The Danger of Good Advice passion squared blog

The Danger of “Good Advice”

Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up. Robert Frost

Advice is tricky. Have you ever received bad advice? Good advice? How did you know?

As long as I have been in business, I learned very early on about the concept of context. So let’s begin by defining context, shall we?

Context

(noun) the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.

This is where “good advice” turns bad. Context. Without it, our well meaning advice can actually be harmful.

Context is about understanding the BIG picture. My clients know, whenever a question is asked, my response almost always goes something like this…
What is your objective?
What outcome are you seeking?
Can you provide a little more context around this question?

I see it everyday. A question comes up about pricing, and so many are quick to share what they believe is absolute truth, again, without knowing the context of the question, the objective of the business, the model of the business, the marketing position of the brand. Not awesome my loves, not awesome, at all.

The internet is full of great advice, but with that comes the issue of lack of context.

One of the best ways to illustrate this concept of context is The Celery Test, which I found years ago in the book Start With Why by Simon Sinek. I was beyond excited when I found this example as it confirmed for me why I always asked the questions I asked before “dishing out advice”.

The Celery Test by Simon Sinek

“Imagine you go to a dinner party and someone comes up to you and says, “You know what you need in your organization? M&M’s. If you’re not using M&M’s in your business, you’re leaving money on the table.”

Somebody else comes up to you and says, “You know what you need? Rice milk. The data shows that all the people are buying rice milk these days. You should be selling rice milk in this economy.”

While you’re standing over the punch bowl, yet another person offers some sage advice. “Oreo cookies,” he says. “We made millions from implementing Oreo cookies in our organization. You’ve got to do it.”

Still somebody else comes up to you and says, “Celery. You’ve got to get into celery.”

You get all this great advice from all these highly accomplished people. Some of them are in the same industry. Some of them are more successful than you. Some of them have offered similar advice to others with great success. Now, what do you do?

You go to the supermarket and you buy celery, rice milk, Oreos and M&M’s. You spend a lot of time at the supermarket walking the aisles. You spend a lot of money because you buy everything. But you may or may not get any value from some or all of these products; there are no guarantees. Worse, if you’re budget-constrained, you had to whittle down your choices again. And then which do you choose.

But one thing’s for sure: when you’re standing in line at the supermarket with all these items in your arms, your celery, rice milk, Oreos and M&Ms, nobody can see what you believe. What you do is supposed to serve as tangible proof of what you believe, and you bought everything.

But what if you knew your WHY before you went to the supermarket? What if your WHY is to do only things that are healthy? To always do the things that are good for your body? You’ll get all the same good advice from all the same people, the only difference is, the next time you go to the supermarket, you’ll buy only rice milk and celery. Those are the only products that make sense. It’s not that the other advice isn’t good advice; it’s just not good for you. The advice doesn’t fit.

Filtering your decisions through your WHY, you spend less time at the supermarket and you spend less money, so there’s an efficiency advantage also. You’re guaranteed to get value out of all the products you bought. And, most importantly, when you’re standing in line with your products in your arms, everybody can see what you believe. With only celery and rice milk it’s obvious to people walking by what you believe. “I can see that you believe in looking after your health,” they may say to you. “I feel the same way. I have a question for you.” Congratulations. You just attracted a customer, an employee, a partner or a referral simply by making the right decisions. Simply ensuring that WHAT you do proves what you believe makes it easy for those who believe what you believe to find you. You have successfully communicated your WHY based on WHAT you do.

This is an idealistic concept and in the real world that level of discipline is not always possible. I understand that sometimes we have to make short-term decision to pay bills or get some short-term advantage. That’s fine. The Celery Test still applies. If you want a piece of chocolate cake, go right ahead. The difference is, when you start with WHY, you know full well that the chocolate cake is a short-term decision that doesn’t fit with your beliefs. You’re under no illusions. You know you are only doing it for the short-term sugar rush and you’ll have to work a little harder to get it out of your system. It’s astounding the number of business I see that view an opportunity as the one that’s going to set them on a path to glory, only to have it blow up or slowly deflate over time. They see the chocolate cake and can’t resist. Starting with WHY not only helps you know which is the right advice for you to follow, but also to know which decisions will put you out of balance. You can certainly make those decisions if you need to, but don’t make too many of them, otherwise over time, no one will know what you believe.

But here’s the best part. As soon as I told you WHY, you knew that we were going to buy only celery and rice milk even before you read it. As soon as I gave you the filter, as soon as I said the WHY, you knew exactly what decisions to make before I said so.

That’s called scale.

With a WHY clearly stated in an organization, anyone within the organization can make a decision as clearly and as accurately as the founder. A WHY provides the clear filter for decision-making. Any decisions—hiring, partnerships, strategies and tactics—should all pass the Celery Test.”

If you are a coach, consultant, educator, blogger, leader, influencer, or advice seeker, please be mindful that you may not have the “whole picture”, and that the advice you give, or get, may, or may not, pass The Celery Test. And while you are at it, pick up Start With Why, and become a better marketer, leader, value creator and advice giver.

Love + Awesomeness-
Nina xo

How A barista made my day Passion Squared blog

How A Barista Made My Day

“Customer service is not a department, it’s everyone’s job.” Unknown

A barista at Starbucks made my day.

How?
She surprised and delighted me. She did something unexpected.

What did she do?
She offered me a free beverage.

Well that seems like no big deal.
It was a big deal.

Why?
Because it was simple, unexpected and it made me feel valued and happy.

My loves, at the end of the day, all of the marketing programs, fancy Instagram posts, Workshops and Classes don’t matter if we do not remember what matters most, a happy client.

Now, I know what you may be thinking. “Nina, we cannot give stuff away”. I get it, but that’s not the point. I am a regular customer who came in to purchase a pound of espresso, which I do about every 10 days. She did not know me. She did not need to. She just felt like and had the autonomy to do something special.

And that is all.

Surprise. Delight. And make me feel valued and happy. Be a day maker. And give your team permission to be one too.

And if you do, your clients may be inspired to share their experience with their friends. And on Yelp. And even, in a blog post like I did.

Love + Awesomeness-
Nina

PS: A big shout out to the Starbucks on Flower + 9th in DTLA. You made my day. Thank you.

3 Ways To Lose A Client Passion Squared blog

3 Ways To Lose An Awesome Client

We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better. ~ Jeff Bezos, Amazon 

We often hear talk about how to keep a client, but today, I am reminding you of how to lose one.

Why? Because sadly, I am seeing more and more the most simple things being overlooked when engaging with a business that I felt inspired to share this reminder with you.

First off, why do we lose clients? Several ways. It all comes down to broken promises, over time, which leads to diminishing trust, which ultimately makes a client decide to choose to go elsewhere.

Recently, I visited a service establishment that pretty much violated most of the reasons clients don’t stay. As I walked in, I was greeted, so yay! But from there, it all went downhill. For some context, there were 6 team members and 2 clients in the business when I arrived. They asked me sit down and wait for my service but never told me where to sit. Once I figured out for myself where to sit, I began to cough. And cough some more. Then some more. For over one minute, I coughed. Yet, it was not until over a minute of coughing that someone decided it was a good time to offer me a beverage.

When I sat for my experience, I was never offered another beverage, even though there were still only 2 clients in the business with idle team members watching TV and staring down at their phones. Really?

I requested a specific service be done, yet, I had to ask 3 times at which point the service provider finally heard me and did what I requested.

Upon checkout, which took WAY too long for no good reason, I was asked 3 times if I wanted a receipt. THREE times. I was never asked if I wanted to leave a tip, how my experience was, not was I asked when I wanted to pre book my next appointment. The fundamentals, forgotten or ignored.

1. Not Listening

This is the foundation of everything. Listening says so much. If we really listen, we can ensure our clients needs are being taken care of. When we listen we show we care. When we listen we deliver awesome experiences. When we deliver awesome experiences, clients are inspired to share them with their friends.

2. Not Providing An Awesome Experience

The client experience begins LONG before we walk through the door. It begins upon first contact. This could be our experience with your online platforms, how we book our appointments, how appointments are confirmed, how we are treated upon entering the business, during our service, checking out of our service, and any post service follow up. This can speak to the products you use, to the towel quality, the beverage service, the music being played, the energy in the space, and so on; experience matters.

3. Not Caring

How do we show we care? We pay attention, we listen, we respond, we engage, online and off, I can tell if you care, and I can tell if you do not. Do you care if I ever come back? If you do, one way to show me is to remind me to book my next experience before I leave. If you care about my experience as a client, you will do everything in your power to ensure my needs are being met, including offering me a beverage the first time you hear me cough. If you care, you will ask me to share my experience on Yelp. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Why does this happen?

Many reasons. Sometimes it may be lack of training, lack of systems, lack of expectations, lack of engagement in the business, a disgruntled team, lack of culture, or lack of leadership.

In this case, the owner was not present. But if leaders do their job, the owner should not have to be present for an awesome experience to be delivered consistently.

What can you do about it?

Take a good, objective look at your experience. The systems, the training, the team, the culture, your brand promise, and your ability to lead. Most likely, something is missing or broken. The good news? You can change it, if you really want to.

Start with brand purpose and promise. Are you clear and is your team clear? What do you stand for? Believe in? Who is your target client? Do you understand them and what they value? What specifically does your experience look and feel like? Is the team crystal clear on how to deliver that experience consistently and what it looks and feels like? What systems can you build to ensure the experience is delivered? How will the team be held accountable if the experience is not delivered consistently.

One last thing…

As I mentioned in the beginning, there were 2 clients in the salon and 6 service providers. What were the other 4 service providers doing? Nothing. In 2017, there is NO reason in the world to do nothing. If you want to build a clientele, the KEY word is “want”, then it’s your responsibility to build those relationships. One way to do that today is by engaging on social platforms. Create content that is of value to your client. Engage. Build relationships. Create content. Engage. Build relationships. For the one hour I was there, those 4 service providers could have done a mini photo shoot, created a video, done an Instagram or Facebook LIVE, written a blog, practiced their craft, etc.

If you don’t have the clients you dream of, the only place to look is in the mirror. Then at your phone, not to play games, but to create and share content, engage, deliver value and build relationships.

With love-
Nina

PS: Just after I finished writing this post, I saw this in my inbox from the awesome Seth Godin. Let it sink in and share it with your teams…

The best time to study for the test… is before it’s given.
The best time to campaign is before the election.
And the best time to keep a customer is before he leaves.- Seth Godin

The First Passion Squared blog March 2012 hd

5 Truths of Turning A Passion Into A Brand

Small business isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the brave, the patient and the persistent. It’s for the overcomer. Unknown 

Five years feels both so very long and so very short. My first and only career lasted 25 years. My life, 50 years as of this writing. But there is just something about creating a business from scratch, and reaching this milestone that is giving me all the feels, something I know all small biz owners can relate to.

How did we get here? It’s a simple story quite honestly, but far from easy. Actually, it was, and continues to be, hard AF. The obvious is passion. But, and here is a big BUT, you can be passionate as all get out, and never turn that passion into a brand. It takes more. Way more. A lot more!

Courage
This comes first cause without this; we will never start. I gave up everything. Sold everything. Sacrificed everything. Do you need to do that same? Not at all. But no matter how you slice it, you gotta dig deep for the courage to take the road less traveled. To risk everything. To walk from failure to failure with grace. Courage will keep you going when you want to quit. There are still days I want to quit. But I don’t. And you don’t have to either.

Clarity
There was never a doubt of what business we were in and why we were in it. From day ONE. Clarity allows you to make decisions, build strategies, stick to plans and most important, not become distracted by the latest, greatest fad. Know what business you are in, and more importantly, WHY you are in it. Gain a deep understanding of your purpose, promise and people. That is the foundation of an awesome brand.

Commitment
Building a brand around the social + digital web in 2012 was not the most brilliant of ideas. We were too early, like 4 years too early. But knowing that business was changing, forever, and our belief in the social + digital web as a means of empowering small business was so strong, we stayed committed. No, after no, after NO. Most people are committed only for as long as it’s easy. It’s never easy. Which is where commitment comes in. Commit. And take action. And commit again. Adjust your strategy but never your vision or purpose.

Consistency
Once you have committed, now comes the even harder part, consistency. And I do not mean consistency as in never changing, boring, status quo stuff, nope. I mean consistency of purpose, vision, message, voice, of focus, of story and of simply showing up every damn day. A big part of our success has been simply; consistency.

Community
Without relationships and a tribe, we got nothing. From community comes clients, from clients comes revenue, and from revenue comes the ability to create more value for your community. Simple in theory, but not easy in execution. Building relationships takes time, and good intentions. If you think you are going to make something and all of a sudden the world is going to start calling you, it just ain’t so.

You see, I didn’t just fall into creating brands and businesses. Nope, I had a long, awesome, and very successful career as a leader, marketer and educator. I spent over two decades creating stuff for others, but I had never, created something of my own.

But on March 26th, 2012, I finally hit the LIVE button; on our website, newsletter and social pages. OMG! I totally wanted to throw up. You feel me?

Passion Squared began with a vision of empowerment and engagement. Myself, and my former biz partner saw something that we believed could “change everything” for creative small businesses. But nobody would listen. We had some pretty turbulent times, and every day came with at least one WTF moment, well, actually, a ton of them.

Early on, my biz partner decided to move on, and I was left with what to do next. I began again, from zero, about 1-½ years in. Throwing in the towel was on my mind, almost on the daily. But how could I throw away something I believed in so deeply? How could I throw away the idea of waking up each day empowering the people I loved? I just couldn’t.

Pushing my ego aside, I got back to work. And worked, and worked, and created, and showed up, and delivered value, and built relationships, and community and… finally, one day, it all clicked (pun intended, kinda).

Here is what the first few years of Passion Squared looked like;
Daily blogs
Daily newsletters
Daily Facebook engaging
Daily Instagram engaging
Monthly webinars
Weekly vlogs
Online Courses

This was my strategy. I did not create an Internet marketing funnel. I did not take any Internet marketing courses, I did not need to. If I knew nothing else, I knew how to build a brand, a community and how to market. It’s what I did my entire career and quite successfully. But, what I also did was stay true to my purpose, and promise, and that was infusing personal development into everything I did. Every course I created. Every piece of content. As one thing I know for sure, MOST of what gets in the way of creative small biz owners after all the stuff, is confidence. And that is an inside job. It requires self awareness, therapy, losing the notion of perfectionism, setting healthy boundaries, prossessing traumas, and dropping the co-dependency bullshit.

As community builded, I built more online courses and offered one on one coaching. I created more products and services that I knew would add value to my community. I wrote a book, and sold lots of them, and helped a lot of people in doing so. I created A School, by far the most awesome service I ever created, and to this day, my greatest pride and joy. As our A School Members remind me on the daily WHY I started and WHY I stay.

I got into a ton of debt, took side jobs as needed, and even worked a few hours a week for $15/hour, after making millions as a big executive. And I did all this for two reasons; to save my life, and to live my purpose by empowering the people I love.

You see, I never, ever thought I would leave my career. I had not planned on it, not ever. Money has never had much value to me, so I did not have a nest egg significant enough to last me the early years of not generating revenue. But I persisted. And never gave up.

And here we are. This is not a unique story. This is all of our stories. And this is mine. Today, I can breathe. I can wake up each day knowing I have one job, and that is to help people by empowering you to create your own kind of awesome.

To our beloved tribe, thank you for 5 awesome years of passion + awesome. And while this is a milestone that I am proud AF of, we still have so much work to do! Heeeere weeeee go!

Love + Awesomeness-

Nina

PS: We made a little love note for you to say thank you. For reals. Watch it. THANK YOU!

 

Its All In A Name blog Passion Squared

It’s All In A Name

Fall in love with the process.

You have a dream. And you want to make it real. You can feel it, taste it and see it. You may feel excited and overwhelmed. There’s so much to do to make it real. For the purpose of this blog, I will focus on one thing; a name.

Like everything is business, naming is part science, part art. And one size does not fit all. It never does. So where do you begin? I will share a process I have been using for decades that has served me, and the businesses I have served, very well.

1. Determine your bigger idea, vision, objective.

2. Think about the brand/product/service purpose, promise and people (target audience).

3. Write down a shit ton of ideas, thoughts, words with #1 + #2 in mind.

4. Use your thesaurus, its your friend.

5. Keep narrowing down the list til a few names feel right and fits the vibe you want to emit.

6. Go to Google and search the names. Are they already being used?

7. Go to Facebook, Instagram, etc and search the names, using hashtags as well. Are they already being used?

8. If the answer to #6 + #7 are no, then go to the USPTO website and do a deep search. Are they already being used?

9. If you cannot find the name you love on the USPTO website, its time to file for trademark. I recommend using Legal Zoom.

Why does this matter?
Well, if you want to create a brand of long term value, you will want to own your marks. Passion Squared owns Passion Squared and Social Beauty Intelligence in Category IC035 which is business consulting and information services. Depending on your business ad long term vision for your brand, you would file in all the classes you want to use the mark. Legal Zoom helps with all of this.

Why does this matter?
Because you put a ton of blood, sweat, tears, time and money into crafting your brand, and the last thing you want is for someone to come and object because they own the mark in the same category you are using it in.

Why does this matter?
It’s 2017, and that means Generation C, the connected customer, searches and finds us online. Simplicity and consistency of naming not only helps our audience with recognition and recall, it helps them find us. And when they find us, they may actually do business with us.

This process takes very little time and saves so much angst as well as has the potential of adding a ton of value to your brand, long term.

If your brand includes your actual name, you may not need to trademark it, unless you are a celeb and need to protect your use of the name in commerce, but either way, you for sure will want to secure social + digital page names, such as website URL, Instagram name, etc.

And one last thing… TM/SM(service mark) means you have filed and you have a trademark pending, R means your trademark is actually registered with the USPTO.

To learn more about trademarks, Legal Zoom is an awesome resource.

Awesome businesses execute the fundamentals consistently. This is one of those fundamentals that brand owners and marketers do not skip.

Take your time. Slow, steady and strategic.

Love + Awesomeness-
Nina xo