The indifferents

There’s a group of people out there who love you.  Your passionate fans who talk about you to anyone who will ask, who spread the word and your message and carry your brand with you.  Cherish and nurture them.

There are others who have actively decided that you’re not for them.

And then there are the indifferents. The ones who have known about you for a while, who have heard your story for months or even years, who you’ve cultivated tirelessly.  And they’re still not acting, not buying, not convinced.

What do you do about them?

Here’s a hint: which is more likely, that the person who has heard your message 15 or even 50 times will suddenly be convinced if you have just one more go at it? Or that you’ll find someone brand new and get them excited?  That’s right, go for the new guy.

By the way, there’s a difference between indifferent and unconvinced, but it’s going to take a whole lot of work for you to figure out who’s who, work that may never pay off.

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Perseverance

You don’t need it when people are cheering you on, when sales are piling up, when the press is pounding down your door, when you’re getting praise and are in the limelight.

You do if you ever want to get there.

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Optically delighted

Former Acumen Fund Fellow Karthik Janakiraman shared these thoughts with me, and he was gracious enough to allow me to post his note in its entirety.  It’s a perfect follow-on to my Magic post about Zappos.

I read your blog and often have noticed that you talk about being “delighted”. I had an experience from a relatively obscure company and wanted to share it with you.

I had to purchase a few optical filters from a company called thorlabs.com and I decided to go with them because they were the cheapest.

I was on the website at 4.35ET and was desperate for these filters.  I had to get the order in by 5pm in order to make the overnight shipment cutoff. I did get the order in but was skeptical about having the filters ship out because I had a vision of some guy sitting in a warehouse, thinking about bailing for the day, who may or may not hustle to get my order in.

To my delight, at 5.01pm , I get an email with a FedEx tracking number on it.

The next day, I open up the box to see the filters and a bunch of snacks (trail mix, cereal bars and cookies) encased in a box called “Lab Food”.  I was absolutely delighted!

The net cost of the goodies was probably 4 or 5 bucks when the snacks are bought in bulk. I spent roughly 600 bucks, so for about 1% of sales this company has converted me into an evangelist and definitely a repeat customer. Great execution as well and I did not even have a human interaction.

Karthik’s story takes the idea in the Zappos post – that you can create magic anywhere – a step further.  To delight, you must surprise, which means you must surpass expectations.  You can do this in any customer interaction – it doesn’t matter if you’re selling shoes or optical filters or an idea.

Ideally, your create delight in a completely customized way.  But this isn’t always possible.  In which case you can, like Zappos (and, according to Karthik, like Thorlabs) build processes that are so above the bar that you can consistently delight nearly everyone.

Put another way, being exceptional and being systematic are in no way mutually exclusive.

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Glitch

Of the time I spend blogging, 99% is spent on writing, and 1% (if that) on the site itself and its functionality.

However I discovered a small glitch which I’ll correct going forward: those little icons on the bottom of every post often have broken links, something I just discovered this morning.  It’s a WordPress glitch I just discovered.

It’s fixed on this post and will be going forward.  So now you can click away when you read posts that you like and want to share.  So please click away.

(And if anyone out there has been dying to improve the look of this blog, its functionality, or anything else about it, please email me.  Offers of help are always welcome.  For example a good non-manual “Tweet this” for each post…?   Feedback of all sorts is always welcome).

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What Matters Now

What if you could peek into the brains of 70 of the smartest, most accomplished, groundbreaking authors and bloggers and thinkers around?

And what if you could ask them, “What word matters most to you of all?  Can you explain what and why?”  People like Arianna Huffington and Elizabeth Gilbert and Chris Anderson and Karen Armstrong and Tom Peters.

That would be worth your time, wouldn’t it?  …if you could only get to all of those people.

Voilà, enter Seth Godin and his new free PDF,  What Matters Now.  It just came out today, and you can download it here, for free, or here on Scribd.  Because Seth knows more than anyone that what matters most is spreading powerful ideas.

So go ahead, download it, read it, share it.

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I owe you

A good friend was recently working on a freelance job on a very short deadline. She did a bang-up job, made her client look great, and sent in her bill for the hours she worked. The client responded: “I don’t think you billed us enough for this job.”

Nice.

Most business relationships have an adversarial undertone: we’re going to be collaborators and co-creators, but let’s duke it out over the contract first, and then let’s make sure it’s under budget because that will make me look good. I win when the project makes me look like a star, and you’ll get what we agreed upon in the first place. That was our deal.

It’s so easy to go back to the contract, to explain to yourself that your hands are tied and that you’re being fair. But there are times when you know you owe someone, when you know you got a great deal.

Go ahead, step up and say, “We made a mistake. You didn’t charge me enough for what you delivered. I owe you.”

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Generosity experiment

On the subway today, a man was asking for donations so he could buy food, sandwiches, deodorant, even hand sanitizer to give for free to homeless people.  He had lived on the street two decades ago, he said, and now does this part time to give back, in addition to a part time job he holds.

I have absolutely no idea if this is true, but I was skeptical. I, along with everyone else in my car, got off the train without giving him any money.  Right after I got off the train I knew I had done the wrong thing.  It just didn’t feel right.

Most of the time I don’t give to people on the street. It seems to make sense, rationally, not to give most of of the time — and instead to give to great organizations that are doing things for the homeless. Perhaps, but it’s easy to take this too far. 

Giving is an act of self-expression, and generosity is a practice. Each time I decide not to give, I’m reinforcing a way of acting – one that’s critical and analytical and judgmental.

You may not be like this at all.  You may consistently act from the heart first and not the head.  Good for you.  More often than not, I don’t, though it’s something I’m working to change.

So I’ve been thinking that I need to try a generosity experiment: for a period of time, when I’m asked to give, to say yes.  To everything.  To emails and people on the street and friends raising money.  Everyone.  I think it will be good practice.

What do people think?  Does this make sense? [sic]

P.S. More on this topic from the Freakonomics blog, where Barbara Ehrenreich is very clear that you always give to someone on the street who directly asks you. 

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