Don’t stop

Don’t stop testing.

There’s no such thing as finished anymore. In business, your competitors will fly past you the moment you stop.

Anyone can launch a startup in your industry, this afternoon.

So if you stop moving, you’re going backwards.

The beauty of testing is that you can learn something new each day. It could be as simple as ‘that didn’t work’.

The trick is movement. Momentum.

That’s what keeps you in the game. Not every swing will be a home run. And that’s perfectly acceptable. What’s not acceptable is paralysis.

How to structure difficult conversations

When going into any meeting, presentation or especially a challenging conversation, it really helps to have a framework to structure your thoughts.

Barbara Minto’s ‘Pyramid’ structure is one I’ve just learned about and it’s very effectvel.

It goes like this:

Situation

Set the context, environment and go through any supporting data. Generally give the lay of the land or the key facts so far.

Complication

What’s gone wrong? How are our plans threatened and what’s the potential impact? Explain how and why it’s got to this point.

Question

There’s nothing better than a question that you already have the answer to. Summarise the complication with a question that prompts a resolution… and then give your pre-prepared answer.

Answer

State your proposed solution. Then, explain how you go there. List as many fact-based reasons you can as to why this answer is the best way forward. If someone shoots down one of your reasons, don’t panic! Keep going through the list like a ruthless prosecutor.

At the end, take any questions and address any concerns. If everyone is on board (they should be, because you overwhelmed them with reasons to be), allocate actions so that the solution can come to life.

Even if the four steps above don’t go to plan, at least you had one. Appearing in control is a victory in itself and will help you influence the outcome more often than not.

 

Quality or delivery

Success has just as much to do with communication as it does with talent.

Knowing who is doing what, in which order, while the project is in motion, is the key to achieving an outcome on time.

Talent, skill and hard work are known factors that impact quality.

Less stated, however, is the need to coordinate, communicate and plan. 

Without these 3 things no one will ever see the finished product, which is a huge waste of effort. 

Talent + skill + hard work = quality of product. 

Coordination + communication + planning = delivery of product. 

Try something

try something

The worst place to be is stagnant, afraid to make the next move. After failure, the next best thing to do is try again.

If we find ourselves second-guessing or holding back, we’ve already lost.

Success only comes to people when they try something over and over again, a slightly different attempt each time.

We learn. We build muscle memory. Change velocity. Wins are subconsciously enforced as good behaviour. Over time, we discover the right method or approach.

There’s no such thing as an overnight success, simply someone who has tried a thousand times.

The expert of sharing

We see great leaders as experts in their fields. Visionaries of change and thought leaders defining the decades to come. The smartest, fastest or loudest.

Are they really that special, though? Are they that much braver than the rest of us? Of course not.

Great leaders gather people together and praise the latest ideas of others, steal like an artist and motivate the talented people in the group.

They aren’t always bright or talented.

So I want to propose something radical: leadership is an illusion.

Leaders aren’t the best in their niche. They’re the best persuaders, motivators and sharers.

They keep tabs on everyone that matters and distribute ideas that they know other people can convert into something great – with their influence.

Who are we sharing the best stuff with?

Who’s better equipped to make the changes we need to make?

What can we do today to be a better leader, not just a smarter expert?

2 ways to take advice

  1. Ignore it. Pretend like you’ve heard it all before and that you should be the one giving them advice, not receiving it. Nod and say, ‘yeah, I do that already but it doesn’t work’.
  2. Even if we’ve heard it all before, listen. Think about why they’re telling it to you. What are their perceptions of you? What experiences have they had that you can learn from without making the same mistakes. Thank them. Ask them more questions. Sure, ignore the things you disagree with, privately. Everyone can learn something from someone else.

Advice is a gift and often helps us skip the most painful experiences because someone was kind enough to warn us or show us the way. Who can you give advice to today? Who do you need to listen to more?

 

I dare you

Green Eggs and HamDr. Seuss wrote Green Eggs and Ham after his editor challenged him to write a book using less than 50 words.

What happened? He wrote one of the best kids (and adult) books of all time. A creative classic. Poetry and art in a few pages.

When asked nicely, a work of art that transcends generations is rarely produced.

When dared, obstacles appear irrelevant. Motivation peaks and the creative juices flow freely.

So when you’re asked to do something impossible, dare yourself.

How do we know what we’re capable of unless we attempt the impossible?

Deliver at all costs

delivery
Photo: npr.com

Not delivering is the worst thing you can do. It gives me a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach.

Sometimes we stall and delay because we’re afraid of showing people our work or being judged on the quality.

But the results are secondary, really. And the benefit of hindsight means we can improve, optimise and learn for next time.

If Amazon delayed delivering a book you ordered because they thought you might just return it, or write a bad review, you’d be mad.

So, let’s keep our commitments. Even if it’s the worst thing you’ve ever done, ship it. Press send. Turn up. Apply.

Then learn from it. Doing nothing is worse than doing something badly.

The frustration gap

Service Experience Gap

Why do most call centre’s seem out of touch?

Is it the robotic voices that ask you to reveal your personal details out loud on public transport?

Could it be when they pretend to check with their supervisor before coming back with ‘no, we can’t do that’?

Or is it when we are transferred to 5 different departments before someone can help?

The gap

One overlooked reason why our customers become so frustrated with our service is how we structure our teams.

The people tasked with delivering and improving what we offer (marketing) are completely separate from the team that helps support that offer (customer service). In fact, they’re not only separated on the organisational chart, but often by countries and time zones too.

As a marketer, the best thing you can do to truly understand your user’s experience is not to spend time on social media listening, send out surveys or cold call customers – it’s to spend one day in your support centre.

Suddenly, you will see the frustration gap. You’ll see why quality support staff are essential to any business and why so many businesses fail.

You’ll see where potential customers drop out, why carts are abandoned and how a 1-step process can morph into 20.

The positive: we can fix it.

What are you doing to close the gap?

Legacy

It feels overly dramatic to be thinking about a legacy, especially for someone who is only 5 years into a professional career.

The importance of thinking about my long term impact is already very apparent. This week I heard a well-respected man in his 70’s reflect on his career, achievements and lessons learned.

Did he speak about his salary? Stationary? Technology? Office politics? Of course not.

He spoke of the people he met, worked with and lead with passion and determination.

His stories were vibrant, diverse and entertaining. He’d made mistakes and achieved much more than he ever thought was possible.

When I look back on my career I want to be able to tell similar stories, laugh at my mistakes and be remembered for more than a title.

The greatest part of work is that you get to do it with other people everyday and in the end no one remembers their salary.