We hosted a scholarship event last weekend, and, as always, I was in charge of facilitating the icebreakers.
I know a lot of icebreakers. I have been facilitating them for literally 30+ years and am very comfortable in doing so.
I make it look easy because I have had so much practice, but in reality I put thought into which ones I do at which event. Low risk, non-threatening questions to start. Sharing of more information in settings where the participants will see each other again. Involvement of the parents as well as the students when the occasion warrants. Higher risk sharing when I want teams to form. Silly whistles or tambourines to signal a transition instead of shouting for the group to stop. Intentional topics depending on the event.
In the big scheme of the program, icebreakers may be considered insignificant, but doing them right can often set the tone for the whole day.
Don’t overlook the importance creating energy in the beginning. People may roll their eyes at you and say that they hate doing them, but if done well, the effect of icebreakers will impact the entire experience in a positive way.
— beth triplett
Last weekend, I saw The Imitation Game, a wonderful movie about breaking Germany’s Enigma Code in World War II. In the movie, Alan Turing (Benedict Chamberlain) laments that all the information they need to end the war is out there, just floating around, if only they could decipher it.
It reminded me of an observation my sister and I had as we were driving along on one of our many road trips. We thought about all the information that was whizzing past us: radio signals, wireless bandwidth, data, radar, etc. We were able to receive it and translate some of it via the instruments we had in the car, but certainly there was far more out there.
What exists in your organization that is there, but can’t be seen without intentionality? Your culture goes unnoticed unless you specifically pay attention or ask questions about it. The communication hierarchy is in the air space, but often undefined. Ill will, morale issues and resentment often float by without detection for long periods.
Try to crack the code of what is really going on in your organization. Like with Turing, it may take many attempts at doing so, but the end result will be worth it.
— beth triplett
I wrote yesterday about my new Whirley Pop pan. It comes with a 25-year warranty — if you register on line.
This isn’t something that I would normally do for a $20 item, but to incentivize me to complete their form (and, I’m sure, to receive future emails with products for me to buy), they offered “all kinds of FREE* extras.”
Note the star on the word free.
To receive my warranty, 2 Real Theatre All-Inclusive Popping Kits, Tips and Tricks Guide, Complete Popcorn Party Guide and 4 Individual Authentic Popcorn Serving Tubs, I needed to pay “minimal shipping charges.” Groan.
I guess they knew I would balk at that part as the notice reads: “For some, you might be thinking here comes the catch — nothing is “Free” anymore. We truly are giving you our products at no cost; but unfortunately the Post Office won’t ship it for free (we asked, but they said “no”). The only thing you will need to pay is their minimal shipping cost. We promise!”
I may feel like I have been had when the “all kinds of FREE stuff” arrives in the mail, but I felt compelled to reward them for their marketing efforts.
Do you have something that you suspect will cause your customer to groan — and is there a way to address it with humor and good will? Can you overcome an objection in advance in a manner that will lead your client to do what you want them to do, but feel good about it?
Take a lesson from Whirley Pop and make your clients chuckle their way into compliance.
— beth triplett
Popcorn is one of my very favorite foods. I have written before about the awesome kernels they sell at our local independent movie theatre and how I have been unable to replicate the taste at home.
That is, until now!
Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I bought a Whirley Pop popcorn pan. This could turn out to be a very BAD thing — as the popcorn is very good. As in VERY GOOD. I may have to restrain myself from eating a whole pot every day, something that is difficult when the house is full of the delicious scent.
Their brochure reads: “Remember when the appeal of homemade popcorn was as much about the cooking experience as it was about the fluffy, crispy, tasty snack?” I had forgotten how much better popcorn tastes out of a pan vs. from the microwave.
Is there something that you can do to let your customers participate in the creation of your product vs. just giving it to them in a sterile way? Can they utilize all of their senses in a manner that adds to the enjoyment vs. always taking the quick and easy path? Is there a way you can deliver your product that will enhance the experience?
I think the Whirley Pop has done a good job of making their product be part utensil, part event-maker. If they can do that with a pan, surely you can create something that pops in your organization.
— beth triplett
One of the digital highway signs warns: “In the blink of an eye, you could die.” I’m sure it is meant as a deterrent to texting while driving, but it is a sobering thought none the less.
It seemed an apt topic for today’s blog as the news in our region yesterday was that a private school in our conference is becoming a branch campus of the University of Iowa. Apparently the majority of those at the school learned about it just before the press conference, turning their world upside down. There are far more questions than answers at this point regarding just about everything. In the blink of an eye, their stability was rocked to the core.
And I’m sure for those in the Northeast, it took more than a minute, but not much more, to turn their productive world into a standstill due to the snow. My sister lost power at 9:00 last night, so in that moment the “let’s-have-fun-burrowed-up-inside” changed focus to “how-can-we-save-our-food-and-our-heat.” The world is very different with no electricity. So much for being productive or content on the extra day off.
Permanent change can happen in a minute too. I have been touched by four deaths already in 2015, two of whom were going about their daily routine when stricken with a heart attack. For their families, everything changed so suddenly. Those who had just gathered from out of state for the holidays were back together, only this time for much more somber reasons.
We can’t live life with a shadow hanging over us, waiting for fate to taunt us with trouble. But we can’t take the good things for granted either. Try to appreciate the ordinary, the routine, and the same old same old. There truly are times when “nothing happened today” is a welcome outcome.
— beth triplett
I received a $50 gift certificate for Christmas and used at it a store this weekend. I felt like I was getting a great bargain on my purchase. But I had given a $50 gift to the original giver, so in the end, it wasn’t “free money” at all.
The same thing happened with a $20 rebate on my dog food. When the rebate card came, I felt like I had a bonus $20, but it was really reimbursement for my own money that I had already spent. The same way a tax rebate feels like a windfall, even though it isn’t.
The more removed we are from money, the more distorted our view of things becomes. Paying 50 cents/hour cash at the parking meter feels like a lot, but $7/day at the airport doesn’t after living in a major city.
Would we spend differently if we had an immediate cost to payment ratio? Would we use energy-hogging appliances if we had to pay cash in the plug every few hours? Would we run as many copies if we had to drop dimes in the meter for each one of them? Or would we drive on short errands so frivolously if we had to pay the cost of gas and ownership at the end of each trip like with a taxi?
It’s easy to become comfortable with expenses when we only focus on the short term. Think about your real financial picture as you go through the next week. Time displacement may have your true ledger a bit unbalanced.
— beth triplett
Hangars from the dry cleaners used to come with paper liners, often advertising the name of the cleaning establishment. It was a way for the cleaners to show their brand (or appreciation for their customers) as well as to add stability to the hanging garment.
I use quite a bit of these services, so have accumulated many hangars throughout the years. I still have some from the cleaners I used in the previous cities where I lived, and when I take a blouse off of them it brings back memories of my time in that town.
A few months ago, I noticed that the paper liner was no longer included. I would guess it was in an effort to save money or to be environmentally conscious, but the hangars seemed more flimsy without them. My cleaners switched from liners to a paper tube, but this week they went even more low-budget and now only have half of a cardboard “tent” over the bottom rung. It is all but worthless.
Have you made similar cost-cutting measures that saved you money but also cheapened your brand? Think about the image you project before you lose the liner. The pennies you pinch that directly impact the customer may not be the best ones to save.
— beth triplett
With special fondness for MM and West Oak Cleaners!