Friday, December 28, 2018

Gain the Mouth-Watering, Competitive Advantage

In 2011, Matt Salzberg was a restless associate at a Silicon Valley investment firm. He and his friend Ilia Papas wanted to create a business and were intrigued by food.


"We both loved food," Salzberg said. "We liked trying new ingredients, new recipes, new techniques, but we found it really inaccessible to cook at home. It was expensive, time-consuming and difficult to find recipes that we trusted."


The duo tried a few ideas before landing on the one that became Blue Apron: give people an easy way to make dinner using chef-recommended recipes and the fresh, precisely measured ingredients they'd need. With 20 friends beta-testing the product, Salzberg immediately realized they had a winner. Beyond rave reviews and contagious social media sharing, they had undeniable momentum:


"Pretty much from day one we've had steady exponential customer growth. I think the moment we did our first week of deliveries we sort of knew that we had a business that we thought would be really successful."


By August 2012 the team was shipping recipes to early testers, and three years later Blue Apron was delivering millions of meals to monthly subscribers, the company valued at a whopping $2 billion!


Find Your Competitive Advantage


Initially, some scoffed at the thought of paying restaurant prices for something you labored to cook at home.


But they overlooked Blue Apron's unique advantage: appealing to "foodies" who loved high-end meals but relished the opportunity to cook them. Blue Apron found a niche in the market that catapulted them to exponential growth and national exposure.


Competitive advantage is that "special something" that draws customers and keeps them coming back.


Why do you buy a Ford versus Chevy? Why do you spend $80 on a certain brand of jeans? The answer lies in the competitive advantage, the unique set of features a product has that makes it superior in the eyes of a target audience.


Competitive advantages include niche strategies (like Blue Apron), cost advantages, and product or service differentiation. Consider these examples:


Cost Competitive Advantage


Companies can grab an edge when they control costs and efficiency in ways that create maximum value for consumers.


Walmart uses this advantage by providing a large selection combined with low prices through its retail size and strength. Some companies draw from years of experience, overseas production, or streamlined workflows to minimize expense.


As you brainstorm cost advantages for your customers, consider how you can improve productivity from your team, if your technology or equipment is cost-efficient or needs upgrading, or where you can give customers a cost break via delivery options, locked-in service rates, or freebies that come as a bonus for specific orders.  


Product Differentiation


Another way to gain a competitive advantage is through product differentiation.


As you distinguish yourself in the marketplace, focus on the value you offer through your unique products. What makes your toothbrush one of a kind? How is your technology superior to other market options? How does your farmer's market produce outclass the bounty of your competitors?


People love getting the best product for their penny, so work hard to highlight your advantage and shout it loud through print and digital pieces that spotlight your strengths.


Service Differentiation


While cost or product advantages can quickly disappear (or be duplicated), every company can offer one-of-a-kind service advantages.


Whether its bundled subscriptions, outstanding customer care, or unrivaled warranties, build a benefit that is exclusively yours. Consider bonus delivery features, apps that are user-friendly and easy to learn, terms that are simple and risk-free, or energizing ambiance (like funky décor or stellar store atmospheres). Make customers so spoiled they'd never consider your competitors!

Friday, December 21, 2018

4 Print Marketing Trends to Inspire You in the Year to Come

Print marketing is compelling, memorable, and engaging.


As people touch, hold, and even smell paper, they respond in a profoundly personal way.


While digital communication is booming, this has only enhanced the unique voice that print brings for any business. Millennials and Gen Z are very difficult crowds to reach digitally, with 63 percent using AdBlocker and 82 percent ignoring online banner ads. This trend toward tactile is stirring potential for many exciting creative opportunities.


Today, we'll highlight four print marketing trends from 2018 to inspire you in the year to come.


Simplicity


The world is filled with chaos, and fundamentally, viewers long for a return to simplicity.


Minimalist designs offer the respite people crave. Minimalist designs include images with a clear, elegant purpose, maximizing white space and using layouts that are clean and authentic. Uncluttered visuals bring an honest, compelling point into focus in a quick and arresting way.


For years, TBWA Paris has been on a mission to advertise McDonald's in the most minimalist ways possible. This started in 2013 with extreme close-up photos of food and followed with computer-icon-style pictograms featuring McDonald's menu items reduced down to very spare illustrations. Many of these ads used no branding whatsoever: the point was that the food was so recognizable it didn't need a label.


By 2017, McDonald's had the food disappearing altogether, featuring top sellers like fries, McNuggets, or Big Mac cartons that were completely empty (apart from a few crumbs), because the food had already been devoured by famished customers.


Effective? Absolutely. These simple ads bypass the brain and go straight to the stomach.


Personalized Print Pieces


Print is already a highly personal medium, but advances in technology allow businesses to enjoy increased access to personalized posters, flyers, direct mail, and more.


If you want to impress, try gathering online data about customer preferences and include that in print.


Branding even the simplest products has also allowed companies to gain a more personal touch. For example, a local auto garage printed customized labels for its water bottles and offered complimentary water to customers while they waited.


Color


If you've ever painted a room, you know the significance even a slightly darker hue can bring. Color experts Pantone released color trends for 2018 with this advice:



  • If you want to look resourceful, employ blue and orange hues
  • If you want a playful tone, choose yellow
  • If you're looking for something discreet, try pink
  • If you want more sophistication, choose gold

What if you want to reach a diverse crowd?


According to Pantone, rosy tones bring a palette that "reaches out and embraces many different cultures." Pantone said in 2018, print marketing was trending away from pastels and toward bright, bold colors:


"Intense colors seem to be a natural application of our intense lifestyles and thought processes these days."


Storytelling


Storytelling is not just for YouTube.


Print that tells a story can alleviate suspicion and make instant connections, especially with younger audiences.


A Spanish lollipop grabbed this edge with its "ant aversion" ad for Chupa Chups lollipops. While normally a company might bore viewers with guilt trips for sugar-free products, Chupa Chups chose a "visual story" to make their point.


In the print ad, a sticky sucker had been discarded on a rock slab near the lawn. Meanwhile, a triple-wide line of ants detoured around the candy, heading toward the grass. The headline, "It's Sugar Free," brought a resounding finale to this playful story.


Chupa Chups reminds us that print is at its best when it is used as an art. Use vibrant colors, minimalist designs, and personalized print pieces to grab their attention and tell your story this year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

7 Gifts that Delight (But Won't Break the Bank)

Tis the season to be gifting!


What is a gift? A gift is not comprised merely of what is given, but of the thoughtfulness or care that is behind it. A gift is appreciation on wheels.


December is a great time to show your appreciation. Whether it's seasonal incentives, end of the year bonuses, or a just a friendly reminder that you care, here are seven unique (but inexpensive) gifts that your customers or employees will love:


Favorite Flavors


If you have a small staff or a handful of VIP clients, dig up info on the hobby or flavor of their choice (coffee, chocolate, classical guitar) and personalize a basket to their delight.


Or if you know your friends enjoy golf, assemble a kit including items like towels, ball markers, balls, and tees. Use a stylish bag that can clip easily onto their golf bag. Or assemble a sports tote full of goodies featuring a college or professional team of their choice.


Touchscreen Gloves


Gloves are both a necessity and a perk, especially in the touchscreen generation.


Cold weather commutes can be significantly brightened by cozy, oh-so-convenient touchscreen gloves. Your friends can text, browse online, or shuffle music while enjoying this thoughtful gift.


Cord Organizer


Nothing is more frustrating than a stuck zipper. Or a knotted shoe.


Scratch that: nothing is worse than tangled earbuds that take forever to unwind! A branded cord organizer can keep their earbuds (and their sanity!) intact. Choose from a range of colors or upgrade with a set of customized earbuds as well.


Charity of Choice


They say people won't care how much you know until they know how much you care.


Offer a gift that's close to their heart! Ask what your client's most cherished organization or non-profit is, and make a financial gift to this organization on their behalf.


Portable Power Bank


Today's generation is on the run constantly.


Portable power banks allow users to store electrical energy and use it later, charging almost any USB connectable device (cameras, phones, portable speakers, tablets, and more). Great for airports, commuting, or hours "off the grid," power banks are truly a gift that keeps on giving!


Bubble Umbrellas


Whether you walk to work or enjoy singing in the rain, bubble umbrellas are just plain fun!


Give a unique umbrella to protect your friends from rain and wind, covering their face but allowing them to see clearly as they stroll.


Coupon of the Month Club


Want to offer a unique twist this year?


Buy 12 gift card sleeves and label them with the months of the year. Whether you print custom coupons for your business or purchase a variety of gift cards from the community, there is no end to your creative options.


If you are gifting employees, consider paring coffee or restaurant gift cards with workday incentives (i.e. redeem for a half day off work one Friday this month, enjoy in-office chair massages on a staff reward day of the boss's choice). Recipients can decide whether they'll open all 12 envelopes immediately or enjoy a surprise per month in 2019.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

How to Use Customization to Gain Customers

Coca-Cola is a brand built on scenes of enjoying life together.


Coke has worked tirelessly to promote not only its product, but the message behind it: that sharing, or gathering family and friends together, brings happiness. "Enjoying a coke" is the message in every ad, every culture, and every medium Coke communicates through.


The company's 2014 "Share a Coke" campaign was one of its memorable marketing initiatives in history. That summer, Coca-Cola removed its iconic logo on 20-ounce bottles and replaced them with 250 of the country's most popular names. Consumers were encouraged to find bottles with names that held personal meaning and to share them with others or post photos online with the hashtag #ShareaCoke. Within the first year, more than 500,000 photos were posted. Consumers ordered over six million virtual Coke bottles, and Coca-Cola gained roughly 25 million Facebook followers.


A Distinctly Personal Experience


What did Coke tap into that prompted this momentous reaction?


In part, it was the desire for a personal experience. For teens and millennials, personalization is not just a fad, but a way of life. Today's consumers place a high value on self-expression, individual storytelling, and staying connected. Coke powerfully aligned playfulness, fun handheld products, and customization in a campaign for the ages.


In today's global economy, consumers are more aware of product options and of what other people are buying. Subsequently, they've become more demanding about the products they purchase. Deloitte Global found that 36 percent of consumers expressed interest in purchasing personalized products or services and one in five were willing to pay 20 percent more for these options. Customization gives companies an edge in cosmetics, clothing, food prep, and toys, to name a few. 


Personalized offerings add costs to the manufacturer but frequently result in higher profits because of:


  • A price premium associated with the benefits
  • More loyal, satisfied customers
  • Greater word of mouth because of the increased satisfaction and the "surprise factor" associated with an unexpected range of options
  • Enhanced customer experience via creativity and individual expression
  • Precise taste matching and less need to compromise

How About You?


Do your customers value experience and self-expression? How could you offer this more in your products or services?


It may be as simple as engraving someone's name in a glasses case or upgrading products with matching accessories. French cosmetics brand Guerlain started offering customizable lipsticks by allowing clients to choose their own combination of case and lipstick color. Customization allows brands to grow consumer engagement and solidify brand loyalty, which is especially powerful in younger markets.


Forbes offers several talking points for firms considering customization:


  • What are the incremental costs associated with the customization options and how will they impact profitability?
  • How many options are necessary and what's the incremental benefit as the number increases? What price premium will consumers be willing to pay?
  • Which customization options will be the most incremental to maximize sales? A research tool called a TURF (Test of Unduplicated Reach & Frequency) Analysis can help you assess.
  • What level of logistical, operational, and labor complexity will this involve? How often should customization options be updated?

Charlie Gu, CEO and co-founder of marketing agency Kollective Influence, says one budget-friendly customization strategy is the "module" approach. Instead of creating a product from scratch, businesses can offer several component options that can be mass-produced and easily assembled:


"Give customers choices, and then let them choose—customization within a framework," he advises. "It doesn't actually require any customization of the actual product. The consumers are essentially just picking their own color, but to them, it feels totally customized."

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Print: Use Faces to Command Viewer Attention

Did you know that humans are the only primates with eyes that contain a white sclera around the dark iris and the pupil?


Consequently, unlike our animal counterparts, we have the ability and tendency to follow each other's eye gaze, to pinpoint precisely what someone is focusing on, and even to read into the emotion behind a viewer's eye. This also gives us an innate ability to sense when we're being looked at or to hastily avert our gaze in awkward moments.


Eye contact plays a crucial role in human communication, and faces have an incredible ability to command a viewer's attention.


Imagine yourself walking down a busy street in a large city where you don't know anyone. Suddenly, among a sea of faces, you spy a family member. Among hundreds of people, you can immediately recognize one individual and you have a strong emotional response.


Why is this experience so powerful?


Scientist Nancy Kanwisher identified a special part of the brain called the fusiform face area (FFA). The FFA allows faces to bypass the brain's usual interpretive channels and helps us identify faces more quickly than objects. Because the FFA is so close to the brain's emotional center (called the amygdala), the time lapse between recognition and response is nearly non-existent.


Faces Add Impact in Marketing


How does this play into marketing and print? First, it's important to recognize the impact of faces so we can prioritize them in design.


Research by Catherine Mondloch (1999) shows that newborn babies less than an hour old prefer looking at something that has facial features. Humans prefer humans, and people buy from people! It would be careless to overlook these statistics while continually deferring to inanimate objects. When you're looking to add that personal touch to your marketing mix, remember faces can help you to:


Connect With People


Large, faceless corporations feel cold and manipulative.


Putting faces on your brand allows people to connect with your audience in a way they can relate to. As you position faces in your ads, remember eyes looking right at people will have the greatest emotional impact, because the eyes are the most significant part of the face.


Create Curiosity


If a face on your poster is gazing toward another spot or product in the margin, people will also tend to track toward that area.


Emotions can be carried from a subject to a viewer as you set a tone within your design. The emotion in the faces you display can draw people to linger at your design or to be drawn deeper into the message.


Cultivate Trust


People react to a photo on a page faster than any other design element, and seeing the people behind a business can establish credibility very quickly.


You can use faces to cultivate trust by using staff profiles on your website, facial photos in welcome displays or high traffic areas, or by utilizing brochures that include testimonials and photos from real customers. If viewers can relate to the people enjoying your product they will automatically build positive associations.


When used properly, the use of people and faces can help you connect with people, create curiosity, and cultivate trust.  Bypass resistance and build connections through the magnetic power of people!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Grow Your Business Through Successful Staffing

Todd Fishman and Hunter Brooks were childhood friends who attended the University of Washington before heading to corporate Manhattan for several years. The friends reconnected in New York, bonding over their love of great salad.


Yes, young men eating salad.


Salads are so trendy that in Manhattan the lines for gourmet salad bars stretch around the block. While waiting in one of these lines, the friends had their "Aha" moment. They looked at each other and said, "This would be killer in Seattle!"


A Quickly Budding Dream


Enter Evergreens healthy food chain, co-founded with their associate Ryan Suddendorf in 2013.


Over five years, Evergreens has seen 200% revenue growth each year, with six stores in Seattle and a projected 11 more by 2019. Evergreens caters and offers salads, wraps, and grain bowls while keeping food fun with names like "Dice-Dice Baby," the "Cobbsby Show," and an Asian mix called "Pear-ly Legal."


While entertaining, Evergreens is rooted in a focused business strategy to ensure the start-up succeeds. Successful staffing has been fundamental as Evergreens has scaled for growth and shaped a positive culture to attract the very best team.


Infrastructure that Keeps Pace with Growth


People are the backbone of every company, and Suddendorf said staffing was lean in the early days.


Chaos abounded, with lines out the door and the three founders acting as the company's only corporate employees.


"It was like changing the car tires on a moving car," said Suddendorf. "There was no time to step back and establish a process and then try to teach it to everybody in the stores."


"We were working in the business rather than on the business," Fishman said. "We were very much in the weeds."


In retrospect, the friends say they would have raised more money upfront and contracted consulting from restaurant specialists or professional staffing agencies. Simultaneously growing a business and a competent staff is like parenting: along with joy and new discoveries, each phase presents greater challenges.


To grow effectively, healthy businesses need to adopt staffing strategies that meet current needs but also anticipate the future. Since Evergreen's early days, Brooks says great people have been key to scaling growth without sacrificing quality. The founders gave intense focus to its corporate team in 2015, bringing on a COO and aggressively hiring HR, business development, IT and accounting specialists shortly afterward.


"There's part art, part science to staffing the corporate team when your store count is growing," said Brookes. "Sometimes you're going to be a little heavier on the corporate overhead, and sometimes you're going to be a little leaner."


Attracting Engaged, Competent Employees


People are your company's biggest asset, and engaged employees can give your business a huge advantage.


Finding and maintaining great staff requires a people-focused approach. As you develop short and long-term staffing goals, hiring should align with your business objectives.


Whether you want to expand certain sectors, launch new products, or grow online visibility, your hiring strategy should be totally in sync with these objectives. While you proactively work toward long-term objectives, temporary or contract staff may provide the essential support you need for specialized projects, seasonal rushes, or particular areas of expertise.


Evergreens strives to grow a brand that generates inbound applications versus actively recruiting staff. This means prioritizing a supportive, energizing work environment that includes above minimum wage pay, free employee meals for each shift, and $40 monthly bonuses for employees who lead healthy, active lifestyles.


Suddendorf says the company also makes a point of promoting employees to maximize unity and momentum:


 "About half our corporate team started in our stores."

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Four Reasons Great Promotional Products Work

Branded products are everywhere: featured in movies, professional sports, and even on your favorite jacket or thumb drive.


These products bring pleasure and familiarity while sending a message of brand support to friends and casual observers. And these ideas carry substantial weight.


Another Washington First


The first known example of distributing promotional products was in 1789.


Commemorative buttons, created to celebrate George Washington's inauguration, featured a crisp, stamped profile of Washington and the Latin phrase "Pater Patriæ," meaning "Father of his Country."


Sported by patriotic Americans, the buttons celebrated American democracy and support for the first president. The passion behind this message continues to live on: in February of 2018, one of the inaugural buttons was auctioned for $225,000!


The Gift That Keeps On Giving


Washington's buttons fueled momentum, and your customers are wired to respond to promotional products too.


Eight out of 10 U.S. consumers own at least one giveaway item, and 60 percent of people who receive a promotional gift keep it for up to two years! If those stats don't speak for themselves, here are four reasons that branded merchandise will work for businesses of any size:


1. Free Stuff Grabs Attention.


Like candy at a parade, free stuff draws people.


Promotional gifts catch their eye and make them wonder what the hype is about. When you give gifts, people are attracted to you. Whether its curiosity, playful interest, or eye-catching designs, giveaways generate interest and ignite conversation.


2. Product Giveaways Pave Pathways for Loyalty.


Once you have their attention, you open the door for further interaction.


This happens, in part, as new customers warm in their perception of your brand. According to Tourism Consumer Insights, 52% of those who receive your product are more likely to think highly of both you and your business. As affinity increases, so does their interest in your business, because it's human nature to want to give back to someone who has given to us.


In a Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) study, 85% of consumers who received a promo product said they ultimately did business with the advertiser.


3. Brand Recognition Peaks Through Repeat Exposure.


What is the ultimate goal of branded products? To engage and influence buyers.


Tangible, useful products offer your business endless opportunities to distinguish itself and to do it repeatedly! According to PPAI, 73 percent of those who receive a promo product said they used it at least once a week.


Offering free items to consumers is an incredible marketing tactic that will keep your company on their minds anytime your product is in use.


4. Giveaways Extend the Life of your Message.


How long does it take you to forget a text message or delete an e-mail? Seconds.


But tangible products (especially stylish or fun items) are much harder to toss aside. As you weigh your best product option, consider the interests and needs of your target customers and create the kind of products they'll actually want. If 75% of your prospects use public transportation, tasteful branded umbrellas might become a constant companion during their morning commute.


People love stuff. It's just a fact. And while only 28 percent of people are able to recall a TV ad, 57 percent are typically able to recall an advertiser on a mug.


While promotional pieces bring upfront expense, the longevity and brand recognition they create is an investment that keeps on giving.

Four Reasons Great Promotional Products Work

Branded products are everywhere: featured in movies, professional sports, and even on your favorite jacket or thumb drive.


These products bring pleasure and familiarity while sending a message of brand support to friends and casual observers. And these ideas carry substantial weight.


Another Washington First


The first known example of distributing promotional products was in 1789.


Commemorative buttons, created to celebrate George Washington's inauguration, featured a crisp, stamped profile of Washington and the Latin phrase "Pater Patriæ," meaning "Father of his Country."


Sported by patriotic Americans, the buttons celebrated American democracy and support for the first president. The passion behind this message continues to live on: in February of 2018, one of the inaugural buttons was auctioned for $225,000!


The Gift That Keeps On Giving


Washington's buttons fueled momentum, and your customers are wired to respond to promotional products too.


Eight out of 10 U.S. consumers own at least one giveaway item, and 60 percent of people who receive a promotional gift keep it for up to two years! If those stats don't speak for themselves, here are four reasons that branded merchandise will work for businesses of any size:


1. Free Stuff Grabs Attention.


Like candy at a parade, free stuff draws people.


Promotional gifts catch their eye and make them wonder what the hype is about. When you give gifts, people are attracted to you. Whether its curiosity, playful interest, or eye-catching designs, giveaways generate interest and ignite conversation.


2. Product Giveaways Pave Pathways for Loyalty.


Once you have their attention, you open the door for further interaction.


This happens, in part, as new customers warm in their perception of your brand. According to Tourism Consumer Insights, 52% of those who receive your product are more likely to think highly of both you and your business. As affinity increases, so does their interest in your business, because it's human nature to want to give back to someone who has given to us.


In a Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) study, 85% of consumers who received a promo product said they ultimately did business with the advertiser.


3. Brand Recognition Peaks Through Repeat Exposure.


What is the ultimate goal of branded products? To engage and influence buyers.


Tangible, useful products offer your business endless opportunities to distinguish itself and to do it repeatedly! According to PPAI, 73 percent of those who receive a promo product said they used it at least once a week.


Offering free items to consumers is an incredible marketing tactic that will keep your company on their minds anytime your product is in use.


4. Giveaways Extend the Life of your Message.


How long does it take you to forget a text message or delete an e-mail? Seconds.


But tangible products (especially stylish or fun items) are much harder to toss aside. As you weigh your best product option, consider the interests and needs of your target customers and create the kind of products they'll actually want. If 75% of your prospects use public transportation, tasteful branded umbrellas might become a constant companion during their morning commute.


People love stuff. It's just a fact. And while only 28 percent of people are able to recall a TV ad, 57 percent are typically able to recall an advertiser on a mug.


While promotional pieces bring upfront expense, the longevity and brand recognition they create is an investment that keeps on giving.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Leaving a Legacy with Your Small Business

In the 1950s, a young boy named John was enthralled by every chance to visit his best friend.


This family owned a soda pop bottling plant, which sparked a lifelong love for exotic flavors in John Nese. Years later, Nese brought soda to his family's Italian grocery store in Los Angeles, known today for its 600 soda and beer flavors from around the world.


The variety wasn't always this broad. Nese said the change came 20 years ago when independent grocers were being squeezed out by chains. One soda dealer offered a profit of $30 a pallet if Nese would streamline shelves and eliminate variety. Nese wouldn't bite:


"Nuts to that," he said. "A light bulb went off (and I said), 'You know, John, you should be happy you own your shelf space, and Pepsi doesn't, and you can sell anything you want.' So I went out and found 25 brands of little sodas."


Nese says this "freedom of choice" philosophy defines his family and his business, and customers can even make flavors of their own at the store. Rows of cane sugar syrups line the wall, along with bottles, caps, and carbonated water dispensers. "Whatever you think of, you can make!" Nese exclaimed.


This passion has fueled the Galcos' grocery for over a century, and the Galcos plan to continue this legacy.


Successfully Passing Down Your Business


Small businesses make up around 99 percent of U.S. companies and 20 percent of these are family owned.


These businesses play a crucial role in creating jobs, exporting products, and generating wealth. As Baby Boomers reach retirement, 4 million of them will be handing off their privately-owned small businesses; in the next 15 years, we will see the largest transfer ever of private business to the next generation!


What are the keys to successfully navigating these transitions?


Preparation and communication are essential. Here are a few steps businesses are taking to pave the way for a smooth handoff:


Think decades in advance.


Small business owners often wait too long to start planning a transition, and typically only half of those planning to retire have identified a successor.


Justin Goodbread, a certified financial planner and exit planning advisor says the process is especially weighty for families:


"Families will most likely also have to cope with emotional and psychological issues that surface during a generational transaction. I believe a 10-year period is needed to successfully navigate a family business transaction."


Sketch out clear successors and exit strategies.


A strong mission statement and business plan, a clear exit strategy for senior leaders, and an early commitment from successors are important hallmarks to longevity.


Build the right team.


Many businesses believe they can manage their transition independently, but this assumption is costly.


Healthy handoffs will require input from lawyers, accountants, financial advisors, business valuation experts, and a family business planner to shepherd the process. Though senior leaders may wish to gift the business ownership, experts believe financial buy-ins allow successors to get some "skin in the game," as they emotionally double-down in commitment, maturity, and vision.


Be flexible as you exchange roles and responsibilities over time.


The gap between generations requires effective communication and an organized structure for each person involved.


This should be reviewed regularly to adjust the roles or time commitment of each team member. Goodbread recommends younger successors earn more responsibility on a day-to-day basis:


 "It has to be earned or merited," he says. "The problems start when a junior takes over a senior's position in the company without earning it or wanting the position."

Friday, November 2, 2018

Use Great Body Language to Speak with Success

Ramona Smith, a 31-year-old Houston teacher, has faced many challenges, including coaxing her son through cancer and struggling through a divorce.


But Smith believes life is about more than what knocks you down, it's about the lifelines people offer to help you back up.


One of Smith's lifelines was the mentorship she found in Toastmasters, a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership. In her 2018 speech, "Still Standing," Smith posed as a fighter on stage and talked about surviving round after round with life but bouncing back again. Her accomplishments include dropping out of college four times (before graduating at the top of her class) and, most recently, being crowned the Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking in Chicago. 


Smith outlasted 30,000 other competitors over six months of competition before being named the champion in August. Her success comes not only from her will to fight but from one speaking technique that helped her connect:  


"If my hands are open to the audience, and my fists are not closed, and my arms are not too tight toward my body, it just makes the audience feel more connected, like I'm really open," Smith said. "I'm vulnerable, and I want to give you all of me. And it makes me look relaxed and comfortable."


Dananjaya Hettiarchchi, a human-resources specialist who won the Toastmasters competition in 2014, broke down the effectiveness of this technique:


"If you really concentrate, when you look at the inside of your palm, your eye relaxes," Hettiarchchi said. "And a lot of great speakers, they open their palms towards the audience, showing more openness. And that allows the audience to connect with the speaker better, as opposed to showing the back of your hand."


Best Body Language for Effective Presentations


If a simple gesture can have such an impact, what other nonverbal communication can increase our impact? Check out these tips from some of the world's most personable communicators to increase your own credibility.


DO:



  • Open your hands toward the audience to relax and connect.
  • Use facial expressions with purpose. Sometimes when we're nervous our face freezes up. If you don't have an expressive face, work with a mirror to see how your expressions reinforce your message. Give your entire talk silently (while forming each word) and let your face do the communicating!
  • Maintain intentional eye contact. Leaders who speak over people's heads or get buried in their notes seem impersonal or insincere. When you speak, move from face to face, making eye contact with one person at a time to ensure your audience is engaged. When answering a question, use extended eye contact to convey sincerity.

DON'T:



  • Hide, clasp, or fidget with your hands. This implies you don't believe what you're saying, or shows meekness that fails to command attention. Instead, keep your arms forward in an open manner. Use your hands to explain your point through confident, concise movements.
  • Plan your gestures in advance. Physical expression in presentations should arise spontaneously. Though body language is important, planned movements will seem awkward or inauthentic. Instead, plan key moments where you might take a different position in the room or how you will use visual aids to keep communication transparent.
  • Roam aimlessly or exhibit poor posture. Body language communicates a lot about your character, so pacing can make you seem jumpy or slumped shoulders may convey discouragement and apathy. Instead, move with purpose in your presentations. Aim for a neutral position, sitting or standing tall like a string is connecting your head to the ceiling.

Remember, the most important visual you can show your audience is yourself! Sharpen non-verbal communication skills and reap the benefits of credibility and respect!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Start Mouth-Watering Conversations Through Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Karen Weber-Mendham was a part-time librarian and mother of three when she turned her family's propensity for garlic cheesy bread into a cool million.


This northern Wisconsin family often ordered cheesy bread while waiting on pizza. Weber-Mendham said the kids' appetizer passion was so strong "they would arm-wrestle each other for a piece!"  


Cheesy fever inspired the family to enter the 2013 Lay's potato chip competition, "Do Us a Flavor," challenging customers to create a new chip flavor to hit store shelves that year. Lays was swamped with 3.8 million submissions as the contest winner was given the better of two options: $1 million or 1% of the flavor's net sales over a year. Beyond fame and fortune, Weber-Mendham was given the opportunity to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange and was flown to Los Angeles for the big reveal with Lay's endorsement celebrity Eva Longoria.


"Eva was so genuine and happy for me when I won," Weber-Mendham said. And yes, "She's as beautiful in person as she looks on TV."


Catalysts for a Great Conversation


What was Lays up to in this fun-loving campaign?


Were they desperate for creative ideas? Hungry for the inspiration only average citizens could bring? Or did they strike gold by tapping into a conversation with everyday Americans?


Word-of-mouth promotion has been identified as the most valuable form of marketing, tagged "the original social media." According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising, and trusted referrals are most likely to drive sales for your company. But in an American Marketing Association survey, 64% of marketing executives say that, though they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing, only 6% have mastered it.


As you seek to generate good gossip about your company, here are three action points to keep in mind:


Engage


Make a commitment to listen.


What would that truly look like in your context? Allow your customers' space to be heard and to contribute to the company as a whole. Engage with clients through e-mail surveys, online question and answer boards, social media service options, or by highlighting customer success in your printed newsletters. When customers are heard, they feel connected and valued.


Encourage  


Allow people reasons or avenues to talk to each other or to talk about you.


Like a common chalkboard with a fun question in your favorite coffee shop, invite clients into the conversation and give them tools to chat. Encourage people to talk about your services and products with you and with others by creating helpful, shareable content, including icons to your favorite apps that will make it easy for your fans to spread your name around!


Equip


Give your fan base tools to become brand advocates.


Let them know their opinions are important and look for fun ways to spread the word. To create buzz around the Ford Fiesta, Ford gave away a number of cars and asked ambassador "influencers" to test drive and share their experiences.


During "Do Us a Flavor," Lays received over 1.4 million Facebook and Twitter votes, one of its biggest marketing campaigns ever. While you may not give away a car, give away tools to get your fans advocating: ask clients to pass coupons to five of their friends, to give you an online review, or be part of a fun selfie or Snapchat contest to boost your reputation.


Get the conversation started and pave the way for new growth!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Power of Store Ambiance and Sensory Cues

Unmistakable Ambiance


As viewers enter the Richard Mille watch boutique in Paris, their senses are inundated with beauty. Large glass panels are etched with details of the emblematic RM tourbillon, giving viewers the sensation that they might be entering the heart of the watch itself. Extreme elegance buoys buyers through the store, with black leather chairs, Macassar ebony, and brushed steel accents. The impact is palpable.


As a primary showcase of the watches, these interior design elements are vital. The Paris boutique offers a theatrical look with a touch of femininity. "I wanted to go against the traditional macho design, with its dark materials, cold metals, and dark atmosphere," said Mélanie Treton-Monceyron, the watchmaker's creative director. "I thought we needed to open the shops, give light and add lighter colors."


Treton-Monceyron says she's stirred by functional spaces like hotels, airports, and factories, rather than drawing inspiration from typical retail designs. The space itself is her muse: "I was a choreographer and dancer before," she said, "so I look at a shop from a stage design vantage point and move inside the space — using my own body to sense the space left and right and position everything from the watch displays to sofas to walls."


Increased Personalization Through Sensory Impact


As today's merchants seek to grow online sales, businesses are also showcasing more personalized experiences in their stores.


The ambiance is imperative: 1 in 5 consumers said they choose to shop in person because of an enjoyable atmosphere. From convenience stores to car showrooms, merchants hope to connect their product with its people through environmental elements that generate sales. Sensory impact plays a principal role:


"Advertisers are increasingly aware of the influence sensory cues can play," said Ryan Elder, associate professor of marketing at Bringham Young University. "Our research dives into which specific sensory experiences will be most effective in an advertisement, and why." Data found that people caught in sensory experiences (like taste or touch) were more likely to buy at an earlier time, and suggested consumer behavior can be influenced by both actual and imagined sensory experiences like sounds and smells. Even online reviews that articulated these features were ranked higher in terms of how useful they were to others.


Drive Sales for Ambivalent Customers


With 37% of U.S. consumers saying that being in the "right mood" spurs impulse purchases, here are some elements that can drive sales for ambivalent customers:


Music and Scent: What are the first things people hear or smell when they enter your establishment? Does the "first impression" profile you display match the brand message you want to project? Like songs or smells adjusted to the holidays or festive events, details create emotional connections with clients, giving brick-and-mortar shops an advantage e-tailers simply can't match.


Décor: From colorful artwork to oversized custom posters, match your décor with your target patrons. Build an ambiance that will encourage customers to linger. And don't underestimate an uncluttered, tidy environment: a 1997 study showed customer satisfaction was greater in "pleasant" (versus disorganized) furniture stores. Customers in pleasant stores spontaneously spent more money on articles they simply "liked."


Spacial Layouts: What does your store blueprint or interior signage communicate? Are you looking for a consistent, orderly flow or a casual, flexible feel? For Richard Mille, directional (yet conversational) spaces were key. Trenton-Monceyron says she designs open spaces to admire and dialogue because the brand believes watch shops are about more than just sales:


"They are like the salon of conversation of Marguerite de Navarre during the 16th century; a place where you can come just for visit, discuss and exchange a point of view."

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Keys for Change: Small Businesses Making a Big Impact (Part 1)

The winter of 2013 was a hard one for Georgette Carter.


As a single mom raising two young boys while she cared for a father with dementia, money was very tight. Then, she totaled her car and found her resources – and her hope – were nearly gone. That is, until a 1996 blue Ford Contour arrived from the Connor Brother Collisions "Recycled Rides" program.


Conner Brothers of Richmond, VA, overhauls donated cars and awards them to people who have been nominated by community members. Carter said her heart was rehabilitated almost more than the car she received:


"It turned my life around. I can get to my job on time, and I don't have to maneuver to get my child out of daycare. I'll never take that for granted again."


Getting Others Involved


Small businesses like Conner Brothers are creating innovative giving models that not only impact people but strengthen the business and the character of the companies themselves.


Kevin Conner said his company donated its first car and was looking to extend the "Recycled Rides" program to three other locations, but they had some pushback in the process. Some objected to giving away freebies when they were working so hard to earn a living themselves. But Conner says this mentality changed when employees got physically involved because compassion comes from being part of an experience instead of merely giving a donation:


"I got them involved in actually giving the cars away, handing over the keys," Conner says. "Now the guys at the shop call me and ask, 'When is our next car?' It would be easy to give money or a service here or there, but it's the teamwork behind the program that creates an amazing atmosphere for a successful company."


The car giveaways have become such a cornerstone for Conner Brothers that the program helps define the type of employees the company wants.


"Giving back is a huge part of our company," Conner says. "I challenge the guys every day to give back in some way, to give customers more than they expect. People remember that."  


Giving That "Changes" Lives


Another giving strategy comes from literal pocket change, as givers round up or down for charity.


For example, the ridesharing company Lyft recently launched an initiative allowing customers to round up their fare to the nearest dollar for military appreciation and human rights campaigns. More than 40,000 passengers donated over $100,000 in the first two months!


Grocery stores, mass merchandisers, and retailers have also invited customers to donate change to worthy causes. As technology and digital platforms make such giving easier, small businesses have challenged staff members to round down their net pay to the nearest dollar (or tenth dollar) and give the difference to charity. While painless or even unnoticed, these small donations add up to a collective impact with heartfelt results.


Whether your employees give financially, volunteer together, or embrace a community partnership project, innovative giving helps your business to:



  • Stand out from competitors or set itself apart in the community
  • Make matching donations alongside employee giving to multiply impact
  • Use positive feedback from supported causes to provide content for print and digital marketing
  • Increase team unity as employees give toward a common cause

While generosity begins in the heart, often innovative giving strategies begin with small business. Join us for part two of this series to gain more inspiration for a culture of charity that will strengthen your business.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Printed Gifts Are Perfect Any Time of Year

Providing your customers with a small memento of your business is one of the best ways to keep your brand top-of-mind.


However, many business owners struggle with ideas about what they can use as gifts that are cost-effective, memorable, and useful to their clients. There are plenty of options on the market today in terms of promotional products, but a thoughtful printed gift may be the ideal option for your business.


Here are some of the ways that businesses are making themselves memorable in print!


The Gift of Humor


Knock knock. Who's there? Etch. Etch who? Bless you, friend. 


There are few things that will put a smile on someone's face more quickly than a corny knock-knock joke. You know they are terrible, but you still have to smile! Your customers will feel the same way, so why not gift them with a little light and laughter in their life? A small printed joke book is the perfect way to let your customers know you're thinking about them. Humor has been shown to build trust and inspire creative thinking -- what better gifts could you provide to your best customers? 


Giving Notes


Many organizations are clear and consistent with their message of helping others, so why not extend this concept?


A simple printed postcard or notecard showing your clients that you contributed to a specific charity on their behalf is a terrific way of showing your commitment to giving back to the community and the world. Prefer to have a more lasting memory for your customers? Printed magnets or labels will also help you share the message of generosity.


Office Supplies


Who "borrowed" my notepad this time?!?


Offices throughout the country hear this cry on a regular basis, so why not take away some of this pain? Printed pop-up notes or notepads are an inexpensive gift that will be appreciated for weeks -- or even months. Plus, you can add your brand in a way that not only are you sharing your message with the individual sending the note, but the recipient will also have a positive association with your brand, too. Instead of doing a simple blank note, why not print inspirational statements on them or create bold "Thank You" messages on the notepad? Your customers will love being able to share them with friends at work. 


Desktop Prints


Motivational posters or prints are always a welcome gift, as they help clients stay encouraged even when they're going through a rough patch.


A simple mini-print is ideal for this situation, and you can even upgrade to a small matted display for your best customers. Help customers see how much they mean to you by sharing a heartfelt note that brings together your brand promise and shows how far above and beyond you are willing to go to provide top-notch service. 


These are only a few of the ways you can share the appreciation that you feel for your clients on a daily basis. How do you show appreciation for your clients?

Monday, October 1, 2018

Customize Printed Mailings to Maximize Your Impact

One of the best ways that brands can engage their customers is by making people feel valued and unique.


Brands that are able to provide their customers with this feeling of connection are going to be one step closer to creating true advocates for their brand. Perhaps one of the best ways that modern organizations can offer a customized experience is through meaningful personalization -- far beyond the "Dear Friend" found in some mass mailings.


See how businesses are using personalization in their printed materials to create an experience that customers will appreciate and remember. 


Tailored Offers Drive Traffic


Grocery stores are able to effectively track a massive number of items and customers, including when and where they purchased specific products.


While your business may not be quite that complex, you can certainly track in a more simplistic way in order to offer timely and meaningful coupons to your customers. For instance, offering a discount card tied to someone's phone number allows you to discover which days of the week they are coming to see you and how often. Upsell your services by providing discounts on off-days when they may not visit or to shorten the time between services. This strategy works especially well for service-based businesses such as hair and nail salons. 


Treating People Like Family


If you are able to capture additional information about your customers such as the age of children, this allows you a greater opportunity to customize your message.


Knowing the general age of your customers or whether they're empty-nesters, young parents, or an older retired couple provides you with the information that you need to create offers that are more compelling. One example would be a restaurant whose tables are nearly empty on a Wednesday night. Sending information to young families that Kids Eat Free on Wednesdays is likely to bring in a wealth of new business on that evening and keep your tables full. 


Move-In Special


There are many businesses that thrive on new families moving into the area -- from retail establishments to grocery stores and everything in between.


Consider working with a few complimentary businesses in your region to create a move-in special: a package of offerings that can be mailed to families just as they move into the area. These hot new potential customers have not yet formed an opinion of the area and will need to create new shopping patterns. If your offer comes at the perfect time as they're moving in and purchasing new products for their home, they are likely to continue visiting your establishment over the years. 


There are many different ways that your business can take advantage of a compelling, personalized offer in print. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

3 Keys to Build Better Workplace Morale

Did you know October 7 is "Worldwide Smile Day?"


Smile day is celebrated on the first Friday of October, dedicating twenty-four hours to smiling and acts of community kindness. Why? In a "bad news" world, a little dose of joy goes a long way. Gretchen Rubin certainly believes this.


From outside perspectives, Rubin lived a marvelously successful life. She had a good marriage, a thriving writing career (formerly a Yale graduate clerk to Sandra Day O'Connor), a warm relationship with in-laws, and two lovely daughters. But in 2006, Rubin realized something was missing. She had a mild case of "the blues," a below-the-surface irritableness she couldn't shake. While she was generally happy, Rubin struggled to enjoy happiness each day.


"Did I have a heart to be contented? No, not particularly. I had a tendency to be discontented: ambitious, dissatisfied, fretful, and tough to please . . . (It was) easier to complain than to laugh, easier to yell than to joke around, easier to be demanding than to be satisfied."


Driven by curiosity, Rubin threw herself into a soul-searching experiment resulting in the best-seller, "The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun." Rubin chose monthly themes, like "energy," "love," "work," and test-drove happiness theories. In the end, this created an entire cottage industry (blogs, videos, starter kits), driving people to aggressively pursue happiness. Rubin found a commitment to simple daily habits (like making the bed) brought a drastically cheerful increase:


"This is about ordinary happiness," Rubin said. "I wanted to change my life without making major changes. I wanted to show that you don't have to do something radical."


Lighten the Mood, Lighten Their Load


Work is life, and life is work. As hard as you try to separate them, work affects your personal life, and vice-versa.


So, what if you could increase happiness at work? What would increased "ordinary" happiness do for an entire company? Statistics say employees who report being happy at work take 10 times fewer sick days, and 36% of employees say they would give up $5000 a year to be happier at work. Happy salespeople produce 37% greater sales and "happy companies" outperform the competition by 20%!


The Keys to Building Morale


Your brain works efficiently when you're in a good mood. Forward-thinking businesses connect these dots, believing a better "company mood" brings a stronger bottom line. Here are three ways to build better workplace morale:


1. Cozier Spaces. The office layout, lighting, and aesthetics are a major part of employee satisfaction. Have discouraging cubicles or ugly paint? Throw a little money at this problem and harvest new energy from your team each day.


2. Parties and Perks. Whether its chair massages, goofy competitions, or summer snowcone festivals, everyone benefits from fun at work. Professional growth opportunities are also significant: in a 2013 poll, 84% of employees claimed the opportunity for advancement was very important. Encourage people to attend conferences, practice peer-to-peer training, or try workshops for growing specific skills.


3. Improved Communication. As you mobilize teams, tap into the foundational reasons people give their best, like self-improvement, societal impact, or ability to reach challenging goals. When Sandra Day O'Connor was asked what she thought made a happy life her response was simple: Work worth doing.


As you lead, give your team regular feedback. Without guidance, people feel deflated or unmotivated. Personal improvement areas should be private and actionable: explain to employees where to improve and give examples of change. Author Scott Halford says positive feedback is vital:


"Positive feedback stimulates the reward centers in the brain, leaving the recipient open to new direction. Meanwhile, negative feedback indicates that an adjustment needs to be made and the threat response turns on and defensiveness sets in. You don't need to avoid corrective feedback altogether. Just make sure you follow it up with a suggested solution or outcome."

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Enduring Impact of Print

The 1960s gave us many iconic classic cars, but perhaps none is more legendary than the Aston Martin driven by James Bond (Sean Connery) in the 1964 film, Goldfinger.


A long list of tricks made it one of the most beloved movie cars of all time: machine guns, an ejector seat, smoke screens, and a futuristic onboard navigational system. Bond's reputation as a suave man of action and a smart connoisseur of fine things rocketed Aston Martin to popularity as one of the most desirable automobile brands in the world. The car was so beloved it was later stolen from a Florida airport hanger and is reportedly worth nearly 10 million today.


Vintage. Classic. Irreplaceable.


Those are some of the words we associate with things that are original, things that set the "status quo," and that just can't be shattered or ignored. Today's generation is manifesting a hunger for the authentic, and a desire for craftsmanship is at the forefront. In an age of identity theft, cheap counterfeits, and digital dominance, Carhartt clothing coined the call for craftsmanship as the "road home from a throwaway world."  


The Original Design Format


Local printers believe in the beauty and craftsmanship of their trade, and in the hard-hitting, precise, flawless quality that hard copy printing can bring. As the original format for marketing impact, we believe print design is as essential as the ABCs – in ways as basic as these:


A = Attracting New Customers


Print is essential for attracting new customers in ways digital advertising never can.


Print products allow you to uniquely target the right customers by placing your work directly in before their eyes and in their hands. While digital ads are quickly forgotten, print offers a sense of credibility and real-time professionalism that engage consumers with an immediate, tangible impact. Printed pieces also have a greater opportunity to arouse passive audiences (like those viewing a banner, poster, or printed advertisement), to keep reader attention longer, to improve reading comprehension, and to improve the top-of-mind awareness your business desires.


B = Building Traffic Online


Online content requires a combination of above- and below-the-line marketing support to drive traffic online and increase profits across the board.


Hard copy print products can increase online engagement through a variety of marketing initiatives. Consider on-page ads with online coupon options. Feature your online calendar or offer VIP discounts for those who refer a friend or add social bookmarks to your business. Use printed inserts or brochures placed at the point of sale for invitations to educational blogs, webinars, or freebie giveaways you feature only online.


As you connect your online and conventional marketing strategies, aggressively seek customer feedback and look to solidify your niche in the collective conversation. Inspire professionalism, reliability, and consistency in everything you publish, both digitally and in print. Better integrated communication will bring more consistent, profitable results!


C = Cementing Brands Offline


Often, we overlook the power of print products to cement our brand in consumers' minds.


A 2015 neuromarketing study revealed that direct mail simulated a 70% higher brand recall3, a dramatically more persuasive element than digital media.


And don't underestimate the poignant response physical print brings.


Consider the emotions you experience when you see your favorite coffee logo adorning a steaming mug, or how you feel when a co-worker walks into the room wearing a T-shirt of your favorite podcast or band. Print products bring a palpable, concrete response that digital advertising just can't match!


Whether it's yard signs, car window adhesives, banner advertising, or just good old-fashioned swag, claim some real-estate for your image and you'll find your brand developing staying power with a lasting return. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Why Aesop Would Have Been More Successful Than Bill Gates Today

An ancient Greek storyteller and fabulist, Aesop is thought to have been a slave who eventually acquired his freedom by reciting clever moral fables involving animals with human characteristics.


Insightful and astonishingly original even today, Aesop's fables continue to delight and educate us with their startling observations of human failings and strengths.


We all know who Bill Gates is--only one of the wealthiest people in the world and founder of Microsoft.


Although Gates is the epitome of the successful businessman, Aesop would have given him a run for his money, so to speak. Aesop's keen intuitiveness into the human psyche would have made him the ultimate inspirational and motivational manager or employee. In fact, Gates may have chosen to work for Aesop instead of running his own business!


Check out these three fables from Aesop and how you can apply their moral teachings to your own business:


The Donkey and the Mule


The owner of both a mule and a donkey loaded them with supplies before making a long and arduous journey. When they reached the hilly country, the donkey begged for help by asking the mule to take some of his load. The mule said no. "I'm carrying too much now as it is. You'll just have to deal with it."


Within days, the donkey stumbled from weariness and died. The owner had no choice but to put the donkey's load on the mule's back. Now the mule had to carry double the load he was once carrying.


What was Aesop trying to say with this fable? 


When you help others, you are helping yourself.


In a real-world setting, this fable is about teamwork. Although we all have encountered problems when trying to accomplish projects as a team, trying to do something by yourself means you are stuck with only your skill sets, your ideas, and your extremely subjective perception of how satisfactory the project really is. Ultimately, refusing to help others limits your ability to help yourself.


The Cat and the Mice


An extended family of mice needed to develop a good plan to protect themselves from a devious cat. One of the younger mice spoke up and said: "I think we should tie a bell around the cat's neck. That way, we'll know when our enemy, the cat, is coming for us."


An older, wiser mouse asked: "That is a great idea, but who is going to undertake the dangerous task of belling the cat?"


The mice fell silent, realizing this plan would not work.


Moral of this Aesop fable:


Successful ideas are ideas that can be fully implemented.


While it's great to throw around ideas, only realistic, sound, and sustainable ideas are the ones that provide satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, and financial benefits. The next time you are involved in a strategy meeting, remember the importance of challenging everybody, but keep in mind Aesop's catalyst for true achievements: can anybody bell the cat?


The Lion and the Oxen


A lion took to prowling a field where several oxen were grazing. The lion tried to attack the oxen many times but they always positioned themselves in a way that protected their vulnerable bodies. They met the lion with their horns instead of their tails. Eventually, the oxen started fighting with each other and went to separate areas of the field. Without the protection of their fellow oxen, each ox died a horrible death as the lion attacked them one by one.


Try this one on your own. How could you apply the moral of this story to your own business?

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

5 Ways to Skillfully Handle Criticism With a Smile Instead of a Frown

"This work is sloppy and does not meet the needs of the company. You'll have to completely rework it."


"Is this all you've gotten done for today? You're going to have to step up your pace."


"Why didn't you follow the instructions I gave you? This is terrible work."


"I liked your old hairstyle better."


Criticism, no matter how delicately someone gives it to you, hurts.


Being criticized makes us feel worthless, painfully vulnerable to our own negative thoughts and unsure of our abilities. Some inexperienced managers think criticizing their employees will incentivize them to work faster and harder but, of course, we know this tactic is the absolutely wrong way to motivate employees.


Scientists speculate there is something instinctual, or innate, about our adverse reaction to even mild criticism. Just like the human body is hard-wired to instantly move into a "fight or flight" state when confronted by danger, our psychological self (psyche) reacts to criticism defensively. In other words, being physically struck closely parallels being verbally "struck." Our heart and breathing rate increases and we may start perspiring as our internal temperature rises. Depending on the type and level of criticism we hear about ourselves, some people tremble, feel extremely anxious, and may even start crying.


How to Give Criticism Positively


Before you criticize a family member, friend or fellow worker, stop and think about how you could rephrase what you are going to say to sound more like constructive criticism. 


Examples of constructive criticism include:


  • (When someone fails to complete a project on time): Next time we have a project to work on, we'll make sure there are enough resources and time for you to finish it as planned. In fact, perhaps we can schedule the project in advance so you are not inundated with work?

  • (When someone has been "slacking" in their work): You've done a great job reaching several goals lately. Nobody can achieve every goal they set for themselves so don't let this affect your sense of accomplishment. Maybe your goals are a little too aggressive?

  • (When someone isn't contributing to a group effort): I've noticed you haven't wanted to take an initiative lately. I would really like to see you take a leadership position because I think you have the talent and skills to be successful.

5 Ways to Handle Criticism Positively


1. Objectify Yourself


As soon as you realize you are being criticized unconstructively, step away from your emotions by imagining yourself as a life-size cardboard cutout.


Wait until the person criticizing you leaves before allowing yourself to think about what they said. Consider who criticized, what they criticized you about, and whether it was actually warranted. Remember that people who are criticized are usually doing something new, different, and possibly daring.


2. Don't Cross Your Arms


Adopting a defensive posture may provoke the criticizer into extending their critique of you.


Simply stand with your arms at your sides, nod, and show that you are listening.


3. Learn from Criticism


Is there a grain of truth in the criticism you received?


Don't let strong emotions cloud your ability to judge truths about yourself. Many of us say or do things that are not in our best interest but fail to realize our error.


4. Get Feedback from a Friend


Tell a trusted friend about the criticism you received.


Getting another opinion can help mitigate the negative feelings you experience from a criticism.


5. You Control Your Emotions and Thoughts


Nobody is in control of what you think or feel.


The way you think and feel about criticism is all up to you, not the person who criticized you.


"Criticism is something you can avoid by saying nothing,
being nothing, and doing nothing." 
~Aristotle

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

How to Chart Your New Future (Part 1)

Irene Obera is an 84-year-old southern California native who loves bowling, tennis, and educating others.


She also happens to be the fastest woman on earth for her age. Irene has been breaking records in Masters athletics for forty years, and her aging philosophies are captured in her own words:


“If you don’t move it, you lose it.”


And:


“A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits – and I want to be a winner.”


Irene is one of many “superagers,” a term for people in their 70s and 80s who have the mental or physical capability of their decades-younger counterparts. Irene serves as an inspiration, not only for the power of dedication but the promise of possibility when we harness our full potential. Living well is a goal we all desire and living fully alive is the essence of life. No matter what our strengths or sphere of influence, each of us has the potential for success and impact. This potential is a treasure that should be uncovered, protected, and stewarded!


Shake Off That Slump


Then what do you do when you’ve hit a slump? When complacency has settled like fog, or when you want to grow but feel stifled professionally (or personally) at almost every turn?


Maybe you’re satisfied, but not feeling sufficiently challenged in your daily tasks. What should you do?


Here’s the truth: small adjustments DO make an impact. But we tend to enjoy comfort and resist change, making it harder and harder to change gears.


So, how can we move forward in a positive way that will impact us for years to come?


It Starts with Education


An easy place to start is where many of us began: with education. Education is a gift! The opportunity to learn can unlock our potential, grow our social circle, reap financial rewards, and energize our mind, careers, and health! Consider this statistic:


The Rush Memory and Aging Project, conducted in 2012 in Chicago with more than 1,200 elders participating, showed that increased cognitive activity in older adults slowed their decline in cognitive function and decreased their risk of mild cognitive impairment. The study showed that cognitively active seniors, whose average age was 80, were 2.6 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than seniors with less cognitive activity. Studies also show that educated people tend to enjoy better mental health, increased emotional well-being, and expanded opportunities.


Add Spring to Your Step


Whether you desire personal or professional development, growth of any kind has the potential to chart a new course for your future.


Ready to increase your mental capacity, improve your quality of life, and enrich your emotional health? In this two-part series, we’ll look at four avenues for gaining ground that will enrich your life and expand your opportunities.


1. Stretch Yourself. 


The first step in continued growth is your own buy-in.


Take ownership over your desire to develop and look for new challenges, side projects, or free professional development opportunities offered in or outside your company. Seek out webinars and podcasts on a weekly basis or consider short online courses. Be curious about aspects of the workplace that don’t directly affect your job. Ask questions and get involved where you might not otherwise. When you show others that you are interested in learning, it communicates a proactive spirit and opens invisible doors to future opportunities.


Living fully engaged brings richness and reward. Join us for part two of this series, as we look at four more avenues for personal and professional development that can bring impact for decades to come!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

These Two Things are the Keys to a Successful Business

The physical and emotional abuse began when she was five years old.


By the time she was 13, she was homeless and relying on the kindness of strangers to feed and house her. At 14, she gave birth to a son who died in infancy. Shortly afterward, she was sent to live with an uncle in whom she later referred to as her "father." Even though this teenager had suffered years of poverty and abuse, something fierce and fiery within her would not give up. She attended a Milwaukee high school and earned grades good enough to get her into the Upward Bound program, a federally funded program to help gifted students achieve academic success.


This determined, courageous young woman was later transferred to a suburban high school where she was picked on by her more affluent peers. After being caught stealing money to keep up with the lifestyle of her peers, she was once again sent to live with another relative in Nashville, TN. Here, she became an honors student and joined a speech/debate team that eventually took second place in a nation-wide dramatic interpretation contest.


After winning a college scholarship, working as a news reporter, and ultimately, landing her own TV show, Oprah Winfrey is now one of the world's most famous, most beloved, and most successful women in history.


Attitude is Motivation and Motivation is Attitude


Imagine you are the owner of a bakery that was handed down to you by your parents and grandparents.


One of the traditions you continue to keep as the owner is wearing a large pin on your uniform that says "Business is Awesome!" While all business have down times, the idea behind the pin is that, no matter how the business is doing, your attitude remains the same.


What do you tell customers who ask you what's so great about business? In most cases, people asking you this question are going through a rough time in their lives or may be coping with business problems themselves. You might tell them business is awesome because you love meeting new people every day or that business is great because you can work in an environment where everybody gets along and enjoys each other's company.


At the heart of this story lies the power of embracing a positive attitude. When you anticipate the good things and refuse to become a victim of negative thinking, the motivation to continue naturally emerges, sustained by your sense of renewal, hope and expectations.


Falling Down 10 Times Means You Have to Get Up 10 Times


"I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. Many times I have been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I am not afraid to say that I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." -- Michael Jordan


You have to keep "getting up" (as Oprah Winfrey did) to take those next steps toward meeting or exceeding your goals.


The motivation for getting up and getting back on track is more powerful and rewarding if it is for personal rather than material gain. Keep reminding yourself that the most significant accomplishments in world history all started because someone fell down and got right back up again without even giving it a second thought.


 


 


 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Wrangling Your Week: Time Management Success Techniques That Will Give You Hope

It's painfully true that there are never enough hours in the day. If "normal humans" are having this kind of trouble, how are CEOs and leaders of major businesses able to run the massive scale of their days? As long as you consider that they haven't discovered time travel, there's got to be some tips and tricks that can be learned from their exceptional talents.


These time management success stories will give you hope that you can wrangle your week more effectively. You might be surprised to learn that many of these individuals found adequate time for sleep and budgeting part of their day for meditation or downtime. 


Leave Time for Relaxation


Most famous for his theory of evolution in his book The Origin of Species (1859), Charles Darwin spent a great deal of his day in solitary study. His schedule also included walking his fox terrier pup and reading. Most interesting was the two hours each day that he devoted to lying awake in bed solving problems before starting his day. Victor Hugo, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Charles Dickens also devoted many hours a day to walking and personal study. Today, Arianna Huffington is one of the business leaders who believe that spending time with colleagues or eating lunch away from your desk makes you more productive -- not less.


Focus on Calendar Management


Focusing only on what is most important each day is one of the time management tricks that Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., swears by. Her busy day is most productive when she spends time prioritizing short- and long-term deliverables instead of reacting to new items that make it to her calendar by happenstance. 


Sleep Soundly, Wake Early


People who are making an impact in their world are likely getting enough rest to be refreshed and ready to face their day, but those days often start quite early. Getting less than six hours of sleep on a regular basis can leave you mentally drained or fuzzy and make you less likely to be efficient in your work. The early morning hours are ideal for a quick workout, which not only helps the body stay fit but helps boost your brainpower for the day as well. Billionaire Richard Branson is famous for his 5:00 am ritual to kick off his busy day. 


Stop the Multitasking


Sure, we all love to pretend that we're getting three things done at once, but is anything being accomplished in these sprints? Successful professionals know when it's time to turn off the electronics and stick to one task at a time. Koel Thomae, co-founder of Noosa Yoghurt, notes how easy it is to be distracted by your inbox and your phone. Add in some music and you're ready to take on the world! 


Just Say "No"


"No," or "next" are some of the most powerful words in the English language -- allowing people to free their time from mundane activities and target those which are moving them forward. There may be some tasks that feel like busywork, so delegate these whenever possible. Turn your attention only to items where you add personal and unique value, and you'll soon find that it's possible to be present in your day while experiencing less stress. This can include everything from hiring people who complement your skills and abilities (a famous Jack Welch-ism) to outsourcing tasks when it makes sense. 


Not everyone is running an empire, finding the cure for cancer, or creating the next great musical masterpiece. However, we are all struggling with a limited number of hours in the day. There is a great deal of hope and comfort in knowing that these basic time management techniques have been practiced for generations -- and are still helping some of the most successful people of our age be productive.