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

Firing employees for telling others your company is a great place to work?

Received this email last week from someone who was once only a newsletter subscriber, but now has an even better title….FRIEND!:

Rich,

A couple months ago a friend forwarded me an article written by CNN & it talked about the best companies to work for.  My company was in the top 10.

I commented on the article how I loved working  there. I liked how management values your ideas & embraces your suggestions.  I said how I loved my co-workers as we all had similar values/goals with the company.  I said it was a great company to work for.

Don’t you know I was called into the office & reprimanded?? I had to sign some form saying I’d never do it again & if I did I could be fired!

 

What employer would not want people talking up a great PR moment? I just don’t get it. I’d be asking employees to share that information. Heck, I’d be having you sign forms and firing you if you didn’t! Especially in this environment where attracting and retaining good people is difficult, expensive and tedious.

In Diary of the Happiest Employee on Earth we read the following:

Week #30

Dear Diary,

This week’s directive: Please dedicate a few hours to Social Media. Please sign up for a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other networking site that you can find. Share with others where you work, some of the ridiculous policies we don’t have, and have some fun talking about things that go on here. Go figure. The company sees and wants to seize the Social Media Opportunity. A few hundred people letting others know where we work and how great it is to work here. You think that might create interest in this company? In the products? And it’s so much easier to read on a 19” monitor versus a 2” phone screen hidden under the desk or off to the side.

 

Word of mouth is the new advertising. Don’t you love when customers talk about you? You should embrace employees talking about you as well. No, you should encourage it! Perhaps make it a part of the job description when opportunities arise.

Dear Employers (and especially you Mr. Top 10), when you are a great place to work people want to tell others. Let them!

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Ever think of holding a story hour for your employees? Purchase 150 copies of Diary of the Happiest Employee on Earth and Rich DiGirolamo will visit your organization and talk about Employee Happiness, creating a thriving workplace, employees: the unused marketing machine, and so much more. Contact Rich to learn more. (Travel may apply.)

Don’t have 150 employees? They make great customer gifts. We can even reprint and include a custom message from you!

That WASN’T EASY, but they made me an even bigger fan

In the Week 14 entry of Diary of the Happiness Employee on Earth we are introduced to the the 3 A’s:

  • Acknowledge
  • Accept responsibility
  • Act

And that’s exactly what Staples did when my recent customer experience was less than “EASY.”

You see at Staples online you cannot use two forms of payment. So if your gift card is less than the amount of your total purchase you’re out of luck. Yep, hardly making a customer experience EASY. So I decided to call for help.

The long and short of it was that while staring at a gift card that read it could be used online the CSR (Customer Service Representative) told me that gift cards cannot be used online. And while telling her what I was looking at and asking to speak to someone in the US she proceeded to raise her voice, tell me I don’t need to talk to anyone in the US, AND I cannot use my gift card online.

WTF!  I know the Staples organization. And trust me, yelling is not in their CSR training.

So after my twitter rants to Staples I went to the store where the staff were friendly, apologetic for my experience, gave me the online sale prices, took my staples gift card, and even honored the ONLINE ONLY coupon. I also got reminded how much I like going to the office supply store. You never know what fun you might find. Woo-Hoo. New purple pen.

But I was still annoyed at how I was treated. Amazing how things can eat at you for way too long. So I went for a cup of coffee, relaxed and wrote an email to someone I know high up the food chain at Staples.

Well it seems my email made its way to various departments; even to the President’s office. Now don’t get too excited, the President didn’t call. The president’s Office in big companies is a very high level of Customer Service employee who has a better understanding of the business and how to calm a storm.

The person who called me was great. She acknowledged the system issues. acknowledged my experience WAS less than EASY, accepted responsibility by apologizing for my inconvenience and the way in which the CSR handled the call and Acted. She already knew where the call was handled and that the proper review and training was already in the works. 24 hours later. She knew of the technical issue and let me know that the IT folks have been wrestling with this for quite some time and the I should expect to see a change in the payment end of things in Q3.

But here is what was great about my call. By living up to the 3 A’s, which she might not even know about, we were able to have a healthy conversation. We were able to laugh when I made the comment “big company like Staples can’t figure this one out?” (Yes, I had the same gift card scenario almost two years ago; without being yelled at and a solution on the phone.) And it’s the 3 A’s that keeps me as a loyal customer. Okay, the laugh probably weighed most heavily for me.

Keep up the great work Staples. It was really EASY for me to write nice things about you.

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Want to learn more about the 3 A’s? Could your team use some customer service techniques that actually focus on the employee experience first? Rich DiGirolamo focuses on the employee experience when creating a great customer experience. Contact Rich today to learn more.

 

 

Your choice of words WILL incite reaction

Years ago when I first saw the Toyota Prius I thought………..how ugly. So when a friend asked me what I thought of her new car I told her how “unique” I thought the car was.

Phew! Got away with that one. But let’s face it, everyone has found themselves in a situation where they had to offer a less than accurate response to our true thoughts and/or feelings.

Today I share with you how that could get your head bit off.

 

“Rich, do you own the silver Subaru in the parking lot?” says Jason.

“Yeeeep” I hesitantly replied.

Oh no, this is not going to be good. Did I forget to engage the emergency brake? It’s been a while since I’ve done that one.

“Some woman is looking for you. She scratched your car” he tells me.

Okay, well at least it’s an honest person who didn’t run away. Aittle bit of rubbing compound and maybe it will be good as new.

She comes over to me, immediately apologizes and says she scratched my car.

This stuff happens. No big deal. In the grand scheme of things that have gone on in my life and things going on in this world, like employees being fired for wearing orange clothing, what’s a scratch.

I walked out to my car to do that exchange of information thing; realizing that world domination was off the radar for today.

 

“Scratch!!!!!!!!”

 

“Scratch!!!!!”

 

Yeah, I kinda lost it.

 

“You took out both doors!”

So much for being calm about the whole thing.

 

“I apologized for scratching your car” she says.

“Lady, I’m not upset that you hit my car. HIT! Accidents happen. I’m also very appreciative that you came inside. But your choice of words was way off base here and I can only hope the next time you choose words to describe a situation you choose words that more reflect the truth. You needed to come inside and tell me you hit my car; not scratched it. My reaction would have been very different.”

She apologized for her poor choice of words. I accepted, apologized for my outbreak, and we shook hands.

 

Believe it or not there is still a large contingent of folks who want to hear the truth; nothing sugar-coated; and who appreciate candid honest words. Now we’re not looking for condescending and arrogant behavior, but we are looking for the truth. Nothing worse than hearing a boss/friend/lover/CEO or lady who “scratches” your car play word games. Especially in those cases where  they think they took us for one and we’re sitting there like “who you kidding.”

On a more positive note, her insurance company (Travelers) impressed me. This took place at 10:00 this morning. Their adjuster left my office at 3:45 this afternoon; less than 6 hrs after the “scratch” occurred.

Price to repair “scratch”: $1,350

Price of a lost day of work…….Priceless.

 

 

 

 

Dear USA, you don’t improve employee morale by holding court!

So the United States Government Department of Homeland Security has an employee morale problem. Shocker!

And according to Chairman Peter King’s web page (see posting here) the best way they know how to fix the morale problem is to hold court. Okay, specifically to hold a hearing. With testimony. And witnesses. By people with job titles that stretch from California to Washington DC. From retired people. Who probably don’t have a clue. My morale dropped in the 30 seconds it took to read about this.

Dear Mr. King, you don’t improve morale by holding court.

  • You improve morale by giving people challenging meaningful work.
  • You improve morale by including multi-generational ideas.
  • You improve morale by open and honest communication.
  • You improve morale by introducing some fun into the workplace.
  • You improve morale by offering learning opportunities.
  • You improve morale by asking experts from other fields how they do it. Then you apply it to your organization. Even if you are a big government agency.
  • You improve morale by including (witnesses) people at all levels of the organization when you hold court, uh, I mean meetings, to improve morale. And you don’t retaliate against them when you hear things you don’t like to hear. Things you were trying to sweep under the carpet.
  • You improve morale by asking for customer ideas.
  • You improve morale by recognizing people for contribution. Publicly. And not just people with job titles that stretch from California to Washington DC.

Mr. King, is this an open meeting? Can I attend? I am technically a customer of the Department of Homeland Security. Can I speak to your group? I’ve got more ways to share with you. I’ll bet I can improve the morale of the meeting!

You know how to reach me.

 

How can you move forward when you can’t let go?

I lost my patience yesterday!

Got an unexpected call from someone I haven’t spoken to in a while. I was excited when I heard the voice on the other end. But undoubtedly this person will (and did) bring up a bad experience with a former employer.

Ironically I not only have friends at this company but I have done business with them. But yesterday I decided to end the conversation right then and there. I told the person on the other end that I really had no interest in talking about the company or the players and asked “Why can’t you let go of this already?” Especially since the incident happened a couple of years ago. I did it with raised voice. I know, Bad Rich.

But that call reminded me of a few things I thought were worth sharing/reinforcing:

  • People don’t want to hear you rehash the same old tragedies over and over.
  • Organizations need to stop having status meetings that are nothing but “We didn’t take a crap last week either” sessions.
  • Conversely, people also get tired of hearing about your same success over and over. Anyone remember Al Bundy (Married With Children) nonstop talking of his high school football glory moment – 20 years later?
  • People are also tired of hearing about all your great business ideas or how you would fix your organization. Just do something already. Show us. We’re watching. We’re waiting. But frankly, in this ADHD/Shiny Bright Object Syndrome World we live in, we’re losing interest. Actually we’ve lost interest in you already.

We’re all guilty of the above. You. Me. Your Boss. Your lovers. Your friends.

As we were winding up the call an apology was offered by my caller. I guess there was finally a realization that I had no interest in going there any longer.

An apology was not needed. I was kinda hoping for a “You’re right. I need to stop talking about this already and move on.”

 

  • What tiresome tales are you still telling?
  • What’s holding you back because you refuse to let go?
  • What do you need to stop talking about already?

And once you’ve done that what will you talk about? What will you do next?

Celebrate the great moments. Learn from the rest
Move on to your next great feat.

 

And if anyone owed the apology, it was me for raising my voice. I need to tell a certain someone to read this post! You know who you are. I am sorry and look forward to “that day at the beach this summer.”

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Tired of talking about ideas? Or worse yet, are the ideas coming out of your organization stale and in need of some non-industry thinking? Invite Rich DiGirolamo to take a Recess and come play with your organization. There’s new revenue streams waiting for you just around the corner. You do know where the corner is, right?

 

One Domino’s Pizza topped with a new idea and a Diary of the Happiest Employee on Earth

This is not a Domino’s pizza. It’s a NY pizza. Real pizza lovers know this.

I’ve become a fan of Domino’s Pizza over the past few years. Yep, I’ve had lonely hotel room nights where I didn’t feel like going out, down to the lobby restaurant, or stare way too long at the candy machine near the elevator as if I was choosing from a gourmet menu. Most of my Domino’s experiences have been positive and I have noticed their commitment to making a better product is paying off.

When watching television my mind tends to wander when commercials come on. People have even commented, “What do you think of that” and my response is usually “think of what?” But have you seen the new Domino’s commercial with the focus on a store owner who created their latest new product? You can view it by clicking here.

What I love about the commercial is that it reinforces the concept that ideas can come from anywhere within an organization. Anywhere. It’s what I’ve been sharing with audiences for years during keynotes, trainings and now, book readings. It’s a theme that pops up several times in Diary of the Happiest Employee on Earth!

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Today I ask you to think about the following and implement them into your organization.
  • GREAT ideas can come from anywhere in the organization. Open your ears and listen. Forget that an idea doesn’t fit into your 5-year plan and give it some thought. Your 5-year plan is going to get tweaked next week anyway.
  • Inviting the “Unusual Suspects” to meetings can help with breakthroughs, new ideas, customer service and so much more.  Invite your receptionist or a finance person to the next Product Development session.
  • The “experts” (in the case of Domino’s the test kitchens)  are not always the experts when it comes to your next product. People who like to play, explore and dream are some of the best experts available to you.
  • People on the front line often times know more about what the customer wants than people sitting at HQ thinking they understand it all. The people who deal with customers daily know what they like. I can visualize the Domino’s employee handing a sample of his creation to customers and saying his version of “What do you think of that?” I’m sure they’re paying attention to free food.
  •  That when egos are put aside everyone wins and new ideas and creations come to be

 

Now while I’m excited that Brian has been given television exposure about his idea I hope that he gets a fair share of the proverbial pie, pizza pie that is, when the folks over in accounting start adding up the billions and billions of Parmesan bread bites sold! Oh wait, billions and billions is that client’s motto. When the folks over in accounting start adding up the gazillions of Parmesan bread bites sold!

Way to go Domino’s for showing us the innovator and reminding us that new ideas come from everywhere. But more importantly for you the reader…..why not have a conversation with someone today about an idea you have. A stranger. Someone you don’t know. Someone from another department. Someone you meet on the train or in the ladies room. Force them to listen to you. Make them read this blog entry. You have nothing to lose.

Congratulations Brian!

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Want to get your employees excited about your company again? Rich DiGirolamo knows that a workforce that is excited and ready to play and experiment with new ideas will get them thinking how they can turn customers into long-term followers. Call me today 203.879.5970. Yes, call. Sometimes it’s nice to get excited through the spoken word.

 

4 Business and Life Lessons Learned from Marshmallow Peeps

If you know me you know my favorite candy:

And while at times I think I am the only person in the world who loves these little darlings there are great lessons that I have learned from this love affair. Today I  offer them to you.

1. There are two types of people in the world. People who love Marshmallow Peeps and the rest of you.  There are people who love you/your business and people who don’t. There are people who accept and want to play with the brand Rich DiGirolamo and there are those who don’t. I’m okay with that. A long time ago I was not. I was excited when Fortune 10 companies hired me to speak. And the meeting planner was always happy with what I delivered. But truthfully, these were not the people I wanted to play with – and it was clear that too many of those folks (who were forced to attend the meeting) felt the same way. They were so jaded about change, stuck in old processes, or overwhelmed with work and deadlines that they couldn’t listen and absorb new concepts for an hour.

The sad thing is we often spend too much time trying to gain the respect/trust/business of people who don’t like Peeps; who don’t like us. Isn’t it more important to focus your efforts on the people who do; the ones who are interested in you and what you can bring to the table? How you can make their lives better? Easier? Impact their bottom line? Get them from fear to results? Aren’t you excited for a client, friend or coworker when they come to you and share a breakthrough or success based on an idea you offered?

2. There are only a handful of people who really have your back.  Every time I open a package of Peeps I think of the 5 people who I know have my back. They’re cheering me on. They want me to succeed. They are there to help me with my personal life and professional life when things get a little crazy. They know who they are. I tell them what they mean to me often. They stick to and with me just like those little chickies are stuck together in that package.

Sometimes we forget about those people. We might even take them for granted – unintentionally. Today, I think I’ll go buy a 5-pack of Peeps (hopefully purple). I think I’ll put those 5 names on the package. Good thing Peeps have a never ending shelf-life. Oh wait, I just had a better idea.

In my keynote, Permission to Speed, I talk about who is cheering you on. Do you know? Who are your 5 Peeps?

3. Perfect before you Expand: There’s a time and a place for new ideas; after you perfect the old idea. Peeps were once only an Easter Candy. That’s right. You only saw them at Easter. And then the people spoke. They wanted more. Now we see them at Christmas, Valentines Day, and Halloween. They have flavors and colors. They are dipped and covered. Heck, the makers even jumped on the “Dark Chocolate is good for you” craze. I do remember a brief period of 4th of July Peeps. I guess that didn’t work so well and the company retreated? I saw them one season.

I remember when I founded Recess At Work Day. It was designed as a day of fun; as part of a regular commitment to engagement and morale. Clients started telling me they used it as a team building moment. Others told me they wanted to do this regularly but needed ideas. So I designed the Recess At Work Manual and the RECESSitation Pack. Recess at Work Day began in 2004 and more and new ideas are coming. I also shifted the focus of Recess At Work Day from a “day of fun” to a “day of fun with the purpose of learning, recharging and celebrating.”

Perfect then expand. What do you need to perfect before you expand?

4. Have Fun.
How can you not think of anything but fun when you see a Marshmallow Peep? If your business is about fun, be and act fun. If your business is about health, look and act healthy. If your business is about technology, it’s time to upgrade to a smart phone. If your business is about creativity or innovation, create. Innovate. If you are a salesperson you better be using the product you sell.

 

Well that’s it. It’s time for a marshmallow chickie Recess.

 

Peeps can be sent to:

Rich DiGirolamo
POB 584
Marion CT 06444

You don’t even have to stick them in an envelope. Just put a label and postage on the package. Trust me. It works.

And if anyone has an “in” @ Just Born, the makers of Peeps. I want a factory tour!!

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Rich DiGirolamo works with organizations to turn fun employee experiences into fun customer experiences. He is the Founder of Recess at Work Day and the recently released book Dairy of the Happiest Employee on Earth: 52 Provoking Thoughts for Creating a Great Workplace.

 

Social Media Sucks!

 

IT SUCKS TIME!

And it’s sucking opportunties for personal connections with customers

 

And I got reminded of just that last week.

My friend Angela emailed me when Lent began to share she was giving up Facebook as part of her annual religious “sacrifice.” She didn’t want me thinking I was unfriended or being ignored. I still wanted to know why people give up things for lent versus doing more. That would really be a sacrifice. Volunteer more. Be more charitable.

But seriously, how many of us are so busy (or so self-absorbed) that we wouldn’t even know if some people fell off the planet until months later? C’mon, of your 3,214 friends how many do you really interact with on a regular basis? And heck, don’t even get me started on the people who post things and don’t think they ever need to continue the conversation when people reply. (Yes, that is why I don’t interact with you any longer. I got tired of you never wanting to play.)

So……While we/you were wasting time on Facebook posting pictures of our dogs, kitty, motivational sayings, and what you had for dinner last night this is (with her permission to publish) what Angela was doing. Or as I like to call it……Angie’s List!:

  • I joined a zumba class
  • I’ve finally finished that book I started (The Help — excellent by the way)
  • I’ve started writing a bedtime story for my kids (my oldest’s idea)
  • I’ve read to my kids more
  • I had a 3 hour conversation with a friend who admitted if I didn’t deactivate my acct she would have never thought to call me she would have just posted ot my page.
  • Met another friend for coffee – who admitted the same as above
  • I started playing more with my girls and became more active during my day
  • I ended up losing 3 lbs this week.
  • My oldest told me I didn’t seem as stressed out this week
  • The cat has stopped attacking me.

Now don’t get me wrong I think Social Media has tons of value. And I believe when used correctly it can have great personal and professional benefits. Heck, I can trace business back to my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn presence. But this list was a reminder of how being more social, live and in person versus virtually, could actually help business. I offer you these ponderings:

  • Why not take a class at the local parks and recreation department with a client/customer? And don’t be cheap….pay for it. Parks and Recreation offerings are ridiculously cheap and offer great value.
  • What about that book you’ve been meaning to read or write? Maybe it’s time to start a book club with your co-workers? (Heck a little self-promotion…. Diary of the Happiest Employee on Earth: 52 Provoking Thoughts for Creating a Great Workplace might be a good place to start. After all Employee Happiness is a hot topic these days with C-level folks.
  • Heck grab a few of your co-workers and write 100 Ways to Piss Off The Boss or 52 Ways to Stay in Touch with your customers.
  • How about reaching out to a few people today you haven’t heard from? You could reach out to a customer and wish them a Happy National Cheese Doodles Day. Or just follow up with them on their experience with your product/service. I know today I’ll be following up with a few organizations who ordered The Meeting PLAYce Mat.
  • Why not get together with colleagues and start a library of short humorous videos to help reduce/control those stressful moments.
  • Why not finally get together with that other business owner you’ve been thinking of collaborating with?
  • And why not go outside and take a Recess. You’d be surprised what schoolyard/childhood games really do have to offer you about teamwork and leadership.

Am I guilty of the social media time suck. Absolutely. Have I gotten better with it? Absolutely.

Do I miss Angela?

Truthfully.

No!

I’m more excited that I was one of the people she chose to reach out to when she made her decision; that I was on the top of her list. And how do you think that makes someone feel?

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Rich DiGirolamo works with organizations who understand that focusing on a great employee experience is how you create a great customer experience. Could your employees benefit from getting reignited and recharged about their work?

If I were the boss I would…..

Really, what would you do?

  • What would you change?
  • What policies would you reverse or implement?
  • What information would you disseminate?
  • What risks would you take?
  • What nonsense would you halt?
  • Which employees would you finally give the boot?
  • How much information would you really be willing to share?
  • Which new projects/ideas would you take from talking about to rolling out?

 

Really, if you were the boss would you be any different than the current boss?

 

For starters, separate yourself from the pack and post some of your thoughts here.