Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category
Walking down the hall of one of my client’s corporate offices last week, I saw these six power words artfully displayed in tall, bold letters on a wall. The letters must have been at least 18 inches high and the black printing against the white walls caught my full and undivided attention. The words were:
These are the LEGO® brand values. As they say on their web page, “The LEGO brand is more than simply our familiar logo. It is the expectations that people have of the company towards its products and services, and the accountability that the LEGO Group feels towards the world around it. The brand acts as a guarantee of quality and originality.”
Does it all start with personal values?
I was in a friend’s house last week and saw this piece of artwork hung in the entryway from their garage to their kitchen. Notice the clever positioning of “Family Rules.” Although intriguing and filled with positive ideas, there are certainly are a lot of rules to follow. Argh!
I wonder if the people who live in this house stopped noticing this visual communication after a while.
I imagine them walking right on by, unloading their groceries, coming in from work/school, without a second glance at this family manifesto.
And isn’t that what we all do? Slip back into unconscious awareness and old behaviors? How often do we lose sight of our organizational and personal mission statements, and go on automatic pilot in our daily lives?
It got me to thinking about my own brand values.
What expectations do my clients, customers and friends have of my products, services and brand? How do other people experience me? How do I want them to experience me?
I’m wondering if you’ve spent any time pondering these questions for yourself. And not just for your organization, but for your own personal brand? What are the core principles that you strive to live each and every day?
As you read the rest of this blog post, please do so through the perspective of your own personal brand values.
Corporate branding versus personal branding
Over the course of my marketing career, I have spent many long hours writing, rewriting, brainstorming, facilitating, and unearthing vision and mission statements for various organizations. It can be a tortuous process, involving many people and many long hours. I am sure this is where the expression “getting caught up in your underwear” originated from. In the end you have an unusual outcome – a statement of purpose that most people keep at a safe distance.
Marketing thought-leaders have tried to simplify the process. For example, Guy Kawasaki promotes Mantras versus Missions. “A mantra is three or four words that explain why your produce, service, or company should exist.”
Other people have tried to reinvent the process of getting to a vision/mission by calling it a “Manifesto,” or “Axiom” or “Credo.”
How do large, successful companies express their brand values?
I was curious about what brand values that other large, successful organizations have.
Starbucks serves up their brand values a little differently than most (but then, you’d expect that). I have summarized in one or two words what I believe each of their six pillars stands for:
- Our Coffee (Quality)
- Our Partners (Diversity)
- Our Customers (Human Connection)
- Our Stores (Humanity)
- Our Neighborhood (Responsibility & Community)
- Our Shareholders (Accountability)
Google brand values are expressed through a philosophical manifesto “Ten things we know to be true.”
- Focus on the user and all else will follow
- It’s best to do one thing really, really well
- Fast is better than slow
- Democracy on the web works
- You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer
- You can make money without doing evil
- There’s always more information out there
- The need for information crosses borders
- You can be serious without a suit
- Great just isn’t good enough
Amazon’s mission statement was harder to find. Every time I queried the phrase Amazon’s mission statement, the web site tried to sell me a book. Go figure? I finally found a short mission statement on the FAQ page of Amazon’s Investor Relations page of their web site:
“We seek to be Earth’s most customer-centric company for four primary customer sets: consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators.”
Further research into founder/CEO Jeff Bezos’s bio landed me on this page http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/bez0bio-1 where I garnered a little more insight into the founder’s vision and core values. “Our vision,” Mr. Bezos said, “is to be the world’s most customer-centric company. The place where people come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
Six Core Values of Amazon:
- customer obsession
- bias for action
- high hiring bar
Put this idea into action
Now that you’ve seen how the big boys do it, it’s time to identify your own personal brand values. This is not an exercise in copycat, although you might have recognized something of yourself in these icon company’s brand values.
Make a list of words or phrases that you live by. Include principles that you deeply care about. Don’t worry about how other people will react or perceive your values, just capture them on paper.
Write a few sentences about what these words/concepts mean to you. Use a journal to capture your free spirited thoughts.
Now, create some sort of visual picture of your personal brand values. I like to use Wordle.net to create a word montage. They call it a Word Cloud. I call it a motivating piece of visual communication. Here’s my Wordle visual depiction of my personal brand values as I understand them today:
Which action – complaint or appreciation – are you more likely to take?
1. Writing a letter of complaint to a company or asking to speak to the manager about an employee who gave you bad service; or perhaps broadcasting your grievances on Yelp or other social media to warn others to steer clear of the less-than-perfect service that you received at this establishment?
2. Writing a letter of appreciation to a company, recognizing an individual who treated you with above-and-beyond customer service; or sharing your delight on Facebook, Yelp or other social media, with the secret desire to help this particular business grow and prosper?
Let’s be honest…
I’d like to think that I am more prone to action #2, but it’s a lot more convenient to complain than to compliment.
You might be someone who frequently says “thank you” and who believes in the power of words of affirmation. You’ve seen how a simple smile can change someone’s day, or how an extra generous tip makes a big difference to a wait staff person.
How often do we go well out of our way to recognize excellence?
This weekend, my friend Bill Terry shared a personal story that motivated me to write this week’s motivating networking tip.
The upshot of his story is that because he took the time to write a letter of thanks to an airline, complimenting the service he received from a customer service agent at the airport (after his flight was canceled), she was hired as a full time employee and moved up her career ladder.
Bill could have just said “thank you,” and “have a nice evening.” But Bill went the extra mile, by recalling her full name (from her name badge) and taking the time to type a letter to the airline management. He found the airline’s address for customer response letters. He filled out an envelope, stuck on a first class stamp, and posted his letter of appreciation in a good-old-fashioned mail box. All of these actions Bill took, not knowing what would come of this effort. Would it really matter?
Yes! It mattered.
The next week Bill was back at the airport flying out of town again. He saw the same customer service agent. He waved to her as he walked by to his gate. She chased him down to say “thank you for writing that letter.” She proudly pointed to her new company badge. She had been working as a contractor, but the airline management had hired her as a full time employee as a result of receiving Bill’s letter.
Imagine how good Bill felt, knowing that his simple act of kindness and appreciation had made such a material difference in someone’s career and life!
Good work often goes unnoticed
We live in a consumer culture of high expectations and low appreciation.
If it doesn’t blow our minds, we are not completely satisfied. We brace ourselves for bad experiences and under performance (especially at the airport!) And yes, it’s a lot easier and more convenient to complain about service, than to praise the efforts made.
After all, misery does love company, and smiling requires the exertion of facial muscles.
But what would happen if we provided positive reinforcement after positive encounters? What if people took more time to praise in public, and let their momentary dissatisfaction dissolve like the small stuff that it mostly is?
How would this change our daily experience and interactions with others?
Put this idea into action
Think of someone with whom you have had a recent positive experience in the service arena. Were you pleased with your interaction? Were you happy with the service and help that they provided to you? Did they make you smile on a day that otherwise would have been gloomy?
Perhaps it was a retail clerk at a boutique that you like to frequent. Or the lady at your local grocery store who has been serving you for years and you don’t even really know her, but count on her to get your order right each and every time (and offer you as much savings as possible). Perhaps it is the customer service person whom you see when you take your car in for a service or repair.
Now exercise your power of positivity. Take a few minutes to research the name and address of that person’s boss. Call the business if you can’t find the information you need on line.
Take 5 minutes of your busy day to say thank you and to recognize the person who gave you this notable service. You are writing the letter to the person’s manager in hopes that your written feedback might positively influence their career, job, wages, opportunity, etc. Perhaps it will only result in an attaboy, but that’s good stuff too. Perhaps it will go in their personnel file to be called up at review time.
You may never know what impact your letter will have, but your actions have value because it makes you feel good too. Writing such a letter will leave you in a better mood – a more positive state.
I believe that small acts of kindness, words of affirmation and acting on appreciation, in both small ways and in large ways, can go a long way toward improving our experiences – the way we lives our daily lives.
He was 70 years young, and had just retired this past January following a long and successful career as a sales professional in the medical device industry. He leaves behind his loving wife, Rose Marie (Rosi) of 48 years of marriage, his three children, Chuck Jr., Laura and Matthew, and six fabulous grandchildren.
This photo of him was taken in 2010 in Athens, Greece. I’m so happy he was able to travel and enjoy the world before entering his short-lived retirement.
Grateful for this role model in my life
As I prepared myself for the loss of this special person in my life, I reflected upon all the magical moments that connected us. In addition to my parents, my Uncle Chuck and Aunt Rosi Fontana were instrumental in shaping my self-esteem as a young person. With words of encouragement, sage advice and welcoming hospitality, they helped set me on a path of confident self-expression.
Every kids needs an Uncle Chuck in their life
Growing up, I spent my summer vacations visiting the Fontana family in Southern California. For just 1-2 weeks per year, I received the kind of special treatment that helped me develop into the person that I am. As an uncle, he was unencumbered with the responsibilities of a parent. Uncle Chuck could spoil me and treat me like the grown-up that I would soon become.
He gave me my first sip of coffee. He fixed me up on my first date with a boy. He promised to take me out to a lobster dinner when I turned 16 years old. Through his family values and lifestyle, he underscored the importance of good food, music, physical activity and education in one’s life.
It’s never easy to say goodbye
I was not able to visit with my Uncle Chuck in the last week of his life. I longed to tell him personally how much he had meant in my life. I worried that I wouldn’t get the chance to say my goodbye in person. So on a long airplane ride home to Connecticut, sitting in the middle seat with both armrests claimed by other passengers, I hand wrote a 1,750 word tribute to him on a Hyatt hotel memo pad. The words just poured out onto the paper from my heart, smiling, crying and at times laughing as I captured the many memorable moments.
When I got home, I typed up the essay and then quickly emailed it to his wife and children. It got there just in time – the day before he passed away. Aunt Rosi read my tribute to Uncle Chuck while he lay in the hospice bed at their home. She told me that she cried as she read it to him, sharing my memories of and gratitude for him and all that he did for me growing up.
Dear Reader, I won’t burden you with the entire essay, but I did want to share this special piece of advice that my Uncle Chuck bestowed on me. My hope is that you will take his encouraging words to heart and start living a fully expressed life. Please enjoy this excerpt of my tribute to Chuck Fontana, Sr., a man larger than life.
Tribute to My Uncle Chuck Fontana (excerpt)
Most of all, I will remember the famous expression that Uncle Chuck would share with me more than once; Words that I would carry with me for the rest of my life; A message that at face value might seem trite, cliché or simple flattery. But for me, Uncle Chuck’s words would embed themselves in the foundation of my soul – the very lining of my self-esteem. His words would encourage and liberate me, allowing me to believe in myself enough to realize my full potential.
Uncle Chuck said to me: “Katherine, if you’ve got it, flaunt it.”
If you’ve got it, flaunt it. What could this possibly mean? More specifically, why did Uncle Chuck give me this unique instruction?
Was he suggesting that I cast off modesty? Was he giving me permission to show off? Was this a subtle suggestion that I should pursue a performance career, perhaps in acting, dancing, singing, speaking or modeling? What was Uncle Chuck’s intent with this provocative piece of advice?
What I did understand immediately was that Uncle Chuck knew that “I had it.” For how else could I flaunt it? He felt I had the talent and the potential to be someone special – to do something great with my life. He recognized something special in me that I could not see for myself. Like most teenagers, I was riddled with self-doubt and struggling with my identity. Uncle Chuck, along with his wonderful wife and soul mate, Rose Marie, was one of those special influences in my life who confirmed me.
I imagine that they have done that for many other people. What an incredible gift to give.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it. So, what does it mean to “flaunt it??” In my life and career, I have translated the “flaunt it” part as “put yourself out there.” Be bold and courageous enough to share your ideas, gifts and talents with the world.
Uncle Chuck and Aunt Rosi lived that way. They role modeled this philosophy that is akin to the mantra: “Carpe Diem” – seize the day.
Uncle Chuck and Aunt Rosi shored up my back bone and built my resilience, knowing that when you put yourself out there and “flaunt it,” there will be many people who are going to criticize you and judge you harshly. Some people would rather tear you down, than build you up. It’s these sad folks that lack what Uncle Chuck possessed: healthy self-worth and an abundance mentality. Perhaps these people were not lucky enough to have an Uncle Chuck or Aunt Rosi in their lives during their young formative years.
But it’s not too late. You can be an Uncle Chuck in someone else’s life. You can be the great encourager to someone who needs a boost – someone who hasn’t yet discovered how truly remarkable they are; and that they indeed “have it” and can “flaunt it.”
If you’ve got it, flaunt it. That was and will always be the greatest gift that Uncle Chuck gave to me. He loved me. He saw my inner beauty. He believed in me and in my potential. And he gave me permission to fully express it.
Uncle Chuck, I say to you now, as you embark on your next great adventure: You’ve got it. You shared it. You lived it. And Yes! You flaunted it…in loving style! Goodbye my dear, sweet, Uncle Chuck Fontana. Thank you for being a guiding light in my life.
Your loving niece, Kathy
Here’s a video of my Uncle Chuck Fontana, receiving a surprise gift from his children and best friend Bill, on his 65th birthday.
Finally, a poem inspired by Chuck Fontana Sr.:
If You’ve Got it, Flaunt it!
If you’ve got it, flaunt it.
Embrace your uniqueness. See and value your own gifts. Put them out in the world so that they can grow and inspire others. Cast off self-doubt and hesitation, so that you can live a fully expressed life;
If you’ve got it, share it.
We live in an abundant world that is shrouded with scarcity and fear. Trust that when you share all that you have, you will be richly rewarded. It matters not how you share it – through philanthropy, small acts of kindness, or encouraging words – only that you do share what you have with others;
If you’ve got it, celebrate it.
Cast off the guilt and obligation that keeps you consumed in the busy-ness of your daily life. Invest your time in treasuring all that you are and all that you have. Be fully present in the moments that make up your life;
If you’ve got it, live it.
Find your passion. Define your purpose and start living your personal mission. You can meet your needs and satisfy your soul, while also being an instrument that motivates others to live more meaningful and joyful lives;
If you’ve got it, let it go.
And when your time has reached its end, trust that you have done what you came here to do. Your love and light have changed the lives of others that you cared about. And what could be more meaningful?
Every so often you meet a person who makes a living doing exactly what you fear.
Billy Pavlacka has been building sand castles as a hobby for nearly thirty years. Known as The Sandcastle Man, Billy makes his living building extraordinary sculptures out of the artistic medium of sand for parties, weddings, corporate logos, and other events. When he is not hired out by meeting planners or brides, he spends his days practicing his craft and spreading joy by creating sand castles on the beach at Coronado Island, off the shore in San Diego, California. (No, the hotel does not pay him…although they should!)
It is here where I met him. My husband and I were taking a break from riding a tandem bicycle for the first time in our twenty year marriage. (a real test of communication and teamwork!) Billy is kind, easy going and happy to share his gift with people who approach him.
As most people who meet him for the first time, we had tons of questions for him, including, “Doesn’t it bother you when the waves (or kids) destroy your work?” His answer surprised and delighted us. “Yes it bothers me,” he said, “And I have to let it go in order to move on and build something new and great again.”
What’s so scary about what Billy does for a living?
It doesn’t last. It might take him 3 days to build an original sculpture, only to have it last for at most 9 days – washed away by the tide or by mischievous teenagers out to have some destructive fun at the beach.
Essentially, Billy builds remarkable things that give great joy to many people, all the while being fully aware that they won’t last.
Unfortunately not everyone appreciates what he does. Earlier that day, a group of children came over not once, but twice to throw rocks and sand at his work. He asked them not to do that, but they kept doing it anyway. Their parents were nowhere in sight.
But this doesn’t really bother Billy. Why? Because for every one destructive group, he gets about 50-100 people who celebrate, honor, and respect his work. The odds are in his favor. And he always remembers that what he does is temporary and not meant to last forever.
While we were admiring his sand castle and enjoying our conversation with him, a couple came over and asked us to take their picture. They had just become engaged to be married. They were enthralled with Billy’s sculpture and wanted to capture their special moment. I took their photo and then they kindly offered to take ours. Each couple happily gave Billy a monetary tip as a thank you for helping celebrate our lives.
Billy told us that on average he has three couples who get engaged every day and want to share their joy and commemorate the day by taking a photograph near his artwork.
Perhaps Billy is not really building sculptures; perhaps Billy is in the business of making memories and spreading joy. No tide, doubter, or hater is strong enough to wipe that away!
Please enjoy this very short time lapsed video of Billy creating his temporary work of extraordinary beauty:
Lessons from my experience with The Sandcastle Man
- It’s easier to tear down someone else’s work than to build something remarkable yourself.
- There’s more good than evil in this world.
- Our lives and our work are ultimately temporary…and that’s okay.
- There is no such thing as a “permanent job.”
- Lifetime warranty doesn’t mean anything.
- The concept of a “forever family” is a fantasy. Over time, all families grow, contract, change, dissolve, etc. Children should be encouraged to be self-sufficient, independent thinkers, and not dependent on their parents.
- Like sand, we all have qualities within us that are soft as well as other aspects that are gritty and sharp.
- Like particles of sand, we may feel small and insignificant as individuals. But when we come together under the right leadership and vision, we can be part of something great.