First Place

There is something special about being in First Place. You worked hard, put in the time and effort, made sacrifices, and you took the lead.

This First Place status may be with your customers, your employees, your team, your family, or your relationships. They appreciate the work it took to get into First Place, and you are proud of your accomplishments and they are proud to put you in First Place.

But there is something tempting about being in First Place. Once you arrive, the temptation is to rely on the good will you built along the way. Your First Place status is like a trophy put on a shelf and keep pointing at when interacting with those same customers, employees, teams, family, or relationships.

Your over-reliance on your past actions can lull you into almost feeling entitled to be in First Place regardless of our current effort or actions.

“Look at what I did for you.”

Pointing to the past becomes your mindset, and your language.

First Place is not a destination.

First Place is not a trophy to place on the shelf and continually reference.

You are not entitled to First Place.

First Place is more of a journey, a continual effort towards something great.

First Place is the culmination of your daily work, effort, conversations, and progress.

Instead of focusing on, always being in First Place, try focusing on each day’s actions and ask yourself a few questions.

Did I bring value today?

Did I help others?

Did I connect with those who matter?

Did I focus on the important things?

Did I make a difference?

When you answer “YES” to these on most days, your status with those around you should take care of itself.

P.S. Sorry for the long hiatus from writing, I have missed connecting with you through words.

 

Descriptions versus Reasons

canadian-bacon

Canadian Bacon.

It is a thing we are into at the moment.

Each week, I take a number.

I stand in the long line.

Numbers are called, I glance down at my number.

More numbers, more glances.

Don’t want to miss it.

Anticipation.

The Magic Number.

The description.

A pound, sliced medium.

A pound, sliced not too thin.

A pound, sliced kinda thick.

Each time the result disappoints.

Too thick. Too thin. Never just right.

But there was yesterday.

The description.

A pause and a question.

“Are you making breakfast sandwiches?”

“Yes.”

“Then I know exactly what you need.”

A perfect thickness.

A satisfied customer.

How often do we try to meet the customer’s description without understanding the reasons why they need something?

Descriptions are helpful.

Reasons are magic.

The Signs

There are signs everywhere.

Literal signs.

Stop signs. Directional signs. Yield signs. For Sale signs. Parking signs.

You get the idea.

Signs are everywhere, so much so that you may not even notice how cluttered our spaces have become with signs.

My favorite signs to observe are in workplaces, because they are typically aimed at someone’s behavior that someone else is trying to correct.

“Please clean up your dishes in the sink, we are not your parents.”

“Keep this door clear.” That has morphed into, “Keep everything away from this door, boxes, carts, and supplies.”

These signs are sending messages. Messages about expected behavior. Messages about who you are as an organization.

I see these signs so often that sometimes their messages simply blend into the background noise of life.

Two signs recently caught my attention, but for different reasons.

Sign Number One: The Sink is Still Broken

Yes the sink is still broken

An example of a perfectly helpful sign: the sink is broken. However, I have now witnessed this sign for over a year. This issue and the sign have been here for more than a year now.

The message: We know something is broken, but we are not fixing it. Our solution is for your to do a little more work, but clearly we are not about to fix the problem we both can see.

Sign Number Two: Who Cleans City Hall?

Who cleans city hall?

The message: We take pride in what we do, enough to tell you that we are actual people who are cleaning up this heavily trafficked building. If you are not happy with the level of service, you know exactly who is responsible.

Take a look around your organizations.

Where are the signs?

What messages are those signs sending?

Work Life Separation

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We get a quick note on the weekend.

“Sorry to bug you about work on a weekend, but I need…”

Or a text late at night.

“Hey, sorry, I know it is late, but can you send along…”

And there was an email early in the morning.

“Sorry, this is last-minute, but can you give us a call right away…”

These requests were simple. They took just a few moments of our time.

We enjoyed being able to respond. It didn’t even feel like work.

There was a time when we thought we needed work life separation.

There was a time when we thought this divide was important.

There was a time when work felt like work.

Over the past few years the work life separation wall has slowly been dismantled.

Brick by brick, the need to be distinct and have boundaries has faded away.

The work life separation wall has become a smeary, messy, blended tapestry.

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When our work, and life is about helping others, both happen at interesting hours, times, and moments.

It doesn’t feel like work. It isn’t distinct from our life. It just is.

We live and work at weird hours when there is a need. There are no office hours.

We aren’t counting the days until we retire. We just live.

We live and work in various locations, and at various times.

We meet the needs around us throughout our entire journey.

There is no longer a need for the work life separation.

The absence of that artificial barrier sets us free.

 

The Attempted Compliment

Sometimes we become hardened towards those around us, even our customers.

Prior interactions, prior conflicts, or prior assumptions cloud our current view.

They complained, they were unhappy, they were…[insert specifics here].

Now we see them and the world through a tainted lens.

I heard a story the other day.

A customer complained. They needed some assistance. They needed something corrected.

A small team was mobilized to respond.

This team was on-site to solve the issue.

The customer approached this team at the end.

The customer began to speak.

The team responded first.

“Are you here to complain again, about something else?”

But, the customer was not there to complain.

The customer was attempting to compliment the response, the team, and the work.

The attempted compliment was shut down before it could happen.

Hardness had set in.

Where have we become hardened?

Where have we missed the attempted compliments?

Take a moment today and think about what you are holding onto, and against others (including your customers), that may be getting in the way of what they deserve.

The Customer Service Check Box

Customer Service Check Box

The process seemed like every other company. Place the order. Wait for the package to arrive. Check to make sure that everything is in the package upon arrival.

But this company is different.

At the top of the packing sheet is this small little check box.

“Problem with your order? Let us know! You can blame:”

What a simple way to send a message to your customers.

“We may not get everything right, but let us know if we don’t. And by the way, we are also letting you know that there are actual people behind this order. People who are responsible for getting it right.”

But this check box is not just for the customer, it is for those 6 people who work there. They take pride in their work, enough to say “I am putting my name on this and call me out if it is wrong.”

What simple check box, process, or idea could send the same message to your customers?

By the way, when the order arrived it was not exactly what I ordered. You see this company always adds a little extra bonus gift with your order. So I got what I ordered and a nice surprise as well.

Think about the message that sends.

 

The Pitch versus The Partnership

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(Image Courtesy of usdailyreview)

There are a lot of ways you can sell yourself, your company, your product, or your organization.

How you sell says a lot about you, your company, your product, and your organization.

Most selling can fall into two distinct categories.

The Pitch and The Partnership.

The Pitch describes how you are going to solve the problem, provide the solution, or deliver the product.

The Partnership describes how together you will solve, build, develop, and create.

The Pitch describes all your accomplishments.

The Partnership describes how you have helped others accomplish their goals.

The Pitch pushes forward when there is resistance.

The Partnership listens when there is hesitation.

The Pitch downplays prior service issues.

The Partnership owns prior service issues.

The Pitch wants to close this deal.

The Partnership wants to make sure this deal is one of many.

The Pitch is proud.

The Partnership is grateful.

The Pitch can give you short-term success.

The Partnership can give you success over your lifetime.

When it comes down to The Pitch versus The Partnership, which will you choose?