Igniting Passionate Performance

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Photo by timsackton on flickr

This is a guest post by Lee J. Colan, Ph.D. Lee is a leadership advisor and author of 12 popular leadership books. This article is based on his bestselling book Engaging the Hearts and Minds of All Your Employees. Learn more at www.theLgroup.com.

In today’s hyper-competitive market, creating sticky customer relationships is paramount.

After all, keeping existing customers is five times less expensive than finding new ones. That’s good business in anyone’s book.

Traditional competitive factors like product design, technology and distribution channels are harder to sustain in a super-fast, mega-networked world. In fact, the good old “Four P’s of Marketing” – product, price, promotion and placement – are having much less impact for companies competing in today’s marketplace.  A fifth “P” – people – has become an increasingly important competitive factor.

Consider this: About 70% of customers’ buying decisions are based on positive human interactions with sales staff. Add to this the fact that 83% of the U.S. gross domestic product comes from services and information which are created and delivered by people. The bottom line is that people buy from people, not companies. So, your people – and the performance they deliver – are the defining competitive advantage for your organization.

The Anatomy of Passionate Performance

Think of the times you’ve gone shopping or to a restaurant and dealt with service people who were visibly excited to be in their jobs and to be serving you. Their words jumped out of their hearts rather than being regurgitated from a script. They probably surprised you with the extra effort and thoughtfulness they put toward satisfying your particular needs or questions – and they actually seemed happy to do it!

70% of customers’ buying decisions are based on positive human interactions with sales staff.

Now, consider how you felt when you left these establishments. Did you buy more than you had planned? Were you likely to return? Did you recommend these businesses to friends? You probably answered “Yes” to at least one of these questions. That’s the beginning of a value chain that starts with engaged employees.

When people are engaged in their work and feel a deep connection to it, they deliver Passionate Performance. Passionate Performance creates satisfied customers, and ultimately, value for the organization.

Tips for Aspiring Authors from Maile Meloy

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Maile Meloy grew up in Montana.  She’s written award-winning books including novels Liars and Saints, A Family Daughter, and story collections Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, and Half In Love.  Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Slate, Sunset, O, and The New Yorker.

Maile is also a friend, and I previously interviewed her in person about the release of her first young readers book, The Apothecary.  The sequel, The Apprentices, is coming out in June.

This is a guest interview post by my daughter.  I have also read and enjoyed all of Maile’s books, but these questions are hers.

Between your first installment (The Apothecary) and the second (The Apprentices), you changed the point of view from first person to third person.  What made you change from purely Janie’s point of view to one that switches?Maile Meloy Picture 2

The Apothecary is narrated by a character named Janie Scott, and it’s the story of what happened to her when she was 14, in 1952.  I loved writing in Janie’s voice, and I think it really helped me write the novel.  But I’d never written a whole book in first person before, and I found it kind of frustrating after a while.  I could only write about things Janie experienced, so she does a lot of eavesdropping.  I could never cut away to the villains or include anyone else’s point of view.  The other main character is Benjamin Burrows, the apothecary’s son, and I briefly considered writing a second book from his point of view.  But the circumstances at the end of The Apothecary determined the form of The Apprentices: everyone is scattered.  Benjamin has gone off with his father, and Janie doesn’t know where he is.  So I started with Janie in boarding school, in close third person, meaning the narrator says “she” but is basically in her mind.  Then I could shift and have chapters where the narrator is in Benjamin’s mind (in the jungle), and Jin Lo’s mind (in China), and Pip’s, and even the apothecary’s.  It was very freeing.

Will there be a third in the series?  I hope so!

Yes!  I’m working on it now.  It begins not long after The Apprentices ends.

9780399162459Will you do a book trailer for The Apprentices like you did with The Apothecary?

That’s a great question—I had to ask my publishers.  They hired the very talented people at Crush Creative to make the fantastic trailer for The Apothecary, and they’re planning to update it to use for The Apprentices, too.  But there won’t be a separate trailer for The Apprentices, so if anyone wants to make one, please do!

You were a successful author for adults long before writing for young readers.  What made you decide to write for young adults?

How to Ace the Interview and Win the Job

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Paul Freiberger knows the job search process from all angles. He worked as a cook, a janitor, a night porter, and a garment worker.  He’s been a language teacher, a newspaper reporter and an author.  He’s an inventor and a corporate communications professional.  With that background Paul decided to focus on career coaching, outplacement, and resume writing.

He’s just written a new book about interviewing, and it’s a practical guide to the job interviewing process.  It’s especially helpful for both new graduates starting in a challenging job market and for almost anyone in the midst of looking for a job.

I recently had the chance to ask Paul a few questions about his new book, When Can You Start?  How to Ace the Interview and Win the Job.

Paul, I’ve written (okay, maybe it was a bit of a rant) about resumes before.  You are an expert on resumes, but also on the interview.

WCYS CoverEveryone knows an interview is about qualifications.  But, it’s more than that.  One of the questions on an interviewer’s mind is never asked, but it’s always lurking in the background.  You call it out:  “Will we enjoy working with you?”  How do you help make yourself likeable?

Call on your First Date 101 skills. Be open. Smile. Don’t do all the talking and show your curiosity with some good questions.  

What’s an informational interview?

These are fact-gathering meetings with experienced individuals in a field designed to help you understand an industry. These are learning and networking opportunities.

What’s changed about phone interviews today?

Their frequency. Phone screens have become a commonplace interview and if you don’t know how to handle them, you may get eliminated before you get an in-person interview.

How do you use LinkedIn to improve your chances?

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something–your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

What’s the Future of Business?

Brian Solis is an author, analyst, and a principal at Altimeter Group, a firm focused on disruptive technology. He’s one of the world’s premier thought leaders in new media. His blog is one of the world’s top resources for business strategy and marketing.

What I most enjoy about Brian is that he has the ability to take complex subjects and break them down so you can understand them. His latest book, What’s the Future of Business? accomplishes that in a very different way than his previous work.9781118456538

Brian, before I jump into the latest book and the future, I want to slow down and talk about the past and the present. Because of the nature of your work, I imagine that you’re surrounded by social media experts most of the time. But there are still companies that are just now jumping in or maybe are still on the sidelines. With that in mind, what are the three biggest reasons a business should be utilizing social media today?

First, let me just say that I appreciate this opportunity to speak with you. While social media is part of what I do, it is true that I do have a unique opportunity to see how businesses are or aren’t using social media to reach connected consumers. We live in a social economy where social is an extension of customer engagement. Social media become the channels and mechanisms to listen, learn, engage, and adapt.

If you are not competing for the future, you are competing for irrelevance. -Brian Solis

The first reason that social media is important to businesses is that it amplifies the voice of the customers, their expectations and questions, their touch points, and most importantly the experiences they have and share. There’s much to learn by listening and observing. It is a form of digital anthropology where you gain not only insights but empathy. Try to not let it intimidate you . . . if you’re human, you can feel what’s taking place and as social is a very human series of networks, you can understand how to glean and deliver value as a result.

The second reason is that having a notable presence in networks of interest allows a brand to earn relevance where the attention of Generation C (connected) is focused. This isn’t a channel for the same one-sided marketing as executed in other channels. Social media is just that, it’s social. It’s not all about marketing. It’s about engagement in the context of how people hope to interact with the company.

The Four Moments of Truth in WTF The Four Moments of Truth in WTF

Last, but not least, is alignment. See, to build customer relationships requires that we see the customers for who they are and what they need to build relationships with the businesses they support. To do so requires a “social” philosophy where social media becomes an extension of a more engaging corporate mindset. Since social is bigger than marketing, key stakeholders from other functions and lines of business, or in the case of small businesses, other people responsible for the customer experience, need to come together to talk about the customer journey and the desired experience they wish to deliver. Today, businesses are aligned around the traditional funnel, but each department is responsible for its own portion. Whereas in connected consumerism, the journey is much more dynamic and experiential. And, since people have access to publishing these experiences in places of influence, these experiences contribute to a new reality. By rallying stakeholders together to deliver a consistent, meaningful and shareable experience, people come together around something that’s bigger than the team they represent. Alignment is powerful and required for the future of transformation and evolution.

Where are companies still getting social media wrong?