If Only There Were No Customers

Caught this today from one of my favorite writers at Wine Spectator.  Jim Laube writes about a personal experience with bad attitude service ("Attitude Can Spoil A Dinner, Too").  Considering my post on AT&T, I thought Jim’s piece was certainly a connector. 

Do companies (large and small) vex over customers?  Do they stand in the back room or boardroom and lament over those pesky/demanding customers?

Here’s a news flash; no customer = no business!

I thought I would point you to Jim Logan’s blog also.  His post on ""What’s More Important In Business" is spot on.  Jim understands what businesses must do to get it right.  Maybe he should get with Jim Laube at Wine Spectator to find out the name and owner of that restaurant. 

You know…the one that seems bothered by customers?

Praise for AT&T…Sort Of

I’m really not piling on AT&T in this post.  But two weeks ago I got something in the mail that got me thinking.  It was a card alerting me that I was consistently going over on my cell minutes.  Great service I thought.  Then I remembered that I had called and changed my plan the week before.

Maybe it was just a coincidence.

Believe me, I know AT&T does some things right.  This isn’t about AT&T.  I’m speaking to service delivered by various large organizations.  Maybe the senior leaders of these large enterprises should do the following to make it better for the customer:

  • Spend 20% of their time with customers.  Interact with them, work with them and find out what makes them "tick."
  • Tie all bonuses to customer satisfaction.
  • Fire all employees who aren’t will to become customer-centric.
  • Get out of the business.
  • Require all employees to serve at a non-profit.

The Face Behind the Face

Want to know what your boss is really made of?  Want to know what your boss’ values are?  Want to know where you stand with your boss? 

The following is a list of ways to find out:

  1. Watch him or her when the pressure is mounting.  The best time to do this is during times of uncertainty in the business model.  Could be merger rumors or the second straight quarter of lower profits.
  2. Ask him or her if they’ve heard of ebosswatch.com.  This site helps workers rate their current and former bosses. 
  3. Determine how frequently your boss communicates with you…as in meaningful.  Lack of meaningful interaction is a sure sign that something is wrong.
  4. Ask him or her about what the better future (casting vision) looks like.  Give them credit for personal or business.  If they can’t answer that question, then they’re just along for the ride.
  5. Ask them what they’ve done in the last 6 months to grow as a leader.  Watch the eyes on this one.  A lot of blinking is a sign of fear and confusion.

Keep in-mind; there is an art to doing the above. 

How do you go about seeing the face behind the face?

Why Personal Vision Matters

I know a few people who are being confronted by a changing environment in their respective career paths.  It’s striking how they ignored the signs of decline.  There were evidences years ago that something was coming, but either the money was too good or they were just plain comfortable.

Personal vision is important many ways.  Not the least of which is having a sense of where things are headed.  In other words, is it a dead-end or a short to meadium-term ebb.  Seth Godin has written a wonderful book called “The Dip” that speaks well on the matter.

So where do we learn personal vision?  Sadly, not many places in the world we live. 

Corporate America is too fixated on quarterly numbers to bother.  There are tons of consultants and coaches out there, but many of those are just looking for a “gig.”  Churches have fallen into the trap of teaching people to be religious.  You need someone or some group that will help you, in an authentic way, to deal with your greed, deal with your pain and without a doubt deal with your fears.  Everyone of those issues will block you from seeing clearly.  You cannot become what you cannot see.

Here is a brief list of those I’ve encountered who’ve helped me in an authentic way to develop my personal vision:

  1. Terry Walling and Leader Breakthru
  2. Seth Godin
  3. Rick Williams
  4. Guy Kawasaki
  5. Larcel McGhee
  6. John Eldredge

Who is authentically helping you in the pursuit of your vision?  Give me your thoughts…

Won’t Get Fooled Again?

Marc_dann_03_2 This is a picture of the Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann.  He’s on a crusade.  See Fortune’s article on who Mr. Dann thinks is partly responsible for the high foreclosure rate in Ohio

The subprime mortgage mess is hitting Ohio hard, in addition to other states.  It is a sad story and its going to get sadder.  I don’t want to trivialize those who’ve been impacted, but many saw this coming.

This is a vivid object lesson in not learning from the past.  I guess we humans like to re-do problems just for the heck of it.  Funny how often Wall Street is involved, but that’s another post.

The point remains; if you don’t learn from what screwed you up, you’re bound to do it again.  What’s scary now is we commit the sin and bet we’ll get a "second act."  In many cases we get a third and a fourth.

Just remember, the clock eventually runs out and you’ll have to live with what lies behind. 

A Heart’s Desire

Cyndi bangs the drum on the following quote:

"Your heart’s desire calls to you always; it will not stop until you hear its message louder than the noise of your days."

Have you turned off the noise?

Painting a Picture

These lyrics are from Everything But The Girl (Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn):

British Summertime

Leaving at dawn to beat the traffic, do you remember that too?
Curled asleep on the back seat, do you remember that too?
The soundless dark, the empty road, do you remember that too?
And that child asleep, only eight years old, do you recognise as you?

June, July, September, stretched ahead and out of view.
The whole world seemed a safe place, and never ending too.
But it was never as simple as you thought, there were just things you never knew,
And up ahead your parents bore the weight of all their worries and yours too.

Windows down on the coast road, wanting to be first to see the sea.
The whole world seemed a safe place, temporarily.
But it was never as simple as you thought, and you found out as you grew,
That up ahead your parents had borne the weight of all their worries and yours too.
All their worries and yours too.

If you’re a parent, then you know how deep the above lyrics go.  If this brings back memories from your childhood, then you can relate as well. 

See the connection?

Knowledge Worker Shortage Ahead

Those who know and read me, have heard my views on the coming shortage of skilled workers.  The demographics (baby-boomers) don’t lie, as well as the different mind-set that younger workers bring to the table.

Penelope Trunk (author and columnist) brings us a great post on how younger workers will have an advantage in the coming years.  I would go one-step further and say young thinking workers.

What do you think are the barriers for employers in managing and leading in this new environment?

Here’s my list of barriers:

  • Today’s managers and leaders don’t read.  Consequently, they won’t take the time to read people either.
  • Habit.
  • Too fixated on quarterly numbers at the expense of people.
  • Arrogance.
  • Fear!
  • No reliable and authentic voice to help them navigate.

Advice for Your Start-Up

Guy Kawasaki’s post on "No Plan, No Capital, No Model…No Problem" is great for those who are thinking about making a move or for those that think VC is the only way to launch.

Believe me it made me think about some ventures I’ve been sketching out (yes, there’s more to me than human development).  I subscribe to the belief that if God deposits a dream in your heart and mind, you follow it to the end. 

Guy’s video from a Churchill Club event will make you think…