Ask & You Shall Receive (or NOT)

Interesting thing happened last night during Fantasy Football.

For a little background, last year I was invited for the 1st time to play with the boys league at work.

And….   I won.

This made the boys angry.

Mainly b/c my strategy at the time of the draft was to choose Florida State players or guys I thought were HOT. Anyway, it’s kinda a big deal that i’m the reigning champ in an all boys league so this year, i’m much more serious about it.

And last night was a big game.

Bears/Packers.

Monday Night Football. A storied rivalry.

It was also important to my Fantasy game as I had 2 players that score the majority of my points each week: Aaron Rodgers (QB, Greenbay) and Matt Forte (RB, Chicago)

It all started with this tweet.

@lynnwitt I want the bears to win. But I need Rodgers to throw for 300+ yds so I can win my fantasy game this week 🙂

Pretty clear “ask” right? Well, guess what?

The Bears DID win.

Rodgers DID throw for 300+ yards.

But those 2 things did NOT equal a win. I got my BUTT handed to me in a big ole LOSS in the Fantasy league.

So, my “ask” was clear but it didn’t get me what I needed.

This got me to thinking. How many times in business & in life do we ask for things that don’t actually help/matter? I was very specific in my request, got everything I asked for; yet dissapointed in the end b/c i didn’t get what I actually wanted.

This happened for a few reasons:

1. I didn’t really know what to ask for b/c i hadn’t done my research. If i had actually looked at the rules, I would have requested 4 TD passes thrown by Rodgers and/or 2 TD runs by Forte bc that’s what would have gotten me the needed points.

2. I didn’t actually ask for the desired result. I should have said “I want to win my Fantasy game this week”.  (Granted, i know this is all a little crazy b/c you actually have no control over the outcome in Fantasy Football but I think it transfers to most things in life that we can control)

I think this holds true in business. So often, we try to drive the actual steps rather than state the outcome & let the people figure out their own steps as long as we get the desired result (and no one does anything illegal). This is especially important in management. People want autonomy and not everyone is going to do it the same way. As long as you get to the end result do the steps matter?

It also is key in sales. I always tell my people, did you ask for the order/buy/$$$ whatever? You can’t usually close someone unless you “ask” for the sale.

Other questions I’m asking myself include:

  1. Do I usually even know what I want the desired outcome to be when I make the ask?
  2. Do I only ask for things I actually need so I’m not wasting others time?

What do you think? What else is important when you “ask” for something?

FLORIDA

This is Florida

Reasons I love Florida.

1. There is sunshine more often than not.

2. It’s easy to find water.

3. It is home to my friends & family & others that I love.

4. It is home to the best college in the world – Florida State

GroupOn

My only problem with GroupOn is that I didn’t think of it myself.

First, I’m a customer. Thanks to GroupOn; I’ve eaten at places I never would have known about and tried things I’ve never thought to do; like yoga.  And while not everything I’ve tried is good (like Hot Yoga) ; it’s all a good deal.

Second, It’s a business phenomena. In case you’ve been living under a rock; here’s what Forbes called The Fast Growing Company EVER.

Here are just a few things, I like from a business standpoint.

1. It’s EASY

Everything about the process is simple. Specifically how you buy. Which is why i’ve bought over 50 items of things I didn’t really know I wanted. (PS – GroupOn, i’m like your prime market demo).

Check out todays deal in Dallas. Now normally, i wouldn’t know i need a facial micropeel especially since I don’t live in Dallas anymore. But, i do. I really do.

http://www.groupon.com/dallas/

2. It’s Social

If you are in a business that sells something you should be paying close attention to how they leverage social media. They make it easy to tell your friends about their great deals both with their forwarding tools and the fact it takes a certain number of people for the deal to be live.

3. It’s funny

Read today’s commentary on a cellulite treatment in New York. C’mon, that’s some funny stuff. Look at the first line:

Unlike keys, wallets, and lucky heads, cellulite is difficult to lose and rarely left behind on subway seats. Today’s deal performs a disappearing act on stubborn dimples.

But, here is where I was completely won over. The Opt Out. Yes, that’s right I said the dreaded 2 words you never want to hear from your email campaign. Opt Out. Nobody in any business wants to lose people especially when you are in an ecommerce business.

Recently, I attended a great conference called Exact Target #ET10. I blogged about it here, here, here & here. One of the key take-aways came from GroupOn talking about Opting Down not just out. Give your customer choices.

But if you have to let someone Opt Out; here is the way to do it. Its clever, it’s funny and I bet they get alot less opt outs because of it.

Watch this: httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxIVU_WnFko

I think that about sums it up. If for some reason you haven’t subscribed to GroupOn already; sign up now using this link http://www.groupon.com/r/uu1539393 b/c i’ll get free stuff.

Painting the Lion

PreLude:

I wrote this storydown awhile back when a group of my friends had gotten together and were reminiscing about the good ole days from college. At the time, i was writing more funny stories on this blog. Lately, it’s been all work and way TOO SERIOUS.

So, here you go. A little Friday humor for you…

Let me take you back to 1990. I’m a freshman at Florida State pledging Alpha Chi Omega. There’s history on campus with the Fraternity SAE.

 They have a huge statue of a lion in their front yard that they make their pledges guard 24 hours a day b/c it’s tradition to try and go paint your sorority letters on the lion.

And if they catch you they cut a piece of your hair off (GASP) and hang it on their wall (or so the rumors go)

Exciting stuff friends, exciting stuff, especially for a freshmen!

So, a group of us pledges decide we are the ones who will make this happen. We plan it out for about an hour (real detailed J). We dress in black to blend in with the night. We wait til 3am when we think our chances are best. Well, technically I fell asleep and had to be woken up but still…

Now,  it’s go time! Our “group” is now a pack of 2. Just me and my friend Celia. Everyone else chickened out. Wimps!

 We do the spy like loop around the block to check for their look out points. We crouch at the perimeter for a solid 10 minutes whispering our approach strategy. We crawl stealth like on our hands and knees towards the lion statue.

We are good.

We make Jack Bauer look like a wimp.

No one is onto us.

No one has seen us.

We are figments of our own imaginations.

We paint AXO and our own names (well, actually we painted “Celia & Lynn rule” in bright pink paint all over that bad boy lion statue. And then we hoop & holler & high 5  and run back to the car and drive home.

We are AMAZING.

We are BAD ASS.

We go home & go to sleep prepared for all the adoration we know will come in the morning.

Except it didn’t come.

Next morning, we get a call from standards (the sorority version of judge & jury). I’m paraphrasing but it went something like this…

Standards: “Did you guys paint the SAE Lion last night?”

Lynn & Celia (proudly) “Yep”

Standards: “Did you realize the Lion was painted black b/c there was a death in the National Chapter? And that they are in a National period of mourning & it’s not to be touched”

(Insert cricket chirping here)

WHOOPS! Um, Negative Ghostrider.

Yeah, apparently the reason we were so successful is that NO ONE WAS ACTUALLY GUARDING the lion that night. And apparently everyone on campus knew of this little nugget of info but us.

So, 50 hours of community service later and 2 fresh coats of paint on the lion while everyone looked at us like we were National Traitors, I learned a valuable lesson that day….

It was totally worth it.

b/c sometimes its the fun is in the journey and not the result.

PS – I’m still really sorry SAE.

How Social Media is Changing Interaction… In Person

I expected social media to change the way we interact online.

I did not expect nor fully anticipate how it would affect me in person. It still gets me every time when someone I barely know knows things about me that are personal. Of course, I’m the one that put it out there on Twitter and FaceBook for the world to see so I’m not sure why it surprises me but it does. EVERY TIME.

I guess I’m just not expecting anyone (other than my parents) to be reading this thing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I write for myself. It’s a way for me to organize and document my thoughts. I call it my modern day Journal that just happens to be available for the World to read.

Recently I was at an Exact Target conference in Indianapolis.  To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much & was dreading the commitment I had made.

I was wrong about the conference. Very wrong. Here’s what surprised me.

  • the sheer number of people (apparently, this thing is popular)
  • the practical (apply today) stuff i learned.
  • the quality of the speakers/sessions (Richard Branson, COO of Twitter)
  • the food (holy cow, they are serving up some seriously good chow here)
This was just breakfast

But here’s the real surprise: Social media changed the way people interact during this conference and how connections are made. I was expecting the interactive stuff (although they’ve taken it to a new level) but I was not expecting the response and the reach of the interactive stuff.

It all started with this tweet 24 hours before i even got there:

@Amy_Z RT@lynnwitt if you meet/see @LisaBeesa  or @Liz_Lewis give her the secret handshake #ET10

Now, here’s the crazy part. @amy_Z who sent me the tweet is an Alpha Chi (same as me) but until twitter i didn’t know her (we’ve still never met in person). Now, here she is aware of the fact that i’m at this conference along with another girl she knows (also an AX) and she’s connecting us. Amazing. No chance that would have happened 2 years ago.

Side Bar: I never met Leesa or or Liz but hope to one day 🙂

So, let’s get over that random fact bc it’s still hard for me to process.

Here are 2 Key observations about how my conference experience changed b/c of social media:

1. Before I got there, i told myself I was going to be as interactive as possible since after all that’s what i was there to learn.  I blogged about the event. People started to recognize me from me and stop me to tell me they enjoy my blog & tweets. I got new followers & “warm fuzzy feelings” about my responses to the conference. And in return I picked up some key learnings from a lot of smart people that were in attendance. People I would have never met or gotten to learn from.

2. I used the conference hashtag #ET10 whenever talking about the conference. By doing so, I met loads of new people i would have never met and actually changed my mind on which breakouts I would attend. My peers were influencing my decisions via social media in real time.

It’s now 3 days after the conference and I’m amazed by how social media is continuing the conference experience through Twitter and “connections”. The #ET10 hashtag is still pretty active.

I learned a ton and highly recommend the conference. Below are just a few of the blogs I posted about the conference. See you next year at #ET11

Day One 

Richard Branson

The Dunbar Circle

Why People Have it Out For Winners…

Every try to incorporate change and the masses come after you? Society doesn’t like change. And through no fault or understanding of their own the masses will try and take you down. I truly believe most of the time its not intentional and they rarely realize the effect of their actions.

Recently I read & Reviewed the Book, The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau. In it he tells the story of 5 Monkeys in a Cave. You can watch a pretty good illustration of it here

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZeiSKnhOBc 

The takeaway is simple. Often times people don’t want the new guy to reach for the bananas.

Here’s a few quotes from what Guillebreau calls “Energy Sucking Vampires”

“Lance Armstrong is embarassing the tour” – Head of the Tour de France on Lance’s return in 2009

“We don’t like their sound & guitar music is on the way out” – Decca Recording Co rejecting the Beatles in 1962.

“The grotesque scribblings of a child have a naivete… the excesses of this school sicken or disgust” – Emile Cardon on Monet, Renoir & other Impressionists.

Here’s the deal: You absolutely can NOT please everyone. I recently read this post from Business Week on the CEO’s Innovation Nightmare. Interesting how he describes most people wanting to create change as “bulls” and everyone else as “bears”.

As Guillebeau says in his book,

“When you start attracting vampires (or bears) congratulations, your well on your way. Just don’t give in.”

Book Review: The Art of Non-Conformity

The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau is a great book.

A “thinking” book.

Highly recommend the read both personally & professionally. Specifically personally.

But for this blog i’m going to focus on the key take-away I think i can apply to my business right now. And that is this concept..

In the book, he talks about the Power of Your Own Small Army. I immediately thought of the PBR (except our army is not small. We have a rather LARGE army of fans).

Here’s the 5 groups of people he says make up your army:

  1. Prospects – this are people that have heard about you & are curious. For me, in marketing this is a key group of what I call “Potential Future PBR Fans”.
  2. Followers – people that actively seek you. These are the over 5 Million people that Scarborough data tells us are PBR fans. The know us, they like us, they will engage with us when we ask them too.
  3. True fans – This is the 2-4% of your follower base completely committed to your success. For us these are our Fan Club Members. Or anyone else that is committed to our success. As a marketer, these are some of my favorite people and the ones I want to constantly be in touch back for their feedback. This is our “core”.
  4. Allies – these are like minded individuals who are actively waging campaigns of their own. These are our sponsors, our riders, our stock contractors and all of our other partners that make the PBR a success.
  5. Friends of Friends – these are all the people that are in a network with the aforementioned groups. And this is where social media comes into play. These are easy people for us to reach and spread the PBR brand to.

Guillebeau says the Plan of Action is:

Step One: Recruit Your Small Army (good news for me, we have one already)

Step Two: Train & Reward Your Army

Step Three: Ask Your Army to Help Your Cause.

The great news for me, is I’m Marketing the Toughest Sport on Earth and we have the best fans in the world. But, i’m going to work on Step 2 & 3 and how we can give more back to our fans.

OVerall, Great advice & a Great Book. So much more to it, so go pick up a copy today.

The Dunbar Circle

Had to do a quick post on this concept presented today at Exact Target Conference by @chrisbaggot as part of his presentation.

It’s called the Dunbar Circle & it looks like this:

Dunbar Circle

Now, apparently people have heard of this thing. I had not. I was completely fascinated. THe circle represents degrees of people you know. For instance the 5 is like the 5 people your willing to pee in front of (his words not mine) and the 1500 is a level we will never reach as humans.

Wikipedia defines “The Circle of Acquaintanceship” as this:

The number of people with whom you can hold personal relationships is limited to about 150 individuals. This is known as Dunbar’s number after Professor Robin Dunbar, head of Oxford University’s Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology. This limit is set by the size of our brains, and fits a general pattern relating brain size and social group size across the monkeys and apes. Relationships survive only if you reinforce them by occasional face-to-face contacts.

It took me awhile to get over the fact they were comparing my human brain to that of a monkey but once i did, @chrisbaggot’s point was crystal clear.

With social networking, this concept has not changed. As he pointed out, while you may have more than 150 FB friends or Twitter followers; your interaction is probably with less than 100 of them on a regular basis. The only thing that has changed with social media is…

We can broadcast our story to a larger audience.

Remember my Day One Recap which said “Your customer now has a megaphone”.

The reality is this: Humans are now advertising themselves more efficiently.

Is your marketing doing the same?