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

Video blog Passion Squared hd

Video Killed The Radio Star

I want my MTV

It was August 1, 1981, a day I will always remember. It was the day MTV came on air, and it was insane! The first video that played was Video Killed The Radio Star by The Buggles. That day, our world forever changed. That day was almost 36 years ago.

As one obsessed with music from a very young age, I was fixated on the idea that my songs were given a new life, and I was able to actually see the artists through these things called music videos. All was well in the world.

Most of us had no clue what all this meant from a technology side, we were kids in high school, who only cared about where the next party was and when our next concert was gonna be.

Fast forward to today. In 2017 we all have the opportunity to be our own VJ’s, have our own MTV channel, and we have YouTube + Facebook + Instagram to thank for that.

With the rise of Facebook LIVE and Instagram LIVE, we can now get even closer to our communities and deepen the relationships we have already been building. We can deliver even more value to empower those who have chosen to engage with us. And that is awesome AF.

Here are some LIVE basics to help you create more awesome for your tribes…

Facebook LIVE
Zuckerberg has made it very clear. If you want to “get it right” on Facebook, you gotta embrace Facebook LIVE as well as upload “native video” meaning not sharing links to Facebook but uploading videos direct to Facebook.

Why? Well, if you ask me, he wants to “own” it all, and its a direct assault to YouTube. What’s the reward for doing this? We get to be “seen” more in the newsfeed, which means people can engage more with our content. Period. If you feel victim to the algorithm, then its time to fall in love with LIVE.

Facebook LIVE Tips
1. Who is your audience and what do they value?
2. Create a plan including topics and frequency of LIVES, be intentional and purposeful
3. Create a space that allows for a strong WiFi signal, good lighting, sound along with a tool to keep your phone steady
4. Communicate when you will be broadcasting
5. Engage with your audience while LIVE
6. Title your LIVES with words relevant to your topic
7. Share your LIVE videos on other platforms if relevant
8. Practice if you are uncomfortable, it gets easier the more you do it
9. Be human, this is the social web, and social means SOCIAL
10. Edit your LIVE when it’s finished- on your page, you have many options today, including choosing the best thumbnail image, adding captions (most people watch videos on Facebook with the sound off), adding keywords for targeting, etc.

Click here for more tips on creating an awesome Facebook LIVE

Instagram LIVE Tips
1. Who is your audience and what do they value?
2. Create a plan including topics and frequency of LIVES, be intentional and purposeful
3. Create a space that allows for a strong wifi signal, good lighting, sound along with a tool to keep your phone steady
4. Communicate when you will be broadcasting
5. Engage with your audience while LIVE
6. Practice if you are uncomfortable, it gets easier the more you do it
7. Be human, this is the social web, and social means SOCIAL

Instagram LIVE does not have a save option, at this point, so to be sure you are delivering the most value, #4 is really important.

Click here for more tips on creating awesome with Instagram LIVE

Here are links to the tools I use for my LIVES
Clip On Ring Light

Ring Light

Mini Tripod Kit

Tripod Kit

Now you have all the tools you need, and the most important one, YOU! And your passion for building deeper relationships with your tribe by delivering a ton of value through your LIVE streams.

And lastly, please join me each week on Instagram Tuesday mornings at 7am pacific for my Q+Awesome Instagram LIVES and every Wednesday morning at 7am pacific for my #WednesdayWisdom Facebook LIVES.

Mad Love + Gratitude-

Nina xo

client-experience-blog-passion-squared-hd-1

Two Ingredients of An Awesome Client Experience

Focus on the shit that matters.

When was the last time going to the vet was an awesome experience? For me, it’s been way too long. And while this story is about a vet visit, my experience applies beautifully to small businesses of many kinds, salons included.

When it comes to client experience in the social + digital age, there are several opportunities which allow us to engage our clients and make them feel special and cared for. And in doing this, we can also capture their experience and turn that into stories to share online and off.

Going to the vets office (and the salon) sometimes comes with a bit of anxiety. Knowing that, it’s clear that Mohawk Alley Animal Hospital made it a priority to make their experience less stressful and more joyful.

The Photo Booth
The first thing I noticed when entering Mohawk Alley Animal Hospital on Courage Jude’s first visit was a photo booth. What? A photo booth at the vets office? Yep. A photo booth at a vets office.

For all the pet parents out there we know that capturing photos with our babies is a big part of our daily existence. Mohawk knows this too. We were immediately put at ease, because #selfiesession

mohawk-alley-photo-booth-passion-squared
Simple Booth Photo App + iPad at Mohawk Alley Animal Hospital in Echo Park, California

The name says it all. Simple Booth. And based on their website, it truly is that simple to create a space where clients can capture their experiences to share with their friends and create content for you to share on your social platforms. They have three different packages to choose from for different sized business and needs. Then just add an iPad and you are in business. Just as we share creating a space to capture your work, this takes up very little space and it so worth it. #yourcontentisyourmarketing

Business Is Personal
The next thing that captured my eye, and heart, was also incredibly simple. A personalized welcome. That’s it. And you know it only took a few seconds to make such a huge impact. So much so that I have dedicated an entire blog to it. Good Morning Courage.

  good-morning-courage-mohawk-alley
Both of these “little things” are two ways to make your client experience even more awesome. These two “little things” along with a system to execute on them consistently, can turn an average visit to your business into an awesome visit.

Two simple ways to make your clients experience even more awesome, memorable and special. Two ways to encourage word of mouth. Two ways to deepen the relationship between you and your clients. Two ways to create more awesome. What are you waiting for?

Love + Awesomeness-
Nina xo

PS: A big shout out of love and gratitude to the awesome humans at Mohawk Alley Animal Hospital for making Courage Jude’s first visit one that brought smiles to our hearts and faces. And to Courage’s new vet Dr. Lena Braham, we love you!

dr-lena-braham                                                 Dr. Lena Braham and Courage Jude Louis Kovner