Monday, September 29, 2014

Your fans matter much more than your followers

This Sunday's sparkenation.

I am blessed in my business that I have a few fans of my work who take me to meet with people who like, know and trust them, whom they feel would benefit from working with me. My fans also arrange boardroom briefings and seminars for their clients/customers where I add value using my "speakership" and mentoring skills. I obtain 90% of my business through these methods.

My fans matter to me much more than my followers. You?

In your business, particularly with your online presence, is your focus to gain more followers or is it to give value in advance that your fans can use to attract the people you'd like to do business with?

I have an online presence for two reasons 1) to give value in advance of in person relationships and 2) to add value to existing relationships. You?

I use technology such as Skype, Google+, Slideshare, LinkedIn, Twitter,, Pinterest to give and add value. It's a long game. My short game is to meet with people in person because I have an in person business. You?

We must play the long and short game in our businesses. The short game is the key though. Some call it the path of least resistance. As they say about the long ands short games in golf "Driving is for show. Putting is for dough."

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Is Your Customer Experience Management Causing Complaints?

Is your customer experience causing complaints?Online review sites give customers the chance to have their say about their experiences - good or bad - with businesses. Many businesses hate those sites and complain that they paint a false picture of their customer experience. Are they right, or should they see this as a wake-up call?

Autralia's consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently threw its hat into the ring. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the ACCC is calling for regulation of hospitality review sites such as Urbanspoon, Eatability, and TripAdvisor, following complaints from restaurants that these sites unfairly damage their reputation.

Their main complaint is that some of the online reviews are fake or exaggerated, and might be posted by disgruntled past employees or customers seeking revenge for something trivial.

They do have a point, but is that the best response?

Trying to control online conversations is a game you can't win. It might have worked years ago, when information was tightly controlled. But now that anybody has the power to say whatever they like, it's difficult to stop them.

Sure, there are some inaccurate reviews, but they aren't the vast majority. By the hospitality industry's own admission, only about half of the reviews were considered malicious or vexatious. And that was from a self-reported survey of the industry, which is obviously biased. So the real number will be much lower.

People buying faulty products have the chance to return them. But people buying "faulty" accommodation, dining or travel services rarely get their money back. So they turn to review sites to vent their frustration.

What if those hospitality providers looked at those reviews as an opportunity rather than a threat?

Could it be that many people are reporting a bad experience because, err ... they had a bad experience?

Experience is the key word here.

In our increasingly competitive world, businesses can't expect to get and keep customers and clients just based on their products and services. They need to deliver great experiences. That's what your customer is buying from you.

For example, one of the people quoted in the SMH article is Warren Turnbull, the chef at Chur Burger in Surry Hills. He says:

"People love to have a whinge or a rant. If I did the most amazing dish in the world and sold it for two dollars, there would still be people complaining."

Sorry, Mr. Turnbull, but you're missing the point! Your customers aren't paying just for the burger - they are paying for the experience of dining out.

To confirm this, I looked at Chur Burger's reviews on Urbanspoon. As Warren Turnbull says, some of the negative reviews do complain about the quality of the food. But when you position yourself with the tag line "Voted the best burgers in Sydney", you're setting very high expectations.

But, even leaving this aside, there are also many reviews about long wait times, rude and inconsiderate staff, the noisy venue, and over-priced drinks.

Of course, this isn't just about $10 burgers!

What are you doing to give your customers and clients a superior experience?

They have so many more options now, so yes, they do have higher expectations. And the Internet makes it so much easier for them to find other options.

If the product you sell can be built in China, and the service you offer can be outsourced to India, what makes you different? Only the experience you offer. So make it a good one!

How Do You lead Yourself?

The way to Total Leadership is through Leading Your Self. Remember, the reality of life starts with 'You'. If You exist, everything has a meaning. If you Know yourself, you start understanding your position and power in this universe.  If you realise your true potential, you understand why you are here and what is your purpose. If you Lead Yourself, you will be able to lead others.

The picture opposite perfectly explains the 3 Circle Philosophy of Transformation when applied to Leadership.

The 3 Circle Philosophy, a unique tool for development, is based on insights from the research on Fractal Universe, the Composition of all Matter and how Human Life can be interpreted. The 'Core' denotes self, the 'Inner Circle denotes 'Relationships' and the 'Outer Circle' denotes 'linkages' for offering your value to the world.

The journey to Leading yourself however starts from Introspection. Just as a person has to first climb a mountain before he can have a larger view of the world surrounding it, every one has to have an inner journey to climb atop his own self and see how everything else looks from there.

The 3 Step Formula to Leading Yourself

Using the simple formula 'Being, Knowing, Doing', you can initiate the leadership process within you.
It is a continuous cycle that exists through our lifetime, only that we do not realize its presence and hence are not able to capitalize fully on its worth. Once we understand this cycle, its value can be harnessed very easily and effectively.

1. Being - A child starts his life by simply being. He/she knows instinctively to cry for his/her mother and seek nourishment. Similarly, you have to start by being who you are, by responding instinctively and intuitively by virtue of being gifted those abilities through your genes or 'the stars that you were born with'.  Similarly, in each phase of life, viz. Teenage, adulthood, career, marriage, children, you have to initially accept and feel comfortable with the way you 'ARE'! Reflect upon it, and you will feel like smiling, I promise!

2. Knowing -  True Knowledge of Self happen when you look inwards and analyse your 'Being'.  You become aware strengths, weaknesses, skills, intelligence, likes and dislikes. All this gives you a sense of where you stand, in comparison with what exists outside of you. Remember, this is only a knowledge stage and not a realization stage. Whenever you are in the state of knowing, your mind is at rest, and your mindfulness is at work. You are never tense or perplexed, there is an air of calmness and self-awareness, not allowing yourself to slip into a state of 'ego', 'worthlessness' or 'self-pity'. Knowing also includes analyzing in terms of coming to terms with what will work for you and what will not work for you. In other words, finding your 'magnetic compass' or 'True North'.

3. Doing. Once you have done an internal scan, you are now better placed to make your choices. These choices basically stem from the Vision of what you want to be. Once you are clear of that, you start making a mental pathway of how you want to or how you can reach there. That becomes a springboard for your Actions. One thing that separates 'Doing' from 'Knowing' is the Intent. After 'knowing' yourself, the nature of your intent can push you to make a good choice or a bad choice. If the intent is born out of desire to be of better use to the world 'outside of you', it will result in a good choice, but if the intent is borne out of negative thoughts and feelings like 'scoring over others', 'putting others down', 'seeking revenge' then it will result into making bad choices. Once an action is committed and begun, there is no turning back to the point that you originally were. Because now you have become someone else, based on your Vision  and Intent.

How Does the Cycle of Being - Knowing - Doing Continue?

Once you complete a cycle of Being, Knowing and Doing, you are transported to a different level of consciousness where a different 'you' exists. You reach a different state of Being, which you must experience all over again to realise the change within you and again 'Know' yourself. This is an inbuilt process of realignment in your inner self that drives you towards self actualization.

The process of 'Being - knowing - Doing' does not necessarily happen in compartments, but flows freely such that you are able to 'be' in a particular domain, 'know' yourself in relation to a different domain and 'take actions' in a yet another domain. This complexity builds different layers to your personality, which allows you to build on your strengths or competencies and work on your limitations.

How Does Winning Happen?

By following the process of Being - Knowing - Doing, you get freed from the stress of trying to win, because winning then becomes a byproduct. By aligning your actions to your internal compass, you are automatically driven towards the path that will bring you personal glory, how small or insignificant it may be for the world outside. In the end, it is all about reaching where you want to, right?

Are you following your own cycle of Being- Knowing - Doing?

PS: You may also like to read the post 'Why Must You Lead?

Monday, September 22, 2014

What's worth celebrating? What can be better?

This Sundays sparkenation.

In my Enhancing Their Gifts System celebrating is a key component.  People using the system celebrate every time they achieve a milestone or goal in their performance possibility plan and continually have appreciation conversations with their colleagues when they achieve and accountability conversations when they don’t.

Every 90 days system users and their performance partners formally ask what’s worth celebrating and what could be better and then upgrade their plans for the next 90 days.  These are wonderfully candid, positive and productive conversations because many informal exchanges have taken place in the 89 days preceding.

What’s worth celebrating in your life and work?

What’s worth celebrating about the life and work of your colleagues?

Share your answers with people you work with.  Doing so, providing you then take action, will improve your relationships.

What could be better in your life and work?

What could be better in your business relationships with others?

Share your answers with people you work with.  Doing so, providing you then take action, will improve your relationships.

Create a performance possibility plan for the next 90 days that begins on the 1st of next month. Type/Write down how you will keep doing what’s worth celebrating and what you will do to change what could be better. You can do this on one page, personal on one side and business on the other.

You just might be staggered at the profound results of taking this simple action, providing you do what you type/write down of course!

If I can help you with this sing out. I'm a pioneer in the creation of one-page execution plans. I'll even email you mine.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

“It’s not about proving anything, it’s about sharing something.”

This weeks sparkenation.

This is a great interview with renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Enjoy and then contemplate on

“It’s not about proving anything, it’s about sharing something.”
Yo-Yo Ma

and What is your music between your notes?

You might also enjoy this short piece of music from Yo - Yo Ma that I often play when I need to restore harmony in my life. Some find it sad. I find it stirring.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How Easy Is It For People to Contact You?

We now have a plethora of ways to get in touch with each other. That's a double-edged sword, though, because it can sometimes make it harder - not easier - for people to get through to you, as this comic from shows:

How easy is it for them to contact you?

Here are some guidelines to consider when deciding how to be contactable:

  • Give them immediate and deferred options: Immediate communication is where you both absolutely must be there at the same time - e.g. phone, meeting, video conference. Deferred communication happens at each other's convenience - e.g. e-mail, SMS, Facebook/LinkedIn message. Give people both types of communication, and let them decide what they need each time.
  • Set their expectations: Even though e-mail and SMS should be treated as deferred communication, some people expect you to reply immediately. So be clear about what they can expect.
  • Meet their expectations: If you say you'll get back to them in 24 hours, do so. Otherwise, it forces them to keep checking constantly because they're not sure of your reliability.
  • Be careful about the signals you send: For example, if you reply to e-mail too fast, people will come to expect that, and it sets a standard you don't necessarily want for yourself.
  • Different rules for different people: Not everybody in your network is equal. High-value clients might get a faster response. Your partner and kids might get immediate access (e.g. a special ringtone on your phone that works even when it's on silent for everybody else).

My key message is: Think about what you want. There's no standard formula that works for everybody. But if you don't think about what you need, you'll forever be interrupted by other people's priorities.

It's your life, so set your rules.

Monday, September 8, 2014

How to maintain your attitude of gratitude

This weeks sparkenation.

When suffering from a life-threatening illness 37 years ago my doctor advised me to have "an attitude of gratitude."

Every day since I have stood in front of the mirror and said out loud "I have an attitude of gratitude."
I say it out loud at least 3 times a day!

My stance helped me to not die from my illness. Every day it has helped me, even in my darkness moments, deep disappointments, and digression from my path, to live a life that matters to me and the people I encounter.

I have learned one of life's most valuable lessons - "when we're grateful for what we've got, we can have more of what we want."

Here's 12 ways to maintain your attitude of gratitude.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

"It's a sign of mediocrity when you demonstrate gratitude with moderation."
-Roberto Benigni

More sparkenations here.

Monday, September 1, 2014

“People don’t want a better knife, they want the butter on their bread.”

This weeks sparkenation.

The title of this sparkenation is from an excellent post by Bernadette Jiwa titled 

'How Great Products Are Born, Not Made'. You can read it here. And check out they want the butter on their bread link. It’s a great Kickstarter story.

Here’s the thing. People aren’t buying your products/services rather what they perceive that your products/services do for them.

Ask people what they do and 99% will rave on about themselves or their products/services and not what it means for the human being who asked the question.

Be the 1%.