karate Dottie"!

October 13, 2009

Karate Dottie Discount Code

To help wrap up this series on Creativity, Sam Varney is offering a special discount to readers of Observation Paper for his book, "Karate Dottie and the Treacherous Treehouse." Go to this link at Create Space, order the book directly from them, and enter discount code DVQ4XJRN to save $3 (that takes the book to under $10!)

Also, there are only four days left before the drawing for a free autographed copy of the book. Enter today by leaving a comment on this interview with Sam.

October 6, 2009

5 Movie Quotes about Creativity

1. BLAZING SADDLES
HEDLEY LAMARR: "My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought
cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives."
2. TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY
SARAH CONNOR: Men like you built the hydrogen bomb. Men like you thought it up. You think you're so creative. You don't know what it's like to really create
something; to create a life; to feel it growing inside you. All you know how to
create is death...
JOHN CONNOR: Mom.
SARAH: ...and destruction...
JOHN: Mom! We need to be a little more constructive here, okay?

3. CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

CHARLIE: What do you have against my family?
WILLIE WONKA: It's not just *your* family, it's the whole idea of... [balks] You
know, they're always telling you what to do, what not to do and it's not conducive to a creative atmosphere!

4. APOLLO 13

TECHNICIAN: We've got to find a way to make this [square CSM LiOH canister] fit into the hole for this [round LEM canister] ... using nothing but that.

5. DEAD POET'S SOCIETY

JOHN KEATING: No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.
What's your favorite movie quote about creativity,ideas, innovation or solutions? Share your quote in the comments. Also remember to leave your comment on this interview with S.F. Varney to enter to win an autographed copy of "Karate Dottie."

October 5, 2009

Getting Serious about Creativity

I was reading this interview with Paula Scher on Psychology Today's website about the important role of failure in the creative design process. Here she explains her approach to recovering from failure:

There are two different ways this thing works. I did a TED talk about the difference between serious work and solemn work. I define serious work as being where you make breakthroughs, and solemn work as doing the status quo and the level may be very good but it's not breakthrough.

There's another factor—and I'm talking about this as a designer, but I imagine it would work in any form of the arts and to science. When you're working and you make mistakes, particularly when you're young, you make discoveries because you do things that are inappropriate and wrongheaded, but within the wrongheadedness you find an unexpected way to go. These things are truly the breakthroughs.

And here is the TED presentation she mentions above where she goes into greater detail about the cycle of going from solemness to seriousness:



12 days left in this series of posts focusing on creativity. Remember to enter to win a free autographed copy of "Karate Dottie" by commenting on this interview with author S.F. Varney.

October 4, 2009

7 Creativity Quotes


I compiled the quotes I've been sharing for this creativity series into the above slide presentation.

Only 13 days until the drawing for a free autographed copy of "Karate Dottie." Enter today by posting a comment on this interview with author S. F. Varney.

October 1, 2009

CREATIVITY | Thoreau Quote

Remember to enter your comments on CREATIVITY PROFILE | S. F. Varney in order to win an autographed copy of "Karate Dottie and Treacherous Treehouse."

September 30, 2009

CREATIVITY | Nietzsche Quote


Remember to enter your comments on CREATIVITY PROFILE | S. F. Varney in order to win an autographed copy of "Karate Dottie and Treacherous Treehouse."

September 29, 2009

CREATIVITY | Bradbury Quote

Remember to enter your comments on CREATIVITY PROFILE | S. F. Varney in order to win an autographed copy of "Karate Dottie and Treacherous Treehouse."

September 28, 2009

CREATIVITY | Koestler Quote


Remember to enter your comments on CREATIVITY PROFILE | S. F. Varney in order to win an autographed copy of "Karate Dottie and Treacherous Treehouse."

September 27, 2009

CREATIVITY | Picasso Quote

Remember to enter your comments on CREATIVITY PROFILE | S. F. Varney in order to win an autographed copy of "Karate Dottie and Treacherous Treehouse."

September 21, 2009

CREATIVITY PROFILE | S. F. Varney

My son and I recently read a wonderfully creative adventure book, "Karate Dottie and the Treacherous Treehouse," written by S. F. Varney. As part of this series on creativity, I asked Sam a couple of questions about how he finds the time and inspiration to be so creative. You'll enjoy his responses below.

He also agreed to give away a special copy of Karate Dottie with a hand-drawn illustration and autograph on the inside cover to one lucky reader. To enter, just leave a comment to this post. I'll draw the winner on October 17, 2009.

HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH AND THEN DEVELOP STORY IDEAS? I spent a large portion of my childhood with no television in the house so I became a voracious reader of books and comic books which I feel helped spark my imagination. Inspiration comes from different sources such as a picture, a newspaper or magazine article, a conversation or an observation. It usually begins with the question "What if...". The story of Karate Dottie and the Treacherous Treehouse began as a bedtime story I made up for my boys one night. When some friends stayed over a few weeks later and they specifically asked me to tell them the story about Fluffy, I knew it was a hit with them.

As for the process, I work out the basic plot first. The first three books in the Karate Dottie series comprise the first complete story arc and it is completely worked out. Then I just start writing and try to tell the story that I see in my head. I will show my work to anyone who will read it even during the early rough drafts. The characters are well developed and I make sure they act and speak in accordance with their core values and motivations. Next comes multiple rewrites and the illustrations. I do all of the illustrations for my books so I know my vision is replicated faithfully but it is not without challenges. One illustration I was unsure of including was the scene where Fluffy steps out of the darkness. I debated on whether or not I should leave that scene up to the imagination or include it. I polled the neighbors and it was a split decision and then I put it in an online forum. The responses helped me make the decision to include it. There are some illustrations that did not make the cut.

I want to make the story as unpredictable as possible. When I made the decision to make one of the characters in the story have asthma, something I personally struggled with as a child and deal with as a parent, the obvious choice would have been Gordo based on the stereotype. Instead I chose Dottie, which in turn gives this fierce little girl a challenge much like Superman has kryptonite to contend with.

HOW DO YOU FIND TIME TO PURSUE YOUR CREATIVE WRITING AND DRAWING WHEN YOU HAVE A FULL-TIME JOB AND ARE SO INVOLVED WITH YOUR VERY ACTIVE FAMILY? I don't sleep much. My boys are still young so they go to bed at 8:30 PM each night allowing me to work on my creative pursuits from 9 until midnight or sometimes a little later if I let time get away from me. I rotate what I am working on so depending on what night it is I may be working on illustrations, commissions, website design or writing. I like to chat when I am creating artwork but not when I am writing. If I am traveling on the road for my job, I always take my materials with me so I can work on it in the hotel room at night. I really enjoy doing it so I do not consider it work.

HOW DO YOU EVALUATE THE QUALITY OF WHAT YOU WRITE AND DRAW? There are two components to art, one is technical and the other is creative. It is possible to have great technical skill but lack the spark of creativity that engages the viewer. I continually strive to improve the technical side of my art through studying the techniques of talented artists that I admire both past and present. I show my art to everyone who will look. I am very active on deviantART which is a website that connects artists and those who love art. The benefit of this forum is it gives me objective feedback from artists all over the world.

Writing is more difficult to get objective feedback on. First it takes a great deal of commitment and time for someone to read a manuscript and then give criticism on it unlike an art portfolio which can be evaluated almost instantly. Constructive criticism is extremely valuable but very difficult to get. Our neighborhood is full of children so the manuscript of Karate Dottie was passed around and read by several of the target audience and their parents. I also sent it via email to some professionals to get their feedback as well. I put a lot of weight on the feedback of the target audience (children) because they are typically unfiltered in their feedback and if they do not like it, they will tell you.

Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for your free copy of "Karate Dottie and the Treacherous Treehouse."

September 20, 2009

7 Random Thoughts on Creativity

To start off a series of posts on creative thinking, here are seven random tips I find helpful when I need think more creatively.

1. WRITE THINGS DOWN > Nothing forces you to crystalize your thinking more than having to condense it to the written word. Write, write, write. Write down the problem to be solved. Write down ideas when they happen. Write down solutions to remember them later. One year after figuring out the best way wind up the Christmas tree lights, I wrote myself a note and put it in the box so I would remember it when I pulled them out again the next year. Worked.

2. GET BACK TO NATURE > There are solutions everywhere in nature. When we spend time in nature, we get to observe a wealth of analogies and metaphors we can use to solve our problems.

3. GO INTO THE SILENCE > Spend some time in solitude. Meditate, go for a walk, sit and do nothing. Just get silent.

4. COMBINE TWO UNLIKE THINGS > Did you know that the words to "Gilligan's Island" work to the tune of Amazing Grace? Try it. When you get stuck, go for the opposite. Open the dictionary to a random word and make it work with your idea. Ideas can come from far away places.

5. BORROW IDEAS > Not every idea has to be original, as long as you give appropriate credit. Fast food restaurants borrowed the drive-thru from banking. Or was it the other way around?

6. FEED ON CREATIVITY > The old adage, "Garbage in, garbage out" works with anything. "Creativity in, creativity out." Read creative books, hang out with creative people, go to creative places, attend creative workshops.

7. GET DISCIPLINED > Seems counter-intuitive, but the more disciplined you are the more creative you are. Being disciplined gives you more time and less stress to focus on creative thinking.

Watch for an upcoming interview with creative writer and artist, S. F. Varney. His latest book is "Karate Dottie and the Treacherous Treehouse."

September 17, 2009

A Man Said to the Universe...

One of my favorite poems is this one from Stephen Crane:

A man said to the universe:
"Sir I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."
Today, I read a rather explicit version of that sentiment from a foul-mouthed 73-year-old man as shared by his son in this tweet. Same point made in two very different styles.

September 9, 2009

Win the Book Problogger by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett

Here is a quick and simple way win a copy of the book Problogger by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett.

1. HAVE A BLOG
- If don't yet, they're pretty simple to set up.

2. EMBED THIS PRESENTATION into one of your blog post (yes, this is a blatant attempt to generate traffic to a presentation I created on slideshare.net, but it's a good presentation, so you should check it out anyway, and while you're there feel free to vote for it in The World's Best Presentation Contest 2009).

3. POST A COMMENT to this blog post with a link to your blog post (hey, it's not just the book that's in it for you) by Tuesday, September 15, 2009.

On Wednesday, September 16, I will print off all the comments, cut them into strips of paper, literally draw an entry out of a hat, contact the winner, and ship them a free copy of Darren and Chris's book. You may enter more than once as long as each comment has it's own unique blog posts. Good luck!

September 2, 2009

The Wonderful Wizard of Metaphors

While having lunch with my good friend Scott, he told me about a recent metaphor he used at work. His company is planning to build a new corporate office and seeking ideas from all levels within the organization. He suggested that they should make it like the Emerald City from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, not literally, but capture the essence of a fabulous place that's bright and colorful where everyone feels like singing and dancing. He was imagining that scene in the movie where they enter and see the horse of the different color for the first time.


"Then I went on to wikipedia to get some specifics to add to my metaphor..." he went on as I started laughing because I had just read the book with my children and knew exactly where this was headed. In the book, the Emerald City isn't quite so beautiful and shiny. Read for yourself.

DOROTHY AND THE GANG ENTER THE CITY FOR THE FIRST TIME:

"I am the Guardian of the Gates, and since you demand to see the Great Oz I must take you to his Palace. But first you must put on the spectacles."

"Why?" asked Dorothy.

"Because if you did not wear spectacles the brightness and glory of the Emerald City would blind you. Even those who live in the City must wear spectacles night and day. They are all locked on, for Oz so ordered it when the City was first built, and I have the only key that will unlock them."

He opened the big box, and Dorothy saw that it was filled with spectacles of every size and shape. All of them had green glasses in them. The Guardian of the Gates found a pair that would just fit Dorothy and put them over her eyes. There were two golden bands fastened to them that passed around the back of her head, where they were locked together by a little key that was at the end of a chain the Guardian of the Gates wore around his neck. When they were on, Dorothy could not take them off had she wished, but of course she did not wish to be blinded by the glare of the Emerald City, so she said nothing.

LOOKING AT THE WORLD THROUGH GREEN SPECTACLES:

Even with eyes protected by the green spectacles, Dorothy and her friends were at first dazzled by the brilliancy of the wonderful City. The streets were lined with beautiful houses all built of green marble and studded everywhere with sparkling emeralds. They walked over a pavement of the same green marble, and where the blocks were joined together were rows of emeralds, set closely, and glittering in the brightness of the sun. The window panes were of green glass; even the sky above the City had a green tint, and the rays of the sun were green.

FINALLY, OZ COMES CLEAN ABOUT THE SECRET OF THE EMERALD CITY:

"Then I thought, as the country was so green and beautiful, I would call it the Emerald City; and to make the name fit better I put green spectacles on all the people, so that everything they saw was green."

"But isn't everything here green?" asked Dorothy.

"No more than in any other city," replied Oz; "but when you wear green spectacles, why of course everything you see looks green to you. The Emerald City was built a great many years ago, for I was a young man when the balloon brought me here, and I am a very old man now. But my people have worn green glasses on their eyes so long that most of them think it really is an Emerald City, and it certainly is a beautiful place, abounding in jewels and precious metals, and every good thing that is needed to make one happy."

So, to the people who read the book, Scott was unwittingly suggesting that his company build a sham headquarters that would create a facade of corporate success. I'm guessing they loved the idea.

August 29, 2009

3 Sites That Caught My Eye

Here's a quick recap of additions to my "I Don't Believe It" bookmarks:

BE PREPARED > Tac Bac - Tactical Canned Bacon. You have to love bacon in a can with a shelf life of 10 years.

CLEVER >
The folks at Woofer have created a wonderful parody of the Twitter microblogging with their macroblogging site the requires posts at least 1,400 characters in length.

COOL >
Mini Cooper Coupe. Take something that's small and make it even smaller. Take something that's cool and make it even cooler.

August 24, 2009

The Impact of Speed

Okay, one more quote from John Freeeman's Not So Fast:
Continuing in this strobe-lit techno-rave communication environment as it stands will be destructive for businesses. Employees communicating at breakneck speed make mistakes. They forget, cross boundaries that exist for a reason, make sloppy errors, offend clients, spread rumors and gossip that would never travel through offline channels, work well past the point where their contributions are helpful, burn out and break down and then have trouble shutting down and recuperating. The churn produced by this communication lifestyle cannot be sustained. "To perfect things, speed is a unifying force," the race-car driver Michael Schumacher has said. "To imperfect things, speed is a destructive force." No company is perfect, nor is any individual.

August 23, 2009

That's Progress

Here's a quote from John Freeman's article, Not So Fast, in the Wall Street Journal this weekend that I just had to share:
Our society does not often tell us this. Progress, since the dawn of the Industrial Age, is supposed to be a linear upward progression; graphs with upward slopes are a good sign. Process­ing speeds are always getting faster; broadband now makes dial-­up seem like traveling by horse and buggy. Growth is eternal. But only two things grow indefinitely or have indefinite growth firmly ensconced at the heart of their being: cancer and the cor­poration. For everything else, especially in nature, the consum­ing fires eventually come and force a starting over.

August 19, 2009

Don't Create Peas on the Cob

Father Guido Sarducci did a great bit several years ago about monk who through genetic engineering developed peas on the cob. The punchline was, "Now, to me, 'dis makes a no sense at all. You take something that taste bad, and you make it a difficult to eat."

Last night, I experienced peas on the cob at Godfather's Pizza. Tuesday night is buffet night so it was busy. As we walked in, a women and two children were walking out and she warned us, "Good luck finding a place to sit. They've got all these tables reserved."

So as we walked up to the counter, I noticed that every table that wasn't occupied had a "Reserved" sign on it. I naturally felt concerned. There was no line, so I stepped right up and ordered three buffets with my coupon for a dollar each and asked, "If we can't find a place to sit, can I have my money back?"

The girl at the register looked at another girl, who shouted over to us, "The reserved seats are for PAYING customers. So once you go through the buffet just take a reserved table." I relaxed about finding a place to sit, but I became anxious about why all these non-paying people were at Godfather's on a Tuesday night.

I sent my sons through the buffet while I went off to hunt us down a table. I secured one close to the endless stream of pizzas and clearly claimed the "Reserved" table with my plate and the boys two drink cups. Then treated myself by filling my cup with ice-cold Dr. Pepper.

When I returned to our table, two people were starting to sit down there. I said, "Excuse me, but that's our table."

"No," they replied. "It has a 'Reserved' sign on it so we can sit there."

"And my plate and two cups." The woman was quite large and honestly, quite scary. Plus there were plenty of "Reserved" tables, so I continued, "Let me get my stuff, and I'll move to another table."

The rest of the evening, we made sure that at least one of us served as a table sentry guarding are precious booth while the rest of us refilled our plates again and again. When one of the roaming table monitors came within our vicinity, I asked, "Excuse me, but I'm just curious, what problem are you trying to solve with these 'Reserved' signs?"

"Well," she explained, "Tuesday nights are buffet nights, so they are our busiest nights. When people come in they often have to stand in line, and so some people would go and reserve tables, while their friends or family would go order. We had people who had paid, but couldn't find a spot to sit, while those who hadn't even paid yet already had tables. So now, the 'Reserved' signs are only for people who have already paid."

"So did that fix the problem?"

"Oh, yes. Now only people who have paid can sit down."

In the meantime, they walked at least one family, created tension for me twice, and in the process convinced me never to return to buffet night. "Now, to me, 'dis makes a no sense at all. You take seats that are hard to find, and you make it a difficult to understand."

August 15, 2009

2 More Noticeably Different Signs

My family and I volunteered to serve on the "clean up" crew at the Topeka Dog Show this week. Events like this always provide at least a couple of examples of signs trying to dictate behavior. These two signs posted at the Topeka Expo Center caught my eye, so I added them to the collection of noticeably different signs.

THE BIG NO > there was an entire room dedicated to crating and grooming animals, so in the main arena they had these signs posted about every 10-15 feet. I love when the signs so clearly get ignored.


CAUSE AND EFFECT > I'm very curious about what problems they were having in this room. Taped on this very plain, not inviting door was this sign of three "no"s. I can figure out the "no admittance" and "no knocking," but what are they trying to prevent with "no change." Do they not want to give change for a dollar? Or do they want to stop people from changing their outfits? Or are they just adamant about things staying the same?


August 9, 2009

12 of My Favorite Mad Men Quotes



What's your favorite Mad Man quote?

August 3, 2009

3 CAREER LESSONS | Are you a Lynx or a Grizzly?

The Crown of the Continent, named by George Bird Grinnell, has maintained a vibrant ecosystem that has adapted and thrived quite well. Remarkably, this wilderness area has maintained the same vertebrate species for hundreds of years. Well, at least that's what I learned from reading "The Case of the Disappearing Rabbit" in Newsweek where Lily Huang details the rapid climate changes impacting this backcountry and the plight it's creating for the wild Canada lynx.

This extraordinary example provided by mother nature is loaded with real-life metaphors about the need to adapt within changing work environments. Here are a few lessons from Huang's excellent article that can apply to any of our careers.

1. DON'T RELY TOO MUCH ON OTHERS

A lynx, if it could, would eat nothing but snowshoe hares its whole life, and pretty much does. An animal so specialized that it only eats one kind of food has a tenuous place in the world.
When you rely too heavily on others, your survival is totally dependent on their survival.

2. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR CHANGING ENVIRONMENT

As the largest perennial food prize in the ecosystem, snowshoe hares have just one good trick - turning white in winter, brown the rest of the year - cued by the changing length of days. Now winter snow melts nearly a month earlier in the Crown that it did just a century ago, causing, says Dan Fagre, a "decoupling" between two cycles that used to be synchronized: light and temperature. This means that a snow-white hare will end up sitting on brown earth - and have no idea.
Sometimes our work environments change so fast it doesn't feel like we have time to adapt. The key is to see the small changes early, so you know where things are headed. Remember Wayne Gretzy's adage: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

3. BE FLEXIBLE AND HAVE GENERAL TRANSFERABLE SKILLS
Biodiversity happens when an ecosystem brings competing species to a stalemate: all have their niche, all get by, none can completely suppress another. Global warming doesn't so much tip this finely wrought balance in the Crown one way or another as knock it all down: no niche wins out; the real winners are the species that don't have a niche. These are the ones who don't have to change their genes. Grizzly bears may be the world's least choosy eaters, omnivores par excellence that can live on anything and learn what they need to survive.
It's important to learn everyday, and I guess to not be a picky eater. Maybe mom was right; I should taste everything on my plate.

July 31, 2009

EMOTIONAL SELLING | Part 3

Pearls Before Swine

Okay just one more example of emotional selling.

July 30, 2009

EMOTIONAL SELLING | Part 2

Pearls Before Swine

Another example of of emotional selling.

July 29, 2009

EMOTIONAL SELLING | 3 Simple Resources


You've probably heard the old adage, "You don't sell the drill; you sell the hole." But that's only half the truth. You don't even really sell the hole; you sell the satisfaction of having drilled the hole with little to no frustration. We're emotional creatures, and we purchase stuff based on either gaining positive feelings or avoiding painful emotions.

BUT WHAT ABOUT a very logical decision, like filling up your gas tank? Have you ever run out of gas? What did that feel like? Do you ever want to experience that emotion again? So even if you're not emotional at the time of your purchase, it's still emotion that's driving the decision (yes, that pun was intended).

So here are 3 resources to help you increase the amount of emotional appeal in your selling:
  1. REAL-LIFE ILLUSTRATION > Ivan Levison walks through a great example using Olive Garden's commercial in The Emotional Sell versus the Rational Sell.
  2. WORDS TO USE > Add emotion with 186 Power Words for Selling by Karl Stepp.
  3. INSPIRATION > Don Draper from Mad Men reframes the technical slide wheel as the much more emotive carousel in his pitch to Eastman Kodak.

July 23, 2009

Grand Marshal or Sweeper | Which role do you want to play?

Soup To Nutz

I heard a great analogy today that answers the objection that it takes too much time to seek an associate's perspective during a performance conversation. You've probably heard that concern or maybe even said it yourself.

THE ANALOGY: In a parade, is there any difference in the time it takes for the grand marshal or the sweeper (you know the one that walks behind the horses, or worse the elephants) to finish? Of course not, it takes them both the same amount of time, but for one it's a much more pleasant journey.

In tough conversations, when you take the time to seek the other person's point of view it may feel like it takes longer at first, but in the end it works out the same and you have a lot less clean up to do.

July 18, 2009

6 Different Perspectives on Customer Service

One of my favorite poems is The Blind Men and the Elephant by John Godfrey Saxe. In it, he tells an old Indian legend of six blind men getting very different perspectives of the same elephant. This week I had the opportunity to experience customer service from several different angles and it got me thinking that customer service really isn't as easy as we make it sound. It's easy to say things like, "The customer is always right" or "Find ways to say YES" or "Do the right thing," but recovery situations usually require some difficult choices. Here are a few things I saw this week from six different angles.

ANGLE 1 - SERVICE PROVIDER FOR AN EXTERNAL CUSTOMER
Like many companies we monitor Twitter for customer complaints (see 7 Impressive Twitter Customer Service/Brand Management Cases). Unfortunately, one came up this week. The tweeter described bad service he had received in one of our locations and wrote "you have lost a customer for life." Those are scary words no matter what business you're in, so I sent him a tweet apologizing for his experience and asked if I could do anything to help.

He very professionally and objectively described a series of missteps we had taken. The final one being we missed a very important deadline. In talking it over with the head of our customer satisfaction department, she suggested we send a very sincere apology with a gift certificate to a nice restaurant near their home. Her experience and logic were right on target. She said, "Would you want free service from a company that handled something this badly? The best we can do is offer him something he'll actually appreciate."

Lesson from ANGLE 1: Apologize and offer something of value to the customer.

ANGLE 2 - SERVICE PROVIDER FOR AN INTERNAL CUSTOMER

One of our stores made a request that I felt I had to say "no" to. After all if I did it for this one, I would have to do it for all of them. This is where "do the right thing" is harder than it sounds. If I bend the rule in this situation, then I would be taking care of our internal customer request, thereby "doing the right thing" only then I would not be treating everyone the same, thereby NOT "doing the right thing." The logic also works in reverse if I choose to stick to the letter of the law.

I really struggled with this issue. I wanted to find a way to say "Yes" and maintain consistency and fairness across the entire company. So I reached out to a partner and asked a peer of mine if he had any suggestions. He did. He suggested a set of criteria that would make sense in this situation to make an exception. And future requests could be filtered against this criteria to maintain consistency. It was a lot more work, but I think it was a good solution, and allowed us a chance to provide better service.

Lesson from ANGLE 2: One size doesn't fit all. Be flexible.

ANGLE 3 - CUSTOMER WITH A COMPLAINT
My wife and son went to see the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince this week. She bought tickets a day before to ensure they got to watch it in the larger theater. When they arrived an hour before show time, the ushers had already opened all the theaters and were letting anyone with a ticket sit in any theater they wanted. Of course, the larger theater was filled with people saving seats and chaos ruled as people ran from theater to theater looking for the best seats.

My wife complained the night of, but the "manager on duty" (a teenager with a walkie-talkie) did nothing more than state that they were really short staffed. When she asked if there was someone else she could talk to, he gave her a phone number and said she could call it the next day during normal business hours.

Since I just dealt with a customer complaint on Twitter, I posted a complaint about the theater, and was pleased when I got response from the company's social media manager. After he asked a what happened he sent this message:
I'm really sorry that happened. Theatres usually have roped lines to any big show. Let me get more info and get back to you.
I felt good about the apology, and I was looking forward to his next step which was this direct message to me:
Our Operations Excellence team wants to get to the bottom of it. They can be reached at 1.877.262.4450. Thx for reaching out.
Why do I have to do the next step? Compare the ownership in this situation to the great recovery I received from First Watch a few weeks ago.

Lesson from ANGLE 3: Take ownership even if you didn't cause the problem.

ANGLE 4 - CUSTOMER CHOOSING TO DO BUSINESS ELSEWHERE
Over the past few weeks we've had a couple of painters come to our house to give us bids to have our exterior painted. One guy was particularity persistent in following up. Unfortunately, he was our first bid and we're not real fast decision makers. Even though he was the lowest bid, we decided to go with someone else. Since he followed up so well, I called to let him know. His response, "Well, you're going to be disappointed that you didn't choose me. If not now, you will be in 5 to 6 years. Nobody does the kind quality I do."

Wow, what a poor sport! His response definitely reinforced our decision to go with someone else. What he doesn't realize is he was a really close second place, and if I needed something in the future I may have called him, but not now. I've learned to never say never, but I will go through great lengths not to do business with him.

Lesson from ANGLE 4: Play for the long-term even when you lose in the short-term.

ANGLE 5 - CONSUMER WARNING

A friend of mine said I needed to check out the "United Breaks Guitars" video on YouTube. He was right. Check it out yourself.



You should also read David Carroll's detailed account and see his personal response video:



Lesson from Angle 5: In the age of social media, one angry customer tells over 3,000,000 people.


ANGLE 6 - CONSUMER PRAISE

Here's a great story to end on: Men's Wearhouse Alters Your Suit Early so You Can Attend Your Grandmother's Funeral!

Lesson from Angle 6: When you know your customer's real needs, you can deliver service that truly makes a difference.

July 10, 2009

The Creative Process - Thinking Inside the Box

I just found this music video at avoision. The entire video was shot using web cams from around the world. The coordination must of taken a pretty strong storyboard to visualize what this was going to look like all together. It's the perfect example of synergy. Enjoy!

July 8, 2009

3 out of 12 Brain Rules Specifically Selected for Presenters

Here a fun, fast moving presentation from Garr Reynolds. Although, in these slides he looks more like a cute little tree frog.

July 5, 2009

Bite-sized Learning

How Bubbles the pilot whale taught me the importance of keeping knowledge management bite-sized.

July 3, 2009

5 Ways to Win According to Master Sun

Here are Master Sun's 5 ways of know who will will from The Art of War:
  1. THOSE WHO KNOW WHEN TO FIGHT AND WHEN NOT TO FIGHT ARE VICTORIOUS. Prioritize.
  2. THOSE WHO DISCERN WHEN TO USE MANY OR FEW TROOPS ARE VICTORIOUS. Allocate.
  3. THOSE WHOSE UPPER AND LOWER RANKS HAVE THE SAME DESIRE ARE VICTORIOUS. Align.
  4. THOSE WHO FACE THE UNPREPARED WITH PREPARATION ARE VICTORIOUS. Plan.
  5. THOSE WHOSE GENERALS ARE ABLE AND ARE NOT CONSTRAINED BY THEIR GOVERNMENTS ARE VICTORIOUS. Empower.
As you can see from their corresponding modern management principles, they still apply today. What would you add to the list?

June 30, 2009

4 Tips for Providing Customer Service Recovery

I had lunch at FirstWatch today. Every time I eat there, I end up asking myself, "Why don't I eat here more often?" The food is tasty and appears to be healthy. The people are friendly and their service is generally pretty fast.

Today was a little different. It took us over five minutes to be acknowledged. Then once we were greeted, we had a wait time of another ten minutes. Something I would have been okay with if there hadn't been five open tables clearly visible. Okay, so maybe they're a little short staffed today.

Two other groups of people came in behind us. No one was acknowledging them, so after awhile, I greeted them, added them to the waiting list, and told them it would be about 10 minutes. They offered to tip me, but I politely declined. When we were being seated, I pointed to the last guy I put on the list and asked him to take over my hosting responsibility. He kindly agreed.

When our waitress took our orders, I asked for a large glass of water. My one consistent complaint with FirstWatch is they serve their water in little shot-glass-sized cups. My larger glass never came. I know, they're a little short staffed today.

There were four of us for lunch. Two meals came first (of course, mine was not one of them). Then a few minutes later the other two came. The food was good as usual. This was the first time I did not ask, "How come I don't eat here more often?"

When I was paying my bill, the cashier asked, "Was everything alright?"

I gave my best Larry David impersonation and responded, "Eh. You guys were a little off your game today."

Without skipping a beat he handed me back my money and said, "Then today is on me."

ME: "It wasn't that bad. I'll pay for my meal."

HIM: "No, sir. If you aren't satisfied, it's on us."

ME: "I appreciated that. But I had a good meal, and this is a fair price for it. Normally, I'm very pleased when I come in here, and today you were clearly understaffed. It wasn't the same experience I normally get, but it won't stop me from coming back. It's fair that I should pay."

He reluctantly took my money and apologized once again for today's worse than usual service. What really impressed me was how responsive he was to my honest evaluation of the experience. Best of all, he gave me a quick reminder lesson in how to recover from less than standard service.

WHAT HE DID TO PROVIDE A GREAT RECOVERY MOMENT:
  1. Asked how my experience was and really cared about my answer.
  2. Was empowered to make me happy.
  3. Acted quickly.
  4. Sincerely apologized.
What's the best example of customer service recovery you've experienced?

June 21, 2009

3 Ways to Give Your Tweets Extra Bird Bacon



One of the reasons I find Conan's Twitter Tracker funny, is because the tweets he features are so lame. Now, people will follow celebrities no matter how lame their tweets are because, well, they're celebrities. For the rest of us here are 3 ways to keep your tweets filled with extra bird bacon:

1. BE RELEVANT - offer a helpful tip, a compelling link, or other valuable resource.
Examples:
Not Cool: Using as many trending topics as possible in your tweet to show up on current searches.

2. ENGAGE OTHERS - ask questions, answer questions, respond, or retweet.
Examples:
Not Cool: Asking others to RT your message.

3. USE HUMOR - doesn't have to make others laugh out loud, just smile.
Examples:
Not Cool: Tweeting old one-liners.

In his book Twitter Power, Joel Comm divides tweets into two types: broadcasts and conversations. The celebrities I've seen seem to focus on more broadcasts, and far too many businesses on Twitter fall in the same trap. They could both be more interesting with a little less broadcast and a little more conversation.

June 20, 2009

Ford Flex vs Mini Cooper

Here's the review of our test drive of the Ford Flex. I really enjoyed the Flex and its smooth, quiet, comfortable ride. The Sony sound system rocks, and the kids loved the sky windows and the build in refrigerator. But most importantly, here's how it compared to my Mini Cooper:



If you would like a more detailed view of some of the Flex's features, check out David Lee King's review of the exact same Flex.

June 11, 2009

Ford Flex Water Balloon Ambush

Here is the first of our videos from our Ford Flex test drive. This one is inspired from the American Idol Top 11 Ford music video, a video they apparently don't want you to share, because they make embedding it very difficult. If you would like to read more specifics about the Ford Flex, please check out David Lee King's Review. But for now, enjoy our little parody: