Thursday, March 31, 2011

Riding the Rollercoaster


You have decided you want to own your own business.

For whatever reason, you are sick of working for someone else, drawing a paycheck and helping them get rich.

You start thinking:

"Now it's time to strike out on my own. Do my own thing"!

"I love this product so much, I think I'll buy the company"!

"It's time to do something, I'm really passionate about"!

And why not?

The adrenaline, excitement and ideas blowing out of your brain can be intoxicating. But, just around the corner, an equal amount of fear, anxiety and "what the heck have I gotten myself into" is waiting for you on the other side.

If you have never owned your own business, then becoming an entrepreneur can only be compared to riding the scariest, most exhiliaring rollercoaster you can imagine.

Are you sure this is something you want to do?

Really?

Do you have any idea what you are in for?



A little more than a year ago, Cameron Herold introduced the concept of the entrepreneurial rollercoaster to TSB. Since that time, his observations have proven deadly accurate in any of the start-ups I have observed at close range. But to take it a step further, I have also noticed that anyone who has been a salaried employee for any length of time, can expect to take anywhere from 18-to-24 months to navigate the entrepreneurial learning curve. And we're just talking the initial learning curve in terms of dealing with the inevitable, emotional and sometimes panic-stricken ups and downs.



"I'm exhausted. Turns out owning your own business is as hard as everyone says it is. I'm giving props to all of you who do it and have family's! I can barely take care of myself, the business and my cats. POOPED!:)"
MALLORY MACDONALD, PropertyGuys.com, March 30, 2011

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve already established a business of your own, keep these three things in mind:

#1 Realize There Are No Ups Without Downs

Business by nature is cyclical. Just realize babycakes, that this ride ain't always gonna be be rosy. When you’re feeling down, it is a sure sign an up is just around the corner.

#2. Recognize Where You Are In the Cycle

The uncertainty of what tomorrow brings is what makes this a thrill ride, but make sure you have solid plans and control systems in place to monitor your progress both financially and emotionally. Plan for the long haul and learn how to shake off failures and setbacks. Quickly.

#3. Reach Out When You're Headed for the Bottom

Surround yourself with coaches, mentors and fellow entrepreneurs who have "been there, done that". Sometimes an encouraging word or two from someone you respect has a way of shifting the negative energy you feel and accelerate your way back to the informed optimism stage.

Entrepreneurship is a craft. No different in some respects than learning how to be a great artist, academic or athlete. You will need to learn your craft like those who have come before you, heed the lessons and respect the rollercoaster for what it is. More than anything, this is a game of survival, and one that nurtures creativity and courage.

The cover-your-butt mentality of the typical employee only gets you so far.

The follow-your-gut mentality of the entrepreneur can take you anywhere.

Providing you can hang for the ride.


"Entrepreneurs are risk takers, willing to roll the dice with their money or reputation on the line in support of an idea or enterprise. They willingly assume responsibility for the success or failure of a venture and are answerable for all its facets"
VICTOR KIAM


Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/ His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, why not jump in, click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand
or plug into The Seamless Brand on FaceBook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fad No More


Erik has been described as follows:

"Qualman is to social media what Deming is to quality and Drucker is to management".

You might say Erik is like the Bono of this on-line pursuit, with an influential voice being heard more and more by people and brands who take this stuff seriously.

He helps cure social media vertigo.



The author of "Socialnomics", Qualman has that rare ability to simplify the crush of information coming our way through social media, and help us make sense of it for the worlds we live in. Appearing at a Michigan TED Talk, Qualman makes a great first impression as he takes his audience on this "journey" through the social media maze.



If the TED Talk is something you can't squeeze into your day right now, Qualman offers these three social media tips for small business.



"Lights go down it's dark, the jungle is your head, can't rule your heart.
A feeling so much stronger than a thought. Your eyes are wide and though
your soul it can't be bought. Your mind can wander"

PAUL HEWSON, DAVE EVANS,
ADAM CLAYTON, LARRY MULLEN Jr.



Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/ His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, why not jump in, click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand
or plug into The Seamless Brand on FaceBook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Parenting a Business


Have you ever tried to explain to someone without children what it's like to be a parent?

If you have been in that conversation before, you know full well how the other person can only nod and assume to know what it's like, but will never fully understand that experience until they have lived it:

2 a.m. feedings.

Sleepless nights.

Snotty noses.

Puke.

Poopy diapers.

6:37 a.m. breakfast

More puke.

Best hugs and cuddles you will ever feel.

The entire parenting day kind of rolls that way for the better part of 18 years or more. Your parenting career will be filled with more self-sacrificing investments you can count in exchange for a love only a loving parent will fully comprehend.

Honestly, there are some days you wonder why you do it.

Owning and operating a business is much the same thing.

The business becomes your child.

You are its parent, responsible for its upbringing.

So why do so many businesses, especially small businesses fail and go bankrupt?

The generally accepted number is 80% of small businesses will expire within their first two years of operation. The reasons are many, but they inevitably point to the mind, body and spirit of the owner who never fully grasped what it was they were signing up for in the first place. It doesn't take long before any new business owner starts to live a new reality called self-doubt, panic and horror when it dawns on them that unless products and services actually get sold to actual customers, their business is going to die, taking them with it.

If you are a person who has had a hard time convincing others of the merits of what you have to say, how will you be able to make the necessary sales to ensure the feeding and nurturing of your company?

Is owning and operating a small business still something you really want to do?

Or are you merely fantasizing about owning an already successful small business where you sit back and watch the customers and cash roll in?

If this is something you really want to do, you need to recognize there is a world of difference between being in business or playing like you are.

If you are not self motivated, you will spend most of your time battling depression and sleepless nights brought on by the lack of immediate results.

If you can’t manage money, you want be able to feed your business needs.

But ...

If you are fully prepared to gather the right knowledge, plan, implement, refuse to listen to those who haven't "been there, done that", create a realistic budget and suck it up each day the market teaches you another hard lesson, then you may have a legitimate shot at beating the overwhelming odds stacked against you.

Don’t do this for the money.

Money is just a reward only comes your way when you are still willing to put forth the effort even when zero cash is coming in. Money is a reward, not a motivator.

And make sure you surround yourself with others who are parenting their business, as opposed to empty-headed blabbermouths talking smack about what they would do if they were you.

You won’t need everyone to walk with you.

Just those who understand this journey.

And what it's really like.



"Whenever people ask what made me a businesswoman, I always say it was the business that did it. The same way the first child she brings into the world turns a woman into a mother, so my first restaurant turned me into a boss"
CORA TSOUFLIDOU


Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/ His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, why not jump in, click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand
or plug into The Seamless Brand on FaceBook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Memo for Tony Hsieh


Subject: MEMO

Re: "DELIVERING HAPPINESS"

To: TONY HSIEH

From: GAIR MAXWELL



Hey Tony, you don't know me, but thought you might be interested to know that over the course of any given business year, I absorb anywhere from 75 to 100 business books.

Only a few make me sit up and pay attention.

Over the past 12 months, Simon Sinek's "Start With Why" earned that distinction with the way he clearly articulates a path to greatness only a few companies ever travel. But, after wrapping up your book this past weekend, I felt the need to applaud you for the way "Delivering Happiness", more than fulfilled what you promised.

From where I sit, "Delivering Happiness" is much more than an insider's, behind-the-scenes tale of how a desperately sinking Silicon Valley start-up was able to face, overcome and conquer insurmountable odds. The Zappos story you brilliantly chronicled, offers a rare glimpse into the soul of the leaders who are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of any organization. And I especially admire how bromides like "alignment", "values" and "culture" are translated into practical examples that can be applied to any company, anywhere, in any industry.

Whether it's the Zappos library, the "Power of 1%" or the removal of underperformers and non-believers, the parallels between Sinek's "Start With Why" theory and what Zappos actually does each day are too obvious not to notice.

It is my sincere hope that thousands of other business leaders pay close attention to the lessons you share through these 253 pages and see how any workplace can serve as a platform for much more than the pursuit of profit.

Congratulations on the success of your book, debuting at #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List, staying on that list for 27 consecutive weeks and the 1.2 billion reasons why you know "Delivering Happiness" will take any reader on an expertly-guided path to profits, passion and purpose.

A path you have traveled first-hand, delivering on your promises.

Respectfully yours,


Gair Maxwell



P.S... Didn't see the Maslowian-inspired ending coming. Your final chapter on the "Happiness Framework" was a thing of simplified, yet elegantly relevant beauty.









"Chase the vision, not the money. The money will end up following you"
TONY HSIEH


Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/ His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, why not jump in, click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand
or plug into The Seamless Brand on FaceBook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Eyes Are Branding


It is 6:06 a.m.

Waking up on St. Patrick's Day with thoughts of the Irish.

The Fighting Irish.

Of Notre Dame.

There are few universities that have been immortalized in print, in song and on the silver screen the way Notre Dame has. The legends, and there are many, date back to the earliest days of the last century. You don't even have to be much of a football fan, but chances are you've heard of "Rudy" and some coach who wanted you to "win one for the gipper".

Much of the branding success Notre Dame enjoys to this day, was captured in the 1940 film, "Knute Rockne - All American", profiling the football famous coach and the story of one of his terminally ill players. It was on his hospital death bed that halfback George Gipp is purported to have delivered this message to Rockne:

"I've got to go, Rock. It's all right. I'm not afraid. Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys, ask them to go in there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock. But I'll know about it, and I'll be happy."

Legend has it, Rockne used the story of Gipp to rally his team to an underdog victory over the undefeated Army team of 1928 at Yankee Stadium.

And the rest, as they say, is history.



Rockne sounds like a guy who knew a thing or two about branding strategies even before he went Hollywood.



And what's a good story without a soundtrack?





And a real-life hero who still shares the story to this day.



Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger spent two years in the Navy and another two years working at a power plant before pursuing his dream to enroll at Notre Dame University. After another two years at Holy Cross College and three rejections to transfer to Notre Dame as he battled with dyslexia, 5-foot 5, "Rudy" joins the Fighting Irish as a walk-on scout teamer.

Thousands of hours of sacrifice.

Exchanged for a never-guaranteed, once-in-a-lifetime moment.

You can see the actual play Rudy Ruettiger made on the Georgia Tech quarterback, starting at about the 1:30 mark of this clip.



Following the final gun, "Rudy" becomes the first player in Notre Dame football history to be carried off the field by his teammates.

And into the hearts of millions.


Harvard Professor Stephen Greyser has observed that, like other large corporations, sports teams employ a lot of people, generate profits and and losses, while seeking success against certain financial and performance metrics. However, unlike most corporations, sports teams inspire large segments of the population for purely emotional, irrational reasons. People who have no measurable stake in the wins and losses, yet possessing a loyalty so strong, it is often passed between generations as a birthright.

The same kind of irrational loyalty that inspires someone to wear Nike sneakers, sip on a Starbucks latte, brush with Colgate and bathe with Dove soap.

Or think of the Fighting Irish.

On St. Patrick's Day.


“What we’re really talking about here is commitment. Until you make a commitment to your Dream, it’s not really a Dream … it’s just another fantasy full of excuses. Fantasies don’t come true because they’re not real, we’re not committed to them. When we make commitments, we eliminate excuses and they become Dreams … and Dreams are definitely real"<
DANIEL "RUDY" RUETTIGER


Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/ His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, why not jump in, click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand
or plug into The Seamless Brand on FaceBook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Barney, Betty and the "Boys"



Barney's Oil Burners is a small mom-and-pop company that sells oil-fired furnaces.

Let's meet the team.

First, there is Barney. The owner. Each day, Barney makes a few sales, keeps an eye on the "boys" and send them out on their jobs. Barney likes to talk to his customers and anyone else who drops in.

The coffeepot is always on.

Barney always has time.

Barney's wife Betty, takes care of the books, answers the phone, schedules appointments and keeps the office semi-tidy. She hands over the paycheques to Barney every second Friday so he can take care of the "boys". Betty also handles all the customer complaints and tries her best to get the "boys" to fix them.

She smokes a lot of cigarettes.

There are three "boys".

The first is Joe, the Cape Breton old timer who has been there from the beginning when Barney and Betty set up shop. They say oil runs through Joe's bloodstream. You can smell the #2 Crude from around the corner before you see Joe coming. Danny is the ten-year veteran from Newfoundland who serves as Joe's caddy. Danny does what he is told. And rounding out the trio is Doug. He is the hometown, Albert County boy who never left town, but in truth is actually three years older than Joe and counting the days to retirement.

One day, Barney and Betty decide to do something nice for their "boys".

"Listen fellas sales are going to increase next year and I can only talk to so many customers. You boys are on the front line. Hell you're in the basement every day. Sometimes the customers even bring you cookies when you're down there working on their furnaces. They love you guys because they know you're not "salesmen". Here is what Betty and I got in mind. Instead of giving you a raise of a buck an hour next year, which I know you fellas deserve, how about we set up what they call an S.I.P.... a Sales Incentive Plan where everytime you bring me a lead and it turns into a sale there's a bonus for in there for you. So for example on a furnace sale, you will make an extra $50.00. On an oil tank, $25.00. An add-on heat pump, that's a cool, crisp, one hundred dollar bill in your pocket. Last year we installed, five hundred new furnaces and there is no signs of this slowing down. Do the math fellas and you'll see you're much better off with the S.I.P."

Joe dropped his head. Stared at his shoes.

Danny looked at Joe. Said nothing.

Only Doug spoke up.

"Listen Barney, I got bills to pay and I need that extra dollar an hour. There is risk here, there is no guarantee that what you're saying is gonna happen is actually gonna happen. Sure sales been good, but that doesn't mean they're gonnna stay that way. Besides, I got John's Heating after me and they're ready to give me a buck-and-a-half more an hour. So if you're going with this S.I.P. or whatever you call it, I'm gonna have to re-think things".

In the end, Barney and Betty decided to leave things be as they were.

With the dollar-an-hour raise, each of the "boys" collected an extra $2,000 dollars that year.

Under the S.I.P., each of the "boys" would have collected an extra $6,000.

At year end, over some holiday cheer, Barney let the "boys" in on what went down.

As usual, Joe and Danny looked down. Said nothing.

Once again, only Doug piped up.

"Those numbers can't be right. Besides you'd have never given us that kind of cash. But, now that you've made it, on our backs, when do we get our money?"

Danny wasn't so sure anymore that either Doug or Joe knew what the hell they were talking about.

Over the previous 12 months, Danny had spent time with Joe in a lot of basements, installing a lot furnaces, oil tanks and heat pumps. Danny also thought about all the opportunities that had slipped by when he could have said something to a customer that would have made them want to buy additional products from Barney's company like air exchangers and air conditioners; fireplaces and wood stoves. He started thinking about what he would have done with an $4,000 in his hands right now and how it may have worked to more with all the extra overtime created by the extra sales.

For the first time in his life, Danny was thinking long and hard about his role in the company.

Danny started to wonder if there was a difference between just doing a job like Joe had taught him or if there was more to being part of a real team inside any company. He was starting to understand what Barney meant and had everyone picked up their sales socks, maybe there would have been extra cash, plus they might have avoided the usual two-week spring layoff that always set him so far behind.

For time the time in his working life, Danny started to see - like it or not- he, Joe, Doug and everyone else at Barney's Oil Burners had another purpose above and beyond the tasks they were assigned to do.

He also started thinking that maybe, just maybe, employers like Barney and Betty aren't the enemy they have been painted to be. Especially when Joe and Doug start those coffee break bitch sessions.

On his way home that night to his wife and two kids, Danny started muttering to himself.

"If we hadn't been such yellow-bellied chickenshits and actually got off our lazy asses, we'd be bringin' home a lot more bacon. I'm tired of listening to losers who want to steal second base without ever taking their foot off first."

Dollar-oriented, clock-watching employees will often spend a lifetime without ever learning what Danny just did.

Without ever "getting it".

To expect profit without risk or experience without danger, is like expecting to live without being born. You will fail more often through being timid than by over-daring.

And your appetite for reward will only ever equal the amount of risk you can stomach.

No guts?

Never any glory.

Just a long ride home to face the bitter truth.


"There's a drive in me that won't allow me to do certain things that are easy"
JOHNNY DEPP


P.S ... Our friend Johnny also shares some Deppian thoughts on what it means to take chances ...



Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/ His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, why not jump in, click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand
or plug into The Seamless Brand on FaceBook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Opinion and Expertise


Over the last several months, I have been asking a number of audiences an innocent question:

"Who in this room, by a show of hands, has an opinion, one way or another, on global warming"?

More than 80% of the hands go up. People will share their thoughts with others in the room on this issue.

After a few minutes, I will ask another question:

"For those who raised their hands and shared opinions, how many could deliver a one hour presentation next month at a symposium being held at Stanford University where 500 of the world's leading experts on global warming will gather to prepare a special report for the G8 leaders"?

Not even with a month to prepare, will anyone in the room dare to accept that invitation.

There is a world of difference between opinion and expertise.

Growing up in Denison, Texas, "Sully" showed hints of expertise at an early age. As a kid, "Sully" consistently placed in the 99th percentile in every academic category.In high school, he was president of the Latin club, a first chair flute and an honor student. In 1973, he graduated first in his class from the United States Air Force Academy before going on to fly F-4 jet fighters.

In total, "Sully" has more than 40 years and 27,000 hours of flying experience. That expertise came in handy on January 15, 2009 when his Airbus A320 left New York's LaGuardia Airport bound for Charlotte, North Carolina. Shortly after take off, he radioed air traffic control that the plane had hit a large flock of birds, disabling both engines. The left engine caught fire.

Since runways were crowded at LaGuardia and other, nearby airports, "Sully" and co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles determined that ditching in the Hudson River off Manhattan, was their only option. After telling passengers to "brace for impact", "Sully" guided US Air Flight 1549 to a smooth ditching in the river at 3:31 P.M. All 155 passengers and crew members survived, but not before "Sully" walked the length of the plane twice and made certain he was the last man to leave.

Both President Bush and President-elect Obama called to thank "Sully" personally.

Later, on "60 Minutes", Chesley Sullenberger told Katie Couric that the moments before the crash were "the worst sickening, pit-of-your-stomach, falling-through-the-floor feeling" he had ever experienced. He also said, " That for 42 years, I've been making small, regular deposits in this bank of experience: education and training. And on January 15, the balance was sufficient so that I could make a very large withdrawal".



In his book, "Outliers", Malcom Gladwell suggests that to gain perfection in any activity, an individual must spend 10,000 hours practicing it. He points to examples like Bill Gates, the Beatles, Tiger Woods, and others, where the data supports this thinking. While the "10,000 Hour Rule" is not the only factor that leads to perfection of any skill, it is an important one.

You will meet hundreds, if not thousands of people in your lifetime who will be lightning quick to offer up opinions on a wide range of subjects; from global warming to economic development; from airline safety to airport security; from hiring practices to health care; from parenting to politics, marketing, medicine, minor hockey and everything in between.

The list is endless.

But ask yourself, how many people do you know have the 10,000 hours necessary to bring expertise to any discussion or debate?

Be wary of those who can only sell you on an opinion.

If your shopping for something important, bet the farm on expertise.

Put your money on the real pros.

People like "Sully".


"Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience"
DENIS WAITLEY


Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/ His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, why not jump in, click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand
or plug into The Seamless Brand on FaceBook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rocking the Experience


Business authors Joe Pine and James Gilmore nailed it over a decade ago.

Like a classic David Lee Roth leap off the drum riser, Pine & Gilmore slammed a power chord into the heart of any seamless brand when they published "The Experience Economy: Work is Theater & Every Business a Stage".

Pine & Gilmore insist: “Businesses that relegate themselves to the diminishing world of goods and services will be rendered irrelevant. To avoid this fate, you must learn to stage a rich, compelling experience.”

Flipping the channels last week, I was reminded why creating the "experience" is critical when targeting Boomer consumers. When the remote stumbled on "Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp", I was hooked, and it's easy to understand why.

Most Boomers already own too much stuff. Cars, homes, furniture, audio systems, big screen TV's, computers and other boring, traditional stuff. They're craving for something else. Whether it's something more spiritial or something that is over-the-top electric; Boomers will happily buy high voltage experiences, creating enduring memories.

For example, rock music and Boomers go hand in hand like peas and carrots. It's a common thread that would connect a Toronto accountant to a Tennesse truck driver. For Boomers, rock n'roll is memories and money, idealism and capitalism.

Long before they became doctors, lawyers or business owners, they played in garage bands and dreamed of becoming rock stars.

Created by David Fishof, a former sports agent, Rock Camp gives participants a week-long journey into music nirvana. Wannabe rock legends practice side-by-side with an ever-changing cast of celebrities acting as coaches such as Slash of Guns N’ Roses, Jack Bruce of Cream, Roger Daltry of The Who, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, and even Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones. After six days of long rehearsals and collaboration with fellow campers, their "experience" culminates with a concert for friends and family members. And for the low, low price of $10,000, it is more than worth it for the rancher and amateur drummer from Durango, Colorado who proclaimed, “I’m at a point in my life where I’m going to spend my money on things I’m passionate about, and I’m absolutely crazy about music.”

If you were shelling out 10-grand, which rock star would you hang out with and learn from for an entire week?



According to Pine and Gilmore, transformation experiences have four key ingredients:

•Entertainment: To a rock idol wannabe, not much is more entertaining than jamming with peers under the tutelage of classic rock legends.

•Esthetic: Rock Camp gives participants complete immersion into the lifestyle of rock stars, from grueling hours of practice and rehearsal to recording sessions in legendary studios, to a final coming-out concert.

•Escape: Could any experience offer more escape-from-humdrum potential than hanging out and playing music with Roger Daltry or Steven Tyler?

•Education: Six days provide only a brief journey into the rock lifestyle, but these students are ready and the teachers who come are the best in the business, so undoubtedly, everyone receives a boost in their skills.

What could your brand do to incorpate these four, core attributes?

Are there immersive, cathartic, transformative and potentially life changing "experiences" you could create for customers who are more than willing to pay?

And how could your business and brand benefit from becoming "experienced"?


"I looked at Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and the boys up there thinking, I want to be that"
SAMMY HAGAR


P.S.... Any business model - from driving taxi, serving tacos or teaching golf - can be transformed into an "experience". Here is another example of how you can make that happen from one of the original authors.



Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/ His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, why not jump in, click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand
or plug into The Seamless Brand on FaceBook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Awareness and Branding


The office phone rings and the person on the other end of the line is asking a simple enough question, for which there is no simple answer.

"I know this client that needs design work for a billboard campaign. Is there a way you guys can do it?"

But, why does this particular client feel they need a billboard campaign? What are the specific objectives they are trying to achieve?

"I don't really know ... I just know from talking to them that they have some money in their marketing budget and they want to get some awareness going out there".

Like I said, there is no simple answer to this question.

But, here goes.

Personally, I cringe every time I hear a business owner or a board of directors heading down a one-way street marked "marketing message" or "advertising tactic" before taking "brand strategy" and "clarity" into account.

Ask yourself what can be accomplished by burning tons of marketing fuel and money without first figuring out what the purpose and meaning is? How will it help gain competitive advantage?

One of the toughest things to help business people understand and appreciate about "brand" is that it has little or nothing to do with logos, taglines or advertising strategies. The concept of "brand" once fully understood, needs to be clarified first before any truly effective marketing, promotional or advertising strategy can be implemented.

Otherwise you find yourself on the branding highway with a proverbial cart before the horse.

"Awareness" alone won't create a strong, sustainable, emotional brand.

You could buy all the radio ads you want, splash billboards all over town or beg for likes on your Facebook fan page, "awareness" by itself won't be enough.

Just because we know about something or someone doesn't mean we want to buy it ... or them. Forget products or services you see on the shelf or on TV. Just think of all the plastic posing Pollyanna’s or chest-thumping jerks in your circle that you are "aware" of. When was the last time you opened your wallet for them?

Customers need to be aware of what your brand stands for and more importantly, what it stands against before they will believe in it. And you can always measure that belief by how much they buy.

Listen to what Simon says.

Really pay attention.

And see if this makes sense.



Simon Middleton is one of the UK's top branding experts and the author of "Build A Brand In 30 Days" and "What You Need To Know About Marketing". And his thoughts echo what The Seamless Brand have discovered to be true in terms of sharpening your message and anchoring your story.

The formula for success in the 21st century Digital Economy is still astonishingly simple.

Whether it is personal and/or professional, uncommon success lies within your ability to create a powerful and emotional brand.

Put in park any logical thoughts about products and services, because when you shift gears and speak in the context of "brand":

- Starbucks sells "affordble luxury" not coffee.
- Vegas sells "sin" not tourism.
- Mont Blanc sells "prestige" not pens.
- Harley-Davidson sells "rebellion" not motorcycles.
- Disney sells "family togetherness" not an amusement park.
- PropertyGuys.com sells "control" not real estate.
- Rolex sells "achievement" not watches
- Dove sells "self-esteem" not soap.
- Apple sells "cool" not computers.
- Martell Home Builders sells "confidence" not new homes.
- Riverview Ford Lincoln sells "transparency" not cars.
- Alice Cooper, KISS and Marilyn Manson all sell "shock" not music.

Successful global, regional or local brands have "meaning" figured out long before taking any steps towards "awareness". They actually know why they developed the brand strategy in the first place before deciding on any messages or tactics.

Products and services only get you in the game.

A carefully crafted brand allows you to win the game.

"Awareness", on its own, never cuts the Heinz 57 branding mustard.

Not ever.


"Once you have established a brand, then you can talk about all the different marketing disciplines. Otherwise you are marketing without meaning"
SIMON MIDDLETON


P.S. ... For the record, we passed on doing any design work for a billboard campaign that threatened to populate our highways with even more advertising "white noise" and marketing without meaning. We suggested they approach several graphic artists instead.

P.P.S. These guys from Black Dog in Buffalo, NY also "get it" when it comes to understanding that building a brand involves much more than fancy logos, clever slogans or cool designs.




Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/ His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, why not jump in, click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand
or plug into The Seamless Brand on FaceBook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Brand Candy from Bobby


Once upon a time, a little boy, just a shade over his first double-digit birthday, was wrapping up his candy purchase at the local five and dime.

Bobby turned to the store owner and posed a question:

“Mr. Wilson may I please use your phone?”

Mr. Wilson smiled at the little boy, who was a frequent customer, and handed over the rotary phone.

The little boy quickly dialed a number and had the following conversation:

“Mrs. Murphy you don’t know me but I pass your house each day on my way to school. I mow many lawns in the neighborhood and was wondering if I could mow yours as well?”

Mrs. Murphy politely replied:

“Oh thank you anyway but we are quite happy with the service we are getting now”.

Somewhat disappointed, Bobby quickly recovered and came back with a compelling offer:

“That’s fine Mrs. Murphy but what if I were to beat whatever price you are paying by $5.00 per week?”

“I’m sorry but we aren’t looking for a lower price”.

“Well, I suppose I could throw in a once a month trim of the hedges and weeding your garden on top of the $5.00 discount”?


Mrs. Murphy concluded the conversation by simply thanking Bobby for his kind offer and wished him a good day.

The candy store owner, Mr. Wilson, overheard the entire exchange and said, “Nice try kid. I’m proud of ya for giving it your best shot”.

Bobby smiled and said, “Oh I’m not finished yet. Watch this”!

He immediately called back and said:

“Mrs Murphy, I’m so sorry for being a pest but what if I were to offer you the $5.00 discount, the weeding of the garden, the trimming of the hedges and I wash your car for you every other week?”

“I’m afraid the answer is still no young man. Not if you were to give me the world and charge me next to nothing! I’m quite happy and I have no intention of switching”


Bobby smiled and with a softened voice, simply said:

“Now that’s what I like to hear. You don’t have to worry about me calling again.”

Mr. Wilson was amazed at what he was watching. He simply could not beleive the grace, poise and maturity Bobby displayed while handling rejection:

“Young man; I really admire your spirit! That woman must have told you No at least 3 times and yet you kept calling. You hung in there and refused to give up. Keep up that attitude and you could be the next Sam Walton”.

Bobby's smile grew brighter and wider as he replied:

“Oh I already am a success. I know because that was my customer and I was simply calling to see how I was doing”!


Can your personal or business brand stand the test of savagely persistent, low balling, price-cutting competitors?

Would you describe your current relationships with customers as more like a long-term romance or a pattern of one-time, wham-bam transactions?

From Apple to Zappos, the best personal and business brands in the world such as WestJet, Harley-Davidson, KISS, Mike Holmes and Martell Home Builders are fanatical about cultivating those types of relationships. The type of relationships that could elevate your brand to cult-like status, making it impervious to bargain-hunting, tire-kicking, penny pinchers that populate any segment of customers in any category.

What about you?

Do you consider customer service as a department or an attitude? Are there lessons from Bobby you can leverage to elevate your brand?

Do you dare pick up the phone to find out?


"The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary"
SAM WALTON


P.S. ... Pierre Martell is like a latter day Bobby with what he is doing in the new home construction industry. Pierre and his team have completed 154 homes over a 4-year period; on time and on budget. Plus, the stuff they do on the back end with their real time customer updates is the envy of their industry.



Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/ His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, why not jump in, click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand
or plug into The Seamless Brand on FaceBook - http://ow.ly/3VW68