Sync & Swimm

Marketing, Stocks, Sales, Radio & Rants

Perception is Reality…Woody The Internet Pecker

ImageWow…..I haven’t posted anything on WordPress for a long time. So, to get myself back in the saddle, I’ll throw the word “pecker” in the title..that should work.  

Perception problems are marketing problems. Don’t believe this?  Pop quiz…Who developed one of the first touch screen computers?  Well, the perception is that Apple started it all………and if that was your guess, you couldn’t be more wrong…But before you Google the answer,  the original touch screen was the most bizarre marketing blunder of all time and actually involves Panasonic naming it after a penis.

In 1996 Panasonic thought the mouse was too hard to use, and the internet was going to be the biggest development of the 20th century…They were right, but it didn’t  matter…The name of their touch screen computer was the Woody…Pretty bad right?  But  it gets a lot worse……They decided Woody Wood Pecker would be a great mascot to bring in the youth market  (In 1996??!) So before you connect the dots, yes,  the computer was named….Touch Woody……And if  it couldn’t get any worse,  Panasonic introduced  a new internet support feature called….wait for it…The internet pecker.

A touch screen in 1996!  Steve Jobs was just coming back to Apple and the IPad was over ten years away.  A touch screen was WAY ahead of its time.  But alas, you can have the best product in the world, but if people don’t know about it, (or laugh like 12 year old boys when they say the name) you will fail—-Just ask A. Wang, the creator of Wang Computer 

The Company That Will Bring It To You…..

captain-kirk-communicatorAs I type this my daughter is on Face Time with her friend on her IPOD Touch.  My ten year old has been using Face Time for about a week and a half. In that time she has become more proficient than Capt Kirk with his communicator. Who could have ever imagined us getting to the point where kids could communicate with their friends in HD quality on a device smaller than a deck of cards—-Wireless! When I was ten I had to share a party line with 5 other families at my grandmother’s house in Maine (I’ll save this for another story). My pointer finger is now about five sizes bigger than the rest of my hand from using the giant rotary dial phone…Tough times.

The funny thing is, growing up we were always told of flying cars and Dick Tracy video wristwatches. It just never seemed to happen, until it did..Slowly but surely most of the Sy-Fy predictions have caught up to us. (Well, except the flying car thing). I remember back in the early 90’s Tom Selleck used to talk about all the great things AT & T was going to do for us. Sending a fax from the beach, attending a meeting in your pajamas, borrowing a book from around the world. As Tom was pontificating about all the futuristic wonders AT& T was about to lay on us, I was still getting used to the AOL guy saying “You’ve got Mail.”   Apparently Steve Jobs watched those commercials too, and he became the guy who brought us a bunch of it. I’m sure AT & T is the infrastructure behind much of the technology, but Apple has a better marketing department

So I hopped on YouTube (the Irony of using Google to look up a commercial about A T & T technology was not lost on me) and went on a quest to find those commercials from the early 90’s. I found them, and they were even more accurate than I remembered..Scary precise. Check out the touch screen on the EBook. This was 1993 when people didn’t know what an EBook, or an Email even was..

So like a crystal ball peering into the future, I present to you a montage of those commercials telling us how great life would be for us very soon. Listening to my daughter giggle with her friends on her $100 IPOD makes me realize we haven’t seen anything yet….Kirk out!

 

 

 

The Confidence of Preparation

You’ve heard it so many times that it’s become a cliché–Be prepared! Normally we think in these terms when it comes to a disaster, much like the east coast did as it prepared for Hurricane Sandy. Generators…water… batteries….those sorts of things. When you have time to prepare for something in advance it builds a sense of confidence. You can take a deep breath and say “come what may, I’ve did all I can.” You can’t put a price tag on that kind of confidence.

Today as certain neighborhoods are humming with the sounds of generators, others bask in sunlight unaffected by the ravages of the storm. You never know when all the preparation will pay off, but that’s the point. Don’t take that generator back to Home Depot because you didn’t use it–Have it ready for next time. Plan out the next step before you have to take it.

What if you  prepared like a storm was coming in all areas of your life? Retirement, a promotion at work, your relationship with your friends and family, your health? Don’t wait until your broke to start saving, don’t wait until you have a heart attack before you start getting healthy. Don’t wait until the storm hits, besides being too late, you lose twice…All the worry about the storm, and the actual storm itself.

Mr. Sunshine

Rainy days are the best time to see clients. People seem to be a little less jubliant when mother nature turns on the waterworks. So if the sun won’t shine, you need to.

Stop by Dunkin Donuts, grab a dozen of the fancies and a few coffees, and drop them off at your best clients. For less than $10 you just lit up a room. Those are the things that separate the good reps from the great ones.  Don’t ask your company to reimburse you.  Just do it. Invest in your own growth

Do these type things  a few times and you will become someone people look forward to seeing. A rainmaker who brings the sunshine.

How You Learn Something New

To learn something new you need to hear it, see it, and do it….Right?  What if you just heard it? Over and over again. People learn the most through the ear. It may take longer, but once the message has wrapped itself around your brain, it never leaves…EVER.

Don’t believe me? Take this little quiz and see how you score.  I guarantee you get more than 90% correct.

  • A Diamond is _________
  • A _______ is a terrible thing to waste
  • An ________ a day keeps the doctor away
  • It takes a __________ and keeps on ticking

So, you think these are advertisements that everyone knows and it’s much harder to brand yourself in the modern age? Well, keep going.

  • ______ ______ Yahoo?
  • Got _______?
  • So easy even a _____________ can do it
  • Every kiss begins with _______

So how did you do? I’m not even going to give you the answers because I know most of you scored a perfect 100%. The “Apple a day” slogan was a campaign from the early 1900’s, and here you are in 2012 reciting it without thinking. A catchy phrase, with repetition and little bit of alliteration, can stay with you for a lifetime. Does your business stand out? What are you known for?  Will people remember you in 50 years?

I suspect you could make a lasting imprint with just a bit of thought….You do want to be all that you can be…Right?

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back–Weight Loss And Vacations

Life is about consistent forward motion. You probably put 10,000 to 20,000 miles a year on your car over the course of a year. What you don’t do is put all those miles at once. It happens gradually over a long period of time. You prepare for the journey by changing the oil, keeping things tuned up, and having an overall plan.  This logic applies to everything in life, yet we rarely see it that way.

Case in point, vacations and weight loss. If you lose weight gradually over time by eating right and exercising there is a good chance you will keep it off. It becomes a lifestyle. If you were to drop 20 pounds very quickly, you probably will gain all the weight back once you stop being fanatical. In fact, you will probably gain more weight back. So yes, you will end up fatter than if you never dieted at all. That’s the trouble with “all or nothing” plans.

Which leads me to vacations. Vacations are designed to let you recharge, retool, and get away from the office for a bit so you can be more productive upon your return. Guess what? That’s not what actually happens. What happens, is it takes about two days to get out of work mode. By the Wednesday of your vacation week you finally start to relax only to have to start preparing for work mode again. The extra energy it takes to switch gears actually makes you more exhausted. By the time you return to work, you have to power through the giant stack of stuff on your desk, and keep up with the new stuff rolling in. In essence you went on a crash “work” diet for a week, and gained it all back, plus more, when you return.

The only way to really beat the vacation problem is to have a great 2nd in command. The person watching the shop when you’re not around is worth their weight in gold. Pay them what they’re worth. Praise and appreciate them. They are your key to a life of sanity. Leaders need to be able to walk away and trust that the place will run without them. This happens by consistently grooming the people under them to take the reins when needed. An extremely tough task, especially in a workplace that has a “that’s not my job” mentality.

Finding people as passionate and who care as much as you is a big assignment. It can’t be done in a week, a month, or even a year. It takes consistent training, education and a leadership style that allows the troops to see the leader as someone who leads by example. When the boss is viewed as someone with honesty, integrity and an ability to see the big picture, people will respond positively.

You prepare your food for a diet. You prepare a workout log. You prepare your day so you can live a healthier lifestyle. Prepare for everything, than go with the flow. If you don’t the weight will pile back on with a vengeance. The key to success is the proper preparation and consistently following the plan..Have you prepared the person who will lead the charge in your absence?

Now, if you gain weight while on vacation, well, that’s a whole another story to write about.

 

 

 

 

Knee Jerk Reaction

The world needs jerks. Ok, let me define how I view jerks before anyone gets their undies in a wad. A jerk is someone who makes you follow the rules, tells you the truth when you need to hear it, and most importantly, helps you from crossing over from being a jerk to being a scumbag. There is a BIG DIFFERENCE!

In my mind jerks keep us in line. The teacher who actually makes sure you know the lesson. A coach who takes the time to prepare you to win. You see, that’s the big difference. People who seem like jerks at certain points of our life are ausually  the ones who care the most about us.  Most of the time being strict will get you the jerk classification. That’s ok as long as the jerk doesn’t play favorites, doesn’t back stab, and is completely honest. Actually, this is the most important trait of all. Honest to the point of telling people the cold, hard, truth even when they don’t want to hear it.

Plato said “they deem him their worst enemy who tells them the truth.” In other words, people think brutally honest folks are/can be jerks. That’s one of the problems of civil society. The scumbag who tells you everything you want to hear, is considered the bell of the ball (until their scumbaggery is discovered–think Eddie Haskell) while the person who gives it to you straight is, well, usually considered a jerk.

The truth always comes out in the end. Usually the smooth talking souls who always say the right thing, and never offend anyone, have ulterior motives on their mind. We need to surround ourselves with people who help make us better. Who help us be the best we can, and who aren’t afraid to give us a dose of reality.

Show me a jerk who really cares about is family, friends and work, and I’ll show you a successful, balanced life.

My Name Is Craig, And I Have A Listening Problem

 

I like to talk. That’s what good marketing and sales guys do, right? Slap the client on the back and tell them a joke about three guys who walked into a bar…Well, that’s the perception, but the reality is the exact opposite. In all aspects of life, not just sales, the best listener wins. Take it from a guy who can’t wait to get his “two cents’ into a conversation. Sometimes we think we know it all, or take the speaker for granted, or they just grate on us…Well, none of that matters. If you truly want to be a success, you have to learn to listen…Now!

One of my biggest problems is thinking about  what I will say next in a conversation, and not giving the speaker my full attention–Major sin in communication–Since there isn’t a 12 step program that I know of to help me become a better listener, I’ve taken it upon myself  to hone my listening skills. Here are the top ten tips that I’ve learned over the years to help me with my “disorder”.

1. Ask yourself, “Are you really listening to this person?”

2. Don’t interrupt.

3. Ask questions. Then shut up! Concentrate on the other person’s answers, not your thoughts.

4. Listen without prejudging.

5. Use eye contact–Let the speaker know you care about what is being said.

6. Don’t answer before you hear the person out.

7. Pay attention to all the details.

8. Active listening involves understanding.

9. Listen also to what is not said. Implied is often more important than spoken. ..Look for non-verbal clues.

10. Avoid all distractions. Stop looking at your phone!

 

With a little practice anyone can be a better listener– Make it a point to learn something from everyone you meet. The best salespeople are always the best listeners…

Now what were we talking about? :-)

 

It’s A Daisy!—What’s In A Name?

I’ve been fascinated by advertising since I was a kid.  The colorful box of the Happy Meal, and even before that, the original toy that came with your hamburger from Burger Chef….brilliant.  My favorite advertising story came when I was eleven years old in the form of a bb gun….You see, A Christmas Story was about as true to life as it gets for a pre-teen boy.

Around the age of eleven every American boy wants only one thing (no, not that— girls aren’t for a few years), that thing is a bb gun.  If you really had parents that trusted you, or didn’t give a crap about you, that bb gun was the Crossman pump-action.  The Crossman could be pumped to the point of explosion, and actually could piece a soda can. (Or your little bother’s behind).  So the Crossman was completely out of the question for me.  I was neither  trusted or disregarded, so I had to beg for a gun that was designed to fool my mom…The lever action Daisy Pal.

How could a gun named a Daisy Pal ever cause any problems?  Well, it really couldn’t, the lever-action allowed one bb to be loaded in the chamber.  It spit each bb out at a pathetic velocity that you could  see come out of the gun.  If you wanted the bb to go more than 50 feet you had to shoot it with an arc.  Water pistols could probably inflict more injury. This didn’t matter to mothers, because the natural predator to the bb gun is a mom. 

Daisy knew what it was up against.  They knew they had to trick the typical mom.  What better way than to name a rifle after a flower, and add the word pal, as the model number.  Well, this brilliant marketing trick worked, (along with two solid years of crying for a bb gun by me). 

Even at eleven years old I knew it was worth the price to give up on the cool Crossman, and except my fate with my Daisy Pal. I instinctively knew it had a girly name so my mother would allow me to have one.  I also knew that perhaps it could be an entry-level weapon that would eventually lead to the coveted Crossman.  In the end I had to keep mine at my grandmother’s house in Northern Maine, and was made fun of unmercifully because everyone else had pump-action rifles….Heck, they lived in Northern Maine for crying out loud–they had bears!

So I have kept the Daisy secret for all these years–That pact that Daisy made with every boy under the age of twelve.  The unwritten bond, the wink, the knowing that sometimes you have to accept harsh trade offs to experience everything that life has to offer….for an eleven year old boy anyway.

 

 

 

Pie Are Round!

From the moment I heard my 6th grade teacher say “Pie r Squared” I knew numbers could lie because everyone knows “Pie r Round”.   Flash forward a few years and I’m in first place for a major sales contest.  The top prize will go to the biggest percentage gain.  I was at $50,000 up 10%.  The person who beat me was at $10,000–up 50%.  Drats!  Numbers lied once again, (and now it’s costing me money!)  It didn’t matter that I brought in 5 times more money, what mattered to management  was the percentage increase. 

My latest round of being bullied by the figures?  In the past week I went to a local sporting event.  A three year old on a Casio could have counted up  1,500 people in attendance  in about 30 seconds.  The official number that was released by the team?  3,600…Absolutely crazy…  Numbers can be made to say anything.  I now question everything.  Do four out of five dentists really recommend Colgate?

I know many accountant types will read this and argue that numbers are pure and there is always a right and a wrong.  No arbitrary teacher to give you a C minus on your explanation of WWII.  No sir, right or wrong..No gray area.  The beauty of life by the numbers.   I get all that, and some things in life do come down to right or wrong.  However, when you can make statistics basically say anything,  you come to realize the world has many shades of gray.  The person who knows the facts the best, and can clearly articulate  them, usually gets their way on which shade.

Don’t just take every stat you hear as fact.  Do your own research. Ask your own questions.  The history books are usually written by the victors, and sometimes you need to dig a little deeper.

 

 

 

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