Remember the brilliant animated movie A Bug’s Life? (Disclaimer for animated purists: I haven’t watched the movie in a few years, so this is my mind’s interpretation, which may be technically inaccurate.)
There’s a scene shot next to a camper van. It’s a quiet evening. You hear the night sounds of all of the insects chirping and buzzing. It’s a peaceful evening.
You then see a bug light glowing in the background. Two bugs are talking as they fly in the area of the light. One starts to go closer to the light when the other one calls out, “don’t look at the light!” His bug friend, continuing to move closer to the light, says “I can’t help it. It’s so beautiful!”
Seconds later you wince as you hear the inevitable buzzing sound and see the flashing light. The bug screams as the bug light does its job and kills the insect.
The bug light. Or, as this website calls it, the “electrical-discharge insect-control system.” It’s designed to rid your outdoors of annoying insects.
So many times in life what may look good isn’t in our best interest. The key question is how do you distinguish between genuine opportunity and a disaster. And that discernment isn’t always easy. What can help guide you?
One of the questions I always ask a customer is why.
Why did you choose us? I love to call new customers and ask. I’ve done this hundreds of times throughout my career. In all of those conversations, I’ve never had a new customer not want to tell me the “why.” And I learn valuable information with each phone call or visit.
It’s such an easy thing to ask. I’m not sure why everyone doesn’t make it a habit. Like most things, it may be easy to do but it’s also easy not to do. I know when I fall out of the habit, I lose a valuable opportunity.
Almost always mentioned is the professionalism of the company’s representative. It may also be the service, the product, or the price. It could also be driven by a negative experience with the competition.
It’s important to listen and understand why customers are buying from you. It can inform your corporate strategy. You may spot a trend. You may learn that you have strengths you didn’t even realize. You may even develop new services because of the feedback.
Almost invariably on these calls I find other benefits:
Developing new relationships
Hearing about issues I wouldn’t have known about
Learning about employees who have gone above and beyond
If you’re running a business or in a leadership position, take the time out to make a few calls. Ask the question. Then, just listen and take notes. I’m willing to bet you will learn more than you thought possible.
Two weeks ago, I shared an interview that I did with legendary CBS anchor Dan Rather backstage before our onstage discussion. Today’s post features the onstage interview. Onstage we talked about a number of subjects ranging from the personal to the historical. If you have the time to view it in its entirety, I’m sure you will enjoy it. Because it is just over thirty minutes and you may not have the time to view it all, I decided to write the subjects we discussed with the approximate time.
If you only tune in for one subject, I suggest you watch Dan Rather give his perspective on Civil Rights, Dr. Martin Luther King and how it impacted his life. Here are a few highlights from that conversation:
“I find as a nation, as a people, as a society, we have a certain amount of amnesia. Amnesia about what the reality of the civil rights situation was particularly for people of color….Covering Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement changed me as a person and as a pro….I grew up in a segregated society…if I’m this afraid…what must it be like to be of color and know this is happening down the street?”
Dan Rather understandably became very emotional as he recalled those events. “To see people in power in city government turn high pressure fire hoses loose on children…I would not have believed people could do this, turn firehoses and vicious dogs on women and children.” 15:18
My wife does an amazing job decorating our home. Maybe too good of a job. She changes colors and decorations with each holiday or season. Admittedly, I’m often clueless about the passing months and her changes remind me just where we are in the year.
“A friend is someone who will sacrifice for you even when you don’t know it.” -Skip Prichard
This past spring she changed the wreaths on our front doors. I suppose some birds took a look and thought they were inviting enough to build a nest. When we opened the door one day, the mother bird flew off. We realized there was a nest in the wreath and that changed everything.
Until those eggs hatched and the new birds were safely flying on their own, we would not use the front door. For any reason. Deliveries? We’d just walk the packages around the house. Visiting us? “You can’t enter the front door,” we shout from a window, “Come through the garage!” The air-conditioning repairmen who came to replace a faulty unit? Well, they had to take some extra steps.
We were careful to watch the birds’ progress, but not disturb them. We didn’t want to scare the mother bird off. All through the spring we took pictures and waited. Finally, one day they were all gone.
They never even knew we were there.
They didn’t know that we were going through all these inconveniences for their benefit.