That Would Be Great

Alexander-the-Great

In actuality, it probably wouldn’t be great at all. Not by a long shot.

I’d like all of us to give the word “great” its due. The Great Wall Of China is great. Alexander The Great Was great. The Great Books are great. Finding a cure for cancer would be great. Responding to an email isn’t great. It’s polite, it’s nice, and it may even be splendid, but it’s not great. Example: When we craft an email, give directives, ask favors, or request anything at all, why say something like the following when emailing a co-worker?

“…please make sure that the client gets the updated report, and it would be great if you let me know what their feedback is. Thanks.”

“Great??” THAT would be great? Really? I’m not preaching, because I’ve been guilty of this too. But if we want our words to have the impact they were designed to have, we have to stop watering them down. I’m working on this in my writing and communications too because I’ve been an egregious offender. If someone returns my email and I think that’s “great,” and I’ve communicated to them that taking this action would be “great,” then they think they just did something “great” by doing something they should’ve done anyway.

Here’s a revision of the above correspondence:

“…please make sure that the client gets the updated report. Please let me know what their feedback is. Thanks.”

This version is much better, to the point, no fluff and no killing the language.

When did returning a call, an email, or doing something that we should be doing anyway get equated with greatness?  My returning a call doesn’t parallel the discovery of the polio vaccine. So should I be thinking I’m as cool as Jonas Salk because I picked up the phone? No. But if I won the gold medal in the Olympics, that would be great.

The English language, while perhaps not the most beautiful-sounding language, is the most expressive language in the world. We have far more words–by far–than any other language in the world (approximately 1,000,000 words according to Merriam Webster). Don’t let that number daunt you. We don’t need to know them all. We just need to know the right words for the right situation, and we can go down in history as literary giants. Fun fact: In all of his writings, Shakespeare ‘only’ used about 30,000 words (which is still a lot more than most people use–and he coined about 1,700 original words. Talk about a wordsmith: he invented words!) His full vocabulary is estimated to be closer to 290,000 words that he comprehended. The average person who speaks English as a first language understands 10,000-20,000 words, but only uses 5,000! Let’s all try a little harder to leverage this amazing tool of communication better because that would be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

My English and writing are far from exceptional, so if you see errors, it would be great if you posted a comment. 😉

Thanks for reading!

www.PaulEdgewater.com

Smiles Make Money!

iur
When I was a teenager, I worked at a telemarketing company setting up appointments with homeowners for thermal window presentations. We were each given a very small cubical, a phone, a few torn-out pages of the reverse directory phone book, and instructed to call everyone up and down each street until someone said “yes.” One of the very few tools we were provided with was a mirror mounted directly in front of us, so we could see our facial expressions as we spoke with people. Underneath the mirror, there was a small sign that said, “smile and dial,” because people can indeed hear a smile in our voices. Try this with your friends. Speak on the phone with a smile and then without. Have them tell you when you are smiling. Invariably they will guess correctly. Remember, our clients can hear our smiles too!
It’s been said that a smile only has value after you give it away to someone else. That’s not just touchy-feely, tittle-tattle either; there is a plethora of hard, scientific data to back that up with facts.
A 2001 study from Jörn P.W Scharlemann shows that a smile increases trust amongst people by 10%. A 1991 study by Hinsz & Tomhave shows that when you smile, you get reciprocal smiles from 50% of people (pretty good odds!). A 1978 study by Tidd, Kathi L.; Lockard, Joan S., titled the “Monetary significance of the affiliative smile: A case for reciprocal altruism.” showed that service staff earned significantly more than their slack-faced, bovine-like peers. If you’re not sold yet, a 1952 study by Abel & Kruger suggests that smiling people outlived their forlorn friends by an average of 7 years!
The eyes are also powerful communication tools. More than that, our eyes tell people if our smile is genuine or not. A smile that engages only the mouth is forced. A smile that includes the eyes is real. These genuine smiles are called a “Duchenne” smiles, named after a 19th-century neurologist from France who figured all this stuff out. Also, make sure when you smile, that you proudly display your crow’s feet–we all have them! It’ll show the world that you are indeed happy to see them and that you have been smiling for a long, long time!
Let’s begin each day with a big smile, wear it on the way to the bank, and enjoy a longer and happier life.

The Block & The Canvas or The Art Of Personal Development

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 10.29.57 AM

Copyright 2018 Paul Edgewater All Rights Reserved

Left: “Moses” sculpture by artist Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni

Right: “A Life For Art” painting by artist Carl Paoli http://www.carlpaoli.com

“Personal Development is as much about not doing things as it is about doing them.”

~Paul Edgewater

If you are a regular reader of my material, you know that I love to make my point with analogies, similes, and metaphors*. I believe that these communication tools make it much easier to influence others because the reader/listener/recipient can embrace a concept that is an already-accepted notion.

I present the reader with two analogies that I believe illustrate a point I like to make during my talks. We may want to look at our lives as pieces of art. For this example, I’d like the reader to think of your life as both a painting and a sculpture. When we set goals for ourselves, it’s essential to be sensitive to time and what can be accomplished in the finite amount of time we’ve been given. For example, let’s look at the physical goal of getting into shape. There are two things we need to concentrate on: doing some things and not doing other things. For instance: Doing exercise and not overeating. Both are equally important and should be done in concert with one another. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Think of your TO-DO list like you’re painting a picture. We can look at our lives and goals as a blank canvas. We can add color and texture and subject matter until we become what we envision for ourselves. The possibilities are myriad, and we can keep adding elements (doing things) until we finally see what we envision for ourselves. These include, but are of course not limited to: going to school and getting a degree, or attending seminars, going to the gym, reading a book, starting healthy habits, etc. It’s essential to keep the following in perspective: we can’t ‘undo’ the things we do. We will either benefit from our actions, or learn from them, but we have to do them. The master painter, John W. Gardner, saidLife is the art of drawing without an eraser.” So don’t be afraid; just live! Finally, as Tony Robbins says, “take action!” So make a list of your ‘to-dos’ and start doing them!

Next, think of your TO-DON’T list like you’re carving a sculpture out of a block of stone. This list will include all of our bad habits, bad thinking, and bad decisions. When it comes to our negative proclivities, we have to cease and desist; it’s that simple. Again, using a metaphor, the following may or may not have transpired, but it illustrates a truth.

The story of Michelangelo being congratulated at the unveiling of his immortal David.

“How in God’s name could you have achieved a masterpiece like this from a crude slab of marble?” a fan is supposed to have asked him.

“It was easy,” Mike is said to have said. “All I did was chip away, everything that didn’t look like David.”

(source: https://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/06/22/chip-away/)

We should ask ourselves; what about me now is superfluous, useless, or worse, harmful? After we figure that out, we need to chisel away those parts of us and get rid of them. What can we learn from this exercise? Often, much what we want to become is already inside of us, and all we have to do is get rid of the parts of us that get in the way (our ‘to-don’t-list), then take the time we’re saving with that action and start doing the things that improve us (our ‘to-do-list). Think again about losing weight. Those six-pack abs are hiding behind a layer of fat. Get rid of the fat and expose the abs. The parts of us that need to be chipped away can be physical things (like the fat), but also intangible things like bad habits (like over-eating) and poor thinking (like a bad attitude). There’s another ‘plus’ to not doing certain things: Contrary to not being able to ‘undo’ actions we take in the painting analogy above, we don’t have the same risk with our ‘to-don’t’ list in the sculpture analogy. It is challenging–if not impossible–to regret not making poor decisions or taking counter-productive action. For instance, we can never be hit by the train if we don’t take a chance trying to cross the tracks when it’s coming. We are all guilty of doing things we shouldn’t be doing, and not doing them makes our lives so much better. The masterpiece of David lies in wait in all of us. All we need to do is chip away; everything that doesn’t look like what we want to become. These are usually going to be poor habits. Rarely do we have to change a good habit to make our lives better. So make a list of your ‘to-do n’ts’ and stop doing them!

Bonus tip! If you’re like me and have used the excuse that there isn’t enough time in a day to develop the habits we need to do to succeed, we can stop doing that. Because when we eliminate our bad habits, we free up the time necessary for the good habits to take over. Win-win!

Are you still not convinced that expunging bad habits will free up your time for good habits? According to Nicole Fisher, healthcare contributor to Forbes online, Americans spend an average of 12 hours a day in front of a screen! TVs, computers, mobile devices are taking up 1/2 of our lives! But it’s actually far worse than that sounds. If we sleep 8 hours out of every 24, this means we’re awake 16 hours a day. If we spend 12 hours of waking time in front of screens, 75% of the time we’re not sleeping, we’re wasting away watching other people live their lives instead of living our own. After you read this, please put away the device you read it on—or walk away from it—and keep walking until you put in a few miles!

Finally, Zig Ziglar said it well: “Lack of time isn’t the problem; lack of direction is.”

Thank you for your interest! If you found this useful, please subscribe and share!

Please visit Carl Paoli’s website. He is one of the greatest artists of our era.

Be sure to read my other metaphors about Personal Development:

https://edgewaterblog.com/2017/12/03/the-scales-of-personal-development/

https://edgewaterblog.com/2018/03/23/succeeding-means-making-the-cuts-copyright-2018-paul-edgewater-all-rights-reserved/

*One of my favorite books on the subject is “I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like” by Mardy Grothe. It’s an excellent compilation, and it’s available on Amazon.com (see my review of the book there too). Click the link below and buy it. It’s a cool book, and he has many other worthwhile works as well. Note: Keep an open mind when reading Grothe’s material, as he has a tough time hiding his political leanings. If you can put those aside, you’ll enjoy his work thoroughly as I do. https://www.amazon.com/NEVER-METAPHOR-DIDNT-LIKE/dp/B006G899N4/ref=cm_cr_othr_d_pdt_img_top?ie=UTF8 

 

Stop apologizing

LeaderApololgy

I receive a lot of emails every day. Many are people are soliciting my business, and I don’t mind this at all. What I do mind is how people craft their message. Without knowing it, many people who write email marking campaigns are irritating the very people they are trying to close.

Here are two tips to NOT piss off your prospects.

1st tip: When expressing why we are reaching out to the recipient, it’s best not to use passive language like:

“I wanted to see if you are interested…”

or

“I just wanted to check up to see if you had any questions…”

Do not make apologies for reaching out. Don’t preemptively dismiss your proactivity. You have nothing to defend.
Instead of writing an email that says:

“I just wanted to touch base and see if you were interested in…blah, blah, blah…”

Write this instead:

“Your time is valuable, as is mine. If you are interested in learning more about my offer, let me know. If you have no interest, please let me know that too, and I won’t bother you anymore. We are both too busy to spin our wheels. Thank you and much success.”

Stop apologizing for striving for your success. Frankly, it pisses off people who have their act together. I want to know you are busy and I want you to value your time as much as I value mine. Grow a set and talk to me like an adult and not like a scared child. If I don’t respect you, I’m not giving you my business. Don’t apologize for reaching out to me!

2nd tip: Do NOT put “Re:” in the subject line on your first email. If you think your prospect is stupid, then do this. If you treat your prospect like a 12-year-old, they will act accordingly. When I see “Re:…” in the subject line when I know I never emailed this party, I want just to hit ‘delete,’ but I take the extra step of opening the email, unsubscribing and blocking the sender. How dare you put “Re:..” in the subject line when I didn’t email you first.

I want you to succeed, and the best way to do this is not to piss off your prospect.

Thank you for your interest.

www.PaulEdgewater.com

 

GAME OVER (guess who won?)

showposter

The type of people who win at life, never change:

  • Those of us who are unafraid of not belonging to a group.
  • Those of us who celebrate rugged individualism.
  • Those of us who lead and don’t rule.
  • Those of us who are keenly aware of sowing and reaping.
  • Those of us that set goals.
  • Those of us that have contingency plans, yet rarely need them.
  • Those of us who would rather be on the giving side of charity than the receiving side and make a point to be.
  • Those of us who tithe.
  • Those of us who reject the pretense of anyone who hasn’t walked the walk on which we are embarking.
  • Those of us willing to share our life-learnings with those who are ready to learn.

There is nothing new under the sun and the rules of winning are constant and evergreen. Don’t reinvent the wheels of success; only refine them and improve upon them. Even as they are, they will serve us well.

For more information about winning at life, please visit me at:

www.PaulEdgewater.com
Thank you!

Keep Going!

1My good friend and coach, Dave LaRue, shared a phenomenon with me that is common to many achievers:

“That worked so I well, I stopped doing it!”

At first blush, the statement seems whimsical or quaint, but it’s exceedingly profound. The lesson is consistency. Don’t let your drive to succeed be modulated like the AC/Heat on a thermostat (on and off and on and off, etc.). If something works, keep doing it and don’t stop doing it. Too many of us close the deal, lose some weight, achieve the goal, get the girl (or guy) and then stop doing the things that made us achieve those things. If we want to keep closing deals, keep the weight off, achieve more goals and keep the girl (or guy), we have to keep doing what got us those things in the first place, or they go away. Jim Rohn reminded us years ago, that if we don’t use something, we lose it. Disuse equals loss; every time. Personal development means growth and in order to grow, we can never go back to what we did in the past if it didn’t serve us. But if it worked, by all means, keep doing it and keep finding new ways to improve upon it!
For more information on Dave LaRue and his philosophy, click here:
https://www.thecommaclub.com
For more information on me, click here: http://www.pauledgewater.com

Thanks for reading!

Turn Gate Keepers Into Welcoming Parties

gatekeeper

Here’s a great way to get past the ‘gatekeeper’ at any business when paying them a visit in person.

Assume that the very first person you see when you enter the place of business is either the owner, manager or the one in charge. Even if it’s completely obvious to you that this person may ‘just’ be the receptionist, or an employee, never ask this person if you can “see the owner or manager, etc.” We do this for two reasons:

  1. No matter what they look like, they very well could be the owner, manager, or the one in charge and you’ll be doing a lot of damage to your case for not recognizing that. Even if the person is in overalls and changing a lightbulb, they could be the main contact. If we ask this person something like, “is the owner in?” they will not be happy to have to tell us that they are indeed the owner. Always assume you’re speaking to the key contact and they will appreciate that you made this assumption.
  2. If you really are just speaking to an employee of the key contact, invariably they will get a ‘kick’ that you thought they were the owner or manager, etc. They will respond with something like “I wish” with a big, broad smile. But in the back of their mind, you have created a bond with this person; you thought they were special and they will like you for it. You have recognized this person’s potential for growth and greater things. If this person is a receptionist or a secretary, they will very likely let their guard down for you when it comes time for follow up visits and the like; they won’t be a gatekeeper anymore; they will be a welcoming committee.

Try this the next time you call on a prospect and you’ll see a marked improvement in how you are received at businesses you visit.

Note: this works on the phone too!! When someone picks up the phone, ask: “You’re the owner, right?” You’ll be pleasantly surprised how well this works!

Acquired Immunity To Viral Marketing Part 2

Image

(Bee sure to read Part 1 first: https://edgewaterblog.com/2014/07/01/acquired-immunity-to-viral-marketing-part-1/)

Recently, one of our V.I.Bees, Geoff, had a refreshing and extremely clever idea for a new marketing moniker. He called it “Pollination Marketing.” That his idea succinctly complimented the name of our organization, made it all the more appealing to us (everyone at our company, http://www.BusyBeePromotions.com, is referred to as a “Bee”). Alas, a little research in the availability of the domain was unfortunately an object lesson on the phenomena of universal consciousness; someone had beaten us to the punch; someone is sitting on it. If it’s not too late to make a long story short, had Geoff’s brainchild been applied to our business model, the idea was that we would send our ‘Bees’ out into the market place with ‘pollen’ in the form of samples, talking points, tchotchkes & literature. The ‘Bees’ pollinate the consumer with this information and create new customers that would then bloom the world over. Cool, huh? It gets better; not only do the worker Bees go out and spread the word about our clients (or Busy Bee for that matter), they return to the hive (our office) with new ‘pollen’ from cross-pollinating/cross-promoting with contacts they have encountered in their travels in the form of collected literature, photos, business cards, quotes from the public, specific metrics and other anecdotal information that we relay back to our clients for joint venture opportunities and to incorporate into our ever-evolving business model. As far as I was concerned, it was a honey of an idea. 

At Busy Bee Promotions, we do indeed create a buzz for our clients. It’s a great descriptor of our service, it’s brand appropriate and we can live with it far into the foreseeable future. Much more importantly though, it’s appropriate for our clients and is an activity that their customers and clients won’t run for cover from either because it doesn’t connote something negative like “viral,” so everyone wins.

Perhaps this is a good time to step back from what we are selling for a moment and revisit why we are selling it. If we as consumers like a product, service or cause that we believe in, we have to ask ourselves; “how did I become aware of this?” “Did someone disrupt me?” “Did someone virally market me?” If we ourselves came upon a product or service that we like by more traditional means of data transference and brand awareness activities, let’s give our potential customers the same opportunity to reach the same conclusion—in the same manner that we did about what we are selling. It’s the best way to show respect for those who will be parting with their hard-earned money when purchasing our goods and services.

In a world where euphony is the norm, our profession has decided to invert euphony. It’s baffling and it’s a problem. The ‘opportunity’ to address this ‘issue’ is a ‘challenge’ that we in our industry all need to be up for, or eventually, our clients will avoid us like the plague.

To recap:

• Be honest and frank with your target consumer. Don’t try to bamboozle them into opting in to your product or service by cloaking your intentions in euphony. There is nothing wrong with closing a deal and charging a fee for service; it’s the free enterprise system and we need make no apologies for engaging in it.

  • While it’s acceptable and encouraged to use euphony (in serious personal matters, for instance), it should be discouraged in business vernacular. It’s a waste of time and disperses the focus needed to accomplish goals and resolve problems.

  • Come up with a creative way to describe how you’re marketing your product, service or cause (i.e. “pollination marketing”/ “creating a buzz”). Make it brand appropriate for your product/service and it’ll be something that’ll grow with your organization and not have to be reinvented ad nauseam as consumers won’t become resistant to it. 

Thanks for reading!

Acquired Immunity To Viral Marketing Part 1

Image

I’m a huge fan of Jay Conrad Livingston and his line of “Guerilla Marketing” books which are some of the most clever and informative series of works in the history our industry. It’s not a stretch to say that he was the founding father of modern promotions. “Guerilla” is also a great way to define his message. He used the word as a metaphor for his brand of marketing although it is a term that initially entered the modern vernacular with negative connotations.

I remember when I first heard the word “guerilla.” I was watching The CBS Evening News anchored by Walter Cronkite with my mom, dad and big brother. The details escape me because I was so young, but I remember it was about bad guys in Lebanon. My father also had to explain to me that Mr. Cronkite wasn’t calling these bad guys “gorillas.” It was my first lesson on homonyms, but I digress. It helps to remind ourselves that Mr. Livingston’s message succeeded in spite of the negative connotation, not because of it. No one believes his intention was that we’d take his terminology literally and start shooting up Beirut whilst passing out branded tchotchkes. He was just telling us there was another way to get our point across which involved tactics not unlike a guerrilla ambush on an unsuspecting—but ultimately grateful—public. Juxtapose that tactic with what’s happening now; he took a negative term and turned it into a positive euphemism. The exact opposite is happening in the marketing world today. 

Allow me to set the stage: We’ve all been exposed to euphemistic rebranding of negative terms in the sterile corridors of the corporate world. Long ago and in more pragmatic times, we may have heard someone say something akin to, “We have a problem and it needs to be fixed.” It was clear, concise, to the point and we understood there was a problem and it needed to be fixed. No further explanation was needed. However sometime in the last 20 or 30 years, some mid-level manager raised on Dick & Jane and new math (and who may have just been subjected to sensitivity training), proselytized that people ran for cover when hearing the word “problem,” lest their self esteem be irreparably damaged as a result of the exposure. By some decree, the word “problem” was substituted with the word “challenge.” After all, everyone likes a challenge, don’t they? When “Challenge” lost its luster (after a very short while, incidentally), it was unceremoniously replaced with “issues.” That wasn’t good enough either and now we actually call problems “opportunities.” Good grief. Isn’t it sad to think that soon, that wonderfully positive word will be laden with negative connotations? 

Euphony has its place in the lexicon though. When someone’s vital signs cease to be apparent, it blunts the trauma to survivors when we say this person has “passed on” or “passed” versus this person “died.” We don’t get buried, we get “interred.” In fact, life insurance companies go so far as to tell survivors that the policy in question had “matured.” We can forgive euphony in businesses that deal with death, but for the rest of us, it borders on ridiculous and it implies that everyone on the payroll is an easily traumatized child. I think it’s time to come full circle; indeed we have a ‘problem’ and it needs to be fixed. You’d never know it, with all the “Johnny-come-lately-me-too” terms in the marketing world we are being subjected to. I believe these new buzz words and phrases try in vain to capture the clever and whimsical spirit and vibe of the late Mr. Livingston’s epiphany. For instance, can we all agree that ‘viral marketing’ is a vile term? Why must our industry come up with these negative-sounding names to describe what we do? Viruses are bad. No one wants one and if we can help it, we’d never seek one out to bring home to the family.

This blog will appear dated very shortly as I’m certain we will stop using this buzz term shortly (wishful thinking?). But I can’t help thinking it will be replaced with another, even more negative sounding name. ‘Disruptive’ is another gem. It’s as if the only way to get the attention of our target consumer is to disrupt them (read: Piss them off). If someone disrupts me while I’m busy living my life, I can tell you with complete certainty I will not be investing in their product, company, cause, or service. I would also maintain that I’m not alone in this sentiment. You get the point; I’m illustrating, with absurdity, the absurd. What we do in marketing and promotions is an honorable endeavor but with names like “Viral Marketing” floating around out there defining what we do, at best you’d think that we’re up to no good and at worst, trying to infect the public with something that may kill them. If we just call what we’re doing “marketing” and “promotions,” we’re being honest with the consumer. If on the other hand, our product, service or cause needs to be spread by such disgusting sounding names as ‘viral marketing,’ we shouldn’t be surprised when our demographic target moves from our sights and hides where we can’t find him or her. It may be for the aforementioned reasons we have to keep on reinventing, or ‘mutating’ ways to get our message in front of consumers. No one wants our viruses; hence the name of this blog, “acquired immunity” and I believe these terms and tactics are creating an ever-resistant strain of consumer. Note that the author is keenly aware that ‘viral’ is a metaphor, but words have meaning and by continuously using negative words in our communications, it reinforces negativism. Keep in mind the term, “guerrilla marketing” is the exception to inverted euphony; it worked. Most, if not all the others, don’t. 

Come back soon for Part 2

Thanks!

THE MORE THE MERRIER

Image

Nike reminds us: “Just Do It.” Don’t overthink sales, or how you’re going to approach prospects. The worst thing that’ll happen if you don’t close the deal is that you will learn how to not close the deal and you’ll get it right the next time. A perfect example of this was back in the late 1980s, I was the Chicago sales manager for Metagram America, a long defunct, alphanumeric paging/answering service, which at the time was the cutting edge in communications technology. It was a 24/7 live answering service that would answer your calls with a customized greeting and then send the user, what would today be called a text message, on a device that looked like a beeper. Remember those? All of our sales reps were issued one of these pagers and were tasked to hit the pavement. Many of the reps would sit in the office and spend hours figuring out their strategy for the day before getting in their cars and going on sales calls. At best, they would see about three to four prospects before coming back to the office to complain that they hadn’t closed any sales.

My number one salesman had a different strategy. I hardly ever saw him. The only time he would ever come in the office would be to get more literature and business cards. The rest of his time was spent talking to people about Metagram America. He would talk to hundreds of people every week and he sold more than anyone in the country. He ‘just did it.’ He didn’t over think it. He would strike up casual conversations with people he met at the bus stop, train station, at the grocery store— whenever and wherever he was. He didn’t take the process too seriously and his commissions were seriously large. I’m not suggesting that every company has a product or service that lends itself to this type of approach. I’m aware that some things can’t be closed without a lengthy and involved consultative process. But in all industries, a salesperson can still vacillate too long before getting the ball rolling.

The bottom line with regard to the numbers game is to do the math. There is a very good chance that you will double your sales if you pitch twice as many people. You will triple your sales if you pitch three times as many people and so on. Ask yourself how big of a raise you’d like, set your goals, do the math and hit the pavement.