Know Your Customers

It is hard to be logical in an emotional world. After decades of study, I have found out that logically figuring out what a group of people may need, and that group actually wanting the item are two completely different things. Thus, as an entrepreneur, I learned to become a people watcher.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I want to assure you this type of voyeurism has nothing to do with late nights or windows without shades. I watch what people purchase, and what they desire. The quandary I am trying to answer is, what drives them to spend their hard-earned money. And also, I look at what leads consumers to their purchases. I say this because the world of marketing is alive and very well. And I have found that knowing this truly helps the bottom line of any business or industry that you can imagine.

When my mom was young, she worked as an administrative person at a sock factory. The factory, made socks, package them, and sent them off to market. The socks were all made the same. When they came to the part of the assembly line where they were packaged, one of three things would happen.

Socks going for inexpensive and general sales would be paired and a label placed on them to hold them together. A certain percentage of the socks were put into a plastic bag, and those socks would sell for $.20 more. Some socks are placed into a fancy box with some tissue paper, these socks sold for two dollars more than the inexpensive socks with just a label. The socks would go to different stores to be sold.

The socks were really all the same. The only difference was the packaging. The packaging would determine where the socks were going to be sold. If you did not mind going to the five and dime store, you could get the socks for an excellent price. If you shopped department stores, you would get a plastic bag with the socks, but they would cost more. And if you only shopped at fine clothing stores, you got the same socks, and you got a fancy box and a tissue paper which made you feel terrific about the socks.

People want to feel good about what they get. Some people buy products because they remember the product from when they were younger, and the product reminds them of good times. Some people purchase the product because the advertising has convinced them they will receive high quality and good emotions from the product. Others purchase products because those who they wish to emulate purchase the products.

If you build anything or provide any service for others to use, understanding the buyer’s motives and desires will be a critical factor in your success or failure with that product. This is true whether you are an entrepreneur, a business leader, or someone in some part of the assembly process. Remember, anyone we get something from is our supplier. Anyone we give something to, whether it is a coworker, a purchaser, our boss, or the person who empties our trash can at night, is our customer.

Something to think about.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Did They Ask You

Did they ask you what you needed? When we purchase something, it’s because we feel that we need the item. We are purchasing something based on the belief that it will help us in some way. It might make work less stressful and help us remember more, make us feel better, or help us believe we have more power to do something. We will rarely purchase something without reason.

Sometimes we get surveys either about what we purchased or asking about things we want to buy. The reviews usually ask how we plan to use the item, what we expect from the article, and what the use of the purchase will do for us. When asked, you should fill out the survey and be as specific as possible with expectations and planned applications. How else will product developers know what you need and what you desire?

How can you get what you really need and desire in products if you do not tell the right people? An old joke says if you’re delighted with something you’ll tell a few people. If you are unhappy with something, you will tell everybody. We have all purchased products that did not live up to their expectations. When this happens, you have to say something to the right people. Send a letter to those who made and marketed the product and be specific as to what you needed and why their product failed to meet your expectations.

No one wants to feel like an old grouch complaining about things. And, when you tell those who built a project you are not happy with, you are not complaining, you are helping them to make their product better. Creators and marketers with a real desire to do well are excited to hear from you. They will thank you for your input and use it to improve their product. If you don’t talk to them about their product and where it fell short, then your words are really falling on the wrong ears.

As an entrepreneur and a creative spirit, I appreciate when somebody tells me what they are looking for and where I can improve my product for them. I am always asking people for comments, thoughts, and places where they would like to see improvements. My most disappointing times were when I asked the questions, and no one would write or talk to me. In those cases, I felt I was not making contact with others that I should.

Some people like to gripe just for the sake of griping. I look at this is a downward spiral. Yet I really want to talk to those who have a problem that I could do something about, and make better. As I write books, develop items to help make the problem better, or do other work, I like to ask for comments and reports on what is working for my clients and what is not. And I invite anybody with comments that could help to please write and let me know. I believe this is something we should all be doing.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Three Culprits

Believing, talking about and planning to do are three different actions.  We all get ideas, and if those ideas are good, they might actually make their way to a positive outcome for you, and for others. Unfortunately, many great ideas never make it to the starting line.

Great ideas often fail to get off the ground because of the three culprits. The first culprit is believing in too many projects at the same time. The second culprit is always talking about your project rather than working on it. The third culprit is planning to do something. Each of these culprits will steal your time, cause you to doubt, and keep you from any real action.

Belief is a great thing. And, if you are a real thinker, many projects can catch your interest. It is great to have specific ideas and be able to see things differently. Unfortunately, those exciting things will never see the light of day unless someone takes the time to actually design and build them. Even at that, great projects often sit on the shelf because marketing in mass manufacturing never occurs. That means nobody benefits from the products, and no one benefits from the design and manufacture of the products. You need to budget your time, even better than you do your money, to ensure your ideas can bloom.

Talking about a project that you’re going to do is even a worse culprit. It causes you to think you’re doing something when all you’re doing is talking about the project. Remember work is valuable, and talk is cheap. The worst part of this is that you invite naysayers in and they go to work on you explaining why it won’t work and how you would be a fool to even try. Talking about projects saps your strengths to do the project. When all is done, your exhausted and have not actually accomplished what you wanted to do.

The third culprit, planning to do, is a lot like the second culprit. To avoid the planning to do’s we need to remember that planning and doing are two different actions. One is filled with pipedreams, and the other actually make something happen. Many people both in business and in the military have been let go because they spent all their time planning and could never figure out when to really do anything. If you want something, you have to do what it takes to accomplish the task.

The neat thing is most people are better than they think. They actually take on the task and do the work, and they can go far. Will there be setbacks? Probably. Will there be questions to overcome? Usually. Will there be a press on your time to get everything required accomplished? Certainly. Yet look around you at everything you see. Everything you see, desks, lights, books, bathrooms, cars, planes, and everything else that did not come as part of the original earth was made by someone. Everything you have to go through, they had to go through. Seeing all that, I have faith that we can get it done.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Pluralism

I am a large proponent of pluralism.  Diversity and understanding are at the heart of peace and prosperity.  Pluralism is a path of inclusion.  I seem to remember that Jesus came to save one religion and opened salvation to everyone.  That teaches me how vital Pluralism is.

Pluralism is a path of inclusion which allows us to share what we know and also learn from the knowledge of others.  It brings to life that together, nothing is impossible if we can act together for a positive outcome.  And we have seen this, from saving people lost in caves, mobile hospitals crossing borders around the world, and many other humanitarian missions.

As much as diversity is an act of inclusion, monotheism is a method of exclusion.  It only allows the thoughts and beliefs of those who believe what the people in charge do.  Unfortunately, organizations on earth are run by humans. 

Humans have frailties, and those frailties lead to hubris and distrust.  It reminds me of the old joke, one guy says to the other, “Everybody is nuts except for you and me, and I am starting to worry about you.” Who wants to be part of something where no one can have any real trust in anyone or anything?  Well, people from a pluralistic society would welcome anyone even those who are monotheists; and share peace and knowledge with them.

Everyone has a purpose in life. And part of that purpose is sharing. There are skills, abilities, and knowledge with others. The worst thing that could happen is to leave this earth without sharing and adding your talents and skills and expertise to the human experience. No matter how complex or how simple your contribution may be, it adds to the knowledge base and may help the next person to propel mankind to higher levels.

Ask everyone to consider this. Don’t take this as an absolute just because I say it. Try it out, test the waters and see if this is true or not. You will be able to feel whether or not it works correctly for you, and if it does, try a little more.

Most beliefs in the world look towards a pluralistic diversity. They look towards truth, and kindness, and peace. Anything dealing with humans can be pushed to one extreme or another. We need to stay balanced and focused not on the sins of the past. Instead, we need to look to the hope of the future.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Are You Happy With Your Alignment

I have read somewhere that when we are born, our only knowledge is how to suckle and the fear of noise. We learn everything else in life as we grow. It is even hard for us to have memories stored in our brain until we have enough knowledge to accurately recall them. Everything else, we learn from someone.

We learned some things from parents and other family members. My brother learned from me how to climb the stairs (I wasn’t supposed to teach him that.) We learn from the friends we play with and others that we meet. We learn things at school, as much from our fellow students as we do from the teacher. And we learn from many other sources: radio, TV, movies, books at the library, just to name few.  Since everyone is different, not everything will line up with our inner self.

Some things we learn do not fit with what we are learning to be. Some things that we learned fade away before they take root. And some things stick with us and become part of the core of who we are.

We need to make an occasional inventory of who we are and where that comes from. Why do we act the way we do? And, why do we believe what we believe? We want to make sure our thoughts and our beliefs lineup with who we really want to be. And, if we are out of alignment, we need to discover a plan or a path to help us find our correct alignment once again.

In our societies, there are times when we do take stock of ourselves to see what is going right and what we want to change. These are usually done during feasts or after the big party. In my society, we hold a big party to say goodbye to the old year and hello to the new one. Then the next day we consider ways that we would like to be better, and we even make resolutions to do something about it. I’m not always sure that trying to change ourselves for the better the day after a big party is beneficial. And resolutions to do so typically fade reasonably fast. I recommend picking a time and place where a person can look over their deeds to date with sobriety and genuine consideration. If we are happy with our station in life and where we are going, that is excellent. If there are changes we would like to make, and we believe that these changes would help us to be better people, then we should explore those thoughts.

Although the changes will typically need to come from within, there are outward actions which we will have to take to accomplish our desires. Unfortunately, this is not totally an armchair exercise. We may need to read new books, learned to appreciate others and ourselves, we may want to find a coach to work with us on these endeavors. And we may want to change the way we do things.

The one positive thing that it is good to know is each of us has abilities and often untapped resources to help us in whatever we wish to actually accomplish in life. And, if we really want to do something positive in our lives, and we put our mind to it, very little is impossible.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

We All Believe

If you believe that something is correct, you own that belief. Anyone can have a belief. The question is what you do with that belief.

Owning a belief is work. The belief is not true just because you believe it. Because you believe it, you need to go out and do your due diligence to ensure that that belief is true. Your research should tell you of cases that support your theory of what you believe happened and it might show other causes which are not helping your belief.

This brings us to the first dilemma which we must figure out. Do you want to find the truth, or do you just want to be right? If you wish to be right bad enough, the probability is that no amount of researched facts will make you happy. You’re just not paying attention to the overall knowledge, and are only cherry-picking the facts that back you. This is not real research.

Real research gathers the facts, and in so doing, gives you a pool of knowledge with which you can weigh the pros and cons of a belief. We all are tempted to go to extremes, especially when the idea strikes emotions. Before we know it, we are using phrases like all or none, always and never, truth and lies. The problem with extreme phraseology is that it is almost always never true. Did I just go to extremes?

To do your research, you have to be willing to accept your findings. In some instances, the findings may be wrong, but you have to have other results that prove why. And sometimes especially if you are a little ahead of your time, you can be absolutely correct, and yet few will really believe you.

Just because you believe something does not mean you have the right to interfere with others and their beliefs in a violent or antisocial way. Violence is a great disruptor. Unfortunately, people who use violence to promote their truth only give others a reason to dismiss and not believe them. The one good thing about a belief is that a true belief holds good for everyone. And even if someone were the only one to hold a belief, it does not give them permission to disrupt others who are on their journey through life.

So what does this mean to us? If we think something is correct, go out and research it. Research can be done on your computer, on your phone, in a library, and even sitting on a corner bus stop and observing. Talk to people and learn their stories. Remember that it’s hard to hear their stories if you’re pushing your own agenda. Just open up and absorb what they are saying. Then research what they tell you.

Please remember that everyone is on their own journey through life. The beliefs and truths will vary by person, for within the whole of people, we are each an individual, researching and finding our own way.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Some Things Are Just Beyond Our Control

In this day and age, we think that we can control almost everything. We get to go where we want to and when we want to go there. We also believe there is very little we cannot control if we really want to. Unfortunately, this is the hubris that gets in our way as we live our life.

We don’t control the weather. We don’t control the minds of other people and their desires. We do not control life and death. And we certainly have the hardest of times controlling ourselves.

How can I say that? Well first off it’s the truth. Let’s take a look at these ideas and see why they are so. There is an old saying that talks about how you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.

The same can be said about people. People have their own minds. And people will do what they want to do, whether it is good for them or not. And worse than that, they will force their views on others. We could talk about smoking. We can talk about drinking. We could speak about many other instances. Let’s just take a quick look at disease control.

In America, Doctors worked hard to eradicate measles. Measles is a deadly disease for a part of the population and can carry with it some debilitating effects. Unfortunately, some people believe that they do not need the immunizations that protect them and their families. The problem is now the once abolished measles is spreading to epidemic proportions and some areas of the US. One excuse that is usually given is that they trust in the Lord to protect them from things. I believe that the Lord already did so when his creations, man, found the immunization so that people would not catch the measles. The question could never be, “Lord why did you not protect me.” When the answer would be, “My child, you were provided with an immunization that would protect you and your family.”

For all our experience in weather tracking and forecasting, we still cannot control the weather. We have global warming and chaotic weather patterns which affect us more and more each year. It snowed in Colorado Springs this morning and will be 53° by 4 o’clock this afternoon. There is no control over the weather; we can only watch it and wonder.

Some people are told that they only have so long to live. The truth is most predictions along these lines are often off. They also often suggest less time than there actually is to live. I have checked my body and even carefully examined the soles of my feet and found that I do not have an expiration date printed on me anywhere. Will I live forever? I do not know of any people who have done so.  I do believe that each of us is only here for a while, and we should make the most of our lives here. It would be terrible to be here and not learn, and experience as much as we could. We should just remember that we want to enjoy life and learn, and grow, and remember that we cannot control it.

Just things to think about.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.