You say: “You need more online reviews.”
They think: “But how do I get them?
You say: “Ask for the order every time.”
They think: “I’m not sure of words that would sound authentic.”
You say: “You need to coach your staff.”
They think: “But exactly how…?”
Telling people what to do is not always effective.
For real results, focus on being incredibly specific and focusing on the “how.”
When a dreadful project that nobody will touch comes across your desk, snatch it right up.
Dig in deep, untangle the knots and understand every nuance.
Become the person that does this time and time again.
And in no time you’ll be indispensable.
“You must be in the medical field,” My doctor said as he flipped through my indexed and cross-referenced binder of medical tests.
“No, since we only have 15 minutes…
I just wanted you focused on my problem, not shuffling through a disarray of papers and lab work.”
Being strategic often means diving into the details and nuances of a project.
In fact, understanding the nuances and “weeds” is an important step I like to take before ever delegating anything to someone else. This way, I can coach them from experience, and I can’t be BS’ed about how long something takes or how hard it is.
God is in the details.
And the details are in the weeds.
Another HT to Seth Godin for getting me to ponder “caring” and “trying” in general.
Isn’t it nice when technical support stays on the phone with you longer than they have to? Just to be sure you’ve 100% “got it.”
My husband and I work together, and often when I’m unsure or apprehensive about something I’m working on, he will silently take a seat next to me, often with his arm on my back.
It’s just so comforting to have someone there.
The book Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin is life-changing. After all, that’s all we can ever hope for – to be better than we were yesterday.
This week I struggled for hours with a nonsensical technology problem (I couldn’t get Microsoft Word to download onto my new PC!).
Now that I’ve fixed the problem, I can leverage my newly acquired information throughout my small business, so nobody else wastes their time on the same issue.
What if we looked at all problems as a way to bypass a future struggle? A way to become “better than before?”
Stated in this positive way, problems, mistakes, and issues would likely become a more welcome part of our days.
We all know it’s not your job to replace the lightbulb in the office refrigerator. But imagine becoming known as the “summer intern who changed the bulb?”
Anyone can wait for direction from a supervisor.
What’s in short supply are folks who notice an issue and make it better without being asked.
Today my 21-year old son called, asking me if I had an old vacuum he could have for his new apartment.
Balloons didn’t drop from the ceiling, but they should have.
They say Finland is the world’s “happiest place.”
But what I love about owning a business, is that inside our 4 walls I’m able to create my own Finland.
And best of all, you don’t have to own a business to try this yourself:
You can practice this idea first, right in your own family.
Watching James Holzhauer dominate Jeopardy, is a reminder that the constraints and rules we often accept without question, could be all in our heads.
What rules should you be questioning?
Every business has one – a project that needs to be done but just keeps getting postponed.
You’ll hear your supervisors talking about them again and again:
- The networking event someone should visit.
- The blog someone should be writing to help your website’s SEO.
- The broken onboarding system.
Working to improve something that’s “not your job” is gets you noticed.
It’s what your bosses and their bosses will comment on repeatedly when they see you in the elevator or at the office holiday party.
And it’s what you’ll (proudly) discuss on future interviews, add as a bullet on your resume and walk taller because you did something anyone could’ve done, but nobody did – you took the initiative.
Listen for opportunities to untangle something that nobody else wants to do.
And then surprise everyone by jumping in to do it.
Hint: It can be as small as replacing the lightbulb in the office fridge or as large as revamping the company’s interview process.
HT to my son Louis who, despite being an excellent staffer, finds that everyone remembers him as the “guy who revamped the office’s interviewing process.”
I walked into the AT&T store today, where I hadn’t been for over a year. Luke, a young salesperson, remembered my name and said, “Hi, Paige.”
Last week I left some items at the end of my driveway in case anyone wanted them. I noticed they were gone and felt happy that they had found a new home. Two days later, I got a thank you note in my mailbox.
I needed tech help with something annoying. For weeks, my phone would not sync with the mail app on my laptop. Each time I had 15 minutes to spare, I would try to fix the issue, but I always came up short. On Friday, I looped in my friend Dan who diagnosed my issue in minutes by asking a few incisive questions.
None of Dan or Luke’s or the end-of-the-driveway-item-taker’s actions required any extra education, privilege, or giftedness.
But I immediately considered them all exceedingly educated, accomplished, and highly intelligent.
Every year my husband and I put together a business plan by culling through past receipts and marketing stats.
And while our plan is based on experience, it’s just a guess – a stake in the ground to help guide us to where we want to go.
Our first year, our plan turned out to be nearly 50% accurate.
After more than 25 years, our precision is still not perfect, but it does give me chills when something we outline in January comes to fruition in June.
People don’t plan because they fear they’ll be wrong. They don’t know exactly where to start, and so they don’t.
But what if you realized that we’re all just guessing?
Would that put you at ease enough to get you started?
In the beginning, “doing things the right way” is the only way.
In the middle, the slog of putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, feels like a waste of time. This is the point that short cuts become tempting and people’s determination peters out.
In the end, plodding along in the right direction for years usually pays off big time.
Hint: This applies to practically everything.
Another hint: You’ve reached “the big payoff” when you hear yourself saying, “I have no idea how I got this lucky.”
In 2001, I realized that it was quite cumbersome to carry around my Palm Pilot and camera and push-to-talk flip phone.
What a good idea it would be to combine all my gadgets into one compact appliance!
Lesson learned: Ideas are cheap without execution.
It’s amazing how many red flags come back to bite us.
It’s true that our gut is almost always correct, but this intuitive power is useless if we choose to ignore, defend and put our head in the sand.
The key is acting on our hunches before they cause damage.
Surely easier said than done.
I have worked with my husband Lou for over two decades.
When there’s a business issue, there’s no posturing, masquerading or blaming.
When something is scary, we don’t have to pretend to be brave.
And when one of us is going down a path that is just plain wrong, the other doesn’t have to coach, cajole, set up a special meeting or converse in PC terms. We just speak our mind openly to stop the mistake in its tracks.
The truth sure saves a lot of time and energy.
An expert is someone that can explain to you what “normal” is.
Something that is scary or outrageous to a novice, is usually old-hat to an expert.
A grandma can help a new mom discern between a normal cry and one that suggests illness.
A boss can help their staff understand normal corporate red tape, and shortcuts to circumventing it.
An older brother can help a younger one recognize what normal growing pains feel like, (“Phew, you felt this way too?”).
When I find out that what’s upsetting me is actually “normal,” I usually stop fretting immediately.
Wouldn’t it be great:
-if experts could think back and share their rookie experiences with newbies?
-if we all felt braver about requesting input from people we consider pros, instead of being afraid of seeming inept?
Imagine how much faster we’d all get to where we are going!
This Christmas, I caught up with many of my 20-something relatives.
C & J are newly-married business owners, and already understand how to navigate the potential typhoon of working together. C is the steady force. And J takes the risks.
My nephew and his fiancée are doing the hard work of deciding their division of labor before they tie the knot. Turns out he loves grocery shopping and she doesn’t mind doing laundry.
K aspires to a career in law – and while she’s always been incredibly articulate, she now possesses a strength that will certainly benefit her future Clients.
M is a college freshman and was eager to tell me about his roommate. R just graduated from college and is making sure he gets a great job before committing to his own place.
I told A some issues I was having at work, and she shared her insights that I’ll put right into practice on Monday.
What can you learn from listening to the young people around you?
Turns out, quite a lot.
Every day at 5pm I’m surprised by the fact that my family needs to eat dinner.
I’m a planner and should be able to knock this task of the park. But I don’t. Surely it would be easy enough to come up with a one-week rotation of meals to have on autopilot.
Related: I’m also startled when my kids’ have a half day of school, despite having every half-day written on my calendar.
Does this happen to you?
This week I had to learn a new software package at work.
And while I’d describe myself as pretty tech-savvy, I had no idea the concentration it would take for me to learn just a few basic things. After the first hour on the first day, I was cranky and snippy.
I’ve always romanticized learning. And what’s most embarrassing is how much this reveals about how little I’ve been stretching myself.
I have to remember this when I put my kids on the bus each morning, and welcome their weary souls back each afternoon.
One of my BFFs was celebrating a milestone birthday. A jaunt to Tuscany was out of the question, so a group of us met at a Hampton Inn just 45 minutes away.
Our tiny hotel room could not accommodate a swinging bathroom door on a hinge, so to save space, the door was on sliders. Our window looked out onto a highway off-ramp. Someone commented that the room was actually quite large by cruise-ship standards.
We gabbed and laughed and ate microwaved appetizers. We never set an alarm or got a wake up call. Nothing we did the next day was pre-planned or required reservations.
We came home refreshed and feeling like we had spent far more than 24-hours away.
And while a trip to Tuscany might’ve been lovely, it would’ve also been fraught with jet lag, high-hopes and must-sees.
Having no expectations was the key to our magical getaway. Something to remember during this holiday season of “too much.”
Seth’s new book reminded me of something.
Back in the day, my newly minted OB/GYN needed patients.
She hired a manicurist to give manicures to her patients in her waiting room.
In her first year she delivered more babies than doctors that had been practicing for decades.
This is marketing.
I kick myself every time I use my phone’s calculator app.
I only need to multiply 234 and 345, and all of a sudden I’m responding to texts, emails and scrolling recommendations from Netflix.
20-minutes later, I can’t remember why I picked up the phone in the first place.
People love their own spreadsheets.
This passion is born out of the author’s deep understanding of the logic they’ve painstakingly developed inside every cell.
But something happens when the spreadsheet is shared with others. The author is exuberant:
“Isn’t this cool?”
“It’s so clear.”
But onlookers are confused. The unfamiliar jumble of numbers, colors and tables, is disorientating.
“Is ‘red’ a good outcome?”
“Why are we dividing cell A3 by cell T5?”
The audience simply doesn’t have their sea legs.
Other peoples’ spreadsheets make me feel downright dopey.
Please don’t email me your spreadsheet or present it on a large screen.
Spoon-feed me the results instead.
The clasp on my watch had a recurring problem: It would suddenly release at random times.
I took my watch from jeweler to jeweler and everyone had the same answer: There was nothing wrong with the watch clasp.
At the last store, the jeweler asked if he could examine the way I put the watch on my wrist.
In just 60 seconds of observing me, he realized I was closing the latch from left-to-right, when it should be clasped right-to-left.
Imagine the chronic issues and pains that might be solved with just one extra minute of attention.
I’m convinced that there are secret rules everyone knows but me.
“Where do I stand to wait for a StairMaster?”
“Do I need to tip for takeout?”
Turns out most people feel this way.
The other day a woman at Aldi gave me her shopping cart. If you know the secret-cart- rule at Aldi, you know that to release a grocery cart from the corral, you need to pay a quarter. Aldi exit-ers simply hand off their carts to Aldi enter-ers in a pay-it-forward kind of way. First-timers are confused at the dogged insistence of the exit-er to take their cart, until an Aldi old-timer explains the arrangement.
Mentoring is all about explaining the secret-rules. What knowledge can you share that’ll bring someone a little more into the loop?
Yesterday, on our way to Thanksgiving dinner at my mother-in-law’s, we stopped and ate at McDonald’s.
To onlookers we must’ve seemed lame, negligent and everything that’s wrong with society.
But hold up: The McDonald’s was at a rest stop and we all had to use the bathroom. Traffic had us on the road for two hours longer than normal. And of course the french fries.
See how understanding a backstory can activate compassion and humor?
What else are we judging without understanding?
(p.s. we didn’t mention our pre-feast pit stop to my mother-in-law.)