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leadership dot #2613: related

Continuing with the theme from yesterday’s dot, Staples has taken their teacher campaign one step further by encouraging people not only to sign up for the Teacher Rewards program but to link teachers with Staples on social media. If you write on a Post-it how a teacher has made a difference for you and share it with the required hashtags, your favorite teacher could win $10,000 for their classroom. If you love your teacher enough to write about them, of course, you want them to win so you’ll likely take a picture and post it.

Instead of just asking your clients to buy something or join a program so others can reap rewards, it is strategically smart to engage them in a related (but not direct sales) activity. It generates involvement and goodwill – often two precursors to purchasing! How can you woo your clients into participation?

 

leadership dot #2612: intermediary

Staples is offering a new Classroom Rewards program where teachers earn reward credits when parents sign up for the program and shop there. It’s an interesting twist on an advertising campaign – appealing to parents’ sense of altruism rather than their own economic gain. (Of course, they also hope it appeals to teachers so they promote Staples to others!)

Rather than rewarding your clients directly, can you copy this marketing logic and entice others to help you recruit business? For example, a local gas station just donated two cents per gallon to the Veteran’s Freedom Center every time people used a designated pump. Pet stores could give a percentage of sales to the humane society for every purchase you make or grocers could donate a canned good for every dollar you spend.

Think about who could serve as an intermediary for you, allowing you to appeal to their goodwill to interact with your organization on behalf of another. You can be the recipient of goodness without asking for it directly.

leadership dot #2611: it’s nuts

A friend was flying to do some construction work and wanted to take lithium batteries for his power tools. Unsure of the TSA regulations, he researched the website, spent an hour on hold to talk directly with a TSA representative, printed out the rules and size limits and was as prepared as he could be to get through airport security with five batteries and a charger.

That part of his luggage screened without issue. What tripped him up? A coconut!

In addition to the batteries, he was taking home a coconut mailed from World War II. Coconuts have husks and what is commonly known as a coconut is actually inside. TSA doesn’t like things that show up on their scanner “inside” something. The batteries went through once. The coconut four times (before it was allowed to fly.)

Think about other things in life that are like this – where we overprepare for what we expect to cause an issue and instead find difficulty with something that we never gave a second thought. We check the car’s tires before going on vacation but fail to fill the windshield washer fluid. We purchase hundreds of dollars of back-to-school supplies and forget the sandwich bags. We spend hours on a PowerPoint presentation and leave the clicker back in the office.

Yes, it’s wise to do your homework and prepare for the big things – but it’s often the little details that make you go (coco)nuts. Mind them as well.

Thanks, Curt!

 

leadership dot #2610: need to

As I was listening yet another book on creativity, it occurred to me that I really did not “need” to learn more on this topic. Most people who know me would consider me to be creative already and I have been teaching workshops in this area for decades. And then a thought from James Clear’s Atomic Habits popped into my head: “I don’t need to because I do things I don’t need to do.”

For example:

  • Those who routinely go to the gym when they don’t need to, don’t need to go because they go regularly
  • People who save money when they don’t need to, don’t need to save because they save routinely
  • Folks who clean their homes or maintain their yards when they don’t need to, don’t need to deep clean because they have a habit of regular maintenance
  • Those who take a vacation don’t need to take a vacation because they regularly take time away
  • Students who study when they don’t need to…well, you get the idea.

The same applies to me listening to a book on creativity, and the concept is relevant for most any positive habit that you wish to develop. Engaging in a practice is something that you do over time, not just once in hopes that the behavior embeds itself.

Think about the skills or habits that you wish to cultivate or maintain. The best way to do so is to work on those things – even when you don’t “need to”.

 

 

Atomic Habits by James Clear, 2018

leadership dot #2609: easy money

The more layers retailers and service providers can put between purchase and outlay of money, the easier it is for people to buy. Thus, there seems to be an intentional strategy today to put consumers at least one step removed from actually paying for anything directly.

  • Buying online seems like typing in some numbers more than it feels like taking cash out of your wallet – and buying through an app that stores your information is even easier to do
  • Choosing a book with and Audible credit from your subscription happens much more quickly than if you had to consciously pay $15 for that same listen
  • Skipping a college class doesn’t feel like throwing away money because it was all billed as the semester’s tuition but those same students would never waste the equivalent amount of their cash
  • Purchasing a car wash coupon book makes it more likely that you will wash your car when you can just use a coupon instead of hesitating before you pay $15
  • Having insurance removes some of the pain of how much medical care truly costs and numbs the realization of how onerous the burden is for those paying directly
  • Subscribing to a movie pass or a gym membership makes it seem like participating is free even though it isn’t
  • Utilizing a gift card, purchasing card from a rebate or income tax refund feels like you have bonus money even though you paid for it in another form

Retailers intentionally craft ways to remove every decision point and barrier to making purchasing as easy as possible. Therefore, it pays to apply equal diligence to counteract their subterfuge and be conscious of all the money you spend – no matter in which manner you spend it. A dollar is a dollar – whether through the airwaves, over months or out of your wallet. Don’t let the ease of spending subdue you into doing too much of it.

 

leadership dot #2608: detours

On a recent trip out of town, I encountered three fairly major detours where the entire road was closed and we were detoured around for miles on a different road. The route was marked and I was confident that I would end up in approximately the same place but it was still unsettling to be on a strange road at the mercy of DOT signage.

During “construction season” (as the summer is lovingly called in the Midwest), we should come to expect detours and anticipate them as a natural part of travel; nonetheless, they still cause frustration, uncertainty and delays.

I think of the parallel with people on the change journey. They, too, should prepare to encounter detours en route to their goals but unlike with the roads, there are no signs or known endings. Detours during the change process are vague, unmarked and often set people back instead of moving them forward.

In both situations, taking the detour may still be the best way to arrive at the chosen destination. While you can’t avoid detours, it may help to expect to have your plans follow a circuitous route – whether literally or metaphorically – as you traverse on your journey.

leadership dot #2607: semantics

I went to a restaurant that appears to have a Ferris Wheel on its premises. It looks like a Ferris wheel, acts like a Ferris wheel and I’m sure that most everyone believes it is a Ferris wheel – but as I learned upon boarding, it is not a Ferris wheel as permanent Ferris wheels are prohibited within the city limits.

To get around this rule, the owners added a rudimentary plywood table and drink holders in each basket and christened it as a “Vertical Revolving Patio” – and obviously received approval by the zoning board. Genius.

Think of the equivalent of your “Ferris wheel” – a program or change that you are trying to make but is prohibited. You may not need to alter the essence of what you are trying to do, rather just make a slight modification to fit within the restrictive parameters. How can you create your own “vertical revolving patio” so you’re able to achieve great heights with your plans?

This is NOT a Ferris wheel!
This simple modification turned it into a Vertical Revolving Patio!