Deal breakers. We all have them – especially when talking about relationships. But we should also have them when it comes to our business and professional lives. Not only should we have them – we should know what they are! I once interviewed Ben & Jerry’s and learned that the ice cream they’ve been making and we’ve loved for years is much more than ice cream. Every pint represents Ben & Jerry’s values and mission as a company. If you visit their website you’ll find this:
This column is dedicated to all the parents who let their kids be who they are.
Last week I boarded a plane from New York City back to Maine. I sat next to a nice young man and we began to chat. I soon learned that he was returning home to Maine from a business trip to South Carolina. I asked him what kind of work he did, to which he replied, “I’m a traveling pastry chef.” I was intrigued.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Cupid will strike when you’re not looking.” I’m not entirely sure that’s true – although it all remains very much a mystery to me. What I do know is that inspiration often strikes when we least expect it. I discovered this recently as I was working on a new design for my jewelry business. I’ve been struggling with an idea for months. I had a design idea in my head, but the process of bringing it to life just seemed to miss the mark for one reason or another. Design is much like love – it can’t be forced. It’s either right or it isn’t. So it’s been many months of trying then failing – repeatedly. This has left me with scores of materials that will be tossed out and many hours of time invested.
On a recent shopping excursion I walked into a boutique-style store and immediately was transported back to my grandmother’s southern California house. I have not experienced that smell for decades! I have no idea why that store took me back there, but it made me feel so warm and cozy that I didn’t want to leave! Needless to say, I stayed for quite a while and dropped a few bucks (more than I had planned) as a result.
I later walked into a gourmet wine/cheese store and all I smelled was dog. Not in a pleasant way – more like in a wet dog, stale, mildew kind of way. My eyes were attracted to the large selection of wines that were well merchandised – but the powerful scent of wet dog was so overwhelming that the experience of my nose trumped the experience of my eyes. I could not get out of there fast enough.
This April Fool’s BIZ column is intended to make you feel a lot better about all the marketing mistakes you’ve made in your business or work. Major corporations that employ well-educated and well-paid marketing professionals have made their share of mistakes, too. Here are some of the most epic corporate marketing boo-boos.
I was driving to a meeting recently when my car decided to stop. When I tried to restart it, nothing happened. So I had Ms. Jetta towed to the dealer. My guys at Darlings started her right up (naturally)! But they knew I had a problem and performed diagnostics. Sure enough, the problem was with a relay sensor that had gone bad. They explained to me in terms I could understand that this led to a breakdown in communications with the engine. Bottom line: there was miscommunication going on under my hood that was causing my car to stop when I wanted it to go.
I’ve been running solo for a while – training to run a half marathon in April. I’ve been able to log eight miles consistently, and every time I feel a little bit stronger. But last weekend I ran in a 5k race and I felt like a mule trying to sludge through a muddy field carrying a load of firewood. Seriously – I was slow.
This was my first race this year, and I forgot one critical thing – don’t try to be like the others. Find your own pace and stick with it! I made the mistake of starting out too fast to keep up with the faster runners and lost my mojo about halfway through. I should know better!
I remember the first time I felt uncomfortable and out of place at a social event. I was 10 years old and my family had moved to England to live for a year. For the first time in my life, I was the outsider. My first days at school were scary, awkward and challenging. I had no friends, had to wear a school uniform for the first time and barely understood what the kids and teachers were saying to me with their thick British accents. They were very slow to accept and embrace me, a “Yankee.” So it was very exciting when a classmate invited me to her birthday party. The invitation read “Fancy Dress,” so my mom took me out to buy the prettiest and fanciest dress we could find.
Lately I’ve had meetings and conversations with new and experienced business owners who wanted advice to help them grow. They differ greatly in terms of their businesses and their experience, but the one thing they all had in common was the challenge to keep it simple. They all wanted to take on too much at once, to offer more services than necessary or to market themselves in a way that would confuse customers.
I got in my car after leaving the store and couldn’t find my sunglasses. So I went back inside and asked several of the employees working behind the counter if they had seen them, describing them in great detail. One of them replied, “Do they by any chance look like the ones on top of your head?” I thanked her and walked out with my sunglasses on my head and my tail between my legs. Then I went home and took a nap.
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