Marketing

Today I received a purchase order from a new client. I received a purchase order because one of my colleagues had quoted a project and provided a proposal that met this new client’s needs and expectations.

The reason we were able to write the proposal, was that I had built a relationship with a decision maker, a millennial professional, in this generational business .

The reason I was able to build a relationship, all by phone and email, was because I’d had some conversations about his business, his markets, and his emerging needs.

The reason I was able to have some conversations is that I had posted a relevant Blog article through Glass Magazine to my LinkedIn social media feed. This Blog article on Delegated Design and Experience vs Inexperience, struck a chord with him and he sent me a well-thought response about his pain points, needs, observations. It resonated with him. It spoke to almost his exact experience.

When he sent me the message I replied instantly; within the hour. I used my mobile phone, while working remotely in Florida, to respond in writing to him, and then to call him. We arranged further discussion by phone prior to a strategic board meeting he had. He wanted to communicate the prospects of working together to his board and the “why” behind it; the value proposition; the idea prompted by he Blog. I couldn’t have posted the Blog, without this particular venue and platform being provided by Glass Magazine.

This is an example of marketing today. In telling a story. In making a real connection with someone. In provided relevant content and value. In giving more than is received. The purchase order was just the manifestation, the end result, of the process. It was as a result of the trust, knowledge, and good will built during the process.

I wasn’t interested in “the sale.” I was interested in the relationship.

This is one face of marketing. It is an example of inbound marketing; content marketing. It’s not what I do, it’s part of who I am. It’s the same for you, if you will allow it.

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Workflow and Development

There are two basic forms of “workflow” or “new practice” development:

  • That which we create (innovation and new category.) This needs to bring value to clients and they become part “creative partner” with us (from a “what if” and testing scenario).
  • That which our clients require (get competent and optimize)
    • They define
    • We build/design to spec
    • We execute
  • The Truth moving into the future
    • We all need in our businesses to develop one or both of these.
    • It needs to be done while being connected to the market; with the user/client

The details, the building, the success of the service or product, is up to the builders and operators

The Island

Names have been changed for anonymity in this blog

Anne and Dave live in the middle of the island. He’s a contractor and handyman. Anne cleans houses. They lived in Panama for a bit and then came back to the states. The island suits them well. They invited our little group for a spontaneous visit while we were driving golf carts down dirt roads past their home one day. Of course we stopped. That’s what one does on the island.

Julius owns a business, but prefers to live on the island so that’s what he does. He’s got a management team to run his company, so his work on the island hosting people is a labor of love. He’s one of the most hospital people I’ve ever met.

Rich and Donna are long term renters. They stay for most of the winter to escape from up north. They are embedded in the community here and have lots of friends from North and South that they visit and entertain. Both are retired and don’t need to work anymore

Gary and his wife Elaine came to the island from up north a few years ago for the first time and bought a house immediately. He owns business as well but is in the process of selling. He can work remotely or travel back and forth. Either works for him. Quite the world we live in.

James and Carol have a home on the island and live part time here. They are connectors. Generosity defines them. We have become very good friends. James never met a stranger and will lend a hand to anyone in need. Hospitality is one of their gifts.

Betsy and Rob are super handy. They live here half a year in winter and spring, and spend the remaining months up North in the snow belt when it doesn’t snow. She is an artisan, he is retired from owning a trucking business. They grow flowers, orchids to be specific, and have a little greenhouse. Rob can fix just about anything. You’ve got to be able to fix stuff on the island.

Then there’s countless others; renters and homeowners, short and long term, the boat dock numbers, the landmarks, the houses, those for sale and those not; the lending library, the dirt paths, the little church, high tide, low tide, and more.

Everyone has a story. There’s common ground on an island. There’s community if you want it. People help each other because you’re always going to need help. Spare parts don’t get thrown away easily, because you or someone else will need them at some point.

We ought to live as such in our off-island neighborhoods instead of always running about in the hustle and bustle. Neighborhoods are islands within a city or suburb, but the vibe isn’t typically there.

When is the last time we talked to our neighbor, volunteered to help at random, stopped at someone’s fire pit spontaneously, or asked someone if they had a spare valve in their toolkit?

We shouldn’t have to live on an island to build community.

Resolutions and “The Middle”

The problem with resolutions is “the middle.” It’s “the middle” that causes the issues for most of us. The start, the beginning, is easy; January 1st, January 7th, Lap 1 of a 12 lap race, the start of a marathon, the 1st 12 scripted plays of the game, the beginning of the project, the start of the relationship. We can deal with the excitement of the start. Everyone feels good and is positive at the start. We’ve all got good intentions. In fact, the end isn’t too bad either. We can see the end, the finish line, day 364 of 365, week 51 or 52, lap 12 of 12; “I can do this” we say, I can see the finish line; the end; the goal; that is if we make it that far.

The problem with getting there is “the middle.” It’s February 9th that’s the issue, not January 1st. It’s lap 7 of 12, it’s mile 16 of the marathon, it’s 40% of the way through the project, day 137 of 365, Wednesday morning of the work week, the middle of the 3rd quarter. That’s when things are messy, with choices, fatigue, options, too many details; things aren’t going according to plan, we got hurt, our stomach is upset, it’s cold outside, the team is off course, the race is getting difficult, the project isn’t on schedule, and so on. That’s when fatigue sets in; project fatigue, game fatigue, relationship fatigue, physical, mental, emotional fatigue. It’s easy to get lost in the details. This is where many of us give up.

We lose sight of the start, forgetting where we came from, and of the finish; where we are going. We get lost somewhere between.

Overcoming this is mostly a mental exercise; a mindset. But we need some strategies to carry out to keep ourselves on course. Much of success or failure is a game of attrition. The last one standing wins. The one who endures. The resilient. So, how do we do it?

We need some milestones, mile-markers, benchmarks, records, to assess our progress and status; mental exercises and many self-created markers or metrics  to measure against and to keep on a path toward completion or improvememt.

Some things that work for me are noted here. I use them regularly. Perhaps it may help you as well.


Treat each lap of the race, each day in the month or year, each detail in the project, as the 1st one of the next cycle. In other words, January 2nd is day 1 of the next 365 cycle, so is June 27th. But each days is closer to the end, the finish. The work is shorter every day, the finish line closer. The next mile is the 1st mile towards a shorter race to the finish line. Remember the start, keep the end in mind, but know that each step along the way is the 1st step toward a definite finish or improvement towards an ongoing goal.

Set Milestones or Course markers to measure progress. Measure backwards always, not forward. Measure against set criteria; miles completed, money saved, relationship equity built, positive outcomes experienced, budget spent vs budget remaining.

Enlist Support. Get counsel. It helps to have a coach, an encourager, a friend, a peer, someone to clap, to provide input, to provide perspective.

Know that some things have destinations, and some things just run in perpetuity. For the latter, we will never “arrive” fully (like continual improvement in a business.) We just have to measure progress and know where we stand in the process.

For things that have destinations, we can more easily monitor and keep the end in mind or in sight. Finishing a run, a race, a project, a course, a meeting, shipping a product and so on.

There are many ways to accomplish staying strong in the middle. Where the courses and milestones are not marked out for us, we have to set them, whether in our mind or physically. When we are leading a team, we have to use these things to help guide and keep everyone on course.

Happy New Year. New Day. New Hour. New Mindset. Next step. New reality. It’s up to me, to you, to us, to make that, to paint it, to write the story, to take it one day at a time.

How’s the resolution going?

Playing Not To Lose vs Playing to Win

As we start the year of 2019, I’m curious as to our disposition around this idea of “playing not to lose” vs “playing to win.”

I see both types of people, teams, corporations.

What’s the difference?

If we play not to lose, we are taking a defensive posture. In this posture we can’t actually win, unless it’s by accident (even that’s a stretch.) This is not a good strategy. We often feel comfortable in the “play not to lose” mindset, but it is a false comfort. It’s a “slow death” for a business, a team, a city, a culture, a relationship. This is the space where we don’t take any risks, or keep them really tightly measured. It feels comfortable in that we think it’s designed to not fail. But actually this is planned failure over the long haul. We think that if we do everything we can to not lose, then we will not have to worry about the risk of failure. It doesn’t work that way. If we play not to lose, we’ve already failed at the beginning. It’s just not yet apparent to the participant.

Playing to win involves risks. We MIGHT lose but we might win as well. In fact, we play as if we EXPECT to win. There’s a vulnerability in that space for the person stating their intention, whether to themselves or to those around them. But playing to win is the option that gives us the real opportunity to win. Sure, we may may go down in flames, but I say “better to have tried and to have lost than to have never tried at all.”

Leadership has to create a winning mindset and model it. Leadership is even more vulnerable in that space than others, since it also influences all other people and downstream results that are involved. It’s open to criticism of the onlookers, and to those on the team as well.

I’d rather play to win. To be dynamic. To take risks, to go for it, win or lose, pass or fail. Resilience is the quality I seek; to dust off after the loss or failure and to give it another go; to plug away; to be relentless. Sometimes we may have to call the game or change course at times. That’s okay as well. It happens with forward motion.

Playing to win is active, it’s participatory, dynamic and takes risks. Playing not to lose is on its heels, it’s static, it watches and is risk averse.

The manifestation of either position is rooted in mindset, which is a deep well. It’s subtle to the player, obvious to the viewer and onlooker.

Which disposition are you? What outcomes do you seek?

“Zero-Based” Meetings

You’ve heard of “Zero-Based Budgeting”? You start the year with ZERO in each line item of the budget and build from bottom up. Everything is evaluated from a fresh perspective and nothing is taken for granted in the new fiscal year.

How about we do the same for meetings? I’m just thinking from a “zero based meeting assessment” point of view; meaning everything about meetings, the meeting purpose, scope, duration, participants and value assessment is on the table for re-evaluation year to year or quarter to quarter. We need to ask ourselves if a particular meeting or set of meetings are still worthwhile or not, to see if we are still achieving the intended purpose and corresponding results, or not.

Let’s re-assess our goals and needs for all meetings and start fresh.

The Entrepreneurial Dichotomy

Dichotomy; a contrast between two things

The Entrepreneurial Dichotomy is that our energy, ideas, our vision, are deeply needed, yet our businesses are worth much more without dependence on us; without us having to be present to do transactional things; to not have to handle the day-to-day. We are supposed to be building an enterprise rather than doing a specific job.

Being free to devote our attention to the places where we provide the most value to clients, and to our business, is what creates the best opportunity for everyone to benefit; being unencumbered by everything else to the fullest extent possible

This takes constant effort and intention.

I recommend a “not to do list.” The list facilitates what we are supposed to be doing, and provides a reminder to delegate everything else.

Dynamic change should happen in perpetuity in order to keep this process advancing.

What’s on your not to do list? What’s your focus?

It’s a constant battle and effort to make it happen.