Posts Tagged 'sales'

Hidden in Front of Your Face

SLSubliminalThere are hidden messages everywhere, in everything. It’s the extra stuff you don’t always perceive, but can color or change the meaning of what you do perceive in profound ways. They’re always there. Very easy to breeze through and not concern yourself with most of the time. It’s also sometimes easy to invent your own messages and takeaways, based on what you’re in.

Sometimes, once you become aware of something that wasn’t apparent, you are shocked that you didn’t perceive it before, which paints perceptions on our canvass of trust. After a time you usually realize it was right in front of your face.

In communication, body language, tone, reading between the lines of word choice, and knowing the full context are each important, if often difficult to fully attain. You must be aware and look for it, making do with what you have. Far more importantly, you must accept it for what it is, and not invent an interpretation driven by your own narrative.

Open your eyes, ears, heart…and see. Sonja, I love you.

Duality of Labels

IMG_9048Labels give us an idea about something while also limiting our ideas about it.

We need them. We gain a lot of efficiency by packaging things up into easily recognizable forms. But then it’s really hard for us to see beyond the form which we have given them. Sometimes life requires that we muster the wisdom and will to examine things more deeply. And to even break things, including ourselves, out of the labels that trap us. The closer it gets to our self-imposed boundaries the harder it is to even recognize the need to do it, not to mention mustering the courage to try.

We must remember that while adventure is dangerous, routine can be lethal. Bravery is needed to have contrary opinions and to take unexpected paths. If you’re not courageous, you’re going to be hanging around the water cooler, talking about the person who actually is.

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. – Harold R. McAlindon

Of course it’s extremely uncomfortable at times, but with the application of some discipline one can learn to summon the courage necessary to fight the fear and forge ahead. A good goal for the year.

 

Blind Spot

selfreflection3.erase

Aside from our other senses, we are temporarily blind to the half of the world located behind our head at any given moment. Some call that our blind spot. However, it’s not completely blind because we’re aware of the fact that we aren’t seeing it, not to mention the fact that the blindness is usually pretty easy to remedy when we need to, though it can be dangerous if we’re not paying attention.

Contrast that with our actual blind spot. Ironically the very place where the eye connects to the brain (via the optic nerve) is an area on our retina where we do not see – the blind spot. We do not notice it, and are thus unaware of it, because our brain fills the gap by extrapolating the likely content from the surroundings. We make it up. Fortunately this defect in our vision is small enough that it rarely causes a problem.

Combine those two characteristics and there would be significant issues. Imagine large areas of your vision that appear to be functioning fine, but are in fact being made up by your brain. We would call that being delusional (or one of a few other maladies).

Yet we are, in fact, delusional to some extent. We roll through life with our programming while being largely unaware that we’re thinking and acting according to it rather than objectively processing all the input we receive. These blind spots in our awareness – things we haven’t been programmed to be sensitive to – are all around waiting to trip us up. Most of the time the stumbles are minor, however, on occasion we can go pretty far astray and not be aware of it. We can hit the wall and crash, or we can do more subtle damage that we don’t see for a while, or we get what appears to us as having been randomly blindsided.

There is no solution to this in the moment. No easy shortcut to improve your odds beyond simply acquiring more wisdom as you experience more of life. You must start by accepting that what you see and believe is not an objective reality. It is simply what your brain has selectively chosen to make you conscious of. The best you can do is educate yourself and work at being informed and aware. Work at empathy by forcing yourself to be sensitive to others. Prepare within reason for mishaps so you can recover. There is a discipline to managing the risk, but in the end it’s impossible to eliminate it all. Being prepared includes the perspective of knowing we can’t be completely prepared. We must still be willing to act. To risk that we may be stepping into something that isn’t as it appears. Once we recognize how often this actually happens in our lives it could help us reconcile the fear we have when we do see the potential pitfalls. The risks our limbic system chooses to put in front of us are often as overblown as the risks we don’t see that are glossed over. Even the seemingly sure things had them. We just weren’t aware of it.

Diffusion of Blame

finger-pointingx4We find it handy in our culture to be able to ascribe blame for things we don’t like. Consequently we often tend to oversimplify problems. The righteous indignation from those who feel they are on some obvious moral high ground can be palpable.

People do need to be accountable for their actions, but it’s often not so simple as it can appear.

Example: Slave labor in clothing manufacturing.

How do you assign blame for the practice of human beings enslaving other human beings to produce cheap clothing? Do you blame the kidnappers who captured the slaves? Do you blame the smugglers who trafficked them? Do you blame the staffing personnel who bought and hired them? Do you blame the foremen who makes the working conditions harsh? Do you blame the executives who made the policies? Do you blame the investors who financed the factory? Do you blame the brand who sources the clothing from such factories? Do you blame the retailers who carried the brands? Do you blame the consumers who purchased the products?

The truth is that without any one link in the chain the shackles would fall to the ground. However, each link can rationalize that their own little sin isn’t all that bad, or that their hands were tied without reasonably viable options, and that if they weren’t there someone else would come and take their place.

After all, the consumer doesn’t generally feel involved with how brands produce their products. The brands are just trying to give the customers what they want at the right price. In order to do that, they’re willing to make a few sourcing compromises, or simply “can’t” (don’t) afford the time to understand the details of the whole chain. The factories realize that if they’re not doing everything they can to cut costs, they’re going to lose the bid. The foremen believe that if they don’t keep their workers in fear they don’t get the output that they have to have in order to avoid repercussions on themselves. The staffing realizes that if they outspend their competition they’re not going to exist anymore, so they make a compromise and acquire slaves. The traffickers, after all, never kidnapped anyone, they’re just getting them where the slave trader wanted them to go. And the kidnappers themselves? It’s just too lucrative, “if I didn’t do it, someone else would,” then the moral atrocity still takes place and someone else gets paid besides me.

Everyone can sleep at night within their scope of relative sin. Who do you really blame, and what actions must be taken to stop it? Are the people and organizations who might be able to stop it to blame? Government? Usually something eventually happens when a light is shone on something bad, but cockroaches are good at slithering into the shadows and carrying on.

Do you think your life is devoid of these compromises (sins)? We’re a consumption oriented society. Look around your house. Look around your place of work. Really look, and think about where stuff comes from and goes. What business are you in? It’s probably not pure. No, we are all guilty. It’s not black and white at all. We can throw stones at them, but we best be ready to duck a few as well.

Winning

cross walk Jesus

Sometimes the battles you’re fighting are not as they appear, or will not lead to a result you really want. Observe how you define winning and think through what it really is. Some players at the poker table will never show you what cards they had after they beat you. It makes sense. If you show people what cards you beat them with they can start unwinding your game. I knew a player who would always flash you his hand, or tell you later over a drink, how he beat you. He cared more about your feeling in defeat than his victory in the next hand. He cared about the connection. What battles are you waging, and why? What do you really want?

Showmanship

bulletproof

This bullet-proof vest could have been demonstrated without putting anyone at risk, but the story is far more compelling, not to mention easier to tell, this way. Risk, in fact, is the way to display confidence or superiority. There are numerous examples of this in the animal kingdom.  It’s likewise biologically wired into us. But to hold up to scrutiny the risk must be genuine. We believe the vest was tested beforehand (at that distance, with that caliber of firearm), so the message contained in the image says more about the vest than it does the bravery of the person wearing it. In a different context – any untested one different enough from this – our feelings about him change.

Humans have evolved into sophisticated, linguistic beings that are quite capable of manipulating circumstances to provide a good show. Good enough to sometimes trick our biological instincts. We are often willing to take small risks to make a big showing. Think about the man who acts tough and confident because he knows it’s unlikely he will be challenged. Or the one who is eager to display his intelligence, believing nobody is going to seriously test it, or test other areas where he may be deficient. There is a little risk, but it’s calculated that the potential benefits (getting the girl or job, for example) outweigh it. Taking the apparent risk to act that way often fulfills the prophecy, because who would act that way if they didn’t have the goods. Right? And the poor girls buy into this because it’s biologically wired into us. They perceive that this is the mate they want because the actions, which are partly or mostly a show, suggest it. Only to find out later things are much different than how they were built up in the mind from the displays that were shown. Because the areas that were at risk in the social or courting setting are not the same areas that are at risk later. What a cruel joke.

But we’re not stupid. We have also learned that the person too eager to show off is probably hiding something. So the sophisticated performer learns how to temper it, how to fake sincerity.

Choices are made with limited information and a little skepticism, and the rest is left up to hope, which is driven by our own needs. We settle. Try as we might to see through to the truth we ultimately are still bound to our biologies and what we want.

 

 

Validation Day

knifeheart

February 14th. Welcome to the most cruel of the Hallmark holidays. Also the most bizarre, once one factors in the dubious origins.

Some commerce is driven as the obligatory cards and flowers are bestowed on those fortunate enough to be in a position to receive them. While it’s nice to be reminded to appreciate a romantic partner in life, it is not such a fun time for so many.

In modern times it has taken on a more general theme of providing some recognition or validation outside of romantic ties, but it still conveys those undertones with force. A force that reminds us how indifferent the world is towards us as individuals. Maybe it should become a day that reminds us not to rely too much on others for our validation. Or at the very least, maybe it can remind each of us of the importance of validating someone else, without the need to feel reinforced ourselves. A demonstrative display of the idea that it’s better to give than receive. Easier said than done.

If there really was a St. Valentine, I wonder what he would think about this ritual?

Still hopeful that humans can become more humane.

Vicious Cycle

PinewoodDerbyIn any endeavor it’s good to be clear about the true objective. The best objective.

If you sell your kid’s Girl Scout Cookies at work in a misguided attempt to raise money for the troop, you are missing the point. It undermines the very reason for the exercise, and you’d probably raise more money if you did some freelance work instead. Access to cookies isn’t the point, teaching the Scouts to be confident salespeople is.

What is the purpose of the Pinewood Derby, and why do so many dads build the cars for their kids? How many parents get too involved in the school science experiment out of the all too palpable discomfort of facing the struggle, and even potential failure, of the kid?

Kids are all too willing to take the back seat, and let the adult drive…which is the opposite of the desired effect. For the most part the kid doesn’t even care about winning. They just want to make it through without standing out too much or feeling too different from the other kids.

I am in no way suggesting that parents shouldn’t be involved in these things. They absolutely should. A big part of it is the win of having parent and child working together toward an outcome. Priceless. But when the parent takes over, or guides too forcefully the young person is robbed of the best part of the experience. Instead it is communicated that ‘you’re not doing it right (not good enough)’ or the goal is to win, whatever it takes.

Worse things have happened to kids, but it’s a shame when the young person loses interest in something that can be such a character builder because the parent doesn’t muster the skill to guide and assist in a way that builds…which gets us to the hard part. It’s not that most parents really want to take over these projects. It’s because they lack the skill to get and keep their kids engaged in the first place, so they feel they have to…in order to protect them from…themselves?

It’s a vicious cycle.

Try to make Lemon (something)

lemon-battery-voltageIt turns out that good lemonade requires more than lemons. Nevertheless when what you have are lemons you’re best served to use them. That’s the lesson, right? It’s a nice saying but realistically it usually will not work in the real world with real problems.

Still, there is rarely harm in trying, and on the occasion it does work there can be a nice upside. Maybe your lemonade isn’t tasty, but it might be useful as a cleaning product.

It’s necessary to take some action. The lemons you are given have little chance of being worth much to you without it.

4 Parameters for Communication

Conductor

Few know, and fewer care about the complexities and challenges of your job or cause. From afar nobody inherently cares much about what you have to say about anything. If you want or need them to, then the burden is on you to find a way to communicate effectively. To inspire. And that is arguably one of the more error riddled and problematic aspects of modern society, which belies how important it is.

At its core the basics aren’t that complicated. Have a look at the four basic elements.

Amplitude — What you say must be spoken loud enough to be heard, but it goes far beyond that. We want to use our amplitude to be noticed. Maybe you need to speak louder, but maybe you could whisper. Of course we often communicate best with our actions.

Medium — The conduit through which you choose to reach out makes a difference in how it is perceived. For a dramatic example, consider the power of merely the words “I love you” compared to combining them with a sensitive touch. This area gets a lot of play today with new platforms for communicating emerging regularly. The number of options is large, and therefore offers us many opportunities – from whatever role and to whatever audience we are communicating. Open yourself to them and the applicability of any particular one or two in some context will become more clear to you.

Frequency — For a communication to be heard and remembered, you will likely have to say it more than once. Why? There is lots of noise and distractions in our lives. There is lots of competition for our ideas. And, as you’ve probably heard before, “repetition is the mother of learning.” If you want to be an effective communicator, you must be willing to share your points over and over. BUT, you can’t continually just parrot yourself. If the repetition is too apparent or frequent to your intended audience you move your cause backwards. You instead have to find different ways to move your message forward. Different contexts where it applies and looks different. But one way or the other some repetition is generally necessary. (By the way, that last sentence was repetition!)

Message — Want your message to be heard and remembered? Then make the message memorable. Think slogans (Just Do It) and alliteration (“Perfect practice makes perfect.”). Think metaphor and analogy (how is your point or situation like something else that is unrelated?). Think acronym or acrostic (where the first letters of the message spell out a real word). Stories are great at cementing a point. Graphics, videos, pretty much anything that effectively appeals to emotions works. These devices provide a shorthand for and a touchstone to your message. And they work because they take into account how our brains work.

Another, more powerful way, is if the message is personal to the recipient. If it strikes some nerve, or appeals to something we perceive as important. You usually have to know your audience to do that, but if you do it’s very effective.

Saying isn’t enough; you must be heard. Rather than lamenting the lack of listening by others, remarkable leaders take responsibility for communicating more powerfully and more effectively.


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