What’s the business cost of your assumptions?
A little background. . .
This weekend, I sent an email asking what the refund policy was for a program I recently joined and am debating about remaining in. Nowhere did I ask for a refund – in fact the whole email consisted of greeting, one sentence and closing.
On Monday morning I received an email “thank you, your refund has been processed”.
Imagine my surprise. My bewildered response gently pointed out that I had asked for the refund policy, not for the refund.
She then responded, no greeting, no closing – very tersely in fact – that she would recharge me and I could “cancel anytime”.
The assistant made 3 mistakes here:
• She failed to thoroughly read a one sentence email
• Her failure to pay attention to the details resulted in her assuming the client (me) wanted a refund which she immediately processed and cost her employer revenue and
• Her follow-up email was distinctly less friendly than previous communications (remember, it’s email, we don’t know your “tone”) which makes me go “hmmm”.
About 90 minutes later (before I responded), I received another email. This one changing the refund policy from “cancel anytime” to “you must commit to the end” and “please let me know what you decide”.
This tells me that she misspoke when sharing the refund policy.
So in addition to the 3 previous mistakes, she then gave me the wrong refund policy.
And while you may reasonably think the opposite, let me be clear in saying that this is a business I highly respect.
Making It Real: My Request To You
If a business which I know to have great systems in place could make the mistakes described above, imagine what happens in a business without strong systems.
One of the best, and worst, things for our business is that we’re human. As humans, we’re unpredictable, we multitask and we say things without thinking/checking.
All human traits. All potentially disastrous for your business.
Since we’re not going to stop being human any time soon and the positive far outweigh the negative there (in my opinion), here are some recommendations for managing in your business:
• Whether internal to your business or with clients, make your business a “no assumptions” zone. If something’s unclear or you’re unsure, ask.
• Before sharing a policy, double check. It’s worth the extra 60 seconds to avoid miscommunicating to a client.
• Ensure your team understands it’s quicker (and less expensive for you, the business owner) to confirm than to clean-up. Just imagine the credibility and revenue lost if I shared the company name here. Not to mention the assistant and I are now in our 5th conversation – frustrating all around.
Creating systems is necessary for a successful business – just be sure your team’s following them.
What’s the business cost of your assumpt June 24, 2011
What’s the business cost of your assumptions?
America’s Next Creative Mom…calling all June 6, 2011
America’s Next Creative Mom…calling all poets, writers, and bloggers. We want to hear from you! Submit in 250 words or less your best idea of how you balance all the roles we play as women. Stories will be posted on our website and our blog.
“5 Childhood Hobbies That Could Help You Today” May 10, 2011
When you reflect on your childhood hobbies, you probably feel a bit of nostalgia for those carefree days spent putting on plays, kicking around a soccer ball, or creating fridge-worthy artwork. But have you ever considered how those hobbies now impact your business success?
Even if you’re no longer involved in those hobbies, the skills you learned on the softball field or the stage helped mold you into the professional you are today. And if you’re still figuring out what direction to take your business, your hobbies also offer insights into the types of activities that you’re truly passionate about.
Read on to see what your hobby says about you.
1. Sports team. Whether you were involved in swimming, soccer, softball, or some other sport, being part of a team taught you how to work with different personalities towards a common goal. You also learned how to challenge yourself and developed a healthy sense of competition, which translates nicely from the basketball court to the boardroom. Your ideal business model probably involves collaborating with others. If you’ve lost touch with this skill, go back in your mind to your old school days.
2. Arts and crafts. If you were one of those artistic types who spent hours painting, sculpting, or drawing, then you probably still have a strong aesthetic sense. This can help you create an interesting and eye-catching visual identity for your business, whether through a website, display window, brochure, PowerPoint presentation, or other means. Because you had creative control over your art as a kid, you may be the type of businesswoman who prefers to work independently. And if you’re still figuring out where to take your business, consider creative fields like interior design, visual merchandising, or web design.
3. Debate team or drama club. Debate teaches kids how to craft a compelling argument and deliver it with confidence, while drama lowers inhibitions and encourages teamwork and creativity. Women who were involved in debate team or drama club tend to be confident in front of a crowd, which can help them network and market themselves effectively. If that’s you, then consider adding speaking engagements or instructional videos to your business model, as these can generate revenue and create buzz.
4. Music group. Practice makes perfect, and few people know this better than former choir, band, or orchestra members. Participating in a music group teaches teamwork and self-discipline. Several studies show that studying music increases cognitive function, particularly in math and spatial learning. Playing music has also been found to reduce stress and boost memory in adults, which offers plenty of incentive to pick it up again. It may be time to rediscover your love of music.
5. Collecting. Most kids have some kind collection, whether it includes Barbie dolls, stickers, stamps, coins, or some other item. If you were a collector as a kid, then you probably developed a strong sense of organization, which benefits all types of businesses. If you’re still deciding on a business model, then you might consider something that allows you to buy or sell goods to help recapture the joy of collecting you felt as a kid.
Rediscovering the activities you enjoyed as a child can help you find joy in your adult life – and succeed in your business, too.
Trust is Granted Not Earned May 4, 2011
Written By: Sara Smitherson
How easily do you grant your trust to other people? What factors play into your ability or inability to trust certain individuals around you? What do people need to do to earn your trust?
As I personally reflect on these questions, I’m reminded of both the importance and complexity of trust in our lives, our work, and our relationships. Trust is one of the most critical elements of healthy relationships, family, teams, organizations, and communities. However, many of us have an odd or disempowered relationship to trust – we’ve been taught that people must earn our trust, when, in fact, it’s something we grant to others.
I learned early in my life that it wasn’t always safe to trust people – my folks split up when I was three, I went to tough schools and found myself in some difficult situations, and part of my “street-smart, survival kit” was to be very suspicious of just about everyone I came into contact with. While this did serve me to a certain degree as a child and adolescent (at least in terms of survival), as I got older I noticed that my resistance to trusting others created some real issues in my life and my relationships.
No matter how many “tests” I put people through in order to have them “earn” my trust, at the end of that whole process, it was ultimately up to me to grant them my trust (or not) – and then to continue to trust them (or not).
We each have our own internal process about trust – much of which is based on past, negative experiences. In other words, we get burned, disappointed, or hurt in life and then decide, “I’m not doing that again” and we put up barriers around ourselves to keep us “safe.”
While this makes rational sense, it usually leaves us guarded, leery, and insecure – unable to easily create meaningful and fulfilling relationships with people. The irony is that no matter how guarded we are, how thick the walls we put up, or what we do to try to keep ourselves from getting hurt and disappointed; it usually happens anyway.
One of my teachers said to me years ago, “You’re living as though you’re trying to survive life. You have to remember, no one ever has.”
What if we granted our trust more easily? What if we were willing to make ourselves vulnerable, to count on other people in a genuine and healthy way, and to expect the best from others authentically? Michael Bernard Beckwith calls this being “consciously naïve,” which may seem a little oxymoronic on the surface, but at a much deeper level is very wise and profound concept.
Will be get hurt? Yes! Will we be let down? Most certainly. Will people violate our trust? Of course. However, this will happen anyway – it’s just part of life. Ironically, the more we are willing to grant our trust consciously, the more likely we are to create a true sense of connection, cooperation, and collaboration in our lives, relationships, family, teams, and more – even if we feel scared to do so or it seems counter-intuitive at times.
We almost always get what we expect in life. What if we start expecting people to be there for us, to do things that are trust-worthy, and to have our backs and our best interests in mind? As with just about everything else in life, it’s a choice. As Albert Einstein so brilliantly stated, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”
What has been your experiencing when dealing with the issue of trust?
The Importance of Unplugging March 29, 2011
What percentage of your waking hours are you “plugged in” (i.e. checking things on the internet, doing email, texting, playing with your wireless device, watching TV, posting to Facebook or Twitter, and more)? If you’re anything like me and most of the people I know and work with, probably more than you’d like to admit.
Recently I began to confront my own obsession (borderline addict) to being plugged in. For many years I’ve justified my somewhat obsessive nature about email and internet use by the fact that I run my own business and have to stay connected in order to make sure I’m taking care of my clients, generating new business, and not missing out on important opportunities.
However “true” this may seem, in the past few years (especially with the addition of social networking, texting, and other forms of “instant” communication and information sharing), it has become clear to me that my desire to stay connected has gotten a bit out of control and has had a negative impact on my life, my well-being, and my relationships.
From entrepreneur to sales people to managers to stay-at-home moms – just about everyone I know and work with seems to have some form of electronic obsession impacting their lives in a negative way.
About a month ago, I woke up on a Sunday morning and said to my husband Tom, “I’m going to have a media free day today – no email, iPhone, internet, TV, or anything else. Today, I’m going to be totally unplugged.” He looked at me with a bit of amazement and disbelief – I think both because I was actually saying this and because he wasn’t convinced I could do it.
I had my own doubts and a few weak moments early in the day where I almost fell off the wagon and checked my phone. However, I was able to do it and by the end of that day, I felt great. I was able to relax and be present in a way that felt grounded and peaceful. The past four Sundays I’ve been “unplugged” and I’m loving it.
What if we unplugged more often? What if we gave ourselves permission to disconnect from technology and the “important” world of uber-communication? While for some of us this is easier than others, most of us could benefit from a little more unplugging and a little less emailing/texting/web or channel surfing in our lives.
What’s funny to me is how hypocritical we often are about it. When our spouse, co-worker, or friend is busy on their phone, checking email, or being “obnoxiously” plugged in, we often get annoyed. However, when we’re the one doing it, it’s almost always “necessary.”
Here are a few things you can do to start unplugging yourself in a healthy way.
1) Take inventory of the negative impact of technology in your life. How much stress, frustration, and difficulty does being constantly “plugged in” cause for you? Think about this on a physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual level. Admittedly, this is a bigger issue for some of us than others. However, the more honest you can be with yourself about it – both the impact it has on you and any underlying fears that may be associated with it, the more able you’ll be to alter your habits.
2) Challenge yourself to take conscious breaks. See if you can schedule a full day to be “unplugged.” If that seems to scary at first, try a morning or a few hours. And, if doing a full day seems easy – try a full weekend, a work day, or something else that will be a stretch. I’m working up to doing a full weekend myself and entertaining the idea of week day (although that seems scarier to me at the moment). Push yourself, but go easy on yourself at the same time – baby steps are important and perfectly acceptable with this.
3) Unplug together. See if you can get other people in your house, your family, or those you work with to unplug with you. Doing this with the support of other people can be fun and make it easier. It will also create accountability for you and those around you.
Our issues and challenges with technology and our obsession with being connected and online 24/7 don’t seem to be going away or getting better culturally. In fact, if we just take a look at our own lives and habits in the past few years – for most of us, things are getting worse. It is up to us to interrupt this pattern and to disengage from our electronic obsession in a conscious way.
While unplugging may not always easy or encouraged in the environments we find ourselves in, it’s crucial to our success and well-being in life. When we’re able to disconnect ourselves, we can regain some of the passion energy, creativity, and perspective that often gets diminished or lost when we allow ourselves to get sucked into our phones, computers, TVs and other devices.
How do you unplug in order to stay more connected in your life? Is this an area you personally struggle with?
Are you a Duck or an Eagle? March 22, 2011
Are you a Duck or an Eagle? What’s the difference you may ask? Well, ducks quack and complain, but eagles soar above the crowd. Author and speaker, Harvey MacKay, tells a great story about a cab driver who decided to soar like an eagle. And, if we will take the lessons provided in this story and apply them to our lives, we too, can soar like eagles.
As a business woman, I find myself in and out of airports, rental cars, and taxi cabs. Most of the time, my personal taxi cab experiences are not very pleasant. There are exceptions, but as a rule, here is what I find. If it is hot weather, the air conditioner isn’t running. Some windows are down and the stifling hot air blows my hair all over my head, which is not the best scenario if I’m headed to a business meeting. The interior of the vehicles are dirty – I hate to touch anything. The drivers make only necessary conversation to find out the whereabouts of my destination, and often times talk on their cell phones in languages foreign to me. It gives me an uneasy feeling and I find myself wondering if we are taking the most direct route to my destination. Other times the driving is fast and aggressive towards other drivers. Clearly in these situations, the emphasis is not on providing a high level of customer service.
But, Harvey shares a very different story that goes something like this:
Harvey was waiting in line for a ride at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing he noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for him. He handed Harvey a laminated card and said, “I’m Wally, your driver. While I’m loading your bags in the trunk I’d like you to read my mission statement.”
Taken back, Harvey read the card. It said: “Wally’s Mission Statement: To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.” This blew Harvey away. Especially when he noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside. Spotlessly clean!
As he slid behind the wheel, Wally said, “Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.” Harvey half-jokingly said, “No thanks. I prefer soft drinks.” Wally smiled and said, “No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and diet coke, water and orange juice.” Almost stuttering, Harvey said, “I’ll take a diet coke.” Handing him his drink, Wally said, “If you’d like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated and USA Today.” As they were pulling away, Wally handed Harvey another laminated card, “These are the stations I get and the kind of music they play. If you’d like to listen to the radio, just let me know which station you prefer.”
And as if that weren’t enough, Wally told Harvey that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for him. He then advised Harvey of the best route to his destination for that time of day. He also let him know that he’d be happy to chat with him and tell him about some of the sights or, if Harvey preferred, he would leave him with his own thoughts. Harvey was absolutely amazed and asked the driver, “Tell me, Wally, have you always served customers like this?”
Wally smiled into the rear view mirror. “No, not always. In fact, it’s only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard the self-improvement guru, Wayne Dyer, on the radio one day.
He had just written a book called You’ll See It When You Believe It. Mr. Dyer said that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. He said, ‘Stop complaining! Differentiate yourself from your competition. Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.’
“That hit me right between the eyes,” said Wally. “Mr. Dyer was really talking about me. I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more.”
“I take it that has paid off for you,” Harvey said. “It sure has,” Wally replied. “My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year I’ll probably quadruple it. You were lucky to get me today. I don’t sit at cabstands anymore. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on my answering machine. If I can’t pick them up myself, I get a reliable cabbie friend to do it and I take a piece of the action.”
Wally was phenomenal. He was running a limo service out of a Yellow Cab.
Harvey says he has probably told that story to more than fifty cab drivers over the years, and only two took the idea and ran with it. The rest of the drivers quacked like ducks and told him all the reasons they couldn’t do any of what he was suggesting. Wally the Cab Driver made a different choice. He decided to stop quacking like ducks and start soaring like eagles.
What a wonderful story! And, you might think that a perfect application of the story would be regarding the providing of outstanding customer service. In fact, that is one perfect application. But, in looking a little deeper we find life-success truths that lead to living a more meaningful and abundant life.
1. Success requires conscious, purposeful choice. Wally made a conscious choice to make changes. He took responsibility for himself and for his life. He decided to change his attitude and become an eagle. He purposely shifted his mindset. Shifted away from a negative mindset and the action of complaining and shifted to a positive mindset with the expectation of receiving good things. It is true in life that we usually get what we expect.
2. To improve yourself or your life, do what you can in JMA (just manageable amounts) right where you are. To start his transformation, Wally made a few small changes. As he received good feedback and as his business began to grow, he made more changes. Sometimes we have to make baby steps, but the important thing is to begin! Do what you can where you are to begin your transformation.
3. Physical presentation matters! Many people today are of the opinion that how you look isn’t important. They say, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” That may be true in theory, but in reality people size you up within the first few minutes of meeting you. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise… First impressions count! I don’t care who you are.
4. Differentiate yourself through attitude and action. It is attitude PLUS action that determines altitude. Wally decided to act! – to move from the usual to the unusual, from being the same to being different, from ordinary to extraordinary. Why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary? It is usually just small things put into action that lead to big improvements. Wally decided to change his attitude! A positive attitude is magnetic. It draws people and positive things to you.
5. Sow carefully! You reap what you sow. If that statement is true, and I believe that it is, then we must sow what we want to reap. By using our talents and abilities to serve others in this life, we draw good things back to ourselves. We are rewarded many times over. It is true that you can do well by doing good. As it has been said, A man reaps what he sows. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up… let us do good to all people.
Wally transformed himself. Instead of taking the form of a quacking duck, he began to soar like an eagle.
What about you? Are you an Eagle, or a Duck? Share your thoughts on Wally and how you feel this story can be reflective in your life.
Have you been RENEWED? March 16, 2011
The Renew Conference is a “must attend” event for every woman. Join The Anew Women’s Group for this powerful two day “retreat like” conference, on April 15-16, 2011. This is your time to come and be renewed! RENEW…..is a call to action to inspire women to define who they want to be.
This event will encourage, instill and ignite you to reposition where you are currently, to where you intend to be. Renew is an opportunity to come together and transform ourselves, our communities and our world.
Now, more than ever, you have unlimited potential when it comes to what you can achieve. All it takes is the right attitude, the right plan, the right opportunities and the right tools. Getting it “right” is exactly what this unique two day-long event is all about. It’s specially designed to give you the powerful information and profound insights that will make a lasting, positive impact on your life.
Whether you’re a stay at home mom, or a successful career woman, Renew will provide you with remarkable sessions, inspiration and meaningful connections to other women. PLUS, if you are like most women you would love a weekend where you can get pampered, poured into and have fun with other like minded women….away from the busyness of our lives.
“When you want something different, you need to do something different.”….the Renew Event is that difference!
Pass along this blog to anyone you know who can benefit from an event such as this.