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

Is there a trainer in the house?

Training budgets have been slashed.

Most of you know my feelings on that…….STUPID.

People are the biggest expense of most organizations. You don’t stop investing in them. You continue to develop them. Figure out how to increase your revenue; not continue to cut your expenses. If you’re as smart as you say you are that shouldn’t be so challenging.

But seriously……….did you know that every single person in your organization has something they could teach another. Every single person. Maybe it’s a better use of technology? Or perhaps a procedural shortcut without breaking a rule? Maybe someone has figured out how to streamline a report? Maybe someone has a great sales technique? A marketing idea that can help another department or division?

Why not dedicate some time in the upcoming week. Gather the team together. Ask a few people to share some knowledge or wisdom that can make everybody’s job easier. Allocate as much time as you can and include as many people as you can. Do this regularly and ask that everyone contribute.

Simple. Easy. No outside trainer needed. Use them when it’s something you and your people cannot do – and there are plenty of things they can provide by being an outsider and offering you ideas that are working for others.

So go have fun with this. This is not optional. This is mandatory. Ask employees what they want from employers and professional development always comes up. Why not let them be part of that solution?

You keep customers engaged by giving them what THEY want!

Have you ever found yourself talking about X when your customers/employees/friends wanted to hear Y?

We all have.

So when I was asked to speak on a webinar to a group of entrepreneurs about the value of joining the National Speakers Association and how it changed/launched/defined my business I said sure.

Waiting for the call to start, while some technical difficulties were being sorted out, I tossed out a question to those who had logged on early…..”Why did you sign up for this webinar?”

And it was clear……….what they signed up for and I what I was about to talk about were not the same. A sudden momentary sinking feeling went through my body. The call organizer was nowhere to be found – she was having the technical difficulties. How am I going to keep these people engaged? I just got fed to the sharks. Or in this case a group of (mostly) women who were about to hang me out by my…….. 

They were looking for tips/strategies/ideas on making presentations more powerful; I was getting ready to address building a speaking business. Screw the EASY button; where’s the PANIC button!!!!

I started talking about what I was asked to deliver. While I was talking I was watching the chat and Q&A windows. They did not want to hear what I had to say. It’s happening…….DISENGAGEMENT! I didn’t even dare look at the attendee count to see if it was dropping. Talk about an ego deflater.

They wanted tips and strategies. Now I have trained myself to not read emails/chats/facebook posts with any slant. So although I know the questions were coming from a place of learning; I kept reading them as “hey stupid, this is not what we want to hear” and imagining people booing and shouting at me. 

So now not only am I talking into a piece of crystal and looking at a picture of myself, my gut is telling me STOP! ABORT! ABORT!

And so I did.

And with the permission of my host I changed the focus completely to marketing strategies and presentation techniques that I use.

And here’s what I learned and offer to you:

  • Get questions from customers days before; not 15 minutes before
  • Give people what they want; and get off your agenda – I had three points I wanted to make; I made 1 1/2 before I moved on.
  • People don’t read all the information; they read bits and pieces. Afterwards it was clear how the program title may have been confusing.
  • Trust your gut; go with your instinct; but at the same time respect people who have hired you to do work

In the end all was good, and several of the attendees reached out to me and thanked me for the information that I offered. But it just reminded me once again the importance of businesses, employees, leaders needing to be flexible when it comes to a customer experience.

How to Coach your Employees to Disengagement!

Imagine you are doing your job to the best of your abilities. You are putting your blood, sweat, creativity and energy into delivering a great customer experience. And then someone from management comes in with a clipboard and a form and basically tells you that you’re doing a lousy job; what you’re doing is not the direction the company is going.

Do not read any further until you answer this question……………….Have you been in the above situation?

So……………….Some friends of mine work for a weight loss services provider. They lead instructional, motivational and informational meetings. For purposes of this piece we will call the company Pound Observers.

Members of the management team (aka the Lack of Employee Engagement & Morale Skills Team) periodically visit an employee while they are leading a meeting to ensure that the customer experience is good; and the employee is knowledgeable in the product and delivering great service. For this I applaud the company. Any company that sends management out into the field to ensure great service and product knowledge deserves a kudos.

But this is where it stops.

Pound Observers has a habit of coming in to “coach” a staff member and it immediately becomes a path to disengagement. Pound Observers, as with many organizations, tends to change its direction periodically. They forget to do one thing however – TELL EMPLOYEES!

So instead, they’ll visit a staff member, tell them the direction has changed, and document it in the staff member’s employment file. Now I don’t care whether it is corrective action or it is not…………When an employee has just been told that basically they are not delivering service in the way the company is now looking to deliver service and that employee watches you write that on an official form that is going in their file it gets perceived as a bad thing. Period End of story.

Coaching is a good thing. I believe in it. Even the best of teams have a coach – so they can continue to get better. I’m all for coaching. I’m not for clipboards representing corrective action when YOU changed the rules and “forgot” to tell me.

If this was a one time incident I wouldn’t even have bothered writing this piece. But numerous long-term employees have shared this story with me and I believe there is a lesson for any company about communication and sharing information with your staff. Employees don’t want money. They want information and open communication. Okay, they want money too. But when you can’t give them that the other stuff is free!

Why are memos not issued when company directions change? Why isn’t information communicated in a way that people understand it? Why isn’t there a company meeting to share the news and get people on board and heading in the new direction together? How the heck can your company direction change and you not tell the people who are out there on the front lines, but take the opportunity instead to disengage them? 

Unless of course Pound Observers has other reasons for not sharing information?

HEY YOU! That’s not how you engage me OR get my business

If you’ve been in an airport you have encountered the credit card hawkers trying to get you to sign up for an airlines credit card. You’ll get a free trip they tell you. They don’t tell you about blackout dates or the gazillions of other miles you’re competing against for that last remaining awards seat. Or having to go at bizarre hours and through 16 cities to reach your destination. On the flip side there are good perks – like your first bag flies free.
But this was my most recent experience with these folks:
“Hey you with the propeller hat come here.”

Yes that’s how they apparently are trained to get your attention. I should try that…..HEY YOU READING THIS!; hire me to bring a recess to your organization to get your people reengaged, recharged and thinking how to be better.

Hey you!?

While amusing it clearly won’t get my attention. If anything it makes me want to throw rocks at you.

But the other day I decided to have fun. I walked over to them and asked what this ‘hey you’ crap is. I then asked what this ‘come here’ crap is. About the only good thing you did is acknowledge my beanie.

Get out from behind the kiosk and come to me. Come engage me in a conversation. Make a connection with me while I hope not to miss my connection. Walk me to my gate. Offer to pull my luggage or carry my backpack.

But for crying out loud hey you is not going to get me interested in you, your product, or your service.

So hey you……next time I see you I hope you’ve changed your approach. After all I do carry rocks.

Teach your employees to engage me; not waste my time.

The other afternoon I picked up my phone and the voice on the other end introduced herself. She is a Virtual Assistant (VA). She was calling around to businesses in the community to see if I knew what VA’s were and if I might have a need.

Now first of all good for her. I hate cold calling. Would rather listen to heavy metal music (can’t stand it) all day long.

I told her I am familiar with VA’s and I do work with one from time to time. She thanked me and hung up.


As I writing this post the phone rang……”Did you get your AT&T book?” I asked who this was and what they were talking about. She wanted to know if I had received my AT&T yellow page book. I told her I guess not. She asked if I wanted one. I said no. Okay bye, was her response.


In both of these cases I did not end the conversation. I left it wide open for them to ask me questions like:

  • Are you happy with your VA?
  • What do you use your VA for?
  • Thank me for using VA’s (after all a good VA is a member of his or her professional association and is also concerned about the brand/industry.
  • Why don’t I want the book?
  • Where do I look for information if I am not using the yellow pages?

I left the door wide open to engage me in conversation; perhaps to give them business ideas; or in the case of the first woman; to perhaps build a relationship should my situation change.

But as usual both of these people (as are most businesses) were just looking for the immediate kill.

Too bad. Especially since the VA I currently use just informed me of an upcoming rates increase.

Sorry. Your employees and your business really aren’t that unique.

I’m a customer. I browse. I shop. I buy.

Okay, I usually don’t browse.

I’m the in and out kinda shopper. Know what I want, get it, and leave. Or walk in, see the first thing that meets my current need, get it and leave.

But while I’m there I pay attention. I pay attention to employees. Are they smiling? Are they frowning? How can two people who work side by side seem to be having such drastically different work experiences? Are they gossiping? Are they complaining about company policy, the boss, other customers, or perhaps even me?

I’m in tune to what is going on so I can share it with my clients and customers. Because your business is really not different than any other business. While you might think you are unique and different, I hate to burst your bubble. You’re not. Your issues, problems, concerns, successes and failures are no different than any business within 10 miles of you. It’s how you respond to those things that matters.

Your employees are the glue that holds your organization together; and like I said they are no different than the problem children down the street. So what’s my point here?

Invest in your people. Keep them engaged.

  • Train them.
  • Communicate with them – with truths.
  • Provide them with interesting work.
  • Give them responsibility.
  • Recognize them.
  • Celebrate them.


You do the above and might just find that you are what you think you are in relation to other businesses…………. Unique.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Engaged employees provide customer experiences; not transactions

I made my semi-annual stop at a Dunkin Donuts today. I needed coffee; was pressed for time and they were my only option. I just don’t like their coffee. They did something to it years ago – like water it down???

Well things haven’t changed. You’re a transaction at Dunkin Donuts. Let’s just move the line. I felt that way even when I was a loyal customer.

  • What can I get for you? 
  • Turn away.
  • Pour coffee.
  • Mix (if needed).
  • Hand customer drink.
  • Take money.
  • Hand customer change.
  • Say thank you.
  • Look over customer shoulder to next customer and ask what can I get for you.
  • Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

I don’t feel that way when I go into a local independent coffee shop. I don’t feel that way when I walk into a Starbucks. At these places I find the employees engage me in conversation; whether I’m a regular or a first-timer. I don’t feel like a transaction.

Is it about the training? Is it about the type of person each organization hires? Or am I jaded because I don’t like DD coffee?

Whatever it may be I know one thing…………in the world we live in, customers are looking for an experience; and not to be a transaction. Even if that experience is a wink of an eye. Are you providing an experience? It’s really not that hard. Ask me how the weather is. It might be that simple.

Wash Rinse Repeat is a thing of the past. Especially for those of us with no hair.

Maybe it’s the customer who needs to be trained?

So when you Google “bad employees” in quotes you get 30,300 results. When you Google “bad customers” in quotes you get 35,800 results.

When you remove the quotes the numbers are 48,100,000 and 50,500,000 respectively.

Seems that we have more bad customers than bad employees. Maybe Customer Service Training needs to be replaced with Customer Training. Maybe we need to tell customers what is expected of them, in terms of their behavior, when they enter a place of business, call or email?

Clearly the customer is not always right. As a matter of fact they may very well be wrong more than 50% of the time. So why are we still telling employees the  customer is always right when even Google says they’re not.

Just a thought for today.

Your choice of words can disengage anyone. An employee, a customer, or a beach goer.


That’s what he said as my friends were about to plop down on the beach the other day…..Are you kidding me? (He said it a second time) 

I was lagging behind and off to the side so I stopped and took in what I knew was going to happen (I know my friends; one in particular).

Seems he was annoyed that we were going to sit in front of him and proceeded to tell my gang how we were going to ruin is view.

It was too late. It didn’t matter. The body language by my friends was in full swing and the words were about to fly.

Are YOU kidding me? Have you ever been to a beach? Everyone wants to see the water. Why didn’t you move closer so no one would sit in front of you?

Every one of us has opened our mouth a little too soon or a little too fast. Every one of us has chosen words that maybe were not the smartest or were open to interpretation. Every one of us has said something that clearly put someone else on the defensive immediately. It’s happened to us as friends, family members, employees, or as customers. Every one of us has been disengaged from someone or something by the choice of a few words. Please choose your words wisely.


Would it be possible for you folks not to sit there and block our view might have been a nicer way.

So there we were; standoff time. Do we sit there and end up with a total unpleasant experience for the rest of the day or move on? I suggested to one of my friends to “let it go” and let’s go. I told the man to enjoy his view.

Of course I gave him one of those smiles. You know the ones.

DOOM: The solution to employee engagement and a great customer experience

I’m here on Cape Cod awaiting the arrival or Hurricane Earl. Went out to get a few extra provisions should we lose power or a downed tree keeps me from moving about.

I noticed something. EVERYONE is happy.

Employees at local businesses are smiling. Customers aren’t aggravated by long lines. No batteries. Oh well. No more flashlights. Still smiles. Conversation is flowing between everyone. Yes, while Earl might have a devastating impact on the communities he visits; he seems to have a positive impact on engagement.

Amazing how doom seems to do this. Hurricanes. Floods. Earthquakes. Blizzards. They all tend to engage people. Employees work harder. Employees bond & communicate. Customers are more relaxed and not as demanding.

What is it about doom, destruction, devastation and uncertainty that excites people? And how do we keep that feeling alive all year long? When we figure that out we’ll have a great solution for engagement.

Or maybe DOOM makes us realize what is important and what is not worth getting frustrated over?

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