Concentrate more on being helpful…

How many times have you been involved in a never ending argument because of a difference of opinion in which you honestly believe and are absolutely convinced that you are right?
On how many occasions have you fell down the trap of a fight because you are fiercely defending your point of view and ended losing a whole lot more than just an argument?

This kind of situation is very frequent in families, among friends or at work, basically in every human relation.
Every mind is its own world and each person interprets their reality in their very own particular way. So what seems to you like a brilliant white color, to another person it seems as whitened beige and a washed cream to yet another one.
And this is definitely not wrong at all. In fact it is diversity which makes life in this world so rich. What’s wrong though, I think, is that we blindly marry an idea and don’t let the slightest chance of opening ourselves to another point of view, out.

Many times, when we have been working on a project for too long, doing things our way and a collegue tries to gives us some feedback on how they would have done things, we desperately look for different arguments, some right, others not so, to disarm their input and prove to them that only we were right.
The same happens with family and friends when each one has a personal point of view regarding certain traditions, habits and ways of doing things.
We argue and defend so much our ways of doing and seeing things that we deprive ourselves of the opportunity of learning new, and possibly better, ways of doing things. We close the door to knowledge. We stop collaborating, we don’t contribute with anyone and don’t let anyone contribute with us, and we end up missing the chance of maybe, just maybe, being better off.

So here’s an idea:

Concentrate more on being helpful and a lot less on being right.

Don’t waste time with useless arguments just to defend your point of view. Open yourself to what others have to say. Collaborate with them, let them share their thoughts with you, listen to them closely and please DO NOT TRY TO RESPOND JUST TO HAVE AN ANSWER.
Be confident enough to be humble and to understand that yours is not the only way of doing things. Before you answer back make an effort to truly understand where the other person is coming from and just then, if you still consider it necessary, share what you think. Try to find a common ground, create synergies and find new and better ways of working.

And if someone has a different opinion than this, I would love to listen to you with all my attention.


Join the Rush, Age of Conversation

I don't normally post anything on a Friday but today is a very special ocassion and I did not want to let the day pass without sharing this post from Chris Willson who is helping Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton spread the word about the Age of Conversation.

Join the Age of Conversation Bum Rush on March 29th

And don't forget to JOIN THE RUSH!


Don’t wait too long to live a better a life.

My grandfather never did it. My dad did it but waited too long to do so. My father in law did it sooner but he also waited too long. My wife did it soon enough and I started doing it a couple of years ago. And every day more people is doing it too.

Yesterday I read a very interesting post at Penelope’s Trunk Blog: Brazen Carreerist, in which Penelope recommends us not to wait until retirement to start living the kind of life we want. A great idea that deserves much thought, however from my personal point of view, this does not apply only to work but to each and every single aspect of life.

I mean, my grandpa always smoked and worked really hard all of his life, my dad luckily enough quit smoking and started exercising and eating healthier but it wasn’t until he suffered a heart attack, and even though he is taking better care of himself he is still working hard to make a living. My father in law on the other hand planned better his retirement and today he has time to do what he likes, however he too waited too long and paid the price of high stress until his retirement.
My wife instead took another path from an early start and built a way of life that suited her values and priorities. (I sometimes wonder if she knows something I don’t).

Frequently people complain about what’s not working in our life. Its pretty common to hear many people say they don’t like their jobs, or are not comfortable with their weight, or that they don’t see their friends as much as they’d like to or they don’t pass enough time with their families, or that their health is not what they’d like it to be, they don’t have the studies they’d like to have or that they simply don’t have enough time to do everything they would like to do.

So why not do something about it and do it now? Why do we always have to wait until tomorrow to have a better life? “As soon as I retire I will take the classes I wanted for so long”, “I’ll quit smoking as soon as this project is over”, “I just need to go back home so I can start eating healthier”.

Here’s an idea: Today think about something you would like to do to improve your life and that you could start doing this very day. It doesn’t need to be a 180° changing action, but rather a simple, small act that represents a beneficial change for your life. “The longest of travels begins with taking the first step” they say, so why not take that step today?

Don’t know where to start? You think that you need to have a huge change to start seeing results?

Here are a few ideas to help you take the first step:

  • Before you open it, ask yourself if that cupcake or bag of chips is the best food for you, and change it for something that really nurtures your body.

  • Just before you light it, ask yourself if you can make it without that cigarette and put it back in its pack.

  • Before you keep on suffering your job, ask yourself what are the upsides of having that job.

  • And before you continue working there just because “you need the job”, ask yourself what would be your ideal job, remember your passions, your values and priorities in life and then ask yourself if such a job exists and if so what would you be willing to give up in order to get it.

  • Before you complain because you don’t have enough time to study what you like, go visit a bookstore and get at least a couple of books on that subject and start reading them and studying by yourself.

  • And right before you say that you don’t even have time to read, make sure you always bring a book with you everywhere you go. You will find that there are a whole lot of moments you can use to read and that soon your books will become a great companion.

  • Before you say that you don’t have enough time in a day to dedicate some time just for you, try waking up an hour earlier and give that hour to you as a gift.

  • Before you complain about not having enough time to spend with your family, make sure you make every moment that you are count by telling them how much they mean to you.

  • Before you say you don’t see your friends as much as you’d like to, pick up the phone and call a couple of them, just let them know you are there for them.

  • And right before you start complaining about everything that is not working in your life, just stop. Then write a list of all the things that are working out for you, list every single thing you know you should be thankful for. You will immediately see that things are not half as bad as you thought they were and that there are a whole lot more things in your favor than you thought.

But above all, before you say this is “bull”, treat yourself to the opportunity of trying it. Take the first step and don’t wait too long to live a better life.


PRÉNATAL gets it.

Still talking about great customer service and the creation of “WOW” experiences. That is generating special moments for your clients when they are visiting your business.
I want to share a great example of a successful chain store, not only for the quality of its products but for the warmth and quality of their excellent service: PRÉNATAL.
An European Babies and maternity chain store. As you may imagine its prices are not cheap, actually most people think they are quite expensive but after experiencing their great service I can clearly see what elements form part of their prices. Now let me tell you my story.

As you can imagine, as first time parents there are lots of articles and accessories that neither my wife nor I had image we would need, much less how we should use them.
We only knew that we should follow all recommendations our doctors (the real Mythbusters, but that is a story for another post) made. And that we did.
They recommended us we get a post partum girdle for my wife and referred us to PRÉNATAL. I could have easily gone to another store but luckily I did not.

“Excuse mam, I’m looking for a girdle…for my wife I mean”, I nervously said to the pregnant woman on the other side of the counter. “Of course sir, we have a couple of different types but my partner will show them to you” she replied.
I was then directed to the back of the store, where they have all the maternity articles, there the woman who was now my personal consultant started asking me questions to determine which was the best suited girdle for me…for my wife I mean.
She explained to me that there are girdles for natural births and others for C-sections, she also told me that the size should be the same size that my wife usually wears but that I might want to get her a larger size so she could be more comfortable, and as if this wasn’t enough she then taught me how to put it on.
Proud and happy for getting one of my first tasks as a first time dad done, I stroll down the other departments in the store, searching for whatever cool articles I could get for my baby and my wife. During my entire visit I was helped but never overwhelmed with over attention. If I wanted to see something by myself they would leave me alone but stayed alert to whatever new question I might have had. If another customer came into the store, they would direct him to another associate so we could all have their complete attention.
Then, after a good half an hour inside the store I finally arrived at the cashier where they also explained to me all the additional free services they had for families, like workshops for moms and dads, I even registered for a first aids for babies one!
I paid and just as I was waiting for my consultant to give me my bags she surprised me again by walking me to the door, where she then gave me my bags, thanked me for my visit and whished me and my family a great day.

Expensive store? Yes, definitely.
Was this just another sales strategy? Of course it was!!! But what customer service program isn’t created to drive more sales?
The problem is that very few brands understand the real value of delivering an authentic customer service that really creates WOW experiences for their clients as they do in PRÉNATAL.

And you know what else? I went back a couple of days later too.


Don’t let arrogance destroy your business

It’s really hard to become the best at what you do. It requires you to have vision, clarity, focus and discipline. It can take years to become number one and a lot of work and innovation too but above all, it takes humility and humbleness, so you recognize that you will never be at an absolute stage of perfection and that you understand that no matter how successful you are that will never give you the right to abuse and be arrogant to others.

It’s a shame that this is precisely what the staff at a certain hotel located in the high end tourist section of Polanco in Mexico City seemed to have forgotten. What used to be the most modern, innovative and chicest hotel in the City (which name, although I will not mention, is composed of just one of the last 5 letters of the alphabet), far from continuing to create “WOW” experiences just like they do in their other sites around the world, seem to prefer a path of auto compliance rather than one of service and attention to customers.
And why do I say this? Here is the story: because of its modern environment, its cool hip image and so called hospitality, this hotel is often chosen by a lot of companies to host their events and my team was not the exception, so we chose to host a series of training seminars for our strategic partners in this hotel.
We ask for a quote for approximately 20, two days events through out 2008.
To the initial cost that was presented, they added some other concepts which summed with all the incidental costs we had during the first seminar in early February, increased our original budget per seminar a lot. However, with the full intention of holding all our seminars in this location we scheduled a meeting with their Marketing and Sales director, meeting that in the end showed a lot of promise. Both parts left with clearly set expectations: they would included some services that would be more relevant to their business and we would get a budget that better suited our needs, and all these would be put in writing to cover all but the next two immediate events that would take place in February 25 and 26 and March 4 & 5.
“What a productive meeting we had” I shared with the team that is helping us plan and coordinate the logistics for the seminars.

But how surprised I was when, the next morning, I saw their revised proposal that showed prices well above what we had agreed in the meeting just the day before!
We talked to them and ask for a revision of their document, which they did. Taking concepts off but leaving the final price as it was, that is.

Now, since the second seminar was just around the corner, we decided to stick to the plan and host the new seminar there. This time at least we would not be taken by surprise by the incremental costs. But surprised we were yet again!
First we were forced to start 40 minutes late because the folks at the hotel’s valet parking did not have enough staff to park the cars of all the people that arrived not only for our seminar but for other companies events that were taking place at the same time. The second bad signal was that in this great luxury hotel, the elevators had a glitch so in order to get to the second floor, you had to take the stairs to the first floor, there call the elevator, get in, go down to the lobby, stay in the elevator and go up to the third floor, get off and take the stairs one level down. “And why didn’t you take the stairs all the way to the second floor in the first place?” you may be asking. Well, simple, there were no signs to let you know where the stairs to the second floor were.
Third bitter mouthful? There was a short with the AV equipment so every time you needed to use it you would get shocked!!! And as if this wasn’t enough after the seminar was over, the hotel charged the whole thing to a personal credit card of one member of our staff even when we told them we were going to pay with another method, and all the answer we got from them was: “well… next time”.

But all this was not what provoked the bubble to burst. Turns out that after we had told them all the seminar we would have with them in 2008, that we had already given 2 seminars and that we had been negotiating for the rest of the year, when we needed to postpone, not cancel, just change the dates of the march 4th seminar to a later date during the third week of march, they told us that we could choose a new date but that these seminar would count as a cancellation and they would charge us 100% of the cost, even when we told them with enough days of anticipation!!!.

Can you believe it? Can you see how arrogant their answer was and how that attitude can destroy even the most successful business?

If they pull this type of stuff on a B2B relationship, I would hate to see how they treat their individual clients!
And yeap, you guessed it, I’m taking my business somewhere else, somewhere where they appreciate the value of service, humbleness and establishing long term productive, profitable business relationships.

Now just an example of a business that manages its success with humbleness: it’s a coffee shop located in Francisco Sosa street in Coyoacan in the south side of Mexico City, called La Puase, a place with a great homey and warm environment that offers great food and coffee. These guys really get it, not only do they always give excellent service and superb food, but they are always looking for way to create WOW experiences, like the one they provided for my wife and I just a few days ago while we were having a cup of their delicious coffee and a slice of their magnificent chocolate cake as we waited for the time to visit our doctor to decide whether or not to drive to the hospital to give birth to our baby daughter. So there we were the soon to be parents having a great time when one of the waiters asked us in a very friendly manner when our baby was due. “might be today” we said. A few moments later, he return to our table, this time along with the owner of the shop, and gave us a free extra cake to celebrate our happiest day.
He didn’t have to do anything, they were already delivering an excellent service, the place was swamped, they were really busy, yet he decided to have a nice gesture and he was absolutely backed up by his boss. Why? Because they get it!

Maybe the folks from the aforementioned hotel should come down to La Pause and have a lesson on excellent service and humbleness, don’t you think?

Note: this post represents my personal opinion as a blogger and professional in marketing communications, it does not represent the opinion of my employer in any way.

An important note.

The comments, opinions and recommendations posted in this personal blog are my personal thoughts, and doesn't necesarily reflect those of my employer.