Archive - September, 2011

Extravagancy in relationships

Extravagance says “I don’t know how to say thank you, but I am trying”.

Extravagance shows that you not only noticed but that you acted.

To be extravagant is to be powerfully purposeful with others. We have to notice details; what they are/are not interested in, their current struggles, desires and dreams.

It can be as simple as a gift you find in a thrift shop that says “I know and I see you”. It can be an inside joke. One of the most extravagant gifts we can give is our time.

Here is a tip. Start planning to be extravagant in your relationships.

Set up a budget for it.

Add some margin to your calendar for it.

Start today with one person.


Why are you hiding?

I just read probably one of the smartest assessment of the continued privacy discussion I have seen in a while. Brian Solis’ post found via friend Clay Hebert’s twitter  stream this morning, covers much of what I have written in regards to being responsible with our own privacy online. Brian says so much more. I love this one quote:

“it’s up to us to help another while taking responsibility for what we do and say online. At the end of the day, we can’t blame Facebook or developers when those whom we care about change how they see us.”

In the past I have written several times about privacy, with my Unboxed You post being my favorite right up there with my Privacy of Jesus post on Liquid Cloud 11.  I continually come back to this. I seek out a time where I am online the person you meet offline, meaning what I have to offer and all I stand for are the same as the person I am behind closed doors (or for you behind a Facebook ever-changing privacy curtain).  Out of who I am I hope to add not take away, strengthen and not weaken those around me. If I continue to filter, categorize and box I am really just posing a person unlike the real me. I know there are real concerns with safety and those concerns are valid.  But I believe there is a much more important issue here. What matters most is being honest with ourselves and others regarding our true selves. This is what probably drives Zucherberg hate the most. We fear lost control of the person the world sees as compared to the person we truly are.

A while back I was advising a company with their online presence.  One of the main employees who would be managing the Facebook page turned to me and said “ I am not on Facebook”.  Curious, I asked him why.  He replied “because I don’t want people (meaning employers and such) seeing pictures of me doing dumb things at parties”.  I had one reply for him “don’t do stupid things at parties”.  At the time I had one of those gut instincts about this person. Gavin de Becker writes about this (thanks again Clay for the book) in The Gift of Fear. We all have them. I should have acted on it. He turned out to be a criminal and had plenty of reason to keep his personal life hidden.  Do you though?

Connection isn’t everything

Recently I took a core values test called the CVI*.  I was not surprised that the results showed I was a connector (they call it being a Merchant). In fact I registered extremely high in this category.  I guess that others who score high in a single value group have a tendency to over apply the value to all situations both in life and business. Have I been guilty of that.  Yes. Just this past week I was at our executive planning advance.  I noticed that every sweep of talks I leaned toward my connection and networking values and skills as a solution over finances, marketing, innovation and other strengths of either mine or the teams.  Now I am not downplaying connection as a critical tools to succeeding today.  I would argue it is probably one of the highest.  What I am realizing is that I need to exercise all the other values as well.  None of us want to be “that person”,  the one that is always after the same nail with the same hammer.  We will often miss the  solution right in front of us. Do you see this in your of strongest value.

*  My sister Sabrina teaches core values to professionals and is a client of mine.  To find out more about the CVI check out her website as well as her blog.

Wasting our words on folly

Reading through blog posts and other platforms like Google Plus this week I began to notice something common.  When someone asks a valid question many of the responses just add nonsense to the comment stream instead of  answering the question or offer solutions.    Now let me be clear, I have done this as well. It really is just folly.  Like chattering, folly is described as lack of good sense; foolishness. Sometimes I wonder how many words are spent on it. It happens in blog comments, Google Plus, Facebook and in personal conversations on the phone or in person.  Do we adequately evaluate what we are saying before we say it?  What it would be like if we were limited to a ration of words a day?  How valuable those words might be to us?  I know I would dole them out with care and art.  Would we speak to each other in kinder ways offering value instead of filler?  One reason I love brevity is that it makes us think about the words we choose (or not).

I am thinking about the words I speak in valuable time with friends in any context or tool. I want to make them count, and not for folly.

Saying yes

When it comes to customer service, saying yes easily sets you apart. Customer connections can be built by being a problem solver.

This summer I was on a short road trip with my family. We had just purchased a car for my wife and were enjoying our first trip. About two hours into our journey we started to hear a vibration noise. Sure enough as we pulled into a rest area another traveler alerted to something dragging under the front of the vehicle. A close inspection revealed that the noise plate screws under the engine had loosened, causing it to drag. While it was not a dangerous situation we still wanted to make sure we could get it fixed before we continued. I decided to drive another 15 miles to the nearest town, since there was no clearance under the vehicle for me to fix it myself.

Call it conditioning or just good marketing, I first thought of the tire sales and service chain Les Schwab. For as long as I can remember they have been known for running out to meet you with a helpful mindset. If they could not fix your roadside issue they would quickly call someone to arrange a solution. Never would they leave you in a bind. They have always been known for their yes, at least they used to be.

As we pulled into the parking lot I knew we were in for a different experience. No one ran out to great us.  Walking into the lobby I got a obligatory look from the woman tending the counter.  As I began to explain my problem the manager standing near by over heard and simply told me there was nothing they could do.  He explained they were too busy and didn’t have the right tools.  He even told me they had no duct tape.  I then gave him another chance and asked if he knew of a shop he could refer. Again he said “no”.  I have heard their service had gone down hill but this was pretty bad.

From where I stood I could see an auto service shop across the street. Knowing I was not going to have help at Les Schwab I decided to give the other business a try.  The shop appeared to be busy as well but the service employee outside said he thought they could help. Going inside I again explained my problem. They were indeed busy and had no one handy to help.  What was great though was the owner handed me a roll of duct tape and said I was welcome to use the parking lot.  As I walked back out to the car the customer service woman ran out and motioned for me to drive around back.  As I pulled around to the back of the shop she guided me to the car lift where I could prop the front up enough to work on the plate.  The car easily now had enough room to secure the plate.  They had succeeded in helping us get back on the road.  It all came down to a simple “yes, we can help”.

I don’t care what your business is, no should be a last resort.  People ask our business all the time for services we don’t offer.  We always direct them to someone who can help.  The simple act of loaning me duct tape guaranteed I will always remember them. I have already told many about their act of kindness. I have spent thousands of dollars at Les Schwab and none at Kelly’s Auto Service. To them it didn’t matter, they just said yes.