What Happens When You Put Love Into Your Product

Putting love into your business is branding in itself. In fact, putting love into your business might just be the #1 way to grow your brand. 

Let me illustrate. 

I have a favorite coffee shop. The baristas and chefs treat their work like a craft despite the fact that most of them are musicians, writers and the like whose real craft is something else. The drinks are pricey but their frothy, perfectly balanced confections are worth every cent.  Except for one barista. Pretty sure she’s actually the owner who is most often at the register except on Sundays—when she’s behind the bar.

Her drinks have zero style. Want the beautiful leaf etched in the top of your foamy latte? You’re lucky if your latte has any froth at all. Want your drink to be just on the edge of hot on a cold day? You’ll be happy if it’s just on the other side of lukewarm. Sometimes they're barely drinkable and on occasion I have to throw her drinks away, forgoing $4 and my favorite chai tea after having walked more than half a mile.

Disappointed? Nah. I'm downright dejected when this happens.

This full-time owner, sometime barista operates the bar slinging drinks like it’s an assembly line. It’s feels as if she's simply counting the dollars coming in rather than focusing on the quality of what she’s putting out. When you focus on the dollars and not the craft you not only put out a shitty product; you’re actually doing more harm to your business than you might think. Without love or mindfulness, your product just becomes yet another item of consumption, it doesn’t stand out. When your customer doesn’t feel love oozing through your service they’re less likely to get hooked on it and they’ll go somewhere else. 

I’m not gonna pretend that I’ve never done this. There were whole stretches of time back in the late 90’s when I hated what I was doing. Rather than crafted with love, my work was laden with fear. Yep. I was doing this work because I was afraid I couldn’t do what I loved. I was motivated just to survive financially rather than to thrive. It was pretty obvious. If that company was still in existence  Sure, I showed up to work everyday, working 60+ weeks regularly. But. I was slogging away, being dragging along rather than gleefully leading the way spreading my love for my tasks.

When you find yourself in this position you must take action: Bake some love into your product and if you can’t, perhaps you need to pivot what you’re doing or make a career change.

When I realized that I had no love to give this particular kind of task, I left that field and moved into my current work. Now I love each and every client. I tend to their brand as if it were my own brand child. If I don’t think I can love someone’s brand I pass on their business. 

Babettes Bread 2 1024x768 What Happens When You Put Love Into Your Product

Let me tell you about another brand; a place where love is baked right into the product. Babette’s Artisanal Breads. This husband and wife driven shop makes the most delightful artisanal bread you’ll ever have outside of France. Each loaf of bread is tended to by the loving hands of Steve, the owner who adds flourishes like a beautiful stencil on the top of the loaf. While the pretty design doesn’t change the taste, it does delight the eye. It makes you feel special. I once bought a loaf just for that stencil. Even though I can’t eat much of it due to serious gluten issues I love giving this man money.


When you put love into your business…

- Your clients notice 
- It makes you happier
- You’re more proud of your work 
- You produce a better product 
- You transition away from things you don’t love faster
- Your brand grows much more faster

This applies to all sorts of businesses, not just those which makes things to delight your taste buds. Other businesses where love is apparent include: Maptia and The Pack. And if you’ve ever flown Southwest you know that they LOVE what they do. 

I know there are plenty of brands who bake love right into their product. What are some of your favorite examples? 

 

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QuestLove on Transitions & One of My Own

How do you plan a rebirth? 

I’m not sure you do. You just stand in the darkness until you can’t endure it any longer, and then you move forward until you’re standing in the light.

Questlove, Mo’ Meta Blues 
 

Questlove is right, rebirths take longer than you think and can only happen when you're truly ready. After sitting in unhappiness with my work for months, I hit something that felt like the silty bottom of the ocean.

And then finally,

I began to rise

and find the light.

Since then I've been scheming and dreaming on what's next. The emersion from my cocoon is not quite ready yet but it will be soon. Stay tuned for the metamorphosis…

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Five Things Marketers Need to Stop Doing This Very Minute

I’m not typically prone to rants but sometimes it just comes flying out of you and you find yourself on that digital soapbox. This is one of those times.

I’m a born and bred marketer. But you knew that. What you may not know is that I have a love-hate relationship with marketing. I love what marketing can do for a product or service. Nothing makes me happier than when these guys get to help make organizations communicate better through their workshops. There’s a thrill when someone’s life becomes easier, more convenient or even just a little bit happier because of something I helped promote.

But. 

As with any field there’s a dark side. We’re not even going to talk about spam or black hat SEO because those things deserve to banished to marketing hell and never to be used again. Instead, let’s talk about less controversial but still offensive marketing tactics that need to stop now. 

1. Taking 10 days to remove me from your subscriber list

Why: Why, why, why do this? In today’s era of immediate removal, this makes you seem old, out of touch and incompetent. Even worse? The skeptical among us (and our numbers are high) think you’re just trying to squeeze out more sales even though we’ve made lack of interest known. 


2. Making me log into an account to remove myself from your list

Why: While this all-in-one system might be easy for you it’s much harder on your customer. Never a good thing. People who may temporarily wanted a break will remember what a pain this was and never resubscribe again. 

3. Link bait headlines

Why: Just look at the recent backlash again Upworthy and Buzzfeed. There’s also this downworthy plugin by Snipe that’s designed to decipher the spin. Enough of the "Mind blowing weird tricks and secrets you can learn from dead people" headlines.

4. Pop-ups asking me to subscribe now!

Why: Pop-ups work but users (including me) hate them. While they work their shelf life may be limited and you need to take care when placing them on your site.  And the sentiment is growing. Pop ups on smartphones are especially frustrating. You're reading an article when the screen goes gray and either you click to some site selling insurance or you have no way to remove the pop up so you have to abandon the page.

Pop-ups work but be aware, their shelf life may be limited and new tools are coming out to overcome these digital nuisances. Pop-ups may even harm your overall brand. 

Screenshot 2014 02 08 16.12.57 Five Things Marketers Need to Stop Doing This Very Minute

5. Focusing on vanity metrics

Why: Vanity metrics do not always equate to what drives revenue. A while back I went to a blogging conference. Some of the bloggers boasted 100,000 twitter followers but when I dug deeper these folks were barely making ends meet. While I may have a tenth of their #’s I have something more important: consistent clients and money in the bank. 

As the internet grows to 1.82 billion indexed pages …and counting, the signal to noise ratio is tough to combat. You can almost understand why marketers employ these dirty tricks. The downside is that everyone has caught on so users are getting inundated which means a backlash is looming.  I believe in marketing and even the more controversial cousin, growth hacking but hate how it gets bastardized. Don’t be one of those people.

C'mon, admit it. Using these strategies makes you feel kinda dirty sometimes doesn't it?

What to Do Instead

Be authentic. 

Focus on what’s really important. 

Do good work, which naturally attracts people.

 /end rant
 

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Where you belong

Tom Petty Where you belong
 

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The Best Way to Handle Failure


 The Best Way to Handle Failure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Moment I Realized I’m Asshole…Just Like Everyone Else

I don't know about you but I've always considered myself special. Actually, I knew I was special. I was different than the rest of you poor slobs.  I was nice. I prided myself on being a "good girl."  

I can't believe that I'm the only one who thought this way.  I think most of us pride ourselves on being a nice girl or a good guy.  Occasionally I run into that rare man or woman who says I'm not a nice person. I'm a bad guy. I am a bitch. But far more frequently we like to think of ourselves as nice, as good. We wouldn't do those things that bad people or mean people do. We'd never engage in things like talking badly about other people, listening to gossip or secretly feeling superior over someone who has failed. This is how I saw myself. When I was accused of this my response was text book.

"But I'm a nice girl! Other people talk about me!"

I really believed this.

But then I examined my behavior.

Someone gave me a look that made me wonder if I was perhaps being a bit unfair. So, I began observing myself. I noticed that I complained that my pain was worse than others. I remembered the time I literally had a "whose life is worse" contest. Hardly my finest hour. My mom definitely wouldn't have been proud. It became clear that I did these things too. I acted like a "mean" person even though I never would have considered myself to be one. I would talk about others and and then deride others for doing this same thing without even realizing the irony of it. I was doing exactly what they were doing but I was worse. I was a hypocrite, an asshole. The worst kind, the kind who is being an asshole while criticizing others for being one.

Ouch. Recognizing this behavioral pattern hurt. 

Where does this come from?

So, why are we assholes? (I'm pretty sure there are more of you like me.) I think part of the reason is because when we're feeling down, scared or unsure, criticizing others can give us a temporary boost of self esteem. It's a false boost that brings on the boomerang effect making us feel worse, until we do it again. So begins a pernicious cycle. The social media era only makes our fumbles and foibles more apparent and…easier to mock.

It's also easier to look at what someone else is doing wrong than to look at yourself. When you focus on what others are doing wrong you don't actually have to change yourself. You can feel superior. Because if you look at your own shortcomings then you have to do something about it. Otherwise you are an asshole and you would never be that right? It's funny how we delude ourselves. This is like looking in a funhouse mirror except the distorted vision we see has a halo over our heads. Clinging kitten The Moment I Realized Im Asshole...Just Like Everyone Else

We do all sorts of mental gymnastics in order to keep this inner self image of an angel despite our behavior indicating otherwise.  We jump through a lot of mental hoops in order to preserve this self image. We build a perception of self as what we'd like to be but don't always back that up with our behavior. That's the blind spot. 

We cling to this image of ourselves.

We don't realize that if we simply let go we'll find that the it's not as bad as we think. We can see our flaws and not be leveled by them. We can find community in our humanity.

How I'm doing today

Recognizing my blind spots allowed me to see those of others, seeing the world from their perspective and bekindforeveryone0ayoumeetisfighting0aabattleyouknow0anothingabout0a0ajohnwatson default The Moment I Realized Im Asshole...Just Like Everyone Elsehave more compassion. I began to think about other people's behavior in a different way. This is the lens which allowed me to truly find empathy. I'm still working on being less of an asshole so I'm not sure I have a lot of advice or the proverbial moral of the story to offer.

All I can tell you is that somehow recognizing that sometimes I'm an asshole and striving not to be one has made me more patient. Less judgmental. I'm far more compassionate. Including to myself. For being harsh on others hurts us too. Surprisingly it's made me happier. It's probably made everyone around me happier too. 

I guess this is what they call wisdom. It's funny how wisdom often makes us happier rather than self-righteous.  

If this is wisdom, give me another helping please.

 

If you want to hear me swear, click play below to listen to me read this post.

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How to Handle FOMO in Three Steps

I'm betting that like me, you might have some experience with the feeling of being left out.

The ache in your stomach. 

The feeling of having missed out. 

That sense that somehow this means people don't like you.

That somehow you don't run with the cool crowd anymore.

And you didn't even know you cared about being cool or liked until the missed event greeted you with it. 

When I was growing up in the days of VCRs (if you were lucky), answering machines and computers that were only used in a lab at school, fear of missing out was definitely a thing. But back then it didn't have it's nifty acronym or linger long. Going to school the day after the big party you missed felt awful sure but the feeling went away soon.

Maybe you made a desperate attempt to assert your likability. In those days you might have thrown a killer party. The modern counterpart might look something like jumping into the tweet storm – a vain attempt to not miss out. 

This feeling is commonly known these days as FOMO — Fear of Missing out. According to this study, 56% of social media users have experienced FOMO. Sometimes it's instigated by an uber cool party you missed. Perhaps it's a former acquaintance who always used to return your tweets but there's only tweet silence on their end.  Maybe you're like me, feeling left out when reading the announcement of a startup securing a massive exit — specially when it was an idea that you had but somehow just never got around to doing yourself.

In an era of always on social media, FOMO can be a pretty persistent problem. If you're like me, it can mushroom to a daily or even hourly feeling if left unchecked. 

So, What To Do About FOMO? 
One day a while back a friend and I were both suffering from severe FOMO. Both Twitter induced. He, from the launch announcement of a startup he was involved with in the early stages. My FOMO incendiary mo2013 10 23 21.27.33 1 1024x1024 How to Handle FOMO in Three Stepsment was discovering a couple of acquaintances (who I hadn't talked to in a year or more) unfollowed me on Twitter. I admit it, I wondered what I did wrong for a couple of minutes. I probably, maybe thought about launching a campaign to win them back. Then I realized the stupidity of these thoughts. Instead of worrying and trying to be cool I could just stop whining and go do something interesting. It actually worked.

There are loads of problems that take complex solutions. Or at least a multitude of steps to correct. The solution for FOMO is actually relatively simple.

Three steps to navigating FOMO

1. Time box it. Sob into your latte for 5 minutes.

2. Take a social media break for at least an hour. 

3. Then stop complaining. Go be awesome.

Creating an awesome product, blog post, work of art or even an animated gif is the surest way to cure you of FOMO. Why? Being super engaged in your life, doing what makes you lose track of time renders FOMO irrelevant. 

Every time the FOMO siren lures you to the rocks — rinse and repeat these three steps over and over again until you've steered your way towards something productive.

The bonus to this plan is that you're bound to be much happier too. Way better than wallowing right?

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3 Ways to Have a Productive Day


1. Know when you've made a good decision and when to pivot.

2. Avoid drama so you can focus on what's most important.

3. Let go of other people's problems.

 

That's the beginning of a productive day.

 

 

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How I Read 52 Books in a Year

Ready to read 52 books in the next 52 weeks? Yes?!? Alrighty.

Let's begin with two more compelling reasons for why you should read 52 books in a year. 

Numero Uno: You'll develop more interesting and deeper connections. One of my favorite things about this challenge was meeting others who shared my love of books. As I searched for good stories I made new friends and connected more deeply with existing relationships. My favorite question now is, "What's your favorite book and why?" The answers are sometimes surprising and always enlightening.

And Deux: Reading 52 books in a year is a big but achievable goal. While this challenge is not tiny it's fairly achievable if you work at it consistently. You just have to keep reading. For me, reaching a goal that stretched over a year built confidence. Consistent effort demonstrated that I also had the willpower and focus to reach important goals in my business. I learned that I really was able to let go of short-term gratification for something that was more meaningful. 

I know you can do it too. 

So let's talk about how YOU can read 52 books in a year.

Don't wait for the New Year
I'm not really a New Year's resolutions kind of gal. I often get inspired to take on a new challenge like meditating daily or reading 52 books in a year on some random Tuesday night in September. Remembering what Tara told me about the Reading Challenge on GoodReads I almost waited for the year to flip. Honestly I was afraid I'd chicken out if I didn't start that minute. And so I began. Like most things there isn't a perfect moment. Don't wait for the New Year to make the resolution to begin changing your life today. Stop waiting. Start today.

Do it one book at a time
When you begin your quest that number — 52 — is pretty daunting. Use Anne Lamott's wise advice from Bird by Bird to help you get started. Focusing only on the next book allows you to succumb to its secret world and enjoy it more. And when you have your face stuffed in the words you'll stop worrying about your goal and begin to truly enjoy the process. This challenge is also much easier when reading only one book at time. For someone who used to have 4 books going at once, this was a difficult but important new habit to form. My mantra? This moment, this book.

Don't shout about it from the skyscrapers 
I used to be a executive coach. During my training we were taught that we needed to "claim" a goal that we were going to achieve. The idea was that by loudly proclaiming it you made yourself accountable for acheiving your goal. But for me shouting out something I wanted to achieve felt strange. I hadn't done it yet. What if it wasn't the right goal? What if I changed my mind for something even better? It turns out there's something to my concerns. In this short little Ted talk, Derek Sivers explains that sharing your goals fools your brain into thinking that you've already done, which means you're less likely to actually go through with it.

I told a few close friends but otherwise kept my mouth shut even to the librarians who saw me every week. It was only at 4 books and 9 weeks to go that I felt confident to share my goal more widely. Even then, I was loathe to talk about it much and definitely didn't blog about it.

Change your reading habits
My dear friend Tara encouraged me to vary what I read in order to be successful. This was the best piece of advice I received. She gave me permission to read what made me happy rather than trying to be a book snob by reading intellectually challenging or epic books. Tara's may have been the best piece of reading advice I received. My advice? Don't pick long reads like Shanatram (944 pages!) when doing a 52 books in a year challenge. If you do pick one longer book be sure to offset it with shorter, easier reads.

Don't slog through a book just because of sunk reading cost
If a book isn't giving you that reading mojo, drop it. There's no sense in giving yourself brain damage if you're not into a book. If you find yourself yelling at the book or rereading a sentence over and over again just say "I'm not that into you" drop it and find a new one that you are into.

Get on GoodReads
This is the best way to track what you want to read as well as what you've read. The last 2 years GoodReads has sponsored a Reading Challenge. While not everyone challenges themselves to read 52 books, it's a great way to discover good books and find camaraderie in your challenge. Although my challenge was spread over two calendar years I was still able to use their system to help me track my progress. Come look me up on GoodReads. You can find me under um, my name. I can't wait to see what you read. And? What you learn.

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Why I Read 52 Books in a Year

I was never cool.

As soon as I could read I became a word nerd who enjoyed slipping into the world of words. The endless combinations of words and the stories they produced brought me comfort. Sure, I could converse with people but the truth is I always preferred the wonderment of books. I spent most of my childhood with a flashlight ready so I could read late into the night long after the lights were out. A librarian wanted to promote reading so they offered to dedicate a book to you for every 10 that you read. By the time I was 9 I had more than 12 dedicated to me–at just that library. One weekend instead of practicing for cheerleader tryouts I was engrossed with biographies on Martin Luther King, Pocahontas and Sacajewa. When it came to the tryout I did a halfhearted cheer — and went back to reading my book. Of course I didn't make the squad, though I was on the journalism staff throughout high school. 

The Part Where I Lose My Love
In college I took every english class available in hopes that I could turn my obsession into a profession. Sadly, my obsession stayed a hobby.When I left the world of higher learning my reading continued but at a far slower pace. Books were soon replaced with the endless blare of the TV at night, a vain attempt at cloaking the days events with mindless blather.  I discovered that literally and metaphorically I couldn't read by the tv light. And so my books became dusty artifacts of a former love. My reading became more limited to articles and blog posts. When I read books they were nearly all non-fiction–anything that could be consumed quickly and turned into knowledge for my burgeoning professional life. 

The Return of Reading & A Big Challenge
A few years ago I found my way back to my beloved. Though my book binges weren't anywhere near my previous state, it felt good to be cradled inside stories again. I wondered how I could plot a more frequent presence of books in my life. My inspiration was Andrew Hyde and Tara Anderson Cahliman who had both recently finished reading 52 books in a year. For 6 months I tried to screw up the courage to attempt to read 52 books in 52 weeks. A book a week when I was barely reading one a month? (gulp) What if I failed? What would it mean for my love of books if I didn't make it? Worry danced in my head like flame on a campfire. One day I just decided that I could do it. Or at least, I could try.

Why read 52 books in a year? 

  • Open myself to new ideas different cultures
  • It was time to pry myself away from the tv 
  • To rediscover my former love affair with words
  • Reading good writing makes you a better writer
  • My intuition kept egging me on
  • To see if I could do it

The biggest reason I did it was to challenge myself to do something that mattered to me even if it didn't have a direct impact on my business.

So, I did it. I actually read 52 books in a year.

I started (and finished) my first book Apron Anxiety on September 16, 2012. I read the last line of my final book Born Standing Up on August 12, 2013. 

Now that you know why I did it, in my next post I'll tell you how I did it and how you can too. (You know you wanna…and I know you can.)

 

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