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

Look forward. Not down.

  • Sitting at dinner and talking with your dining companion(s).
  • Walking the streets and looking forward.
  • Walking the streets and talking to one another.
  • Watching a concert and not being focused on telling Facebook friends and fans; your Twitter followers.

These were my observations while in Montreal. People are just not glued to technology the way we seem to be in the United States. It’s not about your droid, blackberry, iphone or tablet. And many of these people are young – the ones who get criticized for being techno-junkies. Just a few hours north from my home in the United States and things seem so different.  Or maybe they know that you don’t care what my dinner was last night:

Why do so many people post pictures of their dinner on Social Media sites?

 

Sometimes I get reminded that technology is overrated and there is a world out there – a world full of experiences that deserves our full attention. People are looking for new ideas, inspiration, insight, innovation and the next idea. I think this city can teach us all it may not be in your hands.

Why not take your team out for a walk today to talk about how to work better; make them all leave their technology back at their desk.

Look forward. Not down.

Unlike. Unlink. Unfollow. Unsubscribe. UNDO!

And the biggest ego blow…………Unfriend! Yep, I don’t have a need for you any longer. (okay, sometimes I just hide all of your posts)

I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m thinking more and more each day that this whole social media thing needs a huge slap in the face. Anyone expert enough yet to do it? 

And here is my evidence:

  • People begging me to “Like” their Facebook page then offering me nothing but sales pitch after sales pitch. I want people to like my two pages Recess At Work and The Double D Diner because they genuinely like what I’m doing and get some value, laughs or who knows what. Sure I do some selling there; but I do my best to mix it up with fun and information. What if I really don’t like your product, services or business practices and we know one another………?
  • People wanting to “Friend” me on Facebook but never exchanging even a vowel after that. I have enemies I can converse with more.
  • People asking me to “Follow” them on Twitter; then offering me nothing but tweets about their greatness; never engaging in two way conversation
  • People “Linking” with me on LinkedIn; only to find out that building a relationship with them is going to need to start with use of my credit card
  • And let’s not leave out the people who still add me to an email distribution list with that famous line “if you did not subscribe or no longer wish to receive this click here.” (You know damn well I did not subscribe.)

Now, don’t get me wrong there are lots of people doing it the right way; working hard to build relationships and trust; to be helpful in hopes that you will remember them; to have fun. And I enjoy interacting with those folks. But there are so many who still don’t get it.

So today I offer you a simple Social Media Strategy (and by no means do I consider myself a Social Media Expert):

Each day I make it a point to individually interact with no less than 20 people on all the various social media sites to which I subscribe. And by tracking this information I can tell who is a friend, a potential collaborator, someone I might do business with, someone I would refer, someone I want to help and see succeed and/or someone I want to get to know better. And for the rest……

Unlike, Unlink, Unfollow, Unsubscribe, and Unfriend is now on my To-Do List. Or as I call it…..my UnDo List.

Is your place of work REALLY a fun place to work?

I love when people tell me their workplace is a fun place to work. I usually follow up with a question asking them what makes it fun. What follows are usually descriptions about getting together with people after work or during lunch and doing fun things; the occasional ice cream social or bagel Fridays. When I worked for Avon many years ago we used to take a walk down to the local amusement park at lunchtime and ride the roller coaster a couple of times. It certainly built camaraderie with my peers. It certainly allowed for some blowing off of steam during stressful work periods. That was fun. But did that make the work fun? Heck, I even sell an ebook 50 Ways To Have Fun At Work – which is important. But again, does that make the work fun? (Actually some of them do.)

If you’re going to say your workplace is a fun place shouldn’t the work itself be fun? When I founded One Less Meal Inc, operator of the Double D Diner: The World’s Only Vitual Dinier Fighting Hunger I wanted it to be fun. I wanted people to be engaged. Yes, we’re a charity. Yes, we want your money. We want you to donate; large or small amounts to help feed hungry people. But we opened a Virtual Diner; with silly menu items and descriptions. When you order a birthday cupcake we have fun writing funny messages to people. We’re working hard to make it interactive. Where possible we deliver your donations in Superhero (aka HungerHero) style to recipients and let you see the fun side of people who volunteer their time to help feed the hungry. I believe we really have put the FUN in FUNdraising – another comment I see and hear organizations overuse; but misunderstand.

If a workplace is going to call itself fun, shouldn’t the work itself be fun? 

Here’s a couple of quick examples:

  • I recently attended a trade show where one of the booths sold toys. Not one person was playing with a toy. Every salesperson had a clipboard in their hands. If I were the Head of the Sales Team I’d demand they play; to be using the product. I’d fire them if they were holding clipboards. First of all, I’m sure they would enjoy their days sitting in a trade show booth a bit better; but it might also engage them as well as the customer. Also, as a customer I am totally frustrated when it is clear your employees have no clue about your product.
  • Or how about a clothing store. What if the clothing store had a fashion show running all day long. Yep, have your employees model the clothes you’re selling. And make them change outfits a few times per day. Let them wear their favorites; and I’ll bet engagement with the employees and the customers increases.

These are just two things that come to mind. I’ve got many to share.

Bottom line………….if you’re gonna say you’re a fun place to work it is time to add the most important element to the mix……it’s time to not only have fun at work, but to make the work fun too!

MY follow-up plan dictates how I VIEW OTHERS! Does yours?

  • When I meet someone at a networking event I send them some sort of communication within 24 hours. It could be an email, text, tweet, or handwritten note. (Yes, I’m doing my part to keep the USPS in business; why I don’t know at times.)
  • When someone makes a donation through the charity I founded, (One Less Meal, Inc.), a personal, silly, fun acknowledgement is sent within 24 hours. Could be a note, email or shout out on a Social Media site. People love to be recognized – especially in public forums.
  • When I receive an inquiry about speaking, training or consulting for an organization you get a phone call or an email from me ASAP and never more than 24 hours later. Heck, once I found myself on the phone at midnight. (She sent an email at 11:45 PM; I sent an email saying “wanna talk now?”)

These are my rules. This is how I run my business. If it means staying up past my bedtime I do it.

Do I ever fail myself? Of course.

But here’s the issue………..because that is how I run my business that is how I assume others run theirs. And I like doing business with people who operate with a similar work style or ethic.

  • So when I meet you at a business event, and you promise me pricing on a product I don’t want to be waiting almost one week later for your reply; especially when you’re one of many options.
  • When I approach you for help/advice (and possibly hiring you) and you tell me to get in touch; and I do, again waiting one week throws all kinds of red flags up for me; starting with what will your delivery be like if I choose to do business with you?

So if you’re a salesperson or in a customer service role (which everyone is) try keeping these two simple ideas in mind:

  1. Ask people what they expect from you when it involves follow-up.
  2. If you’re so busy and can’t/won’t respond for days let people know; or perhaps you need to look at your systems.

Some of the busiest people I know make promises to return calls within 3 hours; emails within 24 hours; texts within a few hours. If they can do it, so can I.

So can you.

 

Long overdue thanks to the 2 fat ladies for their charitable idea!

I don’t know who they were. I’ll probably never see them again. But it was the summer of 2009 when I took a Recess from my work (my friend Russ Schoen would call it an excursion); went to a beach in Rhode Island and got my idea to start a nonprofit fighting hunger – One Less Meal, Inc.

For well over two hours I sat in my beach chair and watched two “larger” women eat chips and cookies and a host of other junk food. As the noon hour approached one leaned over to the other, chair bending, and said “It’s almost time for us to have lunch.”

“You could both do with one less meal” is what I muttered to myself. (And having been a fat boy; close to 40 pounds heavier at one point in my life I say that with confidence; and not in a mean-spirited way at all!)

One Less Meal.

Hmm…..The mind raced.

What if we could get people to consume one less meal and donate that meal to help fight hunger in the US? Imagine the impact we could have. And then I started thinking and imagining what this could look like. I spoke to close friends about my ideas. Some were crazy. Some seemed impossible. Some even seemed dangerous. And then with the great brainpower of my good friend Michelle Gotay, One Less Meal, Inc, (operator of the Double D Diner; The World’s Only Virtual Diner Fighting Hunger) was launched.

All because of 2 fat ladies.

So many people have great ideas. But that’s where it stops – with the idea. They don’t pursue them. They don’t share them. They don’t reach out for collaboration, help, and guidance. Instead, they go back to the world as they know it; to jobs that disappoint and don’t fulfill; to business models that don’t inspire. Employers bring employees together ask for ideas and then nothing. People return from the land of dreams and possibilities (or brainstorming sessions) and do nothing.

What’s your great idea? And perhaps this former fat boy can make it happen for you or your team?.

And to those two ladies in Rhode Island, if you happen to come across this blog entry…….Thanks! You’ve made a difference.

Recess At Work Day Manual: sample pages

Recess At Work Day is just a few days away – June 16th. I’m hearing from folk all around the country; all with different ideas. Some are using it as a chance for some fun and games. Others are using it as a day of learning.

Still not sure what to do? How to get the best ROI out of your Recess? How to show employees that they matter? The Recess At Work Day System is a great place to start; 12 FUN Opportunities to learn, recharge and/or celebrate.

And to give you an idea of what is included here’s the 1st 5 pages of the manual; which includes the table of contents and the 1st Recess – how to pull together a quick Recognition event. Enjoy!

Click here to download a sample of the RECESS AT WORK Manual

Click here to order your system– which now comes in a downloadable version

And be sure to visit the RECESS AT WORK website for more ideas.

When we all take a risk; we all get a reward

Last fall a Professional Association hired me to spend 1/2 a day with their members; a Recess to get them re-engaged with their work. During the course of discussions budget came up. Budget always comes up.

I came up with several options; but for the most part it boiled down to two scenarios:

  • Pay my full fee
  • I will give you a reduced fee but…………………………..I will help you market the event and if your revenue/registrations go above a certain amount we split the revenue.

They chose the second option.

By “helping” to market the event all I did was a short video and posted it to a page on my website for that client; inviting their members to come play and learn with me. This allowed the membership to see who and what they were paying for; to reduce their risk as well. All the client had to do was an email blast with a link to my website.

Registrations for the event were 50% higher than the three years prior. I made more money. The Association made more money. But most importantly; the attendees got to learn, network, laugh and be together; which in these difficult times is so important to any professional group.

Budgets are on the minds of everyone these days. True partners are coming up with solutions that reduce risk and reap the rewards for all. Are these the partners you’re working with? Are these the partnerships you’re creating? Or are you so stuck in the austere budget mentality that it is killing you and your organization?

Keep your Promises; But Keep Your Problems to Yourself

Next week is the day. June 16th is your opportunity to reengage your organization. It’s not too late to plan your Recess At Work Celebration. The Recess At Work System offers you 12 high impact, purposed opportunities to learn, recharge, & celebrate. They’re designed for fun and to have valuable professional development and business growth. Click here to order yours and save 15% by entering code RECESSitate at checkout. It’ll ship today.

 Join companies like Keen, the Dallas Regional Chamber, Iroquois Pipeline and Danbury Hospital who understand the benefits of taking a Recess.

But in the meantime…..

In my blog entry of June 6th I wrote about a Postmaster who didn’t seem to know how or want to sell me postage because his computer was down. I just stood there as he hoped I went away. The next day I went into that same post office needing to purchase a mailing tube. The handheld scanner device was not reading the bar code and when the postal clerk keyed the UPC code into the computer it was rejected. Her response to me was it doesn’t scan and it is not in the system. I could sense her frustration. Once again I felt as if there was this hope that I would just go away. I reminded her there was a price of $2.19 printed right on it and offered her the money. Clearly that was something she wasn’t trained to do. After many attempts the scanner finally cooperated.  

We all have called a business only to be told their computer systems are down; or slow; or are rebooting. Seems to happen a lot with my cable company; which I have to tell you causes me to jump and down with joy since I only seem to call them when I am having a service problem. It is nice to know their problems are widespread throughout the internal systems as well. Feel my pain. Join my pain. But all kidding aside when I’m told to call back it doesn’t meet my ideas of great customer service.

Several weeks ago, on a Friday, I called a company wanting to discuss some advertising. A woman answered. She was clearly on a cell phone and in the middle of a crowd. She said “Rich, I am at the airport picking up family; my daughter is getting married tonight. I know this is not what you want to hear but can I call you Monday?” It was Friday. 1:00 PM. She was being honest. Of course this could wait until Monday; how often does your child get married? 1, 2, 3 times? Monday came and went; she never called. Nor on Tuesday. On Wednesday I went with another vendor.

Sadly, we live in a world where customers want it yesterday. Wanting it now doesn’t even suffice any longer. And not only do we want it yesterday, we want it faster, for less money, with no inconvenience and expect people to offer so 150% of themselves when they service us.

But here’s what we don’t want:

  • Your internal problems should not be your customer’s problems. Customers don’t want to hear your problems and employers should be very concerned if employees are vocalizing those problems to customers. This can be signs of poor leadership, bad communications, inadequate investment in equipment, or low employee morale. Sharing your problems can and will lead people to competitors – especially if you are a service business. 
  • Employee frustrations are a clear sign of training and development – or lack thereof. As I wrote in my blog entry about the post office, what did we do before computers? We used our fingers and toes! A properly trained employee knows how to handle inconveniences; and often times you just need to replace frustration with humor. I’ll mention it here again…..training doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t always need to include high priced outside consultants. Every person on your team can teach something. There are DIY (Do-It-Yourself) training packages. For those who have already purchased the Recess At Work System, the Each Can Teach Recess is a great place to start. Why not start your next status or team meeting with a quick training piece. Or take 30, 60, or 90 minutes regularly to let the team share something they have learned.
  • When you make a promise live up to it. I know; everyone screws up. Heck, I’ve screw up. I’ve forgotten to call people back. It happens. No one is perfect. I could have also called that advertising company back; but I didn’t. I chose to go elsewhere. I felt it was her responsibility to follow-up; not me. After all I was turning over my money. On a different day I might have called back. This time I didn’t because there were other options; who could offer me the same service. How many times have we lost a customer or disappointed someone because another didn’t so some simple follow-up on a promise?

 

So think about these three examples. Think how they apply to you, your business or perhaps how you even deal with personal situations with friends and family. People don’t want to know your problems; but they love when you keep your promises – whether they are a business associate or someone you lie in bed with.

A better Employee Experience: 10 meeting topics you should consider

Meetings. They can be the death of an organization. Yet they seem to make some people feel important. For whatever reason having a calendar of meetings seems to validate the existence of some; yet so many of those meetings are useless. Let’s take a Recess from meaningless meetings. Let’s have more meetings that are, as I like to say, “Meetingful.” Let’s have some discussions that might be of interest to more people throughout the organization…….

Here’s a list of some of meetings that I think need to be held at offices across the land:

  1. How can I help you this week? (can be B to E – boss to employee; E to E – employee to employee; or E to B – employee to boss)
  2. Where is there redundancy in my work and yours?
  3. What policies and ideas are getting in the way of you doing a better job?
  4. What special talent do you have that we are not using in this company?
  5. What great idea do you have?
  6. What policies and ideas are getting in the way of you enjoying your job more?
  7. If you were the owner of this company what would you be concentrating on right now?
  8. What are you working on that probably has little value and what would you replace it with?
  9. What did you do this past weekend or what are you doing this coming weekend?
  10. What do you need to know about our company/industry that would help you do your job?  What do you know or can offer to share about our company/industry?

And don’t forget to add some fun to your next meeting. Check out the Meeting PLAYce Mat on my products page. With room for notes, stroking your genius, setting action plans, recording memorable moments and even space for doodling the only “complaint” I have ever received was people having so much fun with the PLAYce Mats and not paying attention to the meeting – and I would hardly consider that a complaint. It’s a great tool no matter what type of meeting you’re holding. Visit products page now.

It’s time we start training employees to think on their own again

Before the computer there was the calculator
Before the calculator was the adding machine
Before the adding machine was the abacus
Before the abacus were our fingers and toes
Before our fingers and toes were scratches on a cave wall

And before the electronic scale was something with weights on it

Yesterday I stopped into a local United States Post Office to ship a small package to a customer. The postmaster was on duty. He informed me he was having electrical problems and his computer was down. I just stood there. He tried to get his computer to work again. It was not cooperating. He again informed me his computer was down. I just stood there.

Finally I inquired whether he needed a computer to sell me postage for a large envelope.

Ah, he understood me. I was expecting him to do it the old fashioned way; even if it required him using MY fingers and toes to determine the postage. He asked me if I had exact change. I was $.08 short. He stood there not knowing what to do. A gentlemen who cleans the building offered me the $.08 and the postage was affixed.

Tip #27 in my booklet 50 Ways To Have Fun at Work, Improve Employee Morale and Hopefully Not Get Fired suggests that employees work for a day without computers for the fun of it. Now personally I don’t think most employees would be able to survive a day without technology; companies don’t train them on what to do should systems go down. But if we had to work for day without computers I bet Gen Y would squirm or turn to their smartphones while Boomers would get something done manually.

I’ve read countless Facebook and Twitter posts about people goofing off at work because the computer systems are down. Seriously? There is nothing these people can be doing; nothing that can be accomplished without technology? No way to improve a system or stay in touch with a customer?

I’m all for technology and the ease, convenience, savings and every other benefit it has provided; but perhaps it’s time to train people to think on their own once again? We’ve all seen the frightened cashier who closes the register too fast and the amount he or she is supposed to return to us vanishes from the display. Panic! Where’s the popcorn!

And in the case of US Postal Service, which seems to have their fare share of Boomers still on the payroll, perhaps they should have a mandatory training day dedicated to how to provide customer service if the computer doesn’t work.

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