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Being Nice...Can Kill Your Business

Remember when we were kids?   Our parents stressed that we should all play well togetherChildren Sandbox in the sandbox.  My mother had told me to ignore the temper of other kids and be nice. That was sage advice until the day five-year-old  "Little Tommy Marker" got upset and hit me in the head with a (metal) hoe.  I think he wanted my dump-truck. 

I still carry that scar...and the wisdom that bullies, be they in the sandbox or in the board room, need to be dealt with...firmly.

Is the customer always right?  Is the minority opinion always to be listened to?  Can you move your business forward by always...being nice?

No.

Too blunt or too truthful?

Tuck this away someplace:  "There is a segment of the population that you will never satisfy.  There are folks in your company who are not happy, think they know better, believe they are entitled or are just plain...nuts."  

Being "cooperative" and "playing nice" with them...will only show weakness on your part, they will be emboldened and will continue their destructive ways.  And no amount of advertising or public relations can mend the damage they will do internally and externally.

So, what do you do?  Here are three steps we think you should consider:

Constructive Disagreement or a Train Wreck?  Not every confrontation is a ticking bomb.  You've got to be able to discern the difference.  How do you know the difference?  Listen to the choice of words.  If there are too many "me" or "I" words in the discussion  you've got an issue.   Another tip:  If it's the same story, over and over and over and the "complaint" becomes a habit:  Trouble.  Once you realize the other opinion is a malicious investment you need to act...fast...to shut it down.

Call Them On It - Had I not tried to "reason" with "Little Tommy Marker" and instead grabbed him by his collar I'd not have a scar on my head.  We think the best way to deal with a train wreck is meet it head on firmly by stating the goal of the business, your attempts to mitigate the issue and then...shut up.

Remove Them - Nobody likes this part.  But read the title of this post.  Continuing to try to "get along" can ruin your business or the part in your hair.  A board meeting, committee meeting, team meeting, or the customer service interaction that continues to be derailed by this behavior chews up valuable time...and money.   Some people can not and will not be satisfied no matter what you say or do.  It's best to "move on"...without them.

Tough stuff?  Yes...but so is your business, mission and life. 

Thanks for reading...and if you disagree....don't grab a hoe.   Write me a note?

You can keep up with me on Twitter:  @MichaelLibbie or here with your comment.

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Sunday Morning Coffee - March 7, 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee...a chance to sit down, catch up and look forward.  Not a bunch of business talk just some reflections and some looking forward.  Grab your cup and let's visit...as always, I'm interested in your take.Man Empty Pockets

From the "Who Do You Trust? Department":  We get word that the economy in Iowa may turn around by this summer.   Does that mean it will turn to the good or the bad?  Meanwhile the Des Moines Public Schools have cut nearly 480 teachers.  Ahhh....that's can't be a good thing for the Des Moines Economy.  According to Manpower there are over 17,000 people out of work in Des Moines and there are roughly 5,000 open jobs.  Many of the jobs are low wage/benefit positions.   Adding 480 well paid professionals to the unemployment line won't help the "Golden Circle" economy...

Hollywood Store Hollywood Video on 86th and Douglas (Urbandale, Iowa) is closing.  Bummer...  That's where we've been getting our "24" fix for our evening activity.

Adding video to your business blog?  For years I've suggested to our clients they should incorporate video in their website or business blog.  I've been like the cobbler whose kids have no shoes....because we'd not added video to our blogs.  Until recently.  I can tell you when you do...the traffic soars.  So, are you?  Here is a sample from our daily radio/TV show, Insight on BusinessHere is another done for the Urbandale Chamber of Commerce at an after hours networking event.  Just for fun...but the back side of this makes me wonder how many of these new "stars" will consider creating their own blog and adding video?

What do you make of the ongoing health care debate?  Are you, like me....weary?

On a related note:  I'm thinking one of the reasons I am so passionate about our business is because I have some control over its future.  (Notice I said "some".)  I absolutely love getting out of bed at 4:30AM and getting to the office to create advertising messages for our clients, create content for our blogs, create relationships with new people.  It's...control if you will.  I know I have zero control over government, zero control over other people...but I do have some control over the creative aspect of our work.  Maybe that explains the passion and drive?  Or maybe I'm just nuts.Woman on Bed

Did you know that sex sells?   Seems to.  Last week we did an entire hour about the "sexy side of advertising/marketing".  Loads of listeners, viewers and chatter on Twitter and on the Chat.  Sex, one of the MAJOR response factors for humans.   And you thought it was eating....

A shout out to my friend Thomas Allen who also does a show on Des Moines Local...LIVE.  He said, "Michael, you have got to go get and read "Crush It" by Gary Vaynerchuk."  I did and it is...great!  Thanks Thomas!

Last night we watched the movie Julia & Julia.  If you've not seen it...you must.  It's not as much of a "chick flick" as you might think...

One plus one In this morning's Des Moines Register there is another article about another non-profit that seems to be in financial trouble.  Seems that over at the Iowa Association of School Boards, nobody was paying attention to the books and nobody there controlling the person who controls the books.  It's something that we find so often in non-profit boards made up of volunteers who "may" read their packet...in the fifteen minutes before they enter the board room.  For those of you who are serving on non-profit boards...pay attention and ask questions..  Before The Register calls for a comment.  Jeshhh....

We're doing a photo shoot in Pennsylvania this week.  Well, sort of.  We've been asked to do some creative for Fastline, a national farm magazine.  And, we're doing the photo shoot...remotely.  We'll let you know how that goes.  A "remote photo shoot"...new for us too.

From the, "You Had Me Going Department":  I'm listening to terrestrial radio this week and hear an ad for a Judy Garland concert featuring the Des Moines Symphony.  "Hmmm, Judy Garland?  She's DEAD isn't she?  This should be one heck of a "comeback concert series" must see how they pull this off." Video mixed with live....but the ad sounded convincing.  Anybody go?  It was last night.

Pushing this out the door.   A reminder:  Tomorrow Insight on Business plays host to Jamie Fitzgerald the Polk County Auditor...it's Metro Monday!  Then on Tuesday Renda Lutz, @RendaInDSM & formally of The Register, is in to talk to us about Iowans For Social and Economic Development.

Have a great SUNDAY...  Keep up with me on Twitter:  @MichaelLibbie (Personal & Business) or @InsightADV (Business Baby...business) or @RuralLifeRadio (our love for everything rural).  Thanks for coming by!!

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Some Camera...FUN

Over the past few months I've been doing some work with the folks at the Urbandale Chamber of Commerce.  Nothing heavy.  Thursday evening they held a networking event at Wellspring here in Urbandale, Iowa.  I took along my Flip Cam.   The message here isn't my glowing editing (anybody can do it) or how badly I screwed up the credits at the end.  (It was late?)  The story here is an attempt to show retail business, the Chamber and others how the world of communication and connection is changing.  Just five years ago we, and you, didn't have this power of marketing and sharing... 

Anyway, here's a chance to meet some Iowans as they network with each other...and thousands of others they've never met...until now.



Five Steps to Better Communication

The other day we called a major business here in Des Moines that is big into public Des Moines by Tim Kiser relations.  The call was to ask for a comment on a story we were working on for Insight on Business.  We were promised a return phone call "right away".  It never came.  Twenty-nine hours later we were in front of their business filming a stand-up intro for the Radio/TV show.  In the end we didn't use the clip, it felt too much like an "I gotcha" moment, but it does lead us to a "teachable moment".  Five Steps to Better Communication:

- Don't forget the telephone:  This is what led us to this post, returning phone calls.  Just do it.  Write it down on your daily log (you do have one of those right?).  Don't trust your memory.  A couple of other things:

  • Update your voice mail message.  I do my direct line daily because I want people to know I check voice mail and the message is never the same.  It takes seconds to do and helps send a "message" you care about what is going on.
  • Put "sparkle" in your VM message.  Don't drone....sell a little, even here.
  • Send an e-mail as a follow up to your call that was taken by their voice mail.  You never know if they will follow up but you have.

- The Dreaded E-Mail:  We all use it...some better than others.  A couple of quick tips:

  • Include your contact information in your "signature".  You would be surprised at the number of business people that fail to do so.
  • Be careful.  An e-mail lacks the inflection of voice and folks can get the "wrong message".  It's happened to me and you know it's happened to you.  When in doubt...pick up the phone.
  • Even if you are way busy and you are out of the office or don't have the e-mails sent to your phone...respond in some manner.   The other day I had a client send me a question.  I was up to my neck in another project and sent back a note:  "I'll have an answer for you in ten minutes...be right back."  They know you got the message and it shows action on your part.
  • Use spell check...
  • - The Written Word:  We do so much work with e-mails that far too often the only written communication we get is a legal notice...scary thought.   So maybe impress your clients or employees with a "real letter".  Sure it takes time...but it will stand out.   And, while we're at it...the old fashioned "thank you note" goes a very long way.  They are so rare that we actually keep the ones sent to us.
  • - Tell Me About Yourself:  I can't remember who shared this tip with me...but it's great.  When meeting a person face-to-face at an event skip the, "What do you do?" line and try this statement:  "Tell me about yourself.".  It puts a whole new spin on the conversation and the person doesn't have to cook up a job resume on the spot.  Besides it's way more interesting.

    - Watch Your Language:  Anytime you are in a business meeting or a casual conversation be very careful about the language used.  It's different in your living room watching a hockey game than at the ball-park where a perspective customer or client is sitting three rows back.  When you are in business...you are always on.  And in this world of social media...you never know who has a camera and a recorder.  When in a meeting situation the same goes.  There is an old commercial that said, "People judge you by the words you use."  It's true.

    In the end...we're human...and we'll make communication errors but perhaps, by using one or two of these short tips...business will improve for you.  Hey...what can it hurt?

    Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications you can keep up with me on Twitter:  @MichaelLibbie  Photo:  Tim Kiser

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