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

Is your service business faster than a McDonald’s Drive Thru?

I arrived for my 8:20 appointment at 8:13. The waiting area was crowded.

At 8:14 Mary was called in. Mary was older; didn’t move too fast.

Mary came back through the door at 8:18.Dr Gart

Mohammed was called in as Mary entered the waiting area.

“Looks great. Have a great day” I hear from around the corner. It’s 8:21

“Rich” said the doctor as enters the waiting room to welcome and escort me back into the office.

I am laughing. He asked me what was so amusing.

“You should sell breakfast cuz you’re faster than a McDonald’s Drive Thru” I told him.

“At least coffee and donuts” he responded.

We walked into the office. Told him why I was there. “Let’s do it!” he says.

Roll up pant leg. ZAP! Remove Shirt. Zap! Zap! Zap!

Shakes my hand. Tells me to come back when I need him again.

Walks me out. Thanks me for coming back to him. Tells me I’m all set.

“And you’re more personable than the McDonald’s Drive Thru too!” I reply.

“Jonah…….” I hear behind me. Glance at my phone. It’s 8:26

Fun. Great sense of humor. Fast. Personable. Greets the patient. Escorts them to the lobby. Keeps to his schedule. Appreciates my business. Doesn’t add layers to the transaction/process. A lot to learn for any service business.


Big LIKE: Rewarding your customers for complaining.

In the past year I have found that Twitter is a much better way to get in touch with people at a company when you need to share your customer experience – good or bad.

So when I Tweeted TD Bank about their new ATM’s being anything but convenient, they tweeted me back and asked for some contact information. I sent it along.

9 days later, New Years Eve, I get a call from some person who introduced himself as the Sr. VP of …………………I really didn’t pay attention. I could care less about titles. Clearly he thought it was important to tell me who and what he was.

We had a great talk for about 10 minutes where I discussed how “inconvenient” the new ATM’s seem to be. While I applauded the bank for going envelope free; having to deposit each check as a separate transaction (re-insert card; enter pin) and not being able to deposit cash and checks in one transaction (at some of their new machines you can) made no sense. New machines. Two different types. Different programming.

But was funniest was his reaction when I told him it would also be nice if you had a pen available at the ATM. With the envelopes also went the pens. Trust me if that check is deposited without a signature you know it is coming back to you.

“You have 600,000 pens available inside the branch” I mentioned. 

Sr. VP of Whatever was beside himself about the pen. “That’s our signature. Our pens.” he said to me; and promised he was going to get on this matter. Wished me a Happy New Year and we hung up. Okay, I think the other thing is more important, but hey, at TD Bank (as we can see from a current TV commercial) their branding really is all about the pen. 

Today  I got a letter from my friend; thanking me for our conversation, thanking me for bringing the matters to his attention and that changes are already in the works. And with that letter ……….


Not one, but two $25 gift cards.

TD Gift Cards

So many companies fail to realize that a customer complaint is an opportunity to be better. TD Bank does. And they even rewarded me for it. What are you doing with your customer complaints? And how are you rewarding your customers for complaining. 


The Science and Art of Collaboration


He’s a consultant. He’s an engineer. He’s a scientist. He likes graphs and charts and research and statistics and numbers and detailed information.

I’m a speaker. I’m a performer. I like to play. I use the spoken word and interactive exercises to get my points across; to get people “doing” in order to learn. I use experiences and successes of others to move people forward.

At the end of the day we both want to deliver the same results. A happier and more productive workplace; where people are excited to show up every day; and the boss is excited to have those people show up.

So when he approached me earlier this year about working together it was like art meets science. He has a cool employee performance and productivity tool that he developed. I instantly saw the benefits of this tool for my clients and how it could also be a fun learning experience. He found me on LinkedIn, did some homework (stalking) on me and thought his tool with my network and style could be a good thing.

We talked. We met when I was speaking in California. We both saw the benefits of working together.

Fast forward……………….

Communication between us is downright funny. He goes on and on and on. He sends me PowerPoint slides with more words on one slide than I might use in an entire keynote. (Just kidding. Well maybe not.) He sends marketing material that has me pulling the last few hairs out of my head. Not because of the information; but because of the length. I respond with short emails that lead to miscommunication. I’d rather talk. But make it a brief conversation. He’ll spend over an hour on the phone talking things that excite him.

So today I did what I should have done back in October. I sent him an email telling him I was A.D.D.D.D.D.D.D.D.D.D.D.D.D.D.D.D. (Not being mean; having a little fun here.)

Told him that we both needed to compromise here. I am willing to get a “little” more detailed; but he has to be willing to give me a “lot less” to work with.

Collaboration is a great thing. And opposites really can teach you so much about yourself. But it is even greater when you set the expectations before getting into the details.

Can’t wait to see where this is going!

I refuse to buy mom’s Christmas present at Macy’s this year

My mom wants a bottle of perfume for Christmas. Not the Jean Nate that we used to buy my grandmother for every holiday or special occasion; something much more expensive. After all, you should smell nice for your 4 doctor visits each week. As well as your trips to the pharmacy to buy……..well I won’t go there.

Now before you jump down my throat I am just having some fun. Yes, mom wants to smell nice and that’s all that matters. I just find it sad other than her occasional date with me she only gets to wear her perfume to medical appointments.

I usually purchase her perfume at Macy’s. This year I refuse to walk through their doors. Last night I had the pleasure of chatting with a Macy’s seasonal staff person. She was hired as a “ringer” in the fragrance dept. And frankly I was horrified as to how this person is being treated. Without the details here’s the highlights of the conversation:

  • No welcome by the department manager on day one. Seems that everything is HR driven and you are told to report to training and then report to your work station. Several days or weeks later you might meet or find out who runs your department.
  • Do not do anything but look at your register. Do not offer to help. Do not suggest anything. Do not touch anything other than the product being purchased. Just ring up purchases. (Now you can use your cell phone if there are no purchases to be rung up.)
  • Do not ever open a counter draw to look inside. Clearly you will be accused of stealing versus being proactive and maybe learning a bit more about the product you are ringing up.
  • If you make a mistake expect to be berated in front of other staff and customers. And when you suggest the berater cease their behavior in front of others and you walk away, expect that person to follow you and continue on with their unprofessional behavior.
  • Expect other Commissioned Cosmetic Snobs to be stupid and talk about you; not knowing they are talking to the person they are actually trashing.
  • Understand that as a seasonal ringer, on the company food chain,  you are often the dust that clings to the dirt on the bottom of a shoe.

Need I go on?

I guess this is why two hours after this person started working, on her first day, she was asked to report to HR to complete a survey about employment after the holidays. Nothing like getting people’s hopes up before the true “team spirit” shines.

I know they are seasonal help. I know they are just pawns. But seriously Macy’s (and other retailers I am sure), you need to get your act together here and teach your managers how to manage and give your staff some well needed training on respect. Seasonal Employees deserve to be happy too. It’s the least you can do to offset the pathetic minimum wage being provided.





How do your employees act and react when you screw up?

You have a presentation or a meeting with a client to deliver some goods. You plan accordingly with plenty of time to be prepared. On the evening before your delivery/presentation you realize you can’t deliver. (Well maybe.)

Been there? We all have.

When I stumbled upon Best Value Copy a few years ago I not only found them to be the “best value” I also found their service to be the best of any printer I had worked with in the past. What I most love is that in many cases if I upload a print job to their website in the morning there is a pretty good chance my job will be shipped that day. And since I live in the same shipping zone I get it the next day. Worst case it takes two days from upload to receipt.

Well my favorite printing service failed me this time. For starters I received someone else’s job – and I guess they got mine? Damn, someone just got a whole bunch of the Recess At Work Training Systems. I got a catalog for industrial filtration systems! Woo-Hoo!!

A quick call that evening involved an apology and a promise the job would be reprinted and shipped the next day. That was Tuesday evening. Yesterday the UPS man did not show up. A quick call this morning unveiled that my job was not shipped on Wednesday, but it was shipped yesterday. No good. I needed some of these documents this morning before I left the office.

And now for the Best and Most Valuable Part:
No excuses were made by Best Value. They screwed up. They accepted responsibility. They apologized several times. They are refunding my money; not because I can’t use the products; but I just had to go to Staples where it costs significantly more just to produce one; let alone several.

All I could say was “I still love you guys. I understand mistakes happen. I’ll be in touch with more work soon.” And in the words of everyone’s famous Terminator……..”I’ll be back!”

This is how employees should treat every customer when an error is made. No hassles. What can we do over the top to keep your loyalty. Clearly someone has told these employees to do what you have to do to exhibit excellent customer service. The gentleman was still apologizing as I hung up the phone. I was smiling as I was copying my document to a flash drive to speed over to Staples.


What are your employees doing or saying when your company screws up?









I’ll live. They haven’t lost my business. They did all the right things.

Powerball: Teambuilding on the Cheap

An office worker in Montana just bought the company lottery tickets for Saturday’s Powerball Drawing.

At a plant in Illinois, money is still being collected from employees. Someone will buy the tickets on their way home this evening.

In Florida they bought the tickets earlier this morning and are making copies for everyone so no one is accused of cheating/stealing.

Powerball fever is in the air in offices everywhere in the USA today. Or as I like to call it, the ultimate form of Teambuilding on the Cheap. Or Teambuilding for the Cheap.

Groups of people have pooled their money and are hoping they won’t have to show up to work tomorrow – or ever again. People who sit across conference tables from one another with daggers in their eyes are sitting and talking about what they would do; what they will buy; where they will go or live. People from departments who don’t normally trust one another are trusting someone with their money with the expectation that a winning ticket will be shared and not somehow scammed.

When I work with employee groups one exercise I use is where we find out what we have in common with those we work alongside. It’s also available in the RECESS AT WORK Training System. Not the obvious things like where you work, but perhaps sports you play, most extreme weather place you’ve visited. This exercise is especially effective in groups where people are not getting along or there seems to be a “we” and “them” mentality.  In many cases we can find commonalities with the entire group.

Lottery pools (and football pools), believe it or not, provide similar results. They unite people. Everyone has dreams. Everyone has things they want to do. And as I tell my clients all the time, a fun time brings out those similarities and often brings the “WE’s and THEM’s'” a little closer.

Now then again you have those companies where the company policy is no gambling; which would include lottery pools. It’s in the company handbook on page 612; Section 493, Subsection 2, 4th paragraph. Coincidentally those are often the companies who don’t invest in professional development either; and where employee morale and employee happiness just plain suck. Little do they know the collection is being taken in the bathroom and outside parking lot. Secretly that is the employee group I want to win.

So Sunday morning there is a real good chance that a group of employees will be celebrating. But if I listen to the guy who sells lottery tickets locally, it will probably be the group from Illinois that has the best chance. You see he told me that the Lottery Rep told him that the secret to winning is to play at the last possible moment because the system is rigged based on the combinations of numbers being played up until late this afternoon. And you don’t want them to know your numbers. Really???????

Good luck to all of you are playing!

And for the rest of you looking for ideas on creating a Happier Workplace now is a good time to buy Diary of The Happiest Employee on Earth. Between now and the end of the year I am sending two copies for every one purchased. Visit my products page.



This piece originally was written in 2012; It was updated on Jan 7, 2016



Do customers like surprises? This one does!

Last week I had the opportunity to meet one of my newsletter subscribers. Bonnie and I have been in touch over the years – virtually. We had met through a mutual friend from Maine. She had gotten in touch recently about booking information. She is hoping for me to speak at one of her company quarterly meetings. When she told me she had just moved back to CT, and CT is only an hour by an hour-and-a-half, I suggested we do coffee or something stronger.

She chose breakfast. YAY!! My favorite meal of the day. I KNOW I’m gonna like this lady.

O’Rourke’s Diner is in Middletown CT. It’s a diner which has been featured on one of my favorite Food Network Cooking Shows: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. (Hey Guy Fieri, I’m still hoping you’ll pay a visit to The World’s Only Virtual Diner Fighting Hunger!!!)

There were specials on the menu that morning. One was “Michelle’s Special.” It was explained to us as “whatever the chef comes up with, it’s a surprise and you’re taking a chance.”

Chance. Risk. Fun. The unknown. SIGN ME UP!!!!!

My mother used to say I would eat dog crap. (Well crap is not the word she really used.) It was her comment about me always wanting to try everyone else’s food. Given the customer experience that O’Rourkes provides I wasn’t even hesitant about ordering Michelle’s Special. I also thought it only appropriate that I order it if not for the fact of the namesake of the person mutually connected with Bonnie with me – Michelle.

So what was Michelle’s Special?

Well it was a couple of eggs Benedict and some pork and some butternut squash/turnip casserole-y hash thingy with broccoli rabe and a  few potatoes. Basically it was ingredients from some of the other specials that morning (plus probably some leftovers from the day before.) It was delish!

If you think about it my meeting with Bonnie was just the same. Chance. Risk. Fun. The unknown.

People like surprises. They like to take risk. They like to have fun. There is something about the unknown that is alluring for some. Now on the other hand, $16 (which I found out when the bill came) for a surprise breakfast could have ruined someone’s day had they not liked it. But then again, that type of person probably would not have ordered it in the first place.

What about you? Do you like surprises? What was the last surprise you recall? What was the last thing you did to surprise a customer? Customers like surprises! 

So do employees.

Oh and in addition to the surprise of meeting a great lady and my surprise breakfast, there was one more surprise……Bonnie’s boss told her to pick up the tab! Woo-Hoo!!!


Do your employees have the 4:23 Mentality?

City Hall in Mt Vernon, NY closes at 4:30 PM.

When I entered the building at 4:23 PM yesterday I was greeted by someone wearing a uniform. Not sure if he was police or security.

“We’re closed!” was what I was told in a very gruff NY voice. Good thing I grew up in NY and smiled.

I was there to facilitate a staff retreat for a client. I asked if he knew where that meeting was being held. He gave me some form of a no response and walked away. I again laughed and thought Welcome to City Hall!

I looked for some sort of meeting room assignment listing. None. I then asked another employee for some help. He sent me to the City Clerk’s Office. I walked in there at 4:28 PM.

“We’re closed!” in a very curt tone said the woman with her hat and coat on behind the counter; running out the door.

I looked her in the eye and asked if she could answer a simple question about where a meeting was being held. (And after all she did have 2 more minutes of civil service.) My body language and facial expression must have also clearly expressed disgust and a thank god I don’t live in this city. Or better yet, perhaps these people should be joining my client’s retreat and learn a thing or two about communication and customer service.

She passed me along. Through a series of three other people; two being helpful, the other clearly being bothered that at quitting time they had to help someone, I found our retreat location.

I understand quitting time. I really do. Cocktails. Catch the train or bus. Beat the traffic. Pick up the kids. Pick up dinner. Get to class. Get to the gym. I get it. I know that feeling when that customer walks through the door just as you’re thinking the day is over. Expletive. Expletive. Expletive.

But frankly I think some training is clearly needed on how those folks communicate with people. Some form of “Hi, what can I do for you” would have been a much nicer way to greet me by both of those people. And guess what, those two employees were going to hear that I was looking for a meeting room anyway. That person who walks through the door at quitting time is going to make you listen to them regardless. But instead they created a moment that made me never ever want to do business with these people. Ever. Never want me to refer a client who was looking for an option to higher priced meeting space locations.

And this is not only happening at City Hall. It is happening at lots of businesses. Retail. Service. Big company headquarters. Quitting time IS a time to go home. It’s also time to:

  1. Go an extra mile and help someone.
  2. Explain to someone how you can help them; but it might have to wait until tomorrow.
  3. Or tell them you’re closed and perhaps lose their business (and the business of the many others with whom they share their experience.)

What’s your 4:23 PM Employee Mentality? Is it worth a discussion with your team?


Spend $1.20 and get awesome customer experience

I admit it. I still rent DVD’s. I don’t Netflix. I don’t Hulu. I don’t BustBlocks. I don’t stream with anyone.

I use Redbox! For $1.20 I rent a movie from yes, a red box. They’re located like everywhere. I can rent while leaving the grocery store and return in at the gas station right near my house. Heck the guy behind me on a recent flight rented two movies in Boston and returned them upon arriving in Los Angeles.

But what I really love about Redbox is the customer experience.

  • Every so often I receive a text with a promo code to rent a free movie that day
  • I get notifications of new releases
  • I can reserve a movie from my phone
  • I get an acknowledgement of my rental immediately upon checking out my movie
  • I get a thanks and a receipt emailed to me within seconds, yes seconds, of returning a video (I checked my email the other day right after I slid the DVD into the Redbox machine)
  • I get 50% off rental deals
  • They offer me suggestions based on my rentals
  • And when I experienced a couple of problems they didn’t blink an eye about giving me free rentals.

All this for $1.20 a rental? All this for not ever coming face-to-face with an employee. I spend more money at coffee shops and other retailers where sometimes I am lucky to get a thank you.

Redbox wants my business. They want me to come back. They want me to be happy. They want me to feel served. And they show me that at so many different levels.

Oh and by the way, my last three rentals were free. And I still received the same level of service.

My only complaint: It never fails that as I approach the machine one or two other Redboxers will come up right behind me. Then as I browse the selections I feel this pressure to make a quick decision as the body language and grunts of those people start to express disgust. But heck, that’s my problem and not a Redbox problem.

Hats off to the happy employees at Redbox. I’m a true fan. And when streaming comes (which is rumored) maybe I’ll break down and join the 21st century.


Anyone have a good movie they’ve seen lately? I’m taking suggestions. But even more important, how much effort are you and your employees putting into a memorable customer experience?


When I decided I wanted to fill a bus with supplies for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, I turned to a company I have had the privilege to work with but more importantly a company which believes in doing good and putting people first!

I’m working with the folks at DATTCO to help fill a bus with relief supplies for those impacted by Hurricane Sandy in the NYC area. We are working with Catholic Charities in Queens, NY to get those supplies to those who still most need them.

We need your help!

On Thursday November 12th there will be a DATTCO bus collecting relief donations in the parking lot at the following three locations:

Help us fill this bus with supplies for Victims of Hurricane Sandy

  • Newington CT 7:30-8:30 AM Stop & Shop Plaza, Berlin Tpke
  • Southbury CT 10:00 -11:15 AM Kmart/Stop & Shop Plaza, Exit 15 Rte 84
  • Danbury CT 12:00 – 1:15 PM Walmart, Newtown Rd


Here’s what is needed:

  • FOOD (canned goods, coffee, pasta, bread & sandwich materials, snacks for kids)
  • Water
  • Flashlights and batteries (AA, AAA, D)
  • Hand sanitizer, towels, toilet paper, toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, feminine products, etc.),
  • Baby items (diapers, wipes)
  • First aid kits
  • Hats, gloves, blankets, coats

Clothes (shirts, pants, etc) are NOT needed.

Tell everyone you know to come by. I’ll be there with a team from DATTCO.

Thanks Don DeVivo and the entire DATTCO team who are making this possible and didn’t think twice when I approached them with this idea!

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