Browsing Tag

business

Customer Service, Social Media

How do you treat your customers online?

January 27, 2015

Bad Customer Service form DwightDo you respond by telling them nothing at all? Do you respond by telling them that they don’t know what they’re talking about? There are some dos and don’ts when responding to customers, but you’ll want to make sure that your entire organization is prepared to be customer service activists. Don’t get caught with your pants down when an angry customer rants on Yelp about your horrible customer service and their terrible experience.

Begin documenting your overall customer service strategy, infrastructure, channels, scripts, procedures, and training guides. Your customer service team should be just as equipped as any other department in your organization. This team is one of your biggest retention and customer loyalty building tools, and is far too often ignored or forgotten about.

Create a customer-centered strategy

In order for your company to thrive at customer service you AND the CEO will need to be the champions of it. If the leader of the organization is not 100% behind it, then no one else will be.

If your CEO’s strategy is based on making more money so they can buy more booze, cars, clothes, trips to the strip club- or worse yet, to gain more power for the sake of power, then you’ve got a lot more problems than your company’s customer service. Please have this person visit a counselor or a life coach if you can and start looking for a different company to work with.Evil Business Man

Some key positions and teams you might want to consider hiring: Chief Experience Officer, Call Center Managers, Social Media Managers, General Customer Service Managers, Customer Service Representatives (phone, in-person, online), and Social Community Managers.

These team members should work closely with your marketing department and store managers. The customer service team, the marketing department, and your front line managers and employees should ALL be trained on customer service.

If you don’t have a marketing department and can’t afford a proper customer service team, then please hire one of the many agencies that provides customer service or social community solutions. I know what some of you may be thinking, “I don’t need to hire anyone else, we’ve got our web guy!” Please do NOT ask your IT guy, your web guy, or any other guy who is technically savvy to handle the thousands of customer service related comments online or offline.

Good customer service shouldn’t be an afterthought. It should be one of the pillars of your organizational structure and strategy. It’s vital to your success. Create change in the workplace. A culture of change and improvement is vital to your organization when initiating an overhaul of your customer service.

Give your team the right tools

For your team to be successful, you’ve got to give them the right tools. Consider getting a tool like Zendesk, Freshdesk, Salesforce, or Zoho Support for your customer service representatives to assist customers online. Some of these systems allow for Yelp and other review site integration. Be sure that your marketing team hasn’t left social community managers without listening tools.

Hootsuite, SproutSocial, Radian6, Adobe Social, Tweetdeck, and others are all great tools to start listening and responding with. Some of the tools that will help you take inventory and begin reporting include services such as Reputation.com, ReviewPush, Review Trackers, and Fishbowl (for restaurants). You can also manually go in to each review site and social media channel and start sifting through the comments. I recommend that your team does a combination of both.

Take social relationship inventory

Your team will need to begin producing reports on ratings and averages across all channels using one of the tools I mentioned above. You or one of your team members will need to get a sense of the current state your companies or stores are in, and then set goals for improvement.

Setting a goal of increasing half a star on Yelp is a lofty goal, however it is not impossible. If your store managers and employees and your CEO are not living your customer service strategy, no amount of “I’m sorry about that, sir/madam, we hope you’ll visit us again soon” is ever, ever, ever going to matter.

Create Google Alerts if you need to with your store or company names and related products and brands. Start sending out reports. Your community or customer service managers will need to start sending reports that include that week’s customer comments, your responses, and recommended action items.

The Chief Customer Officer should compile these into a report once a month, add it to an annual spreadsheet as well, and pull ALL data into internal databases if the company has that capability and time. If your company doesn’t, then don’t worry about maintaining your own databases. Let the service you’ve hired do it for you. You and your team are going to respond to each of the comments (no matter how long ago the customer posted it).

Better late than never

It’s true. Better late than never. If you are barely launching your customer service department, don’t feel like all of your previous customer feedback are lost causes. Respond to them. Whether they left a Yelp review 10 years ago or last week. Just respond. This may take a while, but it is imperative to your company’s future success.

You may win back some of those customers and may remind some that you’re still around. This should be your team’s primary focus in the first few weeks or months of launching the department. This also entirely depends on the number of comments on your channels and the size of your team.

I will preach this until the end, that even if it takes a year or more to respond to all of them, that it is worth it. If it is taking your team multiple years then, I would argue that your customer service team is not large enough to handle the volume of customer feedback that your company receives. Once you are up to your current day’s comments and feedback, ensure that you have all hands on deck to listen. Your social community managers should be listening through their social media management tools (not free ones, most likely) by searching for #yourbusiness, Google Alerts, and through other feedback systems.

The good, the bad, and the ugly: How to respond

There are numerous ways to respond to customers, and each response should be tailored to each customer’s unique situation or comment. If your team is using general responses that don’t really address what the customer is saying, then there is something fundamentally wrong with the way you are training them, the tools your giving them, the infrastructure, or the culture your company has.

Ensure your customer service manual has important guidelines like listening, letting the customer know you understand their frustration or emotions, and then offering alternatives and solutions to rectify any problems. Your training guides should have multiple examples of how to respond to the best comments, the neutral comments, and the worst ones.

I like using the 5 star system. Take examples of what you’d like to see when responding to each star rating (so five in this case). If you take some type of action like sending them a gift card, free coupon, setting up a reservation, gifting a product, subscription, or some other item to some of your customers when responding privately, then ensure your script has options for those as well.

Script Outline Example:
5 Stars with action
5 Stars without action
4 Stars with action
4 Stars without action
3 Stars with action
3 Stars without action
2 Stars with action
2 Stars without action
1 Star with action
1 Star without action

So an example for a 2 Star rating with and without an action would be something like this:

Johnny, Thanks for coming by (business name), and thanks for your feedback! We appreciate when customers like you take the time to let us know how we are doing. So sorry to hear that you did not get (specific product) that we had run out of.  We know how frustrating that can be especially while you were already late to a meeting (or other specific description).  We have contacted our vendors and are ensuring that we will have (specific product) fully stocked  the next time you stop by. We’d also like to offer you (specific product) on us. Please accept our offer and just let us know your last name, and provide an ID when you arrive and you’ll get (specific product) free of charge. Thanks for your continued patronage, and we hope to hear from you soon!

Well, what if you don’t want to give anything away, and what if you don’t want to say “sorry”?

Johnny, Thanks for coming by our (business  name), and thanks for your feedback! We appreciate when customers like you take the time to let us know how we are doing. We understand that you weren’t able to get (specific product) that we had run out of, and we know how frustrating that can be especially while you were already late to a meeting (or other specific description). We have contacted our vendors and are ensuring that we will have (specific product) fully stocked  the next time you stop by. Again, thank you for reaching out and for your continued patronage!

Spend time developing what your message will be, and customize it to suit your business and customers. Please be sure to subscribe to my blog for the latest marketing insights. Now go forth and start building your customer service strategy and be sure to listen and respond appropriately while you’re online. You wouldn’t want something like this to happen to your business:

Bad Social Media

Business, Culture, Family, Marketing, Social Media

How I f’d up the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

August 27, 2014

Yes. It’s true. I f’d up the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I was challenged by a good friend of my wife and I, Marcus Williams. Cool! I thought. I can come up with some cool and unique way to do it. I dreamed. Let’s see, baby Noah can be holding cue cards, that will be pulled away with a string by someone. I continued on. Or maybe a western gun draw. No. My friend, Joey Melcher, did his in the style of Inception. Maybe I could do something like that! Maybe.

Instead it was a matter of speed, because our baby was asleep, and my wife had rehearsal for Spring Awakening. So, I had Noah on the monitor, and quickly dumped a 10 lb. bag of ice into a bucket, and hit record on the camera. No focusing, no color adjusting, nothing. At the time, I didn’t really think about putting water into the bucket. It IS called the ICE Bucket challenge, after all.

Here it is for all to see:

The result

As you can see, it really wasn’t that bad. Ice falls right off of you. I was not soaked. It was quick and painless. It also yielded only a few views. You can be sure that my video did not reach the top of my friends’ news feeds. However, I gave up on the idea of executing an extensive ice bucket challenge due to familial responsibilities.

The others

After doing it and posting the video, I went to look at my friends challenges and many others. Mine sucked. If you haven’t seen them check out some of the best ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos by brands here. There were some very high-quality and funny ones completed by people like my friend, Justin Jaksha. And of course there were thoughtful ones, promoting non-profit initiatives like the one done by Matt Damon:

Let’s not forget the potential Darwin Award nominee that set his head on fire: (Edit: Well, looks like they removed it!)

NoahBeachPlease

The case for not re-doing the challenge

My wife suggested last night that I re-do the challenge if I wasn’t happy with it. I thought about it. And yea, it wasn’t that great. But at least I didn’t set my head on fire. I’ll stand by it no matter how boring or dry it was. I accepted the challenge and completed it. Was it memorable? No. Was it partly to join the crowd mentality and meet social expectations surrounding the virality of the challenge? Kind of. Was it for a good cause? Yes. Was this a missed self-marketing opportunity? Maybe. But some things are more important in life.

Business, Career, Leadership

7 perks of being a leader at work

June 9, 2014

Leader, with great power, comes great responsibility.

Cliff Robertson in Spiderman (2002). “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

Alright, alright. It’s true. Being a leader is pretty awesome. Although, being a leader has its downsides, there’s no denying that being one also has its perks.


So, you’re a leader, are you? Good! That’s the spirit. But please, don’t be surprised when no one offers you that director or VP role when you’re fresh out of college or only have a couple of years under your belt. You’ve got to work for it, and you’ve got to learn how to be a good follower before you can become a good leader.


If you do happen to get that coveted position of manager, director, or VP, there are a few things to look forward to. But before you go kicking your feet up on your new desk and start calling your subordinates “kid”, and cracking a joke at their expense, you should know that you must handle leadership with care. In the words of Uncle Ben Parker from Spiderman (2002), “with great power, comes great responsibility.” Let’s run through seven perks of being a leader at work as laid out by Andrew J. DuBrin from the College of Business at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

1. Power and Prestige

As soon as you are given a position of leadership, you are automatically given some power. So, don’t squander this opportunity! This is when people start using Mr., Ms. or Mrs. to address you, giving you some sense of prestige, while non-managerial subordinates are still addressed by surnames. “Alright, Mr. Garza. What else do I get with my new position?” Okay, okay. Hopefully your company has enough money to get you that office with a view, a new desk, chair, a laptop, and some vacation time. But don’t push your luck. Some sales professionals are great leaders and barely have a desk or office- their office is the road, the sky, and hotel rooms.

2. Helping Others

You didn’t think this was going to be all about YOU, did you? In your new role, you will be working directly with people. Everyday. Was that in your job description? If you’re not a people person, learn to be one. It’s now part of your job to help develop your subordinates and colleagues into leaders as well. When you see the fruits of your labor in this aspect, it can be one of the most rewarding parts of the job.

3. “Show me the money!”

"Show me the money!"

Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire. “Show me the money!”

I think this is what you’ve been waiting for. More money. “How much more money do I get?!” Well, this is a complicated answer because of the wide range of leadership positions and types of organizations out there. While a Director of Content Marketing may only be making $40,000-$50,000 a year at a non-profit, college, or government agency, that person could also be making $80,000-$90,000 at a much larger corporation. However, don’t expect to get too far without a college degree. Most executive and mid to upper management positions require that piece of paper from a four-year college. So, if you don’t have one, get one.

4. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”

“No respect. I get no respect around here.” Don’t worry, Rodney. If you’re not getting respected now, then you probably won’t ever. Just kidding. But if you’re thinking that along with the new position, you’ll automatically be respected, think again. Although you may be respected and treated with politeness at first, it’ll be short-lived if your skills are not up to par for what the position calls for. Ensure that you map out expectations from your subordinates, and that they understand the rules and procedures. Rules and procedures should be part of their programmed (routine) decision-making and should be made formal by putting in on paper and distributing it. This should be handled by a subordinate manager, but if it hasn’t been done, then it may fall on you.


Status most definitely comes along with your new position. Go ahead. You can revel in this one. Wear that sports coat like a champ. Pull out that suit and wear it to your next meeting. It’s allowed. Although be aware of whether you’re working in a casual environment or not. Don’t embarrass yourself by wearing a fine-tailored, freshly pressed suit while your colleagues and superiors are in khakis and short sleeves. With your new position, you’ll start to notice that subordinates may stumble nervously as they try to ensure they greet you appropriately and continue to do their job while you are around. Smile, let them know to keep up the good work (as long as they are) and continue on to your meeting.

5. “Movin’ on up.”

Sherman Hemsley as George Jefferson. "Movin' on up!"

Sherman Hemsley as George Jefferson. “Movin’ on up!”

In larger organizations, you’ll have more opportunity for advancement. This is not true in all cases. In most small to mid-size companies, there is literally no room for advancement. You will have to move companies all together if you want to move up. In a small to mid-size organization your leadership position is usually right under one of the C-level positions (CEO, CFO, COO, CMO, C whatever O). And I hate to bust your bubble, but you might NOT be called a Director or VP of anything even though you are right under this position. If you are, then kudos to you.


In a larger organization, you may be able to move up the corporate ladder much easier. But again, be aware that this is not true in all cases. I know someone who worked at HP for years as an analyst. The only way he moved up was by moving companies.

6. “Finally, I’ll be in the know!”

Yes, it’s true. You are now in on things. You get some of the inside information before anyone else in the organization gets it. You’ll know about firings, hirings, resignations, and movings. You’ll be privy to financial information, and you’ll hear about the “next big thing” happening in the company. Try to use this information for the benefit and outlook of the company. It is easy to get caught up in the idea that the company is going downhill after there are staffing changes. Stay calm. Do your job.

7. Moving money around

So, now that you have some power, this means that you’ll have a say in how resources and money are used in the company. Again, it should be pointed out that this largely depends on the type and size of the organization. In addition, this also depends on the type leaders you have in the company. If you have a very controlling CEO who allocates money for his own wants and desires, personalized power motive, then there might not be much money left to run your projects. Hopefully though, you do have some say in how resources are used, in which case, refer back to the quote by Uncle Ben Parker.


As you can see, there’s always a catch to being a leader, even when you have some pretty nice perks. Once you figure out what motives drive you as a leader, the upsides can be very rewarding. Seeing someone you advised and led flourish into a better leader than you are will give you a sense of pride and accomplishment, just like completing a successfully run project. So, go on. Get cracking, and start leading.

Thanks for reading. Be sure to subscribe to my blog via email for tips on business and creative writing.

Peace out.

Alexander

Advertising, Business, Career, Marketing

Marketing terms that make you look like an amateur

June 6, 2014

Homer Simpson - Face Palm

Homer Simpson – Face Palm

So, you’ve joined the ranks of marketers and advertisers. Congratulations. You poor soul. Put in your best effort, and try not to look like an idiot. Actually, even if you’re not in marketing or advertising- try not to look like an idiot. This means sounding like you know what you’re talking about. Look up appropriate terminology and take some classes if you’re not formally educated in the field. Here are some of the top marketing terms that you or someone you know may be using that are making you and your buddies look like amateurs.

“Let’s get our eblast going.”

Try not to use “eblast”, “social media blast”, or any other “blasts”. You’re probably thinking, “But Alex, what’s wrong with saying ‘eblast’?” Well, nothing really. It’s not inherently wrong, but there are much better terms to use other than “blast”. Would you want someone “eblasting” junk all over your inbox? Didn’t think so. It sounds like spam. Here are some better terms to use:

  • email marketing campaign
  • newsletter
  • marketing email
  • email promotion

Also, no one likes being part of a marketing list. So, please don’t use the word “list” on your public facing sites or profiles. Try using: “subscribers” or “eclub”.

Related phrases you should never use:

“Sign up for our eblast!”
No, thank you.

“Join our email list!”
Nah, I don’t want to be on your list. In fact, take me off your list, if I’m on it.

“Let us eblast your inbox!”
Just don’t ever use this one.

These are better:

“Join our EClub to receive exclusive events and offers.”
Sweet, I love being in a club.

“Join our network of subscribers.”
I’ll be a part of a network? Fo Sho!

“Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates.”
Yeah! I’ll be in the know! Finally!

“When are we starting our social media blitz?”

Houston Texans

Houston Texans

Again. What the hell is a social media blitz? This means nothing. This is not football. It’s social media. Call it what it is: social media marketing, social media marketing campaign, or you can get specific such as Facebook Ad Campaign, Twitter or Tweet Campaign. I cringe every time I hear “social media blitz”. If you’re hearing this term, then your coworker or client are throwing up a red flag that says “I have absolutely no idea what the hell I’m talking about”. Worse yet, this might mean they probably have unrealistic expectations of using social media for their goals. While we’re at it, please don’t ever say email blitz.


Your client or coworkers may not realize that having a successful campaign usually means allocating a budget for what they want to achieve. Since Facebook limits the reach of page posts, advertising is a must. If your goal is to reach all of your followers, you’ll have to purchase Facebook advertising, or make sure that your campaign is so darn creative, it’ll go viral. Don’t count on this though. Most people don’t realize that much of the viral advertising out there is backed by huge budgets. Chances are you’ll need to purchase advertising.

“How many friends does our company have on Facebook and Twitter?”

If you go online and actually look at any company page on Facebook, you’ll see that the page does not have any friends, it has fans. You cannot have friends on your company Facebook page, you can only have friends on your personal page. Your Twitter profile gains followers, not friends.

A few more.

[one_two_first]
Don’t say:
general photo
samples or test
lettering
make a website
camera stand
video
[/one_two_first]

[one_two_second]
Instead, say:
stock photography
proof or draft
font
design or develop a website
tripod
animation (unless you mean live video)
[/one_two_second]

Don’t correct your boss.

He-Man on Robot Chicken

He-Man on Robot Chicken

Those are just some of the terms that have been brought to my attention recently. There are tons more. And as you come across better terms, use them and trash the amateur talk. So, now you’re a marketer or advertiser or whatever. Now, you know your stuff! “I have the power!” Slow down there, He-Man. Just because you begin using the more widely accepted terminology, doesn’t mean you get to parade around like a word nazi. Be respectful. If your boss wants to call your Facebook fans, friends, then let them. Or if your coworker says they want to do a social media blitz, then just smile, listen, and do your best to provide solutions.

Thanks for reading. Be sure to subscribe to my blog for updates and news.

Peace.

Alex

Business, Leadership, Uncategorized

9 downsides to being a leader at work

June 5, 2014

kevinspaceyhouseofcardsBeing a leader isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. You’re probably thinking: putting your feet up on the desk and barking orders at people both sound like pretty cool ways of leading. And hey, if that’s all leading was about, then I’d be the first to sign up. So, you got a big promotion. Or you’ve been told that you’re a natural-born leader. Your ego is a bit inflated, and you get excited. One day, you’re “gonna be at the top”, the “decision-maker”, the “one who signs the checks”.

Well, I hate to bust your bubble, but leading an organization or team is not always as glamorous as it seems. Now, don’t get me wrong: leadership is a skill that you should strive for, practice, and develop. It’s one of the four pillars of management and it’s vital in today’s business world and society. These are 9 downsides of being a leader at work as outlined by Andrew J. DuBrin from the College of Business at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

1. The myth of the 40-hour work week

Say goodbye to overtime pay. Once you’re on salary. It doesn’t matter how many overtime hours you work, you won’t get a dime more (unless you get bonuses). Now this is evident in so many industries. In my current position, I have worked 50-60 hour weeks, without any overtime pay. If your job or projects are flexible, then you may be able to do some of this work from home, but you’re still not compensated for it. Even when I was teaching, if you were in the arts or sports, then you could expect to work 60-70 hour weeks. If you have kids, that means that you’re spending more time with other people’s kids than your own.

2. “May I have another please? An aspirin?”

The number of headache-inducing problems rise with every second that passes while you are a leader. This can be attributed to contingencies. Example: The project demands an intense and comprehensive marketing and advertising campaign. The launch has been expedited. Everything is due next week. Your lead graphic designer just had a baby, so is on leave. Your lead copywriter got another job. And the only thing your intern has learned is how to make a decent cup of coffee. The better the leader you are, the easier it is to handle these types of issues.

3. “Publish-” Er- I mean, “Perform or Perish”.

This can be one of the most stressful things to deal with. If the company doesn’t do well, then who’s to blame? You better believe, that if you’re a leader, the CEO s going to come gunning for you. You better pray that he has a very in-depth knowledge of the market, industry, and organization if the reason for poor overall performance is out of your control. If he or she doesn’t, then you WILL be blamed.

4. They expect miracles from peanuts.

As a leader, you will often be faced with a situation where you are responsible for a goal, that you have little control over. If you are asked to get a fully loaded web and social media marketing strategy executed, you are going to need a budget. If you’re asked to construct a building, fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology and design, you are going to need some kind of budget. There isn’t a way around it. This really comes down to authority. And, no, I don’t mean YOU pay out-of-pocket and then submit expense reports. That is complete BS. No money. No work. Comprende?

5. Oh, so alone.

Be careful getting too “buddy-buddy” with your teammates. If you get promoted, you’ll be the one deciding their fates- who gets promoted, who gets fired, evaluations, the whole nine. Then what happens? The team goes out for drinks after work, and they don’t invite you. They’re actually going to talk shit about you. It’s true. Get over it. That’s why you shouldn’t hire your close friends.

6. You have to be a people person.

Man, do I hate people. Well, I really love them too. What’s a guy to do? Being a leader means that you will be dealing with people on a daily basis. This means that after you fire John, you’ll be up late at night wondering how he, his wife, and kids are going to pay for their mortgage next month. Say goodbye to college, John’s kids. You did this. Now if you can master being a people person, more power to you. Being a people person isn’t about feeling guilty about firing someone, it’s about being sure to provide employment resources and references for one of your displaced team members, a.k.a. John.

7. Politics is a bitch.

Yup, it’s in your backyard, it’s in your house, it’s in your office, and it’s probably in your pants. It’s in every office in EVERY industry. Don’t believe your pal who brags about how their job doesn’t have that much politics, because it’s all a load of crap. Start learning how to negotiate, and politics will get easier to deal with when it comes up.

8. “We just want different things”.

Conflicting goals is often a source of trouble for you in a leadership role. It is already hard enough to get everyone on the same page, but then Bob has something completely different in mind. Lots of meeting are gonna result from this one. If you’re lucky you won’t have to fire him, and you’ll still achieve your goal. What if he doesn’t budge? Well, there’s a little thing called compromise. This is why being a leader involves a mutual partnership between the leader and the follower. (Yes, I said “follower”. Good leaders are also good followers.)

9. The evil businessman.

Being a leader of a large organization or business often comes with the public perception that you’re evil, selfish, greedy, and generally an overall bad guy. “But, Alex, I’m not a bad guy.” Whatever. You are in the eyes of the “people”. You’ll get people to change their perception once they see some action. Actions always speak louder than words.

Do it. Be a leader.

Don’t let these nine downsides of being a leader discourage you. They are just a realistic view of the challenges that leaders face. Be ready to face them. Everyday. Move on. Be strong. Go lead.

Peace out.

-Alexander

Business, Career, Uncategorized, Writing

Procrastination and Time Management

June 4, 2014

“The art of Time Management.” *Gong Bang* Sounds like some lost form of martial arts only know to the ghosts of some outcast ninja from Feudal Japan. Got time to read this post? Sure you don’t! So, why are you here? Today’s adults and parents have no time for anything. NO TIME. Let’s list out some of the possible things you may be involved in. Full time job, school (undergrad, graduate, or doctorate), parenting, keeping your marriage alive, trying to write that book you’ve always talked about writing, trying to find a new job, trying to learn new skills, trying to take up new hobbies, trying to keep up with old hobbies, trying to maintain relationships with your extended family, trying to maintain relationships with your in-laws, building and nurturing your network of friends and professional relationships, keeping up with your reading list, keeping up with your movie watching list, keeping up with your professional development, chores, chores, and bills, and finances. Everything else. I’ve been trying to find the time to re-string my guitar for over a year now. Poor guitar.

How do you get things done?

Prioritize. Plan. Procrastinate.

Prioritize

Prioritization will get you ahead. You are not going to be able to do everything at once. So, you’re going to have to pick a few key things to focus on. For some of us, that means forgoing as much sleep or exercise as we used to get. Now, I’m not saying you should forgo exercise. Especially if you know you need it. You should prioritize your needs first. For example, as much as I would like to think that I don’t need sleep- and often times I go with less than seven hours, my body has begun forcing me to stay asleep for eight hours. I’ll unwillingly sleep through all my alarms until I get it. There are some days I can wake up after only 4 hours, and oh, how I wish I could go on only 4 hours of sleep. But this is a need that I need to work into my schedule.

Do your chores. For God’s sake, take out the garbage, and wash some clothes. Clean out that darn cat litter box, and give the dog a bath. Give yourself one while you’re at it. These are priorities. Get them out of the way. No need to procrastinate on these items.

Plan

Use an agenda book, a calendar notebook, or an electronic calendar to set reminders and important dates. I prefer to use Google Calendar. This is easier said than done. There are so many things that I’d like to put into my calendar.

I wish it would look like this: 4am get up, 4:10 Make Coffee,  4:15 Read, 5:00am Write, 7am Shower get ready for Work, 7:30am Kiss the Wife and Kid and leave for work, 7:30-9am sit in traffic, 9-5 Work, 5-630 sit in more traffic, 630-800 change, visit with family, eat dinner. 8-9, do homework or read, 9pm go to bed.

Instead it looks more like this: Stumble out of bed at 745am and yell “Shit.” Toss myself in the shower and out the door by 815am. Explain to boss that sitting in hour and a half of traffic made you late at like 915am. Work from 9-5pm. Sit in traffic til 6:30pm, then told that you need to meet your wife at so and so’s house for dinner, then told you need to pick up groceries, and finally get home by 915pm. Then by the time you’ve cleaned up, gotten the kid(s) ready for bed, and gotten yourself ready for bed, it’s 10 or 1015pm. Then lay in bed reading for 20-30 minutes until you kind of fall asleep. Then woken up at 11pm, 1 or 2 am by a hungry crying yet precious baby, and then woken again by your alarm at 4am. Snoozing it while still half asleep.

SO! To reiterate. Put IMPORTANT DATES ONLY in your calendar. These include deadlines, holidays, birthdays, events you have to attend, and things of that nature. Leave out the small tasks like brushing your teeth.

Procrastinate

This is a great strategy to use SOMETIMES. You have to be careful with this one, because it can cause problems when used for the wrong situation. For example, you probably wouldn’t want to put off building that rocket ship for NASA, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into. You probably don’t want to wait nine months to tell that guy you’re pregnant with his baby. You would, however, might want to procrastinate on a college paper until a couple of weeks before it’s due. You will feel highly motivated to complete it if there is a deadline looming. Also, if you’re the type of person who does well under pressure, then this might be a great way to get you results.

When working in theatre and music, there was always a pressure from the deadline. If you weren’t fully prepared by showtime, you were screwed. In the countless productions I have been a part of, there was never one that was cancelled because we weren’t ready. Somehow, it always came together in the end.

Matt Stone and Trey Parker talked about the use of deadlines when writing when they visited NYU on the television show mtvU.

Inevitably

You’re going to have to be flexible with your schedule and with life. Because you never know what life will throw at you, a wreck blocking all lanes of traffic, a hurricane, a job change, a loss of a job, a baby, a change in plans. No matter what it is- be ready to accept the change, and move forward. If you don’t get to get up and jog or write or whatever, then try again the next day. Keep trying, keep adjusting. And live life.

Be sure to subscribe to my blog for FREE solutions on everything.  😛

Peace out.

Alexander

Business, Writing

Selling Your Soul With a Smile: Ethics at Work

June 2, 2014

Here’s the thing. When you’re faced with a situation at work or anywhere, when your values are compromised due to poor leadership or poor leadership ethics, what do you do?

Now, I’m sure your thinking, ‘If my boss or CEO makes me do some illegal stuff, I’m gonna tell him “Hell, no! You can take this job and shove it up your (expletive)”.’ However, what if you quit your job, but you have debt collectors swarming your ass with swat teams, because you can’t cough up one or two thousand bucks per month in credit card, student loan, medical, and other bills? What if the only thing keeping you and your family afloat is the very thing you demonize?

Stand up to the “Man”

Stand up to the “Man”, they say. Oh, the platitudes that once motivated you to take on the world in teenage and college years no longer bear any influence when one “Man” enslaves you with debt and another “Man” pays you for services that disrupt your personal values. Simply put. If you stand up to your boss/CEO, then you WILL get fired. This is especially true for low to mid-level managers that don’t have a strong relationship built with your superiors. I have known some people to stand up to their boss or CEO, and get away with it, some are even respected for it! But these people usually have decades of some kind of working relationship with their superior, and in some cases are family.

But they say “CEOs and bosses want you to give your opinion”. Maybe some of them do. But many also only want to give the illusion that they “listen” to their employees. At the end of the day, they will do what they want. Many also only want your opinion if it aligns with theirs. You can tell this is the case when they start their sentences and questions with  “Don’t you think that…” or “I think that (fill in the blank), and that this needs to go much faster, and (insert mid level manager name) needs to be responsible for (list tasks or goals here)……. What do YOU think?”

Your response: “Well, that sounds very logical. I will contact (mid-level manager) and get that going right away.”

Your internal response: “It doesn’t matter what I think, because you just told me what you want me to do, instead of stating the goal, and allowing me time to come up with solutions.”

Shoot the Messenger

So, let’s say your boss or CEO does give you the opportunity to provide solutions. So you do. The only problem is that the solution is one that he doesn’t want to hear. He doesn’t want to hear that what is really lacking is the establishment of proper processes and procedures that will provide optimal goods and services, he wants to hear the shortcuts and methods to gaining the most money as fast as possible.

But you say, “this will yield better results in the long run” and he says “there won’t be a long run if we do that”. Or he cusses up a storm, slams his fist on the table, and tells you that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Well, if all you’re focused on is short term profit, maybe you shouldn’t have opened a business in the first place, dude. Go back and take some basic business or economics classes. (Wish you could tell him that, don’t you?).

Get a New Job

They say. Like you can just walk down the street and have your pick. Let me reiterate that unless your making more than $60,000 a year, you’re not going to be able to pay all your bills (if you have credit cards, student loans, and outstanding medical bills). There’s just no way. If you have a mortgage and car payments too, forget about it. So, sure- keep looking. It doesn’t hurt to apply. And you need to be staying active in your networking. Let your friends and family know that you’re looking. Reach out to acquaintances who might be able to help. Reach to those who might not be able to help- hey, you never know.

The job market sucks. Most of us get it. It always sucks. The days of applying for two or three jobs and landing one are looooooooong gone. Try more like 300 applications, 4-5 interviews, and zero offers. Yes, my friends, that is the reality of the job market, especially if you come from a liberal arts background.

Go Back to School

Three points here. One. Go back to school as quickly as humanly possible. Stay there forever if you can. Two. Get scholarships, get a company to pay for it, or go to a cheap public university and take out loans. Three. Study something that will actually yield job offers. Look up careers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Sorry to tell you that getting your MFA in anything is not likely to get you out of debt, but if it’s not gonna cost you that much, knock yourself out. I myself still plan on one day going back to get an MFA, but I most definitely don’t expect to get any exciting job offers from it! Go into an MFA for self-enrichment, not to “get a better job”.

Surviving the Day-to-Day

So, finally- what you’ve been waiting for. Surviving the daily grind. Your going to have to suck it up, right? Your going to have to set aside your dignity and values so that you can keep your shitty job just until something else turns up. Well, friends, there is no magic answer for this. The only things you have to remember is to be careful when you get a job offer, because the grass is always greener on the other side. Don’t let your current situation change you. You are still you! You still have wants, dreams, desires, and you still have hobbies, passions, and skills. Disrupt your routine. Take on new challenges at home and at work. Learn new skills and take on new hobbies. Learn to be present when you spend time with family and friends. Because at the end of the day, this is what its all about. This is why you drag yourself to work everyday. So you can love and be loved. Do your best to always disrupt your personal status quo.

Peace out.

Alexander