Saturday, February 8, 2014

Moving Others: Reviewing Dan Pinks "To Sell Is Human"

Courtesy Image
Daniel Pink's now not so new book "To Sell is Human, The Amazing Truth about What Motivates Others" connected with when I first read it in early 2013 with it's ideas reverberating with me everyday since.  I'm serious. Reading it confirmed something I knew intuitively, that "we are all in sales" and that selling isn't a dirty word, rather a reflection of basic human activity we do each and every day. 

      Pink shares how day in and day out we spend "40% of our jobs seeking to persuade others to act, choose, decide, select an idea, in some way to behave a certain way to achieve a desired outcome"  As Pink says, this is called "Non-sales selling". This behavior is basic to our existence. We all do it. Reading this rang true to me as a sole-proprietor architect and business person. 
      Everyday I seek to move people in my work, engaging in non sales selling and yes sometimes selling, and what better way to improve I found is reading Pink's book and acting on the ideas and research he shares.  Whether you realize it or not, everytime you post on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and the like you sell yourself, your ideas, the things you find interesting.  
      You can continue doing so without clarity or understanding of this basic fact or recognizing you do it harness the aha moment and put it to good use. As Pink says, "It turns out that we are all natural salespeople. Each of us- because we're human--has a selling instinct, which means that anyone can master the basics of moving others." He goes on to say how the traditional catch phrase ABC, "Always be Closing" no longer applies, rather could be replaced with a new ABC, "Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity." 
      Attunement is fascinating to me for a number of reasons. Pink says "Attunement  is the ability to blend one's actions and outlook into harmony with other people." He believes you increase your power by intentionally reducing it, beginning each new encounter or interaction believing you are in a position of lower power or authority. Doing so helps you empathize with the other's viewpoint.  You walk in their shoes, understand their perspective better.
      Attunement is strengthened "by using your head as much as your heart - Top Sales people have strong emotional intelligence but they don't let their emotional connection sweep them away." You need to connect and empathize with your coworkers but not get sucked in too far, finding a balance and objectivity.
      A very direct way to explain attunement which I continue using daily is mimicking others in a self-aware, observant, respectful way.  Pink goes on to share many examples of this but for me I explain this as keenly observing those around you, picking up cues from them about how they're interacting with you and blending with them by interacting similarly rather than in sharp jarring contrast to them.  This blending translates to figures of speech, body movement and position, energy level together and more.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sometimes What Falls on the Ground is the Most Precious

Petals on the Pavement, Copyright 2013
      Walking this morning I came upon these fallen blossoms.  Like grains of sand individually they may be attractive, intriguing and such as individuals. Collectively laying there they form a pattern of interwoven beauty. 
      However, it is often what you can not see which is most revealing. The petals together created a wafting sweet spring like aroma on the wet pavement.  An interesting juxtaposition of the natural and the man-made.
      Spring brings to the forefront senses which lay dormant in the winter as growing things burst onto the scene.  This moment is an unlikely example of design cultivation.  Do you have ones to share?


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Is the Bangladesh Building Collapse Economic Terrorism of the Haves Upon the Have Nots in Disguise?

So now with more than 1,000 dead from the Bangladesh factory collapse we think it's time we consumers wake up from our collective ignorance of where our products come from, whether they're made within a socially responsible and transparent framework and expect better from ourselves in our buying habits.  While the companies themselves may shoulder a great deal of the burden we consumers and the system we willingly participate in are to blame as well.

Retailers are Pressed on Safety in Factories by the New York Times offers an update as the death toll climbs over 1,000 and an overview of what's been happening this week in response to the disaster.  There's also an online petition you can sign from Avaaz here.

Is this essentially quiet behind the scenes pervasive economic terrorism by the haves inflicted upon the have nots?  I don't like using the word terrorism but I can't think of an adequate alternative.  It makes me very uneasy using it but doing so wakes me up in a way I can not ignore. (Are there other words more apt, let me know.)

Here's one of the major reasons the companies are in this country....From this article

"Bangladesh, the world’s second-largest apparel exporter after China, has the lowest minimum wage in the world — $37 US a month — which has helped it attract billions of dollars in orders from the West."
(After checking a variety of sources, this claim appears not true enough.  Cuba is $5 US a month, a number of former Soviet republics a little higher, Tajikistan $17 US,  India is $47 US, Vietnam $95 US, Mexico $102, China $137 US)

Here's the major kick and challenge to we 'haves' identified at the end of the article.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Growing Self Awareness of Technology Overload

Wordle: Too Much Information
A Word Cloud  Explaining How I feel
     This holiday season I am really overloaded by technology, so much so it's making my head hurt and I feel both annoyed, confused and conflicted by the media messaging coming at me from all directions.  I see and feel all the beautiful images and implied lifestyle of ultmate media experience.  I see families sitting in contemporary styled living rooms watching large flatscreens, heads bent down looking at tablets, laptops.  All together they appear it seems, but in actuality so far apart from one another.  I don't buy what I'm seeing in the advertising because I'm living in a media overload nightmare.  I think it's a tip of a proverbial socio-cultural iceberg. 
     I'm surrounded by screens of various sizes and shapes.  I'm uncomfortable seeing so many friends and family uncontrollably it seems bent over tablets, itouches, laptops vaguely interacting with one another, not making clear eye, mumbling answers to questions down to the screen but not across the room to the person asking the question.  If this is togetherness and family time why does my skin crawl ever so little sometimes when I look across to see a loved one head down on a screen, body in place, mind and focus elsewhere.
     I can't be the only one feeling a little weird about this can I?  I know all of this great cool tech at least in the commercials, web and multi-media advertising has us all living in a super happy fantasy world of better lives etc.  But is it really making us better people?  Do we know how to do things like basic communication, like....talking to one another?  I know that after a long day working on my architectural work surrounded by screens at my desk, where I frequently post strategic updates to my LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, flitting around doing work related research I feel a bit scattered. 
     In the last year or so, have you tried reading a newspaper article or picked up a magazine and tried reading an indepth piece, quickly realizing you can't because you're still scanning the pages like they were on a screen and you can't settle down to actually read like you used to.  I have.  Often.  I feel all of this tech and my unwitting behavior with it has led me to a self-created attention deficit disorder.   
     Backing up a little, let's set some context. In our home bookshelves we have an old children's book from the 1950's or so espousing the glamourous miracles of the technology then called television.  Looking at its simple colored illustrations showing how the technology worked, explaining the complex and mysterious ideas of programs of various kinds being beamed over airwaves into people's living rooms seems quaint today.  Often books like this or Norman Rockwell paintings depict entire family's sitting around a living room, a barber shop, restuarant or bar looking at a single TV or listening to a radio.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

Seven Secrets of Exceptional Customer Service

While at VtSBDC training with Carrie Gendreau, seminar leader.
(This is just a series of cryptic notes...not a long form post fyi....)

Treat everyone as a guest, seek to connect, pay attention, listen hard

Be ready to help your guest, be ready, be prepared the moment the walk in the door.

It is important to keep and clarify expectations in the process of serving them.

Every single time, how we look, our first impression matters most. However take care not to pre judge or not to be preconceived.

The details matter. It is always about the details. Caring for details show we see the big picture and get it.

4 Ways we have contact with our guests

1. How we look
2, What we do
3. What we say
4. How we say it

Have immediate rapor and connection with your guests.

Say please and thank you at all times.

Develop an attitude of gratitude.

Never put down the competition.

Catch people doing things right and celebrate success.

It's all about what I can do for you, not what I can't.

Engage directly with guests somehow with your interactions. "Welcome to Moe's".

Show genuine interest by listening and show you're listening. Do so by possibly repeating back what you thought you heard. It shows you care and you are focused on them.

Say their name back to them. Of course we need to know their name.

Exceed our guests' expectations, (quotes on walls of restrooms stalls)

Rules of Customer Service:
1. Customer is always right. 2. Go back to number 1.

How can I exceed my customer's expectations?

See our guest's complaints as gifts and learning oppourtunities.

- Handle the challenge first, then the solution or reason.
- Show empathy
- Find a solution
- Offer a gift , coupon

Does your organization have a customer service mission statement and process which all buy-in to and follow? Whether a small services based business like mine, Arocordis Design, a larger retail or manufacturing entity, having a playbook and service ethos is critical.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Design Thinking is Infectious

Design thinking is a state of mindfulness. Why? This is because so many issues or layers come together when considered during the act of seeking solution. It is a complex one involving synthesis and Ideation.

Ideation? This is the doing of design. Ideation involves making and devising possible solutions, alternatives satisfying the design challenges faced. Picture a big bright blue funnel. You empty the ideas into it and they swirl together forming a new unknown solution. What do you think?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Reviewing "A Foreign Country" by Charles Cumming

     I usually write about design, innovation and many things green but I'd like a timeout for this short post about a spy thriller I read recently.  It's named Foreign Country by Charles Cumming, a youngish UK author with a reputation comparing him to a John LeCarre or Grahmn Greene. My advance copy came to me via Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont as a thank you for helping them consider some design options for their children's area help desk.  They shared a thank you book in the spy thriller genre with me from their advance copy stack and Foreign Country the one I selected from it didn't disappoint.
     The fast pacing, twisted filled plot, middle age ennui of Kell, the protagonist and ultimately the design of the book with its flashbacks and disconnected happenings at first all added up at the end to a superlative redemptive finish.  Visually the books design and structure echoed spiraling strands at the outer ends of happenings to the major characters intertwining tighter and tighter closer to the heart of story and its heart-pumping ending.

     Here's an excerpt from Cumming's book website which sets the stage:

.....from Chapter 4, A Foreign Country

"Six weeks before she is due to take up her position as the first female head of MI6, Amelia Levene vanishes without a trace. "

 "Her disappearance is the gravest crisis MI6 has faced for more than a decade. There has been no ransom demand, no word from foreign intelligence services, no hint of a defection.

Should news of Levene’s disappearance leak out, the consequences would be catastrophic.  But for disgraced MI6 officer Thomas Kell, the crisis offers a chance for redemption.  He is approached by his former employers and ordered to find her.

Kell’s search takes him first to France, then North Africa, where he discovers an extraordinary secret hidden deep in Levene's past.  It is a secret that could fatally compromise Britain’s national security – and for which Kell himself could pay with his life."

      The first chapter opens with a vicious double murder in Tunis of a vacationing just retired French couple.     It moves on to establish the situation of Thomas Kell, how he was ousted from the SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) better known as the British M16, taking the fall for a joint intelligence operation with the Americans gone bad eight months earlier.  Adding to Kell's middle aged angst was his crumbling sexless marriage.  This sets the tone for the lonely double life of a spy who knows no true identity, only cynical allegiance to long ago ideals and long time friends in the service who at any moment are capable of turning on him.  But in the end, Kell misses the action of a life of spy craft and would do anything to return to it while seeking to redeem himself in the eyes of his peers and get back in the 'game'. 
     A Foreign Country is about Kell's journey searching for his friend Amelia Levene the new soon to be first ever female Chief of M16, while ultimately leading to him rediscovering his courage, faithfulness and true character.  My advance copy said it was going onsale August 2012 but apparently it's already for sale in the UK.  If you're looking for summer read to take to the beach or on a plane do be careful.  Once you pick it up you won't want to put it down.  Look for it in August in US booksellers near you! 
     Let me know what you think?  I think this story could easily be made into film.  James Bond watch out! Thomas Kell is the seasoned hero of our age for readers like me to identify with and champion.  I know I always wanted to be a spy down deep inside and with A Foreign Country I find myself a little closer. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Small Steps to an Energy Independent World, Montpelier's Electric Vehicle Charging Station

All-Electric Vehicle Charging Station in Montpelier, VT
     Yesterday while downtown in Montpelier, I walked behind City Hall and literally ran into something I've never seen before and which given April 22nd and Earth Day is just around the corner it's definitely worth sharing. It's also just another reason why I think Montpelier is the best place to live in Vermont. We do stuff.  Seriously good stuff.  
     In February, the City and Green Mountain Power teamed up to install a free solar powered electric vehicle charging station behind city hall.  It's the third one for GMP so far, with one installed in South Burlington and Colchester.  Last week I pumped over $4.00/ gallon gas into my cars for the second time in my life, the last being in 2008.  I read yesterday how hybrids and all electric vehicles had there best month ever in the Burlington Free Press and here as described in the March 2012 Hybrid Dashboard.  I believe it.  While the current percentage of the total vehicle sales pie is small at 3.5% or so it's a rapidly growing segment of the market fed by high prices at the gas pumps.