Archive for March, 2010

The Grind

Sometimes you just have to buckle down and do the work. You may not feel like it, but the ambivalent world doesn’t care. So suck it up and do it. You’ll appreciate it when complete.

Or you can give up. You get to choose. Avoiding that choice is still making a choice, and still has consequences.

Squeaking Wheels

I hate politics.

Healthcare reform passed, which I think could be good for a lot of people less advantaged than me. But man the conservatives are sure screaming about it.

“The end of democracy.”

“This is the day our country died.”

Used to be the liberals saying those things. Tables have turned. Those liberals seem relatively quiet now. Odd after all the screaming and bitching and moaning of a few short years ago. Why? Is it because they are getting what they want? And at what cost are they getting it? There is the fiscal cost, of course, but what about the political cost? Can these officials get re-elected? Can Obama get re-elected?

We’ll see. Shouldn’t the liberals still be out there raising cain and pushing their agenda? Is it something in how the media covers politics that they don’t seem to be?

I feel the political pendulum swinging back. Squeaking wheels usually do get the most notice.

Usually…

Where is the Value?

Clients really want recommendations from someone they trust, not just options that prove how much you know. It amazes me how many organizations do not get this simple truth. Options put the burden back on the customer to figure things out. It is not a service, even though sometimes customers act as if and declare that it is all they want. Must see through that. The clue is that they aren’t willing to pay to learn of these options. No value there. Listen, seek to understand, build trust, then use expertise to design a solution. Finally speak to relevant concerns they will recognize as helping them to take care.

Step 1 – Get this.
Step 2 – Become effective at doing it (much harder than it appears)

Most retail websites and showrooms are about presenting options. This is okay, but where is the expertise? Where is the help in sorting it out? Where are the professional insights? Most fall way short. In fact, most physical stores seem to be trading solely on the benefit of the customer being able to see and touch the inventory before deciding. “Salespeople” in these places are little more than clerks who may, if you’re lucky, be able to answer a few very basic questions.

On the rare occasion someone is truly helpful, and able to speak to our concerns we feel that something extraordinary has happened. Shouldn’t this be the norm?

We really have become a society of consumers. Make some crap, put it on a shelf or a website and people will come.

Feedback

In live sound production feedback is one of the few problems the audience will always notice as a “mistake.” Everything can go brilliantly for an entire performance that can then be marred by a momentary squeal of feedback. Maybe the drummer pushed his vocal mic away and it wondered into the path of his monitor, or maybe the singer lost concentration for a second and tipped his vocal mic down towards his monitor. In a split second an otherwise perfect production suddenly has a big, ugly pimple right in the middle of its forehead.

All sorts of other things can go wrong and the audience will generally be none the wiser. I’ve had half the PA cut out at gigs and hardly anyone noticed. Just don’t poke them in the eye with something everyone knows shouldn’t happen.

It’s almost impossible to predict and prevent all the possible causes of this momentary disruption, yet that’s required for a truly pro performance.

When your customers see you blow it in ways that are obvious to them you appear as incompetent. It doesn’t matter how hard it really is or isn’t. Once the customer easily recognizes it as a foul up you pretty much have to plug the hole at all costs. And yes, much of the little stuff you do right goes unnoticed.

Full Moon

The power of the human mind has yet to be fully uncovered or understood. In my years of working in a job where I am required to have some interaction with the public I’ve noticed that the occurrence of real wacko calls seems to go up noticeably in a full moon. The correlation is unmistakable.  I wouldn’t have believed it, but I’ve seen it for myself. Not only do we get more calls requiring some type of management intervention, but they’re noticeably weirder.

Science has disproved all of the theories about why this is so. Researchers claim that there isn’t any significant statistical difference in the number of births, people admitted to phych wards, etc. during full moons. Yet doctors, nurses, police officers, and even I claim to observe that there is a difference.

So if the statistics tell us the phenomenon doesn’t exist then it’s clearly all in our heads, and yet it seems completely real when one has to deal with the general public. Does being aware of it cause it to happen? That would fit right into the quantum mechanics theories, but the facts tell us it doesn’t happen at all. We just perceive that it does. It seems completely real, but isn’t. I’ve apparently created a reality for myself in which there are more and weirder calls on full moons. Actually, most of them seem to happen in the days leading up to the full moon, which either means it really is real, and not being caught by the researchers, or that I subconsciously start thinking about it beforehand, making it real to me. My bet is on the latter.

Were you buying in as you read the first paragraph?

Perception is a funny thing. Even in the face of cold hard facts to the contrary we are still perfectly capable of willing ourselves into believing just about anything. Confirmation bias is a psychological term used to characterize the selective thinking we use to seek out and/or make note of information that reinforces our beliefs while ignoring evidence to the contrary. It’s difficult to discern our perceptions from reality. So much so it can be argued that for all practical purposes there is no objective reality. Perception IS reality for each one of us. This opens us up to all sorts of erroneous conclusions, some of which we hold on to very dearly.

I still think I want to to track this one though…



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