Creating Customer Evangelism Tenet #1: Customer + Delta

You have to believe that when a customer tells you
what’s not working, that’s as much of a customer
evangelist as one who tells you what is working.
Because if they care enough to tell you what to fix,
they’re evangelists – evangelists are people who take
their own time to help you make your business better.

In this audio clip, Jackie Huba and her former business
partner Ben McConnell explain to Lyn Christian the value
of listening to your complaining customers and tell
what “passionate persuasion” is.

 

 

 

 

Reinventing Your Working Identity

If the Great Recession and its chaotic aftermath have a story line, it goes something like this: “The worst economic downturn in nearly 80 years throws millions of Americans out of work – 15.4 million are unemployed at the peak, 13.1 million are still without a job two years later.

Out of that crucible, an increasing number of workers are trying to reinvent them to fit in with a fragile, fast-moving world. For some, it’s a voluntary change. For many, it isn’t. It’s a rough-and-tumble necessity. The future demands it.” – The Christian Science Monitor, Cover Story; The job-shifters: people who reinvent themselves mid-career, February 5, 2012

If the Great Recession’s employment scene has a personal voice it would say something like this:

I didn’t grow up knowing what I wanted to ‘be’, it all sort of happened. And I never realized how much of my identity was tied up in my job until I was without one for the first time in 30 years. And that I could not detect the changes in my role because I never really planned them….And it is more than a little humbling to have absolutely no idea what to do next…” – SoulSalt Inc. Reinvention Client, 2012

Most professionals are being forced to create new careers in what has been called an “unforgiving economy.

This phenomenon is so widespread that Fast Company did a Cover Story on the topic calling it Generation Flux. The Christian Science Monitor did a similar story titling it The Job-Shifters, People who reinvent themselves mid-career.

No matter what you call it, the world of work has forever changed and those of us who are choosing to earn a living must learn to adapt.

At SoulSalt Inc. we teach classes and coach individuals and groups through tried and true strategies that support you safely through the complex process of reinvention.

One such client is waist deep into crafting a new life and a new career. Having attended individual coaching sessions and investing in a 2-day intensive, Julie McLaughlin Perez has gained valuable insights into how to “earn” while she “learns” – a vital step in sustaining one’s life while completely reworking one’s career.

Join us for a free webinar to follow Julie’s tracks, the reality of reinvention from her eyes and to offer the listener tools for their own, similar process. (Please click this link to register for Reinventing Your Working Identity on Monday, December 17, 2012 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM MST, Limited availability.)

Salt Lake Ninja on the Loose

The job of giving away toys has long been filled by Santa Claus.

The role of delighting millions with laughter and much needed support has been keenly played out by Ellen.

So what does one do with a enlarged sense of giving when two of the top positions are taken?

You become a Food Ninja. Well at least if your name is Elif, this is what you do.

Having been the benefactor of many a stealth mission I can say this local Ninja has caused a quiet yet stir with her process of giving.

Recently I inquired of Elif to explain what makes her food gifting tick. Here is her reply.

Being a Food Ninja is an extension of my core character. I feel that everyone should have a moment in which they feel loved, validated, cared about, and thought of. In my own way, I try to become stealth like a ninja and leave something by someone’s door who may need a smile. It is not about recognition for me but for recognition of the recipient that someone cares about them.

I have always been a “giver” but I began to get more serious and organized after reading the book “29Gifts” by Cami Walker. The concept is to give 29 gifts in 29 days and see how your life can change. If you want to live in a more caring world, then you need to actually put more “Care” out into the world. Is it a movement? Yes, people need to learn that kindness and caring toward each other is more valuable than criticism, greed, and selfishness. When someone is given an unexpected gift, it brightens their whole being and they, in turn, do a nice deed for someone else. Maybe someone is a “coffee” ninja and buys the stranger behind them a coffee and quietly leaves the cafe. My venue is food because I love to cook. As I went through the 29gifts process, my daughter and I one day baked up cupcakes in Ice Cream Cones on a snowy Valentine’s day. We walked down the street with 2 dozen cupcakes and handed them out to whoever we met. The warm energy, love, and appreciation from everyone was so palpable that my 3 year old exclaimed: Mama, it may be snowing outside, but it is so warm in my heart with everyone’s smiles as they eat their cupcakes.

Slowly, the Food Ninja concept began to take shape. Make up extra food and leave it by friends and family’s doorsteps for them to come home to after a long day’s works. I am a mother, so I am also concerned that those that I love are eating well. If I knew that a friend was having a difficult time at home, I would cook up a full meal and leave it by their door or in their refrigerator if I had the key. At least, I knew they were eating well one night a week. Friends who go on vacation, come home to a full fridge and an easy to bake meal because I understand how tiring it can be to travel. Who wants to go grocery shopping and cook after a long day of traveling?

People work so hard in their daily lives that sometimes they just need to take a break and have someone care of them. If I could feed the world, I would. It bothers me greatly that kids do not have home cooked meals or what it is like to have a wholesome meal around the table with their family. It hurts me that families have to work so hard to make enough money that they don’t have enough time to be present with those that mean the most to them. The meal, for me, is the connection that brings the family together. If I could provide an outlet or support for busy people with my food so that they have more time connecting and loving their family, then I will have felt successful.

 

If you would like more information on Elif Ekin I suggest you check out her blog: Mostly Happy or perhaps read her book: Mostly Happy, A Stay-at-Home Mom’s Journey through Divorce.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuqY8RoS6yc&feature=youtube_gdata[/youtube]

 

Putting It Together

Putting it all together… of all the exercises in the Hedgehog experience, this is the one that takes the most creativity.  Now is the time to enlist the help of three people who love you unconditionally.  These people must not be afraid of any change or shift in your working identity. They must be supportive to you, no matter what.

You can assemble this group in a final meeting or have separate meetings with each one.  Here’s how to proceed:

Step One:  Understand the mechanics of using a Venn Diagram or, some may refer to it as a “bubble map.”  Share that information with your group as you meet.

– The principle of these diagrams is that classes or sets be represented by regions in such relation to one another that all the possible logical relations of these classes can be indicated in the same diagram. That is, the diagram initially leaves room for any possible relation of the classes, and the actual or given relation, can then be specified by indicating that some particular region is null or is not null.

Step Two:  Now that you know that the intersecting regions represent areas of relationship, compare what information from your strengths circle combines with a parallel thought from your passion circle. Record those answers in the area shared by both circles. Do the same for the other two intersecting areas and leave the triangular center area free at this time.

Step Three:  Once you have the relationships recorded, look to see where these three areas can converge down into a specific line of work.  Those specific lines of work are now recorded in the center area.  When I say “specific lines of work” please be aware that I’m not talking necessarily about traditional careers.  I am talking about new working identities that could prove profitable.

Here are specific ideas that have shown up in the past month with the four clients I’ve most recently taken through this exercise:

  • Trainer
  • Coach
  • Consultant
  • New Age Minister for Peace
  • Speaker
  • Diplomat
  • Film maker
  • Athlete
  • Business owner
  • Broker – of information
  • Innovation Wizard
  • Healer

From this new list you have generated, fodder for your future. The boldest step yet is to craft an experiment:  carve out one simple experience where you can try-on a new working identity and see how it feels. See what you can give and what value is repaid to you. The course you will be charting from here on out is experimental.  Use these iterative experiences where you earn and you learn what you can do with the strength, passion and earning capacity that lives innately within you.

If you need further questions answered concerning the Hedgehog experience, you might want to check out The Entrepreneur Starter Kit.

 Return To The Introduction Of This Series: You Have Hedgehogs 

Economic Engine

It’s time to show yourself the Hedgehog money! Look at the convergence of your strengths and your passion.  Now, the one remaining leavening factor…we must learn where you can make money with what you have.

Take the steps needed to formulate your success:

Step 1: Invest time (I suggest about a week) observing where money is flowing. Take note of where people are spending money and where other people are making money. These observations will open you up to “seeing” what is out there already in terms of financial exchange.

Step 2: Notice where you make money easily now. Ask yourself, “Where are people willing to hand over cash for what I can/do offer?”

Step 3: Pull out a spreadsheet and a calculator and go to work comparing the costs and projected profits from each of the ideas.

Step 4: Be ready with all the information you’ve gathered in Part 3, Discovering Your Deep Passion and Part 4, Economic Engine, so we can put it all together in the next installation of this series.

Coming Next: Part 5 Putting It Together
Return To The Previous Post: Discovering Your Deep Passion

Discovering Your Deep Passion

Knowing what you can be that is “world best” is important.  However, you may not always want to do what you can do well.  A person who is deeply caring and compassionate may not want to work as an emergency room Head nurse.  Maybe this person wants to run a pre-school.

This is part three of a five part series on the entrepreneur’s hedgehog.  For an initial understanding of the Hedgehog concept, we wholeheartedly recommend that you read Chapter Five of Good to Greatby Jim Collins.  For audio learners, Jim Collins provides several videos and audios on his website.  While we rely on Jim Collins for the initial idea, we have extended his concept to small business owners over a number of years.

Building on this five-part series, let’s tackle the portion of the hedgehog concept known as “What You are Deeply Passionate About?

When I’m taking clients through this exercise, this is the point where they create a “passion” list.

You want them to compile the longest and most honest list. The secret to success here is to be sure you write down things you love to do and that you do not down-shift to recording things that you like to do.

Here are a few distinctions which will help you better understand the type of things to add to your list:

  • When you are doing these things, time flies because you are fully engaged;
  • You might be worn down or tired from your efforts, yet you’d get up and do it again tomorrow if given that chance;
  • You are on fire;
  • Your life seems enriched by it;
  • You feed a hunger that afterwards is deeply satisfied;
  • You include things as personal, like watching a sunset; and
  • You are as professional as outlining the instructional design for a lesson plan.

Feel free to fill part of your list with examples from any special occasions.  They will encourage you to revisit this list and may also help you to envision your passions.

See if you can grow your list to 50 entries, or if you are an achiever by nature, try for 100 entries on your list.

When the list is finished, ask a handful of your friends to tell you what they think you are most passionate about. Add their ideas to yours. Store the list somewhere safe. Get ready for the next step.

Coming Next: Part 4 Economic Engine
Return To The Previous Post: Finding Your Best In The World

Finding Your Best in the World

The hedgehog concept is the ONE thing that can make the difference between loving what you do while making money, and all of the alternatives.  Not that those alternatives are necessarily horrible.  It’s just all ‘round better to be at the core of your hedgehog.

This is the second of a five-part series on the Entrepreneur’s Hedgehog–how can you, as an entrepreneur, discover what you can be the best in the world at?  For an initial understanding of the Hedgehog concept, we wholeheartedly recommend that you read Chapter Five of Good to Great, by Jim Collins.  For audio learners, Jim Collins provides several videos and audios on his website.  While we rely on Jim Collins for the initial idea, we have extended his concept to small business owners over a number of years.  The hedgehog is the intersection of three aspects of your life:

  • What you can be the best in the world at;
  • What you are deeply passionate about; and
  • What drives your economic engine.

You would think that you would know what you can be “best in the world” at, don’t you?  That is seldom the case without some work.  Imagine trying to look at the back of your neck.  Even if you can get it centered in a mirror, it’s backwards!  Additionally, your “best” may seem so natural to you that you don’t even recognize it as a strength.  Do you have one of those “walking encyclopedia” friends who shrugs his shoulders when you ask him how he always knows the direction for “North?”  Maybe you know one of those people who can add four digit numbers in their head or who always knows the “right” question to continue a conversation.  Those are people with a genetically-coded ability and they often don’t realize that others don’t have it.

As I’ve worked with clients to discover their “can be best” strengths, we’ve often used a combination of three approaches.  When the three all point towards the same strengths, you know you’ve got it right.

First, conduct a brief survey.  I’ve worked with several clients to contact friends, mentors, business associates, and customers as part of their discovery process.  I ask them to pick ten people who will be honest and answer three questions:

  1. What do you see are some of my greatest strengths? Can you relate a specific example?
  2. What is the greatest contribution I have made to you personally? Again, can you relate a specific example?
  3. What is, in your opinion, my single, most greatest strength if you had to narrow it down to one? Can you give an example that would illustrate your point?

The results from the survey can fill pages, so I’ve worked with some clients on a way to squeeze out the data.  They go to http://www.wordle.net/ and create a word cloud.  The results are often visually clear.  This is a word cloud generated for LynChristian.com

Second, look inside yourself.  Start by thinking about what you do naturally that others admire.  You are probably on the right track.  If you want an outside stimulus for this phase, you can turn to almost everything that Marcus Buckingham and the Gallup Management team has produced that contains the Strength Finder instrument in it.  The most recent publication is Strength Finder 2.0.  Are you a lifelong learner?  Maximizer?  Strategist? WOO?  Read the book, take the survey, and add the answers to what you find out from others.

Third, ask your customers.  The Entrepreneur’s Toolkit, Chapter 4, has a section on getting customer feedback as part of your marketing.  It works for this as well.  Often I will send a simple request at the end of a coaching contract that asks my client to “spend a few minutes thinking about the value our coaching brought to you.  I am asking you because I believe that you will be candid and objective.”  Your customers will tell you what you bring to the table, and that gets added to your other answers about what you can be best in the world at.

You can take the results from these three approaches and triangulate the results.  You will find what you can be the best in the world at.

Next: Part 3 Discovering Your Deep Passion
Return to the Previous Post: The Entrepreneurs Hedgehog 

 

The Entrepreneur’s Hedgehog

The hedgehog concept, articulated by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, is often the crux of successful business building for an entrepreneur.  As a coach, I’ve worked with several clients to help them articulate their hedgehog as a cornerstone of a new business.  While it’s a great activity to do with a coach, an energetic entrepreneur can work on discovering and implementing their hedgehog with the help of some accountability partners.

This is the first part of a five part series on the entrepreneur’s hedgehog.  For an initial understanding of the Hedgehog concept, we wholeheartedly recommend that you read Chapter Five of Good to Great.  For audio learners, Jim Collins provides several videos and audios on his website.  While we rely on Jim Collins for the initial idea, the extensions of his concept to small business owners has developed over a number of years.  This part will focus on the hedgehog concept as a whole and three decisive benefits that come with the activity.

For Jim Collins, the hedgehog concept “requires a deep understanding of three intersecting circles translated into a simple, crystalline concept (the Hedgehog concept).”  The three circles make a traditional Venn diagram.

Jim Collins Hedgehog Concept 300x280 The Entrepreneur’s Hedgehog

On its face, the concept is easily graspable.  Find out what you are passionate about, can be the best at, and make money.  The next three pieces in this series will explore the three circles.  For right now, we want to explore three reasons why you want to find your hedgehog.

First, your hedgehog is your one thing.  Just imagine—no matter what else goes on in your world, you have this thing that you can do in a world class manner, you love doing it, and it makes you money.  Circle it, star it, underline it, and tape it to your refrigerator.  There is absolutely nothing else than can do all three things.

Second, your hedgehog is the core of your marketing.  We will talk more about this in part 4 on making money with your hedgehog. Think of your hedgehog as being your brand—the core that creates evangelists.  It becomes an almost no-fail path to sales and marketing.

Third, your hedgehog lasts as long as you do.  It’s who you are.  It’s built into your DNA as what you can do as best in the world.  You can do other things, but few of them will feel as natural and as comfortable as being a hedgehog.

Next:  Part 2 Finding Your Best in the World
Return to the Previous Post: You Have Hedgehogs

You Have Hedgehogs

When I use the term “hedgehog”, I am referring to something beyond the frumpy little pin-cushion like critter.  I’m talking about each person’s latent working identities.  I’m talking about those places where your passion, your strength, your ideas meet in powerful synergy with a market need or a market want.

 Years ago I wrote several blog spots with a coaching colleague on this topic. Over the next few weeks we’ll be reposting the articles which outline the process I generally use when supporting a reinvention client.  I hope they are useful for those of you who are switching out the way you work and the way you live.

Please let me know if you have further questions on the process or the programs we currently run on the topic at SoulSalt Inc.

Coming Next:  Part 1 Entrepreneurs Hedgehog

 

It’s Never Too Late To Reinvent Yourself

SoulSalt Inc is hosting another Reinvention Group starting September 10th. Space is limited so reserve your spot now.

This six week intensive group coaching is geared toward the individual who needs to redefine what and how they work. This engagement will support you to map out a path to move you from chaos to a new career. Leaning heavily upon research coming out of Harvard Business School, Lyn will share with you and coach you through unconventional, yet effective strategies for reinventing what you do with your time, talent and energy.

People who have benefited from this program have been asking these sorts of questions:

  •  I’m a stay-home mother, that’s all I know. I want more. Is that okay? Is there anything I can offer that I’ll enjoy doing?
  • I’ve been doing the same old thing for years. My family has needed my steady income. What can I do now that my children are raised that truly accesses my dreams, goals and strengths?
  • Am I good at anything?
  • I’ve had several careers and filled many roles. What’s next?
  • I no longer need to work. I wonder what sort of contribution I can make that will hold meaning for me and for other people.
  • I can’t seem to make a difference where I work. Is there a place for me to play to my strengths and enjoy what I do?
For more information email your interest to info@soulsalt.com