Posts Tagged ‘Business’

If we define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance, we can also understand its antonym, anticipation. 

When you work with anticipation, you will highlight the highs. You’ll double down on the things that will delight and push yourself even harder to be bold and to create your version of art. If this is going to work, might as well build something that’s going to be truly worth building.

If you work with anxiety, on the other hand, you’ll be covering the possible lost bets, you’ll be insuring against disaster and most of all, building deniability into everything you do. When you work under the cloud of anxiety, the best strategy is to play it safe, because if (when!) it fails, you’ll be blameless.

Not only is it more fun to work with anticipation, it’s often a self-fulfilling point of view.


Seth Godin.


There are at least 200 working days a year. If you commit to doing a simple marketing item just once each day, at the end of the year you’ve built a mountain. Here are some things you might try (don’t do them all, just one of these once a day would change things for you):

  • Send a handwritten and personal thank you note to a customer
  • Write a blog post about how someone is using your product or service
  • Research and post a short article about how something in your industry works
  • Introduce one colleague to another in a significant way that benefits both of them
  • Read the first three chapters of a business or other how-to book
  • Record a video that teaches your customers how to do something
  • Teach at least one of your employees a new skill
  • Go for a ten minute walk and come back with at least five written ideas on how to improve what you offer the world
  • Change something on your website and record how it changes interactions
  • Help a non-profit in a signficant way (make a fundraising call, do outreach)
  • Write or substiantially edit a Wikipedia article
  • Find out something you didn’t know about one of your employees or customers or co-workers

Enough molehills is all you need to have a mountain.


Seth Godin

Sometimes, your organization will be tempted (or forced) to offer some of your customers less than they’ve received in the past. Perhaps you need to close a local store so you can afford to open a better one a few miles away. Or reroute a bus line to serve more customers, while inconveniencing a few. Or maybe you want to replace a perfectly good free mapping application with a new, defective one so you can score points against your hometown rival in your bid for mobile domination.

A few things to keep in mind:

1. When possible, don’t downgrade. People are way more focused on what you take away than what you give them. Many times, particularly with software, it’s pretty easy to support old (apparently useless) features that a few rabid (equals profitable, loyal and loud) customers really depend on.

2. When it’s not possible to avoid a downgrade, provide a bridge or alternatives, and mark them clearly and discount them heavily. In the case of Apple maps on the new iphone, it would have been really easy to include links or even pre-installed apps for other mapping software. It’s sort of silly to make the Lightning adapter a profit center. When you cancel the all you can eat buffet, be generous with the gift cards given to your best customers.

3. If you can’t build a bridge, own up. Make it clear, and apologize. Not after an outcry, but before it even happens. The genius Francois at the Grand Central Apple store insisted that my hassles with the Music Match feature in iTunes were merely my “opinion,” and all the steps I had to go through to move the audio books I’m reviewing from one device to another were in fact good things. It’s silly to expect your customers to care about your corporate priorities or to enjoy your corporate-speak. If you’ve taken something away from them, point it out, admit it and try to earn a chance to delight them again tomorrow.

Apologizing to your best users is significantly more productive than blaming them for liking what you used to do.

Seth Godin


The Paint Job Method

The brand gurus have left your office after a 4 hour long strategy session, and after filling your minds and ears with new found vigour  inspired you to rebrand, rebrand and rebrand!! So you get your own team together and charge them to go out and find the best new colours that depict strength, loyalty, innovation, consistency and every new age adjective or noun you can muster. To the mix, you throw in a new logo as well, “one that is in line with what the brand represents” and put in a call to the guys at Dulux; “40 litres of your best silk finish royal blue paint for our head office please”. And the rush begins as you rebrand, rebrand and rebrand. But are you on the right course? What is it that your brand truly represents? Is your brand personality or character in line with all the new age buzz words and fancy colors and shapes you have put into the creative representation of your brand or are you just going devil-may-care into the market with a brand representation that you and your team do not have the wherewithal to defend if questions arise?

What is your brand character anyways? Why is it any different from what your colours and logos represent, why does it transcend the scope of the visual-intangible to the level of visual/non-visual-tangible? Your brand character/personality is a set of human characteristics that are attributed to your brand name. Something to which your consumers can relate; and your brand can increase its brand equity by staying consistent to these values. This is the added-value that a brand gains, aside from its functional benefits.

Five main types of brand personalities exist: excitement, sincerity, ruggedness, competence and sophistication. Here are examples of traits for the different types of brand personalities:

Excitement: carefree, spirited, youthful
Sincerity: genuine, kind, family-oriented, thoughtful
Ruggedness: rough, tough, outdoors, athletic
Competence: successful, accomplished, influential, a leader
Sophistication: elegant, prestigious, pretentious

Once consumers can identify with any of these traits as is represented by your brand or organization, then they are most willing to part with their money to pay for your goods and services.

But herein lies the big question; is your brand true to what it represents? If customers remove that fine coat of new paint will they see that underneath all the razzmatazz is a poor organizational structure, an internal discord with the values of say fairness that your company encapsulates? If they see that in as much as your brand portrays innovation and growth, the systems that exist for your staff to bring out these innovative ideas and products are at best circa 1960, then big problem. But we see this every day.

Charity they say begins at home, and what is most important in your brand-building (or rebuilding) efforts is that you must walk the talk. You must ensure that before the new business cards and letter heads are ordered, that you have engaged in serious soul searching, ensuring that you do not shoot yourself in the foot by choosing a brand personality that you cannot stay true to.

Let rebranding start inside out. Build the ideals that you want your brand to represent and be known for, from the very structure and foundation on which your company or organization is built. From the driver to the CEO, ensure that every member of your team stands for what your brand represents as they engage customers and clients and if possible as they go about on their own personal lives. The very essence of rebranding is to ensure that the outside stays consistent with the new found inner convictions that you have paid a ton of cash to hear from the brand strategist and gurus.

Drop the paint bucket, call your team together, and maybe as you all sit in a circle and sing Kumbaya you will find the values and ideals that you can infuse and consider as you rebuild a new corporate image on a foundation that will not be found wanting come whatever storm may arise on that perilous ocean called the market place.

When I meet you or your company or your product or your restaurant or your website, I desperately need to put it into an existing category, because the mental cost of inventing a new category for every new thing I see is too high.

I am not alone in this need. In fact, that’s the way humans survive the onslaught of newness we experience daily.

Of course, you can refuse to be categorized. You can insist that it’s unfair that people judge you like this, that the categories available to you are too constricting and that your organization and your offering are too unique to be categorized.

If you make this choice, the odds are you will be categorized anyway. But since you didn’t participate, you will be miscategorized, which is far worse than being categorized.

So choose.

What is this thing? What are you like? Are you friend or foe, flake or leader, good deal or ripoff, easy or hard, important or not? Are you destined for the trusted category or the other one?

Make it easy to categorize you and you’re likely to end up in the category you are hoping for.

By Seth Godin


I learnt one thing about managers on my way to work this morning,they are the type of people that Steven Covey talked about in his book THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE; Those who know how to marshall the forces to clear a path through the forest only to discover at the end that they’ve been clearing the wrong forest. Most modern managers actually do what the word itself suggests,they MANAGE. They forget one basic fact that the fuel that drives organizations to succeed do not require that you manage resources,but that you maximize them. In the constantly evolving modern organizational structure, experience has shown that the need for transformational leadership in a company even an economy is one that can not be over-emphasized.

My experience this morning showed me that more often than not,the case in most organizations is that managers focus all their effort on minimizing cost up to the point that they begin to reduce productivity. Back home in Nigeria here, it seems that our traditional beliefs about power and seniority have a lot to do with the fact that most managers or superiors in our organization exert more energy on showing whoever cares to look that they are in charge,rather than to focus on emerging trends and spearheading the movement of the organization towards greater success. We need to know this one thing above any other,this is 2010 and the reason why most economies(such as ours in Nigeria) are still where they were 20 years or more ago is because people have not woken up to modern business and organizational realities. There’s a fallacious proverb that says “let’s do it the way we’ve been doing it,so the result will be as it has always been”. What a very crazy approach to change and progress in the 21st century! In fact Albert Einstein said it all “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. How can we hope for change in an organization when we have left the tools to effect that change in the hands of people hell bent on maintaining the status quo? A management model that relies heavily on MANAGEMENT at the expense of TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP is one that is certain to crash and burn,taking with it all that the organization has achieved and hope to achieve.

A lot of supervisors,managers and bosses have a profound love for RED TAPE, BUREAUCRACY and unnecessary bottlenecks in the decision making process. They believe,quite erroneously, that the best way to to run any organization is to make sure that things continue to work, they fail to realize that that some things need to stop and newer approaches need to be introduced. They operate with this theory “if it ain’t broke,don’t fix it” and that seems to be the bane of most organizations. As we all evolve individually and as organizations,we need to rely more on those people who portray leadership traits,not on those who seem best for a managerial position. An elderly friend once told me that he employs people based on what they can do for him in three months,not based on what they’ve studied for four years. And believe me that is true. global businesses are realizing that the man who seems most qualified for the job is not always the best for the job. The best man always is the one who understands why what needs to be done,needs to be done. Here’s a quote by a man who surprisingly did not live in our time,but who perhaps realized back then that this is a lasting truth; “The man who knows how will always have a job. The man who also knows why will always be his boss.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. That is the kind of manager we need in modern organizations,the manager who knows WHY. Why we are spending money on advertising,why we want to make sure that computers are safe from viruses,why we continually hammer on the importance of neatness of self and the work area,why perception is key…WHY,WHY,WHY. The managers who know what and how to do it just don’t cut it anymore.

Managing a team requires that you be passionate about what needs to be done and how will you get that passion if you don’t know the rationale behind the project you are heading? Take for example a foreman who is in charge of a road that promises to bring development to his local community, the fact that it is his community means that he will go the extra mile,do the extra job to make sure that the project is delivered. And on time. Compare him to the worker who just drives a bulldozer,who just sees the project as work,a means to make some extra bucks. Compare the way they will go about the job. One will see it as an opportunity to make a mark and as such will give his all to it,while the other will see it as just a means to an end thereby going about it like an automaton.

Read below and see some differences between people who manager and people who lead and ask yourself which one of the two types of people you would like to put at the helm of affairs.

Subject Leader Manager
Essence Change Stability
Focus Leading people Managing work
Have Followers Subordinates
Horizon Long-term Short-term
Seeks Vision Objectives
Approach Sets direction Plans detail
Decision Facilitates Makes
Power Personal charisma Formal authority
Appeal to Heart Head
Energy Passion Control
Culture Shapes Enacts
Dynamic Proactive Reactive
Persuasion Sell Tell
Style Transformational Transactional
Exchange Excitement for work Money for work
Likes Striving Action
Wants Achievement Results
Risk Takes Minimizes
Rules Breaks Makes
Conflict Uses Avoids
Direction New roads Existing roads
Truth Seeks Establishes
Concern What is right Being right
Credit Gives Takes
Blame Takes Blames

Let me stop with this; leaders don’t want to lead people,they want to influence people so as to achieve the greater common good.

Most times we all believe we know what good customer service is, and therein is the first mistake we all make: WE BELIEVE. Sincerely how many times do we ask ourselves what customers really want,how many times do we even try to get off our high horse of believing that since we own the product,then we should know how the customer wants it served on him? While listening to Matthew Dixon,managing director of the Corporate Executive Board’s Sales and Service Practice speak on “Why Delighting your customers is Overrated” I discovered some key truths. We have become ingrained with the belief that what customers need is personalized service,but as anyone who has ever called Starcomms customer service know,that can be quite a disaster. Recently,research has shown that most customers are jumping on the self service band wagon. Why you ask? Well it seems that most customers have seen personalized customer service for what it really is; a very annoying attempt to give them what you think they need without giving them the thrill of solving their own problems on their own.

More and more customers nowadays prefer to go on a company’s website or call a robot rather than have a call center personnel attend to their needs,like some of the customers I asked,most times you are just made to repeat yourself over and over again without anything done to solve your problem at the end of the day. Also,as some of us might have experienced with some telecomms operators’ call centers,you don’t have to deal with the bad attitude of the call center personnel. In Nigeria,the culturally ingrained expectation of wanting to deal with the “topman” has made a lot of execs waste a lot of their time and made customers accept things they would not normally have accepted.One thing is clear about customers when they want a problem solved,they don’t really want to talk to you. They want their needs met. They don’t care if you are the CEO or a messenger in the organization,they just want someone who would help them solve their problems.

Below I have listed some things that from my own experience of dealing with customers and being one,are very important when you are considering areas to improve on your customer service experience.

  • Do not treat customers in a generic fashion,treat each one like a distinct individual. That’s who they are.
  • When dealing with a customer,do not try to deal with their emotions,just deal with helping the customer to get a prompt efficient service,no small talk or trying to make the customer your friend.
  • Try to eliminate negative words from your interactions with customers.Words like We can’t,We don’t,No,Do not,You Can’t, must leave your vocabulary at that time.What you want to build is an atmosphere where customers think they can be all they want to be. They want your customer service to make them feel empowered and positively charged enough that the chances of them being disloyal to your brand or product is drastically reduced.
  • Listen to what they are feeling,if you try to understand their words alone,you might not get the real gist of their grievance.
  • Younger demographics are actually more prone to go for an automated self service option rather than deal with a customer care personnel. This is just because they feel that people “just don’t understand”. So if they are a major part of your target market,then you need to work on making your customer service approach to them appear very “cool”.
  • Most times your effort to delight your customers or to wow them actually have adverse effects,if you exceed customer expectations too much,they tend to feel as if you are actually cheating them of something or they just might become suspicious of your motives.
  • Good customer service is not always about what you think customer expectations are,it is mostly by being perceptive enough to know what those expectations might be.