Getting Back to Basics

The week between Christmas and New Years has traditionally been quiet in terms of business, but never as much as this year. The silence has opened doors for muted voices to rise to the surface and take center stage, at least for the week. Today, the resounding song that came through was “getting back to basics.” “Basics” in my world is finding the inner strength to guide us through the both difficult and rewarding experiences.

Today I traveled back in time, about 20 years or so when sketching concepts was the preferred method to show the first round of layouts to clients. By loosely sketching concepts you focus exclusively on what’s most important to get a client to agree with – the CONCEPT! No overproduced or over used effects to distract attention away from deeper meaning. No glorification of photography in substitution for an original idea. In a sketch the essence of the concept rises up through the paper like oil in water, like light in darkness – clearly defined, undeniably present. One of a kind. Irreplaceable.

Also today I share 10 more “back to basics” marketing lessons from 2011. For a the complete list of 101 lessons, visit here.

21 ) Raise curiosity in everything I do. Curiosity raises questions. I like questions. They challenge and keep us involved in conversations and our relationships. Curiosity fuels our life’s journey. Without it, we don’t turn  knobs to unopened doors or step onto  freshly mowed pathways. Curiosity awakens us from monotony, status quo and resistance to change. I embrace the role of Curiosity Connoisseur as I help lift others with wings created from divine inspiration and soar among skies of infinite wisdom.

22 ) People pleasing serves no one. According to Merriam-Webster to please is: to make, to afford or give pleasure or satisfaction. People-pleasers yearn for validation from others and put the needs of others before themselves. It can even become an addiction that makes one feel a need to be needed until their personal sense of security and self-confidence is based on receiving the approval of others.

When we you were young, did you have any idea how much this people pleasing mentality was groomed into our being? We wanted to please our parents and teachers, by listening and doing as they said, with little challenge, or questioning. Their satisfaction meant dessert after dinner or five minutes longer at recess. That’s what’s important to a 10 year old. These awards of pleasure for pleasing others were ingrained within us. Flash forward 15 years or so and we find that living a life, or servicing customers simply by pleasing others doesn’t really help anyone. As we become wiser, with specialized knowledge and skills it’s our duty to shift gears. I realize Mr. Right believes he always is, but perhaps, just perhaps this time the greatest service comes from saying no.

23 ) Needy is creepy. We’ve all felt this right? Perhaps it was in high school when a fellow student would consistently hang around the perimeter of your group of friends – never really as an active participant, but always hanging on the fringes. How about at one of your first jobs when the intern would be at your heals practically begging to tie your shoes for you, pour your coffee and make your copies. And I know we’ve all experienced the overbearing Telemarketer who just needs a minute or two of our time to “share” their new and improved product. We’ve all felt it, that chill up our spine when creepiness bleeds out of another’s character sure as sweat bubbles through a flimsy t-shirt. They will be accommodating, over interested, and anxious to get to talking about themselves and how they can help another. Seems like a dream until you realize they never go away.

24 ) Be specific. Be terrific. Specific means focused, attentive, purposeful, deliberate – my favorite word! In art, music and dance, a great artist doesn’t sneak up on a note, a color or a step, he/she move confidently in it. If it’s done with purpose and deliberate behavior no one would ever know the difference between your intention and a happenstance mistake. Own it. Be specific, focused, confident and deliberate and everything you touch will be terrific.

25 ) Attraction and charm are an illusion. Some of you may know the story of the door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman who knocks on the door of the unsuspecting housewife. His shirt is perfectly starched, his smile blinding with glistening white teeth, and his pitch…a smile and song. He’ll use every last ounce of his charm to convince you his vacuum cleaner is the cat’s meow. Fifteen minutes later you don’t need a vacuum, you need bath from how deep and heavy this guy has been throwing his sales strategy. Enter salesman #2. Now he’s gonna tick you off right away because (with your permission of course) he throws down on your carpet everything from dirt, to apple juice to confetti. Two guys, same vacuum, but two completely opposite sales methods. Who sells the most? Just keep in mind, when you buy a new vehicle, you‘re buying more than a ton of steel, you’re investing in a relationship. And trusting relationships need little physical manifestations to make the worth while.

26 ) Understand and identify the difference between interest and commitment. To show interest, we raise our eyebrows, listen intently for a short periods of time, maybe even purchase a token to represent our present curiosity and wonder. To show commitment however, an investment is required. Investment could show up as a down payment on a car, a diamond ring, a stack of “working” paintings or blocking out time to spend with family. What does commitment look like in your life?

27 ) All agreements occur within a conversation. Remember that expression “assume just makes an A$$ out of U and ME ”? An assumption is just the opposite of a conversation isn’t it? The dictionary defines “assume” as “to take for granted or without proof; suppose; postulate; posit.” When we assume, we take it upon ourself to believe another will live up to an unspoken expectation. An agreement, on the other hand, needs two equally receptive and participating parties. Whether it’s a friend, loved one, employee, client or customer lay off the blessed emails, pick up the phone and have a REAL dialogue. If we permanently remove assumption from our vocabulary every conversation will be that much more agreeable.

28 ) Ask for agreements. Never live by expectations. See above.

29 ) Keep conversations in the world of possibility not affordability. Real leaders, real innovators are not governed by the pocketbooks of affordability, instead they create better products, new innovations, greater meaning through the exploring possibilities. They allow imagination and the power of discovery to define their course‘s direction and not how much cash is in the piggy bank at the time. If someone REALLY finds their calling is to live a year in Paris, they will create the means to get there. And if a business is serious about developing a complete brand message they’ll find the resources to fund more than a logo redesign.

30 ) Experts don’t know everything, they just know who and what to ask. I believe the true mark of an expert is their capability and humility to be resourceful. They kick ego out of the way and march straight to the path of resolution through the knowledge of fellow experts.