Traveling to Walt Disney World for the first time this past summer generated far more than pleasant days watching the kids’ faces light up when they spotted their favorite Disney character or experienced a rousing ride like Space Mountain. Even walking down memory lane, aka Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, could not compare with the lessons so subtly taught throughout Disney. What I learned in this trip surpassed the countless classes I endured to get my business degree, and it included a lot more fun.
Disney was a genius not only with his cartoon characters but also in the world of business. His values-based leadership and dedication to excellence spills out in the quality employees (cast members), products and services they offer. Guests enjoy outstanding accommodations and food. Disney’s highly trained staff not only anticipates and meets every need, in most instances, they exceed your highest expectations.
We actually interviewed several employees and learned more about the extensive planning that went into the complex, and it did not stop when WDW opened its doors. On the contrary, Disney World continues to grow, change and evolve to meet the dreams of coming generations. Even as we chatted, teams of employees worked behind the scenes to make the WDW organization run like a well-oiled machine. You don’t often see that practiced in the business world or taught in business courses. Perhaps that’s why Walt Disney also planned for the Disney Institute to prepare his employees in the fine art of knowing your customer. Long before Facebook or LinkedIn, Disney knew how to establish and build lasting relationships.
During our entire stay, only once did I see anything amiss. A pop-up thunderstorm had deluged the area and the resort’s guests flooded the lobby with their dripping clothes and soggy shoes. The restrooms had a continuous flow of people trying to dry themselves. I actually spotted a little paper on the floor and an empty basket that previously held towels. I marveled to myself that this was the only time I saw a restroom in disarray, but when I returned a few minutes later, I found the room immaculate. They must have invisible staff or just maybe Tinkerbelle’s magic pixie dust is real. Whatever their plan, it works.
Fun abounds at Walt Disney World, yet you can take home a lot more than souvenirs and it won’t take up room in your suitcase – unless you take copious notes. WDW is not just for kids.
There’s a measure of truth in the old adage, “If you build a better mousetrap, they’ll beat a path to your door.” How does this happen? The answer is word of mouth.
It’s simple really. One person tells another how much he liked or benefited from your product or service. That person recommends it to someone else who also touts its attributes to another until the path to your door has become well-worn. No high pressure sales and no high-priced ad campaigns. It’s just one proverbial beggar telling another where to get bread.
Enter social media. Now if someone likes your mousetrap, she (or he) can post it on Facebook so that 487 of her closest friends see it. Respecting her and her opinions, these comrades just may give it a try and then tell 287 of their nearest and dearest friends their thoughts – good or bad. With social media the cycle continues within minutes. You do the math. If the comments are positive, it won’t take long for folks from all over the world to be beating a virtual path to your door.
Whether you’re helping your child sell Girl Scout cookies and popcorn or marketing a new line of cars, social media is a viable marketing strategy.
Do you get overwhelmed over the volume of email you get each day?
If you work in a business office, you’re bombarded throughout the day with electronic messages. Did you know that it takes an average of 2 minutes to open read and close an email? This means if you send and receive 50 emails per day – I realize this is likely a low estimate, you spend 100 minutes per day just on email. Let’s see, based on 260 days per year that works out to about 18 days you’re dedicating to email alone. All of this does not include any action or follow up the email may generate nor does it count texting or IM. You do your own math based on your volume.
Several years ago, I read the Hamster Revolution by Mike Song, Vicki Halsey and Tim Burress, which offered several strategies to reduce the time spent on dealing with email. They claim to save you 20% on your time. Their methods do work, though I never actually measured my results.
One of the ways they suggest to lessen the load is to use the ABC approach for messages you write:
Action Summary – one sentence specifying action, purpose or your key point
Background – body of message using bullet points and white space whenever you can
Close – niceties, next steps, and auto signature (this really saves you time).
You might identify with their hamster analogy if you expend a lot of energy handling messages while your real work piles up on the desk. Throw in frequent meetings, and you’re loading your brief case to take the work home. Not good. To establish more work/life balance, try different strategies to lighten the load.
When you start your own business or a new job, it is important to get yourself or your name out in public in order to obtain new clients or business. Networking is a wonderful means to accomplish this. For some, the process is easier than for others. In my case, I chose to begin with a local Chamber of Commerce business card exchange. I thought this would be an excellent way to bolster my courage and start my journey to success. I even coerced a friend to attend as well.
Dressed professionally and armed with business cards and prepared elevator speeches, we grabbed our Google directions and were on our way. Admittedly we experienced some nervousness as we set out on this great adventure outside the “Comfort Zone.”
We were unconcerned about the directions as we had cut and pasted the address from the online invitation into Google maps. We followed our prescribed path and recognized the names of streets just as the instructions indicated. However, the bank hosting the event did not appear. I called my husband, who patiently re-Googled (is there such a term?) the address and came up with the same plan. We retraced our route, but did not see the bank. In fact, we did not see any banks.
After getting turned around on some back roads and trying to second guess what Google may have done, we ended up in the next town that happened to begin with the same letter. Still the correct bank did not emerge. Finally, we resigned ourselves to head for home. We traveled several more miles before stopping at a traffic light. Lo and behold, we looked up and before our eyes was “the” bank. Can you believe the name of the street matched not only the invitation, but also the street we had been traveling on for the past hour?
After traveling about 50 miles (It should have been 6.1 and taken 15 minutes), we finally reached our destination. We hurried in to exchange cards with the few people remaining. Funny thing. The nervousness had disappeared as we had replaced that emotion with relief and thankfulness for finding our location.
So to answer my title question, can you find your way out of your comfort zone using Google maps? The answer is yes, but the route you travel may deviate from the map.
The only thing that does not change is God. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. Everything else – seasons, time, people, cultures, clothes, etc. – require change and that’s a good thing, but does it ever stop?
I get it. The business world must continually improve, reinvent and adjust itself because the marketplace and technology are changing so fast they have to keep up to compete. Employers expect their staff to do the same or lose their jobs. Even if you’re one who’s on the unemployment role, you understand these principles and start your reinvention process in order to find a new way to add value and land a job. The truth is, you never reach a point where the improvement process is no longer necessary.
Few would argue that keeping up with technology, communication and industry trends enhances your capabilities, yet the reason for doing it all is often lacking. The fact is many workers travel focused career paths only to provide the pay and perks they desire. Although climbing the corporate ladder presents its own challenges and rewards, some reach the top and wonder what it was all about. There is a higher purpose for it all, but you could miss it if you’re not looking.
I figure why wait until you get to the end to ask the hard questions, so I’m asking them of myself now. To add emphasis, I’m putting them in the present progressive tense.
How am I adding value today?
How am I making a positive difference today?
How am I making my work count today?
If I can answer these questions truthfully each day, I should begin to see the direction of my life. If I discover gaps or inconsistencies, I know I’ve got some work to do. The good news is as long as we have breath, we can change. The best part is if I choose the road of continuous improvement, I might actually change the world or at least the part where I live.
If you’re like so many others vying to get your message out to land a job or sell your product, you’ll want to master the elevator speech – a 30-second Reader’s Digest version of your resume or business plan. In yesterday’s post, I mentioned 4 S’s to help you focus on your listener and asked you to stay tuned to learn more about technique and content. So I’m picking up on that today.
The technique sounds simple enough, yet it may require some stiff self-talk and a mini-makeover for you to pull it off. All that’s required is that you look and sound confident. Let your passion show. Do you need to pay closer attention to your appearance or delivery? Practicing your presentation in front of a mirror will help you see what others do. No worries, though. All of this will fall into place if you’ve done your homework on the content and you’re comfortable with what you have to say.
First and foremost, keep in mind your goal to engage your listener so that he wants to hear more.
Start out with the idea of gaining their interest by sharing the benefit your skills, product or idea brings to them. Perhaps it will solve a problem or address an unmet need.
Sandwich in how your skills or ideas will meet their need and why it must be fixed sooner – preferably now – rather than later. This may require some home-spun self analysis to hone it down to a few words, but once you think you have it, run it by someone who knows you well to get their feedback. You may have overlooked your most stellar quality.
Show how your proposal will succeed to their benefit. Whether you’re interested in employment or selling a product or initiative, they’re interest is in the return on investment.
Stop talking and listen to their response. If they ask you questions or for your business card, you’ve got your foot in the door.
So now I’ll ask myself, “What can you say in 30 seconds?”
This question offers the perfect opening for you to provide a 30 second response that could open or close the doors of your future. Are you looking for a new job, a business supporter, a product sale or a change? Believe it or not, your answer is not all about you. Zig Ziglar says it best: “You will get all you want in life if you helpenoughother peopleget what they want.”
Often referred to as the elevator speech, the term evolved because you really have only a short time – similar to the time it takes to travel between floors – to engage the person with your message. Within 15 to 30 seconds, your questioner will determine whether or not they want to hear more. Your response will, of course, be truthful and deal with your background, experience and goals, but the key is to determine how your chance to share can be of benefit or add value to either the listener or someone in their network.
Practice in front of the mirror so you’ll be comfortable enough with your message to be able to customize it on the fly. Try these 4 S’ to tell it all:
Start with the benefit you provide
Sandwich your capabilities and background around this benefit
Show how your strengths and goals add value
Stop talking and begin listening
Although you may be nervous to share your information, don’t strive for perfection. (More on technique and content later.) Keep in mind it’s more about matching your desires with theirs. Smile and do the best you can, but more importantly, pay attention to what they’re saying with their eyes and body language as well as with their words.
Even if you’re not trying to land a new job, etc., it’s good to have an elevator speech ready. Who knows, you might just make a new friend.
With new technology and medical advancements, what used to be considered mid-life has now stretched from age 40 to 60. What then is the new 65, i.e., the arbitrary time for retirement? The answer depends upon the one you’re asking?
If you are posing this query to those in the corporate world, keep in mind their competing in today’s global marketplace. They’re looking at head counts, medical claims, salary ranges and productivity. Loyalty and time accrued factor less and less in their priorities. For most businesses, the new ideal 65 is 55.
If you’re a financial planner reviewing the portfolio of today’s baby boomers, you might say 80 is the new 65 because most boomers have not set aside sufficient funds for the golden years and will be required to work longer to meet their financial needs. Even if you’re 65 and have planned well for your future years, you may not be ready to sit in a rocking chair on the front porch. You’ve learned and experienced a lot and would like to continue to use this expertise to benefit others. Those in that category might say that the new 65 is 75.
No matter how far along you are on the continuum of life heading towards your 65, you’ll want to evaluate your status. Then you can figure out your strategy so you’ll stay on track or get back on course. Perhaps these questions will get you started.
Should you be starting to save or be saving more?
Are you on target to reach your financial quests for college education for your children, travel to foreign ports, or a second home by the sea?
Will your skills continue to measure up or do they need an upgrade?
These are valid questions at most any age, but let me ask one more. If you could do whatever you wanted and had no restrictions or limitations, what would that be? You might want to give some thought to this one. Are you already doing it? If you’re not, what would it take to get you started? Remember, it’s never too late to begin.