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"Why Choose Between Fun and Content When You Can Have Both"

Are your employees engaging or disengaging customers/prospects?

For the last two weeks I get almost daily calls from the following phone number: 877-436-7165. They are calling my mobile and asking to speak to the person who pays the electric bill.

In the State of CT we can now purchase portions of our electric from a provider other than the two big guys; and at a reduced price. So I ask who they are and what they’re looking for. Be nice to telephone solicitors; it’s probably one of the worst jobs out there. I let them know I’m already purchasing my service elsewhere  and ask them to remove my number from their records. They don’t. They keep calling. For the past two weeks.

So now every time they call I take a quick Recess and call back. I ask them what time it is or what they are wearing or what they had for lunch? They’re getting annoyed at me and told me they don’t find me funny.

I know they’re doing their job. But part of their job is to listen to a customer or a prospect as well. And when someone asks you to stop calling you do just that; you stop calling. Or some crazy person might change his mind about telling people to be nice to you and publish your phone number all over the Internet as a warning of your business practices.

Employees make mistakes. Employees correct mistakes. Customers often don’t care.

Went to see Cirque Jungle Dreams at MGM Grand last night in CT. It was a lot of fun. The performers were engaging and amazing. The costumes were wild.

During the show the jugglers screwed up a few times and had to regroup. The tight rope acrobatists clearly make a mistake or two as well.

Or maybe they didn’t? Maybe that was part of the show? I really don’t know, but they looked like mistakes.

But what was interesting was that the show went on. The performers (employees) regrouped and kept going. The show went on. They didn’t stop. The customer experience wasn’t ruined. 99% of that show was flawless. The bicycle acrobats were amazing. The frogs waving their butts at me were hilarious. The woman who stood on her tippy-toes on one foot on top a guy’s head sent pain to my head. The symphony doesn’t have a buff ripped shirtless incredibly talented violin player? Violin players are supposed to be nerdy. The positions some of those women could put their body was freaky. I could go on. I was engaged from the moment the curtain went up.

The important point here is we don’t need a 100% perfect experience. No one does. We just need to know you’re trying and you’re willing to fix things when mistakes are made. Most engaged employees know when they screw up. Sometimes you need to fix it; other times you just move forward.

There is no “I” in Team? I disagree!

I’ve seen the signs. I’ve seen the chain emails. I’ve heard consultant after consultant; presenter after presenter use the phrase. I’ve even sat in staff trainings where I heard it…

There is no “I” in Team.

Guess what?

There is an I in team…………

  • The I is that team member who recognizes the team is off course.
  • The I is that team member who is willing to bring issues to the table.
  • The I is that team member who recognizes his or her fellow employees are not engaged.
  • The I is that person who recognizes that customers are having an awful experience and is willing to shout it out from the top of a rooftop so that leaders and managers adapt.
  • The I is that team member who is not moaning, whining, complaining and gossiping about all that is wrong but is looking to fix it.
  • The I is that person who is willing to take the risks that everyone is unwilling to take; in hopes of creating a better work environment, a more engaged workplace or a happier customer experience.
  • The I is the person who does all of these things that brings a team together and moves them forward.

No I in team? I hope not. But what I do hope is when that I does all those things he or she doesn’t look to take reward or credit, but rather continues to look for the opportunities to be the “I.”

There is an “I” in Team and I hope it is you.


Stop pause and take a Recess today. How can you be the I?

Engaged employees should be given a Recess from their current position from time to time

Lately I feel like Customer of the Month at Research in Motion. I’ve been on the phone with them for hours to deal with several issues with my piece of junk Blackberry Storm 1. Now I keep suggesting they just send me a Storm 2 already. At this point I have to believe that the amount of payroll expense that has been dedicated to my issues is much greater than their cost to upgrade me out of this piece of junk. But I digress.

So as I entered hour who knows what the other day, waiting for some new software fix to download, I asked the Blackberry rep ….I forgot his name; there have been so many…… “what’s the best part of your job?”

His response was “solving customer issues.”

My response was “don’t you think the company should be working so there are no issues to be solved?”

His response was “then I wouldn’ t have a job.”

I told him I disagreed. I suggested that he probably has so many other talents that are not being used; that could be used somewhere else at RIM. Everyone does. Most employers just don’t tap into them.

Then he told me what he’d rather be doing. I told him not to tell me but to tell as many others at RIM as possible. One solution to getting employees engaged that is often overlooked is listening to where their interests actually lie.

You want to keep people engaged? Keep their work interesting, new and exciting. Give them a Recess from their current role every so often and offer them opportunities to move around the organization – even if just temporarily.

How many engaged employees does it take to satisfy a customer?

The weather took a Recess from being nice yesterday so I took a Recess from playing on the lake and headed out for a cup of coffee and to finish planning Play with Your Pasta.

I had to wait an unacceptable amount of time yesterday to be served at my local Starbucks – about one minute. C’mon we live in a you-have-to-be-able-to-say-it-in-140-characters world; who has time to wait for one minute?

The woman in front of me had “some” questions. I’m assuming she was either a coffee virgin or a Starbucks virgin. So I stood there eavesdropping while making believe I was counting floor tiles. Starbucks Virgin.  

What I found interesting was that all four people behind the counter were trying to help her; while three of us waited.

But here’s what I noticed:

  • All four were contributing
  • No one was interrupting, correcting or disagreeing with the other
  • All four seemed genuine in their quest to help
  • And when the lady walked out of the store not one made a negative remark about her

Now that’s an engaged happy workforce. That’s a group of people who communicate well, respect one another and appear to be having a good time. Can you say that about your organization?

Although I still think a 4:1 employee:customer ratio is over the top.

Want an engaged employee and an engaged customer? Here’s all you need to do…….



This is John. I met him at a trade show the other day. John sells those fashion “readers” that everyone is buying.

So I asked John a question. I asked him if people are still going to the eye doctor.

Boy was that a loaded question for John. While he believes in his product and the quality of his product he also made it perfectly clear that you STILL need to see your eye doctor, get your eyes checked regularly and make sure you are using the correct eye wear. He acknowledges that too many people are using readers as their answer to eye care savings.

It reminded me of the idiot who once told me that dry gas was my answer to the check engine light. Or was I the idiot who believed him and then my engine experienced a sad sudden death?

It’s that simple. Engaged employees tell the truth. When your product is an option, a complement, or a temporary substitute give your customers that information. Don’t tell them you’re the replacement when it is not the case.

Tell the truth. Your employees won’t feel sleazy and your customers will love you, be loyal and keep coming back.

And since I like John’s honesty……check out Scojo’s website

Customer Engagement should be fun. The solution to office lunch stealing.

“Did anyone ever steal your lunch?”

Now that’s an engaged employee! That’s how you engage a customer. And that was how Mihoko started the conversation with me when I entered the trade show booth yesterday.

Much better than….. “Wanna buy from me?” 

I was looking at the moldy sandwich below:

She proceeded to tell me that these bags were the answer to the lunch stealing problem that goes on in workplaces around the world. Nobody would ever steal your lunch again. You see the sandwich isn’t moldy; the green splotches are painted on the bag.

Love it! Lunch stealing problem solved. Another significant business challenge checked off the global problem list. That’s what a business does; solves problems. I wrote 50 Ways to Have Fun at Work and designed The Meeting Playce Mat as a response to customers telling me their problems; not because I thought something was needed. Mihoko told me the product design came as a result of way too many people sharing stories of their lunch being stolen.

So here’s the real question………… Do your products  and services solve problems?


Engage a Customer: Force them to buy AND market your business!


Absolutely Brilliant!

Took a Recess from trade show work last night and went to see The Addams Family musical on Broadway. My friend Ellen and I laughed and laughed. Most of the audience did. After all how can anything be bad with Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth. The writing was brilliant. It was  fun, campy, full of sick deranged comments and up-to-date political and social references; something to engage everyone. 

But that’s not all that was brilliant. My $5 diet soda was brilliant too! It comes in a souvenir travel mug. You’re not asked if you want one. You get it. You pay for it. They only serve drinks in these cups. On one side it says Define Normal. On the other side it has The Addams Family musical logo.

Think about it. When was the last time you got several hundred people to walk around promoting your business? And they get this opportunity six or seven times per week.

Did I say brilliant!

Little Things Can Make the Customer Experience A Whole Lot Better

When I travel to NY or Atlantic City I like to take the bus. It gives me time to read, write, listen to loud music with my headset, put last minute ideas into a program, and not get stressed out by traffic. It takes a bit longer but it is worth it.

I also like to take take the bus as some of my clients are in that business and it’s always good to know what they’re talking about when you’re spending time with them.

Now the bus/motor coach industry is interesting in that it is competitive yet friendly. They compete in similar markets yet have organized themselves in a way that they are there to help one another should an equipment problem occur. Good stuff. How many industries are doing that?

But I get confused from the customer service side of things. When I ride the Peter Pan Bus the driver takes my bag as I board and places it underneath the bus in the storage compartment. When I ride the Greyhound bus the driver points to an open bin and says put it in that one. No help.

I know. Not a big deal. Shut up Rich and put your bag under the bus. Maybe. But when I have a choice of the two providers guess who gets my money? It’s those little things that don’t cost a business anything and make a difference.

Can you, right now, list 10 little things your company is doing to make a difference for its customers?

Have Fun & Engage Employees: Let’s Play WWSSD!

Work got you down? Morale in the toilet? Company not meeting your needs? Customers irritating you?

Take a quick Recess and play WWSSD – What Would Steve Slater Do?

Here’s the idea……Come up with as many off the wall solutions as possible to the thing nagging you most. Don’t act on any of them. Just laugh at them. Write them down. Perhaps throw them in your idea compilation system (see yesterday’s blog post.)

Now when the time is right take a look at all the ideas written and laughed about. I wouldn’t be surprised if in those zany thoughts is a next great idea to engage employees and perhaps create an even greater customer experience. Look deep and imagine the possibilities.

Now go grab a beer.

But seriously folks….people are talking about this. And undoubtedly the conversation will go back to how their work environment has its sucky components too. What a golden opportunity for communication. Use it.

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