Monday, August 30, 2010


Title. Moniker. Label. Handle. We have them. We use them. We pay big bucks for them.

CIO = Chief Information Officer

CEO = Chief Executive Officer

COO = Chief Operating Officer

What could CMO be? I've written earlier about Disney's version of CMO, their Chief Magic Official. But that's not what I'm talking about.
This is about the job of the CMO, the Chief Me Officer. Do you have an idea? A vision? A passion? A hidden talent? It's about self promotion. It's about getting your message out to the masses. In the early stages of a business or any venture, you have to do the work of HR, Marketing, Finance and be the CEO all at the same time. 

One simple place to start is with a business card. The cheapest form of advertising is word of mouth. But a card that gives your contact information is among the least expensive ways to get your name out. 

It's up to you. This little bit of self promotion is a good way to remain in the forefront of people's minds. So go ahead, toot your own horn.

After all, if you're not your own Chief "Me" Official, who will be?

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Phrase to Praise

One of the local radio stations in town uses the saying "The phrase that pays" for an ongoing contest. They call you and ask for the phrase. If you say it back correctly, you win.

After reading a post by Lee Cockerell on "101 Ways to Praise a Child or Anyone Else" this phrase came to mind. Are you praising your team enough? Are you offering praise evenly? 

Praise can be a great motivator. But if not applied fairly, it can be a blow to someone's self confidence. As a leader, become the cheerleader for your team. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's your favorite?

"I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse." - Walter Elias Disney

A friend posed a question the other day regarding the Walt Disney World Resort. What one WDW ride do you have to go on every trip? I said it was Pirates of the Caribbean (POTC). And there was a story why.

I attended my first Disney Institute course in November 2009. We were in classes all day and had most evenings off to do as we please. One of the evenings I chose to go to the Magic Kingdom. I had been asked by my son to get a picture of one of the Cast Members, Aaron, who works at the Pirates League, a place where kids of all ages can get a pirate makeover. Costume, makeup, pirate name, pirate secrets, you name it, they do it. Aaron made such an impression on my then 9-year-old son that he wanted to pass along a friendly greeting.

I wondered if Aaron would remember us. I am sure he saw hundreds of kids and adults in the 4 months since we were there. I strolled up to the check-in counter this particular night and guess who was standing there? I told Aaron why I was there and he stepped aside so I could take his picture. We shook hands and I headed over to ride POTC.

As I exited the ride, Aaron was waiting for me at the top of the escalator. With him he had a treasure map and some beads. He told me to give them to my son. Now, this may seem like nothing to the casual observer. But to me and my son, it's as if we were given the winning lottery numbers. But because of that seemingly small gift (that map and those beads are probably a dime for two dozen) we are guests for life.

Do your customers remember you? When they are asked about the product or service you offer will they refer to you as their favorite?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I hear a train a comin'

No, it's not a freight train. I left off part of the word. It should read "I hear some training coming."

Most business recognize the value of training when it comes to new employees. There is a formalized process introducing them to the company, the industry or the culture of the business. Rarely does anyone start a new job and is on the front lines as soon as the ink is dry on the application. It may seem that way because the level of service you receive stinks. Poor service can be attributed to the person having a bad day. But, more likely than not, it's due to a lack of training. And ongoing training at that.

How often do you attend training? Think about your current job. When was the last time you participated in formalized training?
  1. I was part of formalized training/orientation during the first week of my employment.
  2. We have yearly training retreats to cover changes in our industry.
  3. I am at the top of my job and have completed all of the training requirements necessary.
  4. It was yesterday, the last time I worked.
The brownie point/gold star answer should be #4, last time you worked.

How about another definition of training? This goes to show you just how powerful training can be. This training cost an estimated $500 million dollars. Officially, it only lasted for 9 days. But the effects are still being felt today.
In meteorological terms, training refers to repeated areas of rain that move over the same region in a relatively short period of time. From September 15-23, 2009, some parts of metro Atlanta received over 21 inches of rain which resulted in some of the worst flooding in over 500 years. The above map shows you just how much rain fell during this time. If you look closely, there is an area of white that is on the west suburbs of Atlanta, just a few short miles from where we live. While our house and our possessions were not damaged, many were not so fortunate. Parts of our old neighborhood were completely submerged, houses included. 4 of the 5 ways I could use to get home were totally blocked. Roads were under 10 feet of water in some places. One school had water almost to the top of the roof.

You might think you have no responsibility when it comes to training. But it's not just a one-time thing. If you want to grow personally or you want your business to grow, you can't afford to ignore training as an important  part of your business plan.

While there are thousands of books, programs, articles and web sites to help you with training, some of the best training on the planet can be found at the Disney Institute. Your training doesn't have to be this formal. Just understand how impactful it can be.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Go back to the beginning - It's never too late to restart

It's a safe bet to say that most of you reading this blog have played the classic Hasbro board games Monopoly or Sorry!. Both games involve starting over for one reason or another. We even have to reset our computers or other electronic devices once in a while.

Sports teams often have to go back to the basics because something is not working right. A new coach comes in and cleans house, frequently building a new foundation from which he builds his team, his way.

As kids, we learn to sit up, then crawl, and then walk. When learning a new language, we learn the basics first; common words and simple phrases. We don't start with advanced conversations.

So, in many aspects of life, it's a good idea to go back to the beginning and review those principals and practices we learned when we started our current position. It can be our job (for pay) or it can be our job in life (husband, wife, father, mother, child). Life can be running so well that we don't think we need to go back and review the ideals and goals we had in the beginning. We can be cruising along and still get hit by a blind spot. That's why they call them by that name. We don't see them coming. We forget. We lose focus.

What about this guy? He was at the top of his game. He still has the talent to remain at the top. But something has thrown him off. Way off. He was seen working with a trainer recently. Hopefully, this is an attempt to restart, to go over the basics and build from there. Go back to the beginning. It's never too late restart.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Advertising Budget - Zero Dollars

How much is your advertising budget? Is it calculated as a percent of your sales which would increase or decrease as your sales did likewise? Or is it a fixed amount each year? Or could it be that you don't have a budgeted amount and you just spend freely?

I was driving to a nursing home today where we gather once a month to sing for the residents. We drove by one of my favorite places to eat. In my opinion, they have the best chicken salad sandwich on the planet. Anyway, as we passed by, we both noticed that their sign was looking quite old and in need of a new paint job. Then I thought, I bet they don't spend a dime on advertising. I've been going to this restaurant for over 20 years. I may only go 3 or 4 times a year. But anytime I think of this place, it's usually to tell someone just how truly awesome it is.

It's not much more than any other deli out there. And there are literally thousands of them. They serve lunch. Same location for 20+ years. And sometimes the line stretches out the door.

You don't have enough money in your advertising budget to pay for the kind of reputation they have. What are you doing in your business to build the kind of reputation it takes to reduce your advertising budget to zero?

It's a Business Decision

When I was at the bank recently making a deposit, I told the teller (she's one of my customers too) that we would no longer be banking with them after 1 more day. This is a bank with which we have done business for the past decade. The very nice teller said, "I understand. It's a business decision." She said this with a smile on her face as she looked me straight in the eyes.
What a great attitude! She didn't take it personally. Even though one of the factors in the decision to move was because of a gap in service, it wasn't something she did that ran us off.

While we gave them advance warning of our departure, most of your customers will not when they decide to leave you. You may never know the reason why. Unless you follow your sales, transaction count, ordering, phone volume, or some other key indicator for your business, how will you know? Would you even consider asking your customer why?

If you have invested in a personal relationship with your customer they will probably go out of their way to do business with you or they may feel compelled to tell you why they have stopped. It's more than conducting a transaction. That's what we have registers or POS systems for. Technology will never be able to replace what we long for, and that's relationship. The face-to-face interaction is so important to the livelihood of most businesses.

So get to know your customer. Know their needs and wants before they do. Otherwise, their decision will be to take their business elsewhere.

Friday, August 6, 2010

How did you become a leader?

I am part of an online community that completes surveys in exchange for points. I can then use the points for stuff. Stuff like books, MP3 accessories, CDs, jewelry, etc.

A recent survey asked the question, "How did you become a leader?"

I had to think for a moment . . . and then select "N/A" as the answer. I wasn't ready for this survey. I thought I was. I've got a leadership position. I've even attended a professional development course on leadership. My walk isn't always consistent.

A complete stranger called me today to interview me about my experience with the Disney Institute, the professional training arm through which this course was offered. She was not affiliated with DI or with any of the Disney family. I was honored and delighted thrilled to answer her questions. But it also reminded me that there is still work to be done.

If you were posed with the same question, how would you answer it? Unless you are a sculpture or some other piece of art sitting lifeless in a museum, you have a leadership role whether you want it or not. By your actions or words, you are being watched. Someone is choosing to follow your example or they are determined to set a better one.

How did you become a leader?