Friday, February 26, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Here's a sad, but true statistic:
2/3 of all new restaurants fail before their first birthday.
But not Danny Meyer's establishments. His eateries not only survive, they become culinary icons in the most competitive restaurant market in the world: New York City. His Union Square Hospitality Group owns more than a dozen restaurants, the oldest of which is over 20 years old, and he's never closed a restaurant!
Makes you wonder, "How does he DO that?"
Danny Meyer knows how to re-frame his preconceptions. In his book, Setting The Table, Danny devotes a whole chapter to this key ingredient in his secret sauce for successful business. The chapter is titled "Whoever Wrote The Rule..."
Whenever Danny runs into a challenge or begins a new project, he starts asking questions that begin with "Whoever wrote the rule..."
For example, when he had the idea for a "drive-in" burger & shake joint inside Madison Square Park, he asked himself "Whoever wrote the rule that said we can't create a drive-in shake joint in a city where nobody drives?" He didn't let his (or anyone else's) preconceptions get in the way. That thinking led to his wildly successful walk-up Shake Shack concept, which has since spun (or should I say, shaken) off two more locations around NYC and created an intensely loyal following.
Re-framing your preconceptions is really what you mean when you try to "think out side the box." What you're doing is re-framing assumptions, rules, regulations, behaviors, attitudes, etc.
I've never run across a better or more simple way to quickly achieve breakthrough thinking. Here's a quick step-by-step guide:
1. Identify your challenge (always, always be as specific as you can). A good challenge to me starts with a phrase like, "Why can't we (insert challenge here)?"
2. List all the rules, parameters, assumptions, criteria, etc. that you can think of around your challenge.
3. Re-frame the rules one by one by asking "Whoever wrote the rule that (insert rule here)."
Here's another example: My wife and I have been trying to plan a trip to Italy to attend a friend's wedding. We originally thought we'd all go, both of us and our two kids. We keep looking for great deals, but lemme tell ya, traveling to the land of lasagna 'aint cheap. It's so expensive that we've pretty much decided that we won't go.
But this wedding is for one of my wife's favorite friends in the whole world. The kind of friend you'd be willing to travel around the world to see get married.
So if I employ Danny Meyer's breakthrough thinking tool and ask, "Whoever wrote the rule that we all have to go to Italy?", then my options suddenly increase, don't they? Maybe she could go alone. Or maybe she could take a once-in-a-lifetime trip with one of our kids. Or maybe we could leave some canned food and pizza coupons on the counter and tell the kids we'll be back in a week (ok, that last one was a joke...really).
What has you stumped? Do you have any challenges that would benefit from a good "Whoever wrote the rule" question or two?
When you master the art of re-framing your preconceptions like this, you open up an amazing new world of possibility.
By the way, the answer to almost every question that starts with "Whoever wrote the rule" is "YOU". Most of the rules you live and work by are rules YOU created, or at the very least YOU accepted/adopted them. That means YOU have the power to re-write many of the rules any time you want.
If you want some great inspiration from some real-life people who are re-writing their rules, don't miss our next free event: The Lemonade Movie Premier on March 9th.
It's not a pink slip it's a blank page
It's not a pink slip it's a blank page
Date: Tuesday, March 9th
Place: sparkspace in the Arena District
This is a movie about:
- Exploring new dreams
- Believing in yourself
- Finding your passion
- Reinventing yourself
- Losing your livelihood but finding your life
- Taking lemons and making Lemonade
With job losses being at a all time high in our country this is the perfect film to see to get inspired to help someone you love or be inspired yourself - even if you are happily (or not so happily) employed.
We will watch the film, followed by a dynamic group discussion. It's an evening that's sure to make you think.
Check out the movie trailer and reserve your seat now. Space is limited so don't miss out!
This movie is sponsored and facilitated by:
Carrie is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor and is also certified through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. She received her training at The Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York City. In addition, she has spent over 8 years working in corporate environments where she focused on training and development. This included creating curriculum for classes, teaching classes, as well as managing corporate training programs.
Carrie inspires individuals to achieve joy and balance by discovering the powerful connection between nutrition, mind and body. It is important for her to support her clients as they rediscover and accept who they are at this point in their life. She is your personal advocate for living an energized and passionate life.
You can learn more about her and read what some of her clients are saying by visiting her website www.CarrieSaba.com.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
This is the best workshop we've ever created. Join the hundreds who have already experienced it! More info at http://bit.ly/aFIKQE
Hope to see you there!
Hope to see you there!
Posted by Mark Henson at 2/23/2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The white-coated pharmacist handed me my drugs at my local CVS this morning. As she did, her eyes grew big and her voice rose like a teenage girl on opening night of the latest Twilight movie.
"Oooh, you've been selected to take our feedback survey for a chance to win $1000," she said. I've never seen a pharmacist so excited. Apparently the thrill of winning a lottery trumps counting pills on the excite-o-meter. Who knew?
Then, she said something that struck a raw nerve somewhere deep inside my customer-service core: "We'd like you to give us all 5's on the survey."
Not "We hope we've served you well." Not "We'd really like your honest feedback." Nope, it was a flat-out directive intended to solicit only great customer satisfaction scores.
And to seal the deal, she handed me a Reese's Peanut Butter candy bar. BRIBERY! I felt so, so, so...DIRTY. There, I said it out loud.
Oh, don't get me wrong, I took the candy. Think I'm going to pass on free candy? They guy who still dresses up for Halloween? C'mon!
The kicker was the note that accompanied the bribe. It said, "These questions are on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being 'completely satisfied.' If you cannot answer with a score of 5, please contact the Store Manager at the number listed." It said more, but that was the part that made me laugh.
Ok, let me get this straight. You request me to give you all 5's. Then you tell me if I can't, I need to call the manager. Man, now my free candy bar and potential lottery winnings are beginning to sound like work! I'd better give them their 5's 'cause I don't have time or desire to call the manager. After all, I've got a newsletter article to write.
Customer service evangelist Kevin Stirtz calls this "survey coaching." In his article, "Survey Coaching Can Ruin a Good Customer Relationship," he equates companies who coach your survey participation to a waiter who would dare to hand you your bill and say, "I really hope you give me a big fat tip!"
Imagine asking your boss for feedback that way. "Well, boss, I'd be happy to listen to my annual review...as long as its all positive and I get a raise at the end. By the way, if you can't give me all positive feedback, could you call my spouse and explain why? Thanks. Oh, and here's a candy bar."
I get why companies feel like they need to offer incentives. People don't willingly fill out surveys, especially if they don't feel like it will do any good. What I don't get is why companies don't just straight up ask their customers how they're doing.
We send a survey to everyone who books a meeting at sparkspace. We get about a 25% response rate. If we gave out candy bars, we might get a 26% response rate.
Our survey doesn't ask for high ratings. Our survey gives our guests the opportunity to tell us what they liked, what they didn't like, and how we can improve. We've received some pretty good suggestions over the years through our survey. But, honestly, I think we get better feedback by taking a moment or two each day to just talk to our guests about their experience face to face.
Surveys are great for building statistics and maybe for capturing some trends. But they're far from being the world's best way to identify areas for improvement. So, if you're going to use them, don't blow smoke up your customer's internet connection trying to convince them that the survey will lead to big changes.
And by all means, don't bribe your customers. If they want to tell you something, just give them an opportunity and they'll talk your ear off. As Kevin Stirtz says, incentives "poison the process" because they change the customer's motivation for giving you feedback.
Ok, maybe I won't eat the candy bar after all.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Do you have a boring, uninspiring, or downright ugly conference room?
Send us a picture of it and you could win a free meeting room rental at sparkspace...the most exciting retreat center on the planet. The ugliest conference room we receive by Tuesday, February 23 will receive a FREE meeting rental in any one of our amazing spaces.
We're on a mission to help those who need it the most! So let the ugliest conference room win!
Click for more info and official rules
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
If I told you were are one of the best at what you do, would you believe me?
Some of you might. Others would blow me off thinking, "There are a lot of people better than me at what I do." And you're probably right. But that doesn't mean you're not one of the best.
Remember, I didn't say THE best. I said ONE of the best. I'm making an assumption here that you're not the WORST either. So, technically speaking, if you're not the worst, then you're one of the best. You could be next to worst, but that still makes you one of the best, right?
Here's another example that you might be more comfortable accepting. What if I saw you in a room full of people and told you, "You're one of the best looking people in the room." That statement would be true even if you were almost as hideous as the ugliest person in the room. And you would be quite relieved, maybe even happy to hear it (depends on how overall ugly the room is, right?).
Many of us don't like to consider ourselves one of the best at what we do. Know why? Because being one of the best carries responsibility that we're not always willing to carry. Being one of the best usually means you must continually strive to remain one of the best. You might even be climbing your way to the numero uno spot in your industry's hall of fame.
That takes work. Ughhh!
Most people and most companies that we consider "one of the best" at what they do are not always (not even usually) the most talented. They're the ones who work at getting better every single day. They improve processes constantly, they fix what's broken, they reach for bigger and better goals.
Sometimes it may seem like a person or a company is an overnight success. The reality is that most "overnight" successes occur over hundreds or thousands of nights, not just one. They've been working for years at being one of the best and it eventually shows.
Ok, so here's where I'll remind you that you are one of the best at what you do. How are you working to get better (because that's what the best always do)?
The great thing is that there are so many ways to get better at what you do! Take a class, read a book, find a mentor, bring your whole staff to our workshop on February 16th (sorry, I tried to be subtle), work on a strategic plan, throw out your strategic plan and start over, study your industry, study another industry, study your customer, study your competition...you get the point.
A question I've been asking people lately is: if your business went away tomorrow, would anyone miss it? If you're not truly acting like "one of the best," chances are nobody would even notice. I don't know about you, but I want to be missed!!!! Better yet, I don't want to go away any day soon. That's why I keep working to get better every day. How about you?