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March 12, 2014: My dear mother Barbara would have been 79 today

Dear Friends,

I want to share with you this month my thoughts on something all to common to all of us, STRESS. It is constant and relentless in today’s society. It seems like we never have enough time for keeping up with work, money, kids, activities, bills, dinners, chores, etc. It just never stops. Stress and anxiety can get the best of all of us, it certainly has me at times in my 52 years of life.

But something happened to me after dealing with a particularly stressful time in my life not to long ago, I read a simple bible verse. Just one single verse that I plucked from the sky on a cloudy Monday morning in Oklahoma sitting on my couch feeling stressed out. It literally changed my thought pattern about stress and I instantly felt better, not alone, that things were not that bad for me, and to stop feeling sorry for myself. Yes, stress and anxiety even happens to a successful person like myself.

The bible verse was Proverbs 12:25, “ An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” I immediately asked some long time friends how THEY were, how THEIR families were doing and I offered up some kind words. I felt so much better.  By being kind to people, even people you don’t like or agree with, you can start to feel better too. This simple act, kindness, can help you manage all of the stress and anxiety you will have in life. Try it and then take your dog for a walk, you will feel better.

Love to all,

David

Two Keys to Having a Great Year for Your Franchise in 2014

I’ll keep it simple…

1. Take ownership of your brand
 2. Listen to your customers

The thing that’s so surprising is how these two are skipped over and how clueless some people seem to be about them.

You’d be shocked to the core to see a waitress stealing someone else’s tips or the head of a non-profit skimming off the top of the giving fund.

But how often do we see workers getting away with a “that’s not my job” attitude or a pass the buck mentality. These too are hugely destructive and become irresistible in places that lack a strong team culture.

Less obvious but more critical are the times the customer’s voice is doused or completely ignored.

No number of media buys can make up for one apathetic and uncaring frontline cashier.

This year, your success hinges on taking responsibility for what you say you’re about. Not only taking ownership of everything done in the name of the brand good or bad…but moving heaven and earth to make sure your customer is totally and completely satisfied.

Have a great New Year.

 

David

Bouncers Versus Mudslingers

Getting back up after you’re knocked down is infinitely easier if you’re running passionately toward a goal. I was reminded of this truth after watching my ten year old daughter, Alaina, play soccer a couple weeks ago.

She was in a game, running down the field when I saw her collide with an opposing player and fall almost head first to the ground. To my amazement, she sprang up unphased and kept going at top speed.

It was easy to tell her passion and drive were carrying her and pushing her through her little mishap. But, the fact she remained so undaunted, focused, and courageous was really remarkable. I got to thinking about it as a life lesson…

If you have a driving passion and goal you’re running after—getting up after you’re knocked down shouldn’t be a big deal. Instinct takes over like it’s the most natural thing to do, and you’re moving forward despite the temporary chaos.

It all comes down to your level of commitment to winning and where you keep your eyes. Are they trained on the goal in front of you and the path to victory…or tracing the regrets and should’ve beens of your past?

One will give you an edge over your competitors. The other will simply have you languishing in the mud.

David

Backwards Thinking

Look around at all the companies today scrambling to add the buffer zone between them and their clients and you’ll see a backwards way of thinking.

More companies than ever are dependent on their website or automated phone systems to do most of their communicating with customers. Yeah, I understand the argument…they want to decrease costs.

But, how backwards is it to keep them at arms length? When did we get it in our mind that personally connecting with customers and dialoguing with them was a bad thing?

Think of all the hoops you have to jump through to get in touch with most major companies… all the numbers and pound signs and voice activation sequences you endure to finally speak to a human being.  Yes, AT&T and Dish Network, I’m looking in your direction here. How thrilled does it make you to be their customer?

Talking with your customers is an opportunity for profit, folks. These are the times you take to upgrade, ask them for referrals, ask them for feedback, retain them as a customer…all the little things that actually helps your business increase revenue.

Making it hard for your customers to talk to you frustrates more than it does anything else. Yeah, it may save costs in the end but you’re losing money by passing up the chance to be a little human.

David

Want a Good Paradox?

I got one for you.

Think of all the technology tools we have at our disposal…all the innovation set before us…everything that drives us to sustain invention and novelty in our lives.
Think of all that…and yet consider the fact that we have never been less effective at communicating. (Not dissing those of us with the new iOS 7…just saying.)
I’ve got news for you. The noise is just beginning. The shiny objects are getting even shinier. The world of marketing will be just as driven in its attempt to persuade and parse reality on a razor’s edge. Communication doesn’t get easier with human progression (and I use the term loosely)…it gets more challenging.
I believe that when things become chaotic and complicated, we have to make a concerted effort to stifle the noise and laser our focus on those things that matter most.
Here are three principles of communicating with others that I believe stand the test of time:
  • Real– Talk is cheap unless it’s from the core of who you are. Be authentic, …and never pass up an opportunity to shed compassion on others.
  • Simple – Tell your story in such a way that any child could understand and repeat it back to you
  • Truth – Tell your story in truth. Know it backwards and forwards and it will spill out of your heart.
David

Reward Based Marketing

When times are good, most of us have no qualms about indulging. Ever notice that? It’s what we deserve after all. We tell ourselves it’s ok and how much we need the reward.

When times aren’t as prosperous the mass psychology shifts a little. The story changes in our mind and we’re put on defense. Purchases at this point are to avoid future discomfort, to grab that terrific deal or to gain that same sense of reward while buying less.

The two scenarios tell a lot about our thought patterns in general: It’s based on the feeling we conjure up within and not necessarily about the purchase item itself.

The challenge for entrepreneurs is figuring out how to influence that feeling by tweaking the story a little. Everything adds up to a perception.

What we perceive as a doable reward can survive a downturn economy… it just depends on the story people tell themselves and how well the entrepreneur can shape it.

David

What I Learned in School

The greatest lesson I ever learned in school? Ironically, it had nothing to do with history, math, science or any of the other subjects that were taught but the truths I was presented with for life. Some examples:

  • Grades are often artificial devices that don’t reflect one’s true self worth.
  • Passion and a desire make your reality more than anything else.
  • Your work as a creative spirit cannot be boiled down to an answer key or mere report card.
  • Perseverance in the face of failure is far more important than success when there’s nothing on the line.
  • Fitting in is just an illusion that expunges your identity and subverts the catalyst for all meaningful creation.

If you didn’t do as well in school as you would have hoped… or you had teachers who were interested more in demonstrating your failure than helping you learn…then take heart.

Success in life has far more to do with your attitude than your performance in a test tube.

Always do what you’re passionate about…learn from your mistakes, and make it your business to be yourself no matter what…even at the expense of overwhelming criticism from others.     

David 

Next Move

In business and in life, you have to figure out what your next move is.

Especially if you’ve peaked at a certain level of success or hit a wall of failure. The fork in the road is facing you….question is…where do you go from here?

It may be the most painful thing you’ve ever done. So it’s important to seek advice from those who’ve been in your shoes. Don’t take it lightly.

Look at the environment you’re in. What hindrances in your life do you need to remove? Is your life impetus forward or backward? Remove the things in life that are holding you back.

I’m taking an inventory in my life now and its rewarding and freeing at the same time. It’s also painful and difficult.

I encourage you to do the same. Look closely. Remove the clutter. And determine where you’re going next.

David

 

Happy New Years

I have to say, I’m not crazy about New Year’s.

Celebrating it has really reached a point of sad monotony for me.

I mean, how many countdowns to midnight can we endure and how many ridiculous resolutions can we come up with before we feel the burnout? The hype dissipates quickly.

There is an opportunity this coming year, though, that I think is there if we’re willing to take it… We can smash through our expectations if only we’re willing to be a leaders for others.

The world needs leaders and the next year is full of possibilities.

Why not lead where the expectation is to toe the line and follow? If the natural flow is downward, why not lead your own change and travel where you want to go?

While the rest of the world drifts into paralysis over global fears, you and I have a once in a lifetime chance to make our mark:

Do something that matters. Be a leader of ideas and create something extraordinary.

David

The Unwrapping

Ever watch a child’s eyes as they open a wrapped present?

I love this time of year cause I get to watch my kids at Christmas and see their wonderment as they anticipate what’s inside.

Something gets transformed when it’s opened. You can see the wheels turning.
There’s a story going inside their mind that leads to imagination…that, in turn, leads to pure joy.

I think, too often, we ignore our childhood instincts… the value of imagination…and the importance of the story that we’ve told ourselves.

We believe, as business owners, that the product should prove itself and catapult our business success simply because we’ve followed the specs and delivered the goods. In the area of marketing that could be a dangerous thing to assume.

The truth behind the unopened package is a lesson to be learned: Often, the story behind it is more valuable and worth more to the person than the gift itself.

David