Friday, July 31, 2009
I asked her if she'd be so kind as to move over one seat so I could plug in.
She graciously agreed.
As I was booting up, I turned to her and noticed sadness.
"Are you ok?" I asked.
Turns out that she had come to Vegas to visit her college boyfriend for a week. They hadn't seen each other for 2 months and had 1 more month to go before school resumed at University of Pittsburgh.
As we talked, she began to cry.
Her feelings for him were evident. It was really moving.
I tried the cliche statements of "how lucky you are" and "many people never feel this way about someone their whole lives," and "it'll be fine," but none seemed to work.
So, I said...
"In 10 years, you'll be bickering with each other about something really stupid. You'll be angry. When that happens, remember how you felt in this moment and I'm sure you'll feel better then."
That got her laughing.
Also reminded me that it's a good practice for all of us to hearken back to those early days when we have moments of disagreement with our spouses/significant others.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I have been waiting for this for a LONG time.
Now, you can just say “I trust the financial investments of so-and-so” and you automatically make the investments they make.
It’s your money and you hold onto it, but you let them make the decisions.
I’m going to do this.
Welcome Nicole Tate to the Never Stop Marketing team.
Nicole is Miss Black Nevada 2009 and will be a contestant in the Miss Black USA pageant on Monday night in Washington, DC.
Nicole (who obviously never stops marketing herself since she was wearing a sash in the Las Vegas airport) graciously agreed to have her picture taken with me (I had to ask.)
Her talent is singing and dancing and hopes to wow the judges with her rendition of Lee Ann Womack’s “I hope you dance.”
Nicole, a nursing student at UNLV, is committed to changing the abysmal 67% drop-out rate among Nevada high school students.
This change the world attitude is what we look for in all of our relationships, so Never Stop Marketing is excited and proud to officially be one of her corporate sponsors.
You’ll be seeing more of her over the course of the year (just not sure how yet ;-)
Wish her luck!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
My good friend, Chuck, sent this (via email..I know, so old school) and it’s as inspiring as anything. Enjoy!
No one can make you serve customers well.
That's because great service is a choice.
Harvey Mackay, tells a wonderful story about a cab driver that proved this point.
He was waiting in line for a ride at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing Harvey noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for Harvey. He handed my friend a laminated card and said: 'I'm Wally, your driver. While I'm loading your bags in the trunk I'd like you to read my mission statement.'
Taken aback, Harvey read the card. It said: Wally's Mission Statement:
To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.
This blew Harvey away. Especially when he noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside. Spotlessly clean!
As he slid behind the wheel, Wally said, 'Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.'
My friend said jokingly, 'No, I'd prefer a soft drink.'
Wally smiled and said, 'No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, water and orange juice.'
Almost stuttering, Harvey said, 'I'll take a Diet Coke.'
Handing him his drink, Wally said, 'If you'd like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated and USA Today.' As they were pulling away, Wally handed my friend another laminated card, 'These are the stations I get and the music they play, if you'd like to listen to the radio.'
And as if that weren't enough, Wally told Harvey that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for him.
Then he advised Harvey of the best route to his destination for that time of day. He also let him know that he'd be happy to chat and tell him about some of the sights or, if Harvey preferred, to leave him with his own thoughts.
'Tell me, Wally,' my amazed friend asked the driver, 'have you always served customers like this?'
Wally smiled into the rear view mirror. 'No, not always. In fact, it's only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard the personal growth guru, Wayne Dyer, on the radio one day. He had just written a book called You'll See It When You Believe It . Dyer said that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you'll rarely disappoint yourself. He said, 'Stop complaining!
Differentiate yourself from your competition. Don't be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.''
'That hit me right between the eyes,' said Wally. 'Dyer was really talking about me. I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more.'
'I take it that has paid off for you,' Harvey said.
'It sure has,' Wally replied. 'My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year I'll probably quadruple it.
You were lucky to get me today. I don't sit at cabstands anymore. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on my answering machine. If I can't pick them up myself, I get a reliable cabbie friend to do it and I take a piece of the action.'
Wally was phenomenal. He was running a limo service out of a Yellow Cab. I've probably told that story to more than fifty cab drivers over the years, and only two took the idea and ran with it. Whenever I go to their cities, I give them a call. The rest of the drivers quacked like ducks and told me all the reasons they couldn't do any of what I was suggesting.
Wally the Cab Driver made a different choice. He decided to stop quacking like ducks and start soaring like eagles.
How about us?Smile, and the whole world smiles with you... The ball is in our hands!
A man reaps what he sows. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up... let us do good to all people.
Ducks Quack, Eagles Soar
Monday, July 27, 2009
One of my favorite people from my days at Microsoft is Nelson Taggart.
He’s a funny guy and I really enjoy spending time with him.
Today, he sent me a note asking to change a previous blog post of mine.
Well, if you search on his name, you’ll see a post of mine from 2 years ago where I suggest that “questionable advice” always comes from him.
Of course, it doesn’t. I was being funny (or trying to, at least).
But, someone searching for Nelson may not get that…and may rush to judgment.
That’s his/her fault, of course, as well as mine.
You need to be yourself, but you need to recognize that people who don’t know you may not get what that means.
I don’t have an answer to this one…it’s a situation that we’ll see more of, I’m sure.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
One of the toughest parts about being a consultant is coming to terms with the idea that not everyone is going to like you or your style.
When you sell pizza, you don’t necessarily care if people like you as a person or not. Maybe a little bit, but it’s more important (usually) that the pizza be good.
In the service industry, however, you soon learn that is not the case.
If everyone doesn’t like you, that’s not good, but if some people don’t, well that’s the way it is going to be and as long as the proportions are quite different…more liking you than not, you are probably ok.
Still, it’s a human business and when someone clearly doesn’t jive with your style, it hurts.
But, hey, that’s the life that has been chosen.
The conversation started innocently enough.
As you might imagine, I am one of those people who like to talk to my seatmates on planes.
So, boarding Delta flight 1878 from Atlanta to Baltimore on Friday, July 24th at 9.30am was no exception.
I took the aisle seat and a woman eating peanut M&M’s (only remember this because I thought it was an unusual breakfast food) was already sitting in the window seat.
She was quite friendly.
I found out that she was from the vicinity of Huntsville, Alabama and had been up that morning at 3am, holding her first grandchild in her arms. She has 2 kids of her own and one of them is in Baptist seminary. I also found out that she is a board member of the National Education Association and was travelling to DC for a meeting.
“Have you heard of the NEA?” she asked.
“What do you think of the NEA?” she inquired.
Seeing as I was talking to a board member and knowing my strong opinions on the subject, I demurred (yes, I know, hard to believe).
She sensed my hesitation and said something to the effect of “don’t worry, my husband has a lot of problems with the organization.”
“Ok,” I answered, “if I am going to be blunt about it, my biggest issue is that I think unions tend to protect the underperformers and when it comes to education, in particular, that really bothers me.”
“Well, the NEA has 3.2 million members and we do a lot of good,” she replied.
“I’m sure you do, but that’s my biggest issue with the union.”
The conversation eventually migrated to my family. (Keep in mind, the plane hadn’t even backed away from the gate yet.)
I told her I have 3 kids ages 5.5, almost 4, and 17 months and their genders.
“So, your oldest daughter is going into kindergarten?”
“And is she going to public school?”
“No,” I responded.
I could see from her face that she was disappointed and it came out in the tone of her question, “Why?”
“Well, we are observant Jews so I will be sending her to private school.”
“Now, that upsets me more than you not sending her to public school.”
Now, I happen to think that compared to most people, it takes a lot to shock me, but here I was, not believing what I just heard. Of course, I couldn’t let it go, so I followed up,
“you mean to say that it is more upsetting to you that we are Jewish than the fact that my daughter isn’t going to public school?”
“Yes. I’m a Christian.”
Now, I’ve met and become friends with MANY very seriously devout Christians over the years. I even had one (and I am still very good friends with her to this day) tell me that she thinks I am going to hell, but I had never been confronted in this manner. Not even close.
I said something to the effect of “Jesus was Jewish,” which got a reluctant nod, but I didn’t really know where to go with this.
Of course, I then offered to interview her with my video camera for my blog on the merits of public school AND why she was so disappointed that I am Jewish.
Still thinking that this chat somehow could be salvaged (the eternal optimist, I suppose), the conversation turned to my work where she asked, “are you successful?”
“Don’t know,” I said, “what is your definition of success?”
So, at this point, it gets a bit hazy as to the exact words that were used because what followed was such a shock to my system, a mini-trauma, if you will, that I think the precise memory is gone.
She says something like, “well, you must be successful if you are flying over the country talking to people on planes all the time.” It was a joke, I got that.
“No, I don’t have that kind of money,” I said in a similarly joking manner.
Then, she dropped the conversational equivalent of the A-bomb (of this part, I have NO doubt of my recollection).
“Well, of course you do, you are a Jew!”
My jaw dropped.
I glared at her.
Thinking to myself, “it takes a lot to offend me, but you’ve just managed to pull it off.”
“Ma’am,” I said, “you’ve just managed to reinforce a major stereotype of Southern Baptists.”
She looked at me in disbelief.
“I was just joking,” she insisted.
“It’s not a joke. It’s not funny. And I’m very offended.”
“Well,” she replied, “you said that the NEA protected bad teachers!”
Talk about taking a bad situation and making it worse…
“and you are telling me that a blatantly anti-Semitic remark is the same thing as an opinion on the NEA?”
“Yes, it is!”
“Are you kidding?”
I really didn’t even know what to do at this point.
I mean, I lived in Germany for a year and I can’t remember experiencing something like this. Certainly in 2009 America in one of the biggest, most cosmopolitan airports in the world, I wasn’t ready for it.
I felt attacked and alone.
So, I did the only thing I could think of to vent my frustration (without getting thrown off the plane), I updated my status on Facebook.
It so happens that I saw when I got on the plane that Delta (at least on that plane) had in-flight wi-fi. Of course, I had to try it.
By the time we got to Wi-fi altitude and I was online, 3 different people had commented on my note.
By the time the flight was over, 12 in total had. (If you are on FB, here is the link).
What was surreal was the fact that I was discussing the incident with these people in near real-time from 25,000 feet (or however high we were) while this woman was sitting right next to me. It felt very empowering and gave me a huge sense of support.
I suppose there are a couple takeaways from this story.
- The value of community that social networks bring-sharing this moment and having others contribute changed the nature of the experience for me for the better
- I had kind of pooh-poohed anti-Semitism of this nature, since I had never experienced it before. I’m not going crazy about it yet and still think that Radical Islam is a bigger issue, but it definitely made me think.
- In a Google/Social Media world, you can’t hide.
You/we/ everyone will be held accountable for their behavior (see recent post on this).
In fact, this is a key lesson I give in my presentation on “Marketing Survival Strategies for the Attention Economy” (ironically, the very reason I was in Atlanta in the first place).
- Now, I have another reason to be concerned about the NEA.
Let’s dig down on #3 though.
For example, what did I know about this woman next to me at the time?
- she’s on the Board of the NEA
- she’s from the area near/around Huntsville, Alabama
- her name is Pam (I heard her identify herself on her cell phone when she landed)
- she lives in a town in Alabama with two words (I saw this on the label of the magazine she was reading)
Putting that all together, know how long it took me to find out who she most likely is?
1 minute 27 seconds (I timed it).
(I didn’t find a picture, so can’t say 100%, but here’s what I’ve got)
- the NEA board of directors page lists a Pam Hill from Alabama (no other Pams listed)
- the 8th annual indoor air quality tools for schools national symposium lists an attendee roster by state, where Pam Hill of Cross Roads, AL was present (including the address of the Huntsville Education Association and her email address)…no, I didn’t send this post to her.
Oh, and without much effort I know her maiden name (Cagle), where she went to high school in Huntsville (Lee), the year she graduated (1973), and with a bit more, her home address and phone number (no need to share this).
I am not doing this to harass her or give people reason to embarrass her. She did a stupid thing, didn’t apologize for it, and has views that are not consistent with mine.
What is important to know here is that the world we all are living in is very different that the one most of us grew up in.
Once upon a time, you just had a bad experience with an annoying person on a plane.
Now, you can find that person and do a lot with the information you discover.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Somehow, the effect of the glass separating us created a feeling of greater distance for me, as if I was watching it from another dimension.
Sounds a bit weird, I realize, but in the past, all of the recitals I had attended were in the same room. We were conscious of each other. This time, it was different and I felt the joy and the emotion of being the parent of this developing human being who was so obviously enjoying herself (and himself, for Paco).
Some days, I work so hard and there are moments when I'm exhausted and I question...why?
Then, I have a few minutes where I see the fruits of my labor, both financial (in terms of paying for the classes), but more so physical/spiritual in terms of seeing them grow as people.
It's humbling and awe-inspiring. It's gratifying as well. It's a cause for celebration as I realize that my kids are discovering things that they love to do...that they love life and love exploring new horizons.
Taking this momentary step back from the day to day grind and you realize that it's not always the huge, obvious lifecycle events that are required for the proverbial "smell the roses moment."
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
My presentation was at the Morial Convention Center, which I distinctly remember from that time where people were outside, hungry and thirsty, crammed inside, a sad scene.
Today, it is very different, of course. All cleaned up and ready to go, but it's just odd to think about being in a place of such devastation.
I had a similar feeling when I visited some of the concentration camps in Europe (not that I am equating the two.) You're there. You know what happened, but so hard to comprehend.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
As a first child myself, I’ve only recently come to appreciate how much of a guinea pig I must have been for my parents.
You tend to think, as a kid, that your parents know what they are doing in all situations (this is pre-adolescence, of course), but what you don’t know, when you are the first child is that they have never done this before either!
This became apparent to me this summer as we were thinking about what type of camp and swimming lessons that Tonka should have.
Paco expressed a hint of jealousy at some activities that Tonka got to do at her camp, but he doesn’t realize that he’s benefitting from the fact that we have learned from our mistakes in terms of past efforts w/Tonka.
I knew it all along, later children have it easier. Now I just have proof! ;-)
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Paco and Tonka climbed into our bed the other night said they were playing “mommy and daddy.”
Paco takes my fleece nightcap (go ahead, laugh) and puts it on his head, covering his eyes (as I do.)
Then, he starts snoring. Loudly.
Tonka taps him on the shoulder and says, “Not so loud!!”
Friday, July 17, 2009
Image by Aenneken via FlickrOne of the things that made a huge impression on me during my 3 years living in Germany and Japan was the number of strangers/"loose affiliations" of people who would open their homes for me in one way or another.
I remember thinking how great it was when I was far from home to have a place where I felt welcome.
Last weekend, there were some British students on a tour of America and they spent the Sabbath in our neighborhood, so I volunteered to host them (which basically meant that they just slept in my basement...other than that, I barely saw them.)
They were really nice chaps (we're friends on Facebook now!) and, as they were leaving, I turned into a Jewish grandmother, packing them a bag of food to take back to their dorms.
I remember the "travel diet," as inglorious as it was and I knew they weren't cooking gourmet meals for themselves the way that the NFO was for us.
They were exceeding grateful, but all I said to them was, "some day, a young, hungry student will stay with you and you can pay it forward."
I'm sure they will.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Cover of Sunrise, SunsetMaybe I am getting emotional in my old age, but the other day, I sat down with Gianni (child #3's nickname) to read her some books (she loves that, which is great.)
And I found a beautifully illustrated version of the song "Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof.
I barely made it halfway through the book, holding Gianni in one arm, before I got all chocked up and began to cry.
So difficult to hold on to the moments, no matter how hard we try, isn't it?
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
But, it's not that big a deal. The NFO had made enough food to feed an army, my sister came over and helped for a few hours on Friday, I called in our Nanny for some Sat. morning tactical support, and we visited with my parents on Sunday.
Being alone with them, however, put me in the "days are long, years are short" mentality, since, well, I did have to be "on point" for the entire day.
It's easy when you are running around, non-stop catering to the whims of young children to just wish it would end, but, as luck would have it, the NFO had gotten a book by Harold Kushner called "When all you've ever wanted isn't enough" and since I'd enjoyed his previous ones, when I had 3 minutes to breathe, I read the first chapter.
He challenged me right off the bat.
"When asked what is more important, family or work, people invariably say 'family,' but their actions belie them."
He dared us to be present and focused in the lives of our loved ones.
And, since they are only young once, I decided that this weekend was the perfect moment.
So, yes, it was tiring, but when it culminated in a 3 person pile-up (Paco on the bottom, me in the middle, and Tonka on top) with a 15-round rendition of "You are my sunshine," it was totally worth it.
I felt the love from them and I took a mental snapshot, remembering them as they are now and holding on to that feeling, knowing that, before I know it, they will be all grown up.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
In my recent mortgage re-fi experience, one of the (many) hurdles was the fact that the appraisal came in for much lower than expected (even taking the downturn into account).
My broker, Jeff (contact details below, he ROCKS!) told me about the new Home Valuation Code of Conduct, which makes it impossible for us to discuss with the appraisers how he arrived at his conclusion.
Now, everyone thinks their appraisals are too low or too high (depending on their interest at the moment)—and needless to say, I am stuck with a higher assessment for taxes owed to the country—but when I finally saw the report from the guy, I had to laugh.
Saying my house was comparable to some of the other houses he had pictured…you’d laugh as well.
Anyway, Jeff was interviewed on WBAL in Baltimore about this and, if this is relevant to you, you might enjoy watching it.
And, if you need him….(tell him I sent you)
Jeffrey H. Cooper, Managing Partner
Great Oak Lending Partners
1920 Greenspring Drive, Suite 160, Timonium, MD 21093
Phone: 443-901-1777 x 1001 * Fax: 443-264-0268
MD LICENSE: 15511
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
In celebration of the 4th of July, the kids and I took a morning trip to Ft. McHenry, the location where the Star Spangled Banner was written during the War of 1812 (the actual poem was written in Sept. 1814...1812 was a really long year.)
We had an opportunity to discuss why a fort situated on a river at a narrow point would be advantageous, why a star-shaped design facilitates defenses (you can trap the enemy between two high ground positions), saw how the cannons could swivel on rollers, and watched a guard formation with drums and fifers.
Keeping with my approach that our trips be no more than 4 hours round trip, it was a great location, since there was plenty of room to run around, things to climb on (only afterwards did I see the 'no climbing on cannons' sign) and an opportunity for them to appreciate American history on this holiday weekend (kind of like we did in Arlington last month.)
The thing I was most proud of was how they asked such great questions.
As my dad said when I told him where we were (I knew he'd be proud), "it's not what they learn there that is important, it's important that they learn curiosity."
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Image via WikipediaIn and of itself, this is a remarkable performance from America's Got Talent. Worth the watch on those merits alone.
But, what struck me was how quick people jump to stereotypes and a bit of mockery. I mean, here's a guy who is a "chicken catcher" with a "hick" accent. So easy to dismiss him.
Then, he blows the crowd away.
Monday, July 06, 2009
I took some heat from people for choosing the name “Never Stop Marketing” for my company.
Some thought it was a double negative.
Others thought it was just a bad idea.
You know what the real problem is?
It’s a mantra.
Normally, that’s good and that’s what I want clients, prospects and fans of Never Stop Marketing (feel free to become one) to remember.
Thing is, it makes it difficult for me to sleep or get distracted.
When I want to shut down, I say “Never Stop Marketing” and so I keep going ;-)
Sunday, July 05, 2009
My brother and sister-in-law have been experiencing that and I was just thinking about the intensity of those first few nights. The fatigue. The nervousness that you are "doing something wrong." (That part goes away with later children, when you stop caring. Ok, that was a joke.)
It's an intense feeling and your awareness that life has changed dramatically forever and there is this other lifeforce in your sphere.
That's a great feeling.
Being fatigued...not so much.
Friday, July 03, 2009
Earlier this week, my brother and sister-in-law had their first baby, a girl.
When I spoke with him a day or so afterwards, it was clear from his voice that he was a different man. He had transcended that huge gulf to fatherhood.
It's a big psychological leap and for fathers, I think it is even more dramatic since, let's be honest, pregnancy doesn't really impact us all that much.
I have 2 brothers and this is the younger of the two. When the other one (younger than I, but not by much), had his first child, it was wonderful, of course, but I don't think the passage of time hit me as much, since we are so relatively close in age.
My 2nd brother and I are separated by 4 years so I distinctly remember him as a "little kid" and now, presto, he is a father.
Seeing how the people we've known for a long time evolve over time and appreciating their journey as well as our own. Just really starting to enjoy that part.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
I have been harsh in the past on people who seemingly invite their friends at random to a Facebook fan page or group.
That’s because it is usually done without much context or one of the key elements of community building within the Community Driven Marketing framework, namely:
“as a fan, what can you expect to get out of it?”
So, with that, it’s time to see if I can practice what I preach.
I’ve set up a Never Stop Marketing Facebook Fan Page and you are welcome/invited to join.
If you decide to join, what you will get out of it is:
- Updates about innovative ways I’m discovering to use Fan Pages for marketing purposes/benefit
- The opportunity to be a part of cutting-edge Facebook Fan Page marketing tests (would rather test it out with you than have you test it out on your customers/clients, right?)
- The chance to connect with other, like-minded individuals who share a passion for marketing and discovering how to thrive in a billion-channel, socially networked, attention economy where permission is the key asset (obligatory consultant buzzword quota is now met).
It’s very much a perpetual beta approach and would love to have you join me in the voyage.
If you are looking for a better understanding of what my work around Community Driven Marketing is all about, you have another option now.