Monday, December 30, 2013

Why I Am Not Making Any New Year's Resolutions for 2014

It's been years since I've made a New Year's Resolution. I gave them up long ago. Mostly because I hate the word. It's not very sexy or inspiring or very motivating. It implies doom. Which has everything to do with why they don't work.

Resolving to do something sounds very patriarchal. Rigid. Without flexibility.  In other words - fated to failure. Which is what happens with most people who make a list of resolutions in January. By Martin Luther King's Birthday they don't even know where they put the list.

I've written about it here before. 

I am not a fan of the word goal either. Goals are for the football field. They imply the only way to get somewhere is by following a specific set of rules. It's almost 2014. We've seen the changes in the last few years - most of which have happened with vision and intention and by breaking the rules.

Don't get me wrong. I am cleaning house. Straightening out the loose ends of 2013. Getting clear on what I want 2014 to look like. Change is good. A clean page on the calendar. A chance to create something new. To look at the world and my life from a fresh perspective.

I'll be working on my vision. I'll allow myself not just to see it but to feel it fully in my body. That's one of the secrets of those who manage to create a lot. They let themselves feel it in every cell of their being. That's how they stop themselves from getting in their own way.  I've already started my list of intentions. And then I'll have another list of what steps I can take that will help me to bring it all to fruition. 

I'll reread the blog I wrote last January The Five Things You Should Know Before You Write Those Resolutions and I'll follow my own advice. 

But I won't resolve and I hope you won't either.

Wishing you all the best year yet!

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Why I'm Done With Christmas

It happens every year. Barely halfway through the month of December and I am done with the whole holiday thing. I am already plotting January. Keeping a list - not of what I have to do this month or what I want for Christmas - but of what I want to do in January. 

I wake up each morning not counting the days until Christmas but the days until my calendar reads 2014.

I am done. Done with the throngs of tourists who have come to enjoy my city. The ones who are never told the dangers of walking four across the sidewalk holding hands or suddenly stopping at the top of the subway stairs to have a look around. I am done with having to hold my purse a little closer to me when navigating the crowds or wondering if that seemingly lost person who is asking me for directions is really lost or setting me up to steal my wallet.

I am done with angry people in the stores and ridiculous answers when I ask a question. Like the woman in Trader Joe's who when I asked where the canned pumpkin was told me they were out because it was a seasonal item -looking at me like I was asking her in July. I am done with the liquor store marking up all their prices and keeping the less expensive yet quite drinkable wines out of sight. And I am done wondering why it seems all my friends on Facebook don't seem as done as I am.

I get to this place where I feel like Ebenezer himself and have to struggle to remember what it was I always loved about this holiday.

My memories overflow with twinkling lights and snowmen made of Ivory flakes. Candy cane cookies sprinkled with crushed peppermint and a house full of family and friends. The mystery of who Santa Claus really was. Presents wrapped in shiny paper and tied up with green and red ribbons. The smell of pine filling the room. Watching White Christmas for the umpteenth time and still being enthralled. Love and hope and possibility permeating the air. That feeling that something magical was about to appear at every corner.


There it is! That is what the lure of this holiday always was for me. True I was raised to believe in Jesus and know that this is supposed to be the celebration of his birthday. But the message that was always the clearest for me was not that of religion - but that of magic. 

Of possibility. 

Of believing in what everyone else wants to tell you cannot or should not believe in. 

Christmas was never supposed to be about the business we have made it to be.

It's not Christmas I'm done with. What I'm done with is getting caught up in what others want to make it be. At least until next year.

With best wishes for a magical holiday season!
See you in 2014!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

6 Reasons Asking Is Risky Business

Asking is not something that comes naturally to me. It wasn't how I was raised. I was raised to stand on my own two feet and to figure it out for myself - whatever "it" was. If you asked you were imposing on the other person. And that just wasn't a nice thing to do.

Which made learning to ask a client for the order that much harder for me when I first started selling.

I learned to get past my reluctance. I had to or my selling career would have been short lived. But it wasn't easy. And the dirty little secret is - I still have moments when asking - for help, for the order, even a question - is the last thing I want to do. 

But I do. Because I know if I don't I'll never know the answer and I'll never move from the spot I'm in.

That doesn't mean it's not risky. For example - 

1. I'm taking the chance I might not like the answer. I've lost track of how many times I have not asked a question because I didn't know if I wanted to hear the answer. 
2. I don't really want to hear a no. No is a tough word. No sounds so final. No. No. No. Yet the truth is a no is so much better than a maybe  - which is the answer you're getting when you don't ask. Maybe is limbo. It's nowhere land. With no at least you know where you stand.
3. I think I'm imposing. Old learning dies hard. I still sometimes think I'm infringing on someone else's space when I ask.
4. I risk being perceived as pushy. No one wants to be thought of as pushy - except of course the person who really is and doesn't care.
5. I think the person knows what I want already. I've made this mistake a thousand times - and whether it's been personally or professionally I've learned that no one can read my mind. If I don't ask I don't get.
6. I think asking is for the weak or ignorant. A strong person doesn't need help. A smart person already knows the answers. When the truth is it takes more courage to ask that not to and smart people get smarter by asking.

While I have learned how to ask - easily and with grace - there are moments when my stomach still does flips, my mouth still goes dry or my hand starts to shake before I make the call. But I do it. Because if I don't I'll just never know what would have happened if I did.

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Friday, December 6, 2013

What I Don't Want For Christmas

I've adapted quickly to most technology. I sit before a 21-inch iMac. My smartphone is rarely out of reach. My iPad comes with me to most business related activities. But there is one thing you can rest assured you won't see me in anytime soon and that is Google Glass.

Wearable technology is hot. No question about that. Nike's Fuelband debuted in 2012 and continues to be a prototype for innovative marketing and customer engagement. Sony just launched a Smart Watch 2 and rumor is that Apple's iWatch concept will combine Nike Fuelband with iOS Apps.

The latest in wearable tech is the news that  Microsoft is working on the Smart Bra  (yes - you read that right) which uses sensors to measure a woman's emotional state and detect when she might be gearing up to overeat. 

(Note to Microsoft - Fascinating technology but we women generally know when our emotions might be triggering our over eating and an alarm sent to our smartphone is not going to stop it from happening!) 

Now back to those glasses.

I got to try them out when I was at BlogHerPro

This is what I noticed. 

They made me dizzy.
Everyone who was wearing them had their eyes rolled towards the ceiling and off to the left where the screen sits.
Consequently no one was making eye contact.
They pinched.
They look ridiculous.

There I said it.
They look ridiculous.

No one mentions the style factor. Everyone is too caught up raving about the technology. But I am here to tell you there is nothing whatsoever fashionable about what someone looks like wearing Google Glass. 

Which is just one of the two big reasons I don't want a pair for Christmas.

The other is that I am too connected for my own good as it is. I have enough trouble keeping my gaze away from my smartphone. I don't need to be wearing the temptation on my eyes. 

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Danger of Content Sounding Like A Sales Pitch

Have you noticed how it seems everyone is trying to sell you something?
All day.
Every day.

It gets tiresome.
Especially this time of year.

Email solicitations.

Sponsored Facebook posts.

Interstitial ads that you have to sit through before getting to where you wanted to go.

Commercial breaks on TV and Radio that include five advertisers in one pod.

Direct mailers stuffing your mailbox.

Pop up ads at the bottom of that FREE phone App.

It's hard not to shut off and stop listening to the noise.

Which is what most of us do. 

According to McKinsey until some trigger sets us off on the path to purchase we are pretty much not paying attention to anything

Which is the big challenge for marketing in the digital age. To create that trigger so we start paying attention.

Content marketing is today's first pick to set the customer journey in motion.  As Jay Baer, author of Youtility Marketing says "Content is the fire. Social media is the gasoline." That's how today's word of mouth referrals work.

But you need to be careful. 

Content is not a sales pitch. 

Yes, a call to action at the end of a blog post is a good idea. But a call to action is not necessarily a sales pitch. It could be something as simple as asking people who like what you wrote to share it.  

The danger occurs when every blog post starts out as good, useful, perhaps even thought provoking content and quickly turns into a pitch to get you sign up for something that costs money.

The result - your message as an authority gets diluted.  

The one we get is that what is most important to you is making money. Your message is merely the vehicle.

I will never dispute that making money is important. It is after all, the end game to all this marketing. 

But when everything sounds like a sales pitch it's not content marketing. 

It feels pushy. 

It gets annoying. 

It sounds inauthentic.

It creates distrust.

It's so last century.

It's not even a very good sales pitch. 

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