Sunday, March 21, 2010

Learn Your Greatest Fear

The quickest way to learn about yourself is to find out what you're afraid of. Some people are terrified of drowning and stay as far away from pools as they can. Some people are afraid of creepy crawly things and scream very loudly when a spider comes into view. Me? I'm afraid of screwing up.

It doesn't really matter what your fear is. The reaction is usually the same. Your mind races. You start to make excuses for why you can't, why you need out. It's fight or flight. You might even notice some anger building up in to propel you to stick it out.

Fear triggers all your defense mechanisms. It's a physiological response to protect your ego, your person. But sometimes it just causes more problems then we'd like to admit.

You have to know your fears so you can learn to work within them. If you're afraid of water and your plane crashes in the ocean, you're going to need to stay calm and tread water or swim to safety. If you panic or freeze, you use your energy up too quickly or you just sink straight away.

For me, awareness is helpful. If I know I'm scared, I can allow the feeling to take place without acting on it, without it consuming me or becoming dramatic. I can remind myself that I'll be ok and wait patiently for that truth to come to pass.

Fear not, this too will pass...

Viva NashVegas

Nothing says Nashville like a mechanical bull ride. Right?

That may not be exactly true. But it was a good time, even if slightly peer pressure induced. :-)

I was in Nashville this past week for a client. Now, I had never been to Nashville before. I had never really spent any time in Tennessee before. And I can tell you, it is certainly the South. Mechanical bull aside, there was catfish, sweet tea and accents galore. It was great.

Added bonus? I got to see Diamond Rio!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ramping Up New Clients

When you begin working with a new client, you must get up to speed as quickly as possible. You have to learn their industry, their place in the eco-system, competitors, suppliers, etc. Without direct access to the decision makers, this can be a very cumbersome. Research loops--reading and more reading--can go on forever.

So this past week was a wonderful opportunity for me. I started working with a new client just three weeks ago, and immediately was asked to travel to Nashville and then Vegas. That's where I was this past week.

Traveling for a brand new client is akin to speed dating. You have to take in new information as quickly as it comes in and then act on it. At the conclusion of your trip, you realize you've gone through the ramp up process much faster than you would have any other way.

What does that process consist of? For now, I've got it down to three major levels.
  1. Existence - Hopefully, by the time you win the business you know the client exists. But you need to understand the "being" of the operation. Put simply, this is the what does my client's existence mean to me as a consumer?
  2. Alphabet Soup - Once you understand the simplified version what your client does, you need to learn the entire industry eco-system. Acronyms and jargon -- in other words, alphabet soup -- are the next thing you need to learn and understand. If nothing else, you need to get yourself a very good cheat sheet.
  3. Confidence - Although it may sound hard to believe at the beginning, eventually you start to feel like you know what you're talking about. You can articulate what you know clearly. And, with confidence, you can also articulate what you don't know.
Travel or no travel, you've got to keep learning to stay smart for your clients.

The plane image comes from Flickr and can be found here.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Build Up of Minor Irritations

It's all about the little things. Or so they say.

Over time, little things turn into big things... That's one way to a landslide. The other way is a series of unrelated, but no less irritating, minor frustrations.

Like looking forward to a nice shower, only to have the hot water start giving out after two or three minutes.

Like looking for a quiet place to work and finding instead a barking dog, ambulances and car alarms going off.

It's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife...

Ok, even if Alanis Morissette messed up the meaning of ironic, she was pretty clearly ticked off about some stuff. And by the sound of her list of stuff, it had been building for quite some time.

Minor irritations turn into big irritations when you don't address the minor issue, when you're not being honest about it being a minor irritation and when you're not able to let it go. At a certain point, these sort of annoyances can turn a person angry. If it's allowed to fester. I've had more than my far share of irritation recently, but the real issue is that it's starting to fester. It's like an infection. When you're annoyed, every thing is annoying. It becomes impossible to let go of the minor thing, because it's festered into something 10x bigger. We tell ourselves stories and add drama around the initial frustration.

It all needs to refocus, to shift. But man, oh man, it's easy to dwell on it.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Lost in TV

Lately, I've been completely consumed. When I'm not working or teaching, I've been Lost. I've been completely consumed by Lost. ABC's smash-hit show had taken over my life.

Well, that is until I got current with the series. Now, I'm just bummed that it's about to be over...

Until recently, I had only seen the first two seasons of the show. Then I learned that all of seasons 1-5 (season 6 is current) is available on For free. Hence my being Lost.

First, let me say, if you've never watched Lost, now's a good time to check it out.


Since I've been watching lots of TV online, I know which types of online video ads I dislike least. Advertising is a necessary evil--we can agree on that. Some types of ads are less irritating than other--I suppose we can agree on that too. But it's frustrating to see the same TV ads run online.

Acknowledge the context. If I'm watching TV online, I probably do plenty of other things online too (like shop, read, research, etc.). ING Direct has a campaign running on Hulu that does just that.

Repackage TV ads? Sure, you could do that. But it's a waste. You get a chance to interact with people. So do it!

Interact with purpose. Letting your viewer play a game is a great idea. But TV trivia for an automobile manufacturer left me wondering why.

Options, Options, Etc. Give me a choice. Let me pick between long form or many short ads, or between interacting or just watching something.

Obviously, online ad formats are still being developed, especially for video. I know I'll keep watching. Please keep it interesting for me!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

PSA: Negative Mindsets Suck

Nothing will deplete the human spirit faster than a negative thought pattern. Negative mindsets suck. They suck your energy, your spirit, and leave you dry.

What constitutes destructive thinking? I'd argue it's any line of thought that doesn't serve or help you in someway.
  • Self doubt - though normal, isn't particularly helpful.
  • "The people who care about me try to hurt me." - I dated someone who operated from this place. Nothing could have been more destructive to our relationship, let alone his perception of the people around him.
  • "No body cares about me." - The sad thing about this statement is that you can make it true the longer you operate from that place. The people who do care about you get frustrated and hurt by your belief that no one cares about you when they clearly do. Then, as a way to protect themselves, the people who care about you are forced to distance themselves.

It sucks. Operating from any one of these mindsets just sucks. It sucks your energy. It sucks your confidence. It sucks the life out of your relationships too.

So please stop!

The image is from an article.

Original post draft: 12/27/09

Monday, March 1, 2010

When Searching for Common Ground, Accentuate the Positive

Everyone is familiar with the statement misery loves company. It's easy to complain and commiserate because finding the negative isn't overly hard. When you look around expecting people to screw you over, you'll likely spend your time stewing over how they have. It's really no mystery.

Trouble is, it's not really a great way to base a relationship. "Life sucks, so let's be friends." Taken to the extreme, when all you speak about is negative, it colors your relationship.

When searching for common ground, it's easy to find the negative. And that behavior, that bonding device, comes in many formats: finding a common enemy (ex. the government, roommates), sharing similar stories of being taken advantage of or mistreated (ex. rape, childhood trauma)... We compare war wounds, battle scares to offer proof that we've been around awhile. That we're human and have lived.

It's much harder to accentuate the positive. When you're focused on the negative, it can be difficult to even locate positive. But even though it starts off as work, happiness is in the positive.


This post started off as a way to address a friendship that I could feel being trapped in the negative. When we would get together, we'd only talk about the problems in our lives... It's funny to wrap this post up now, because I bonded with one of my best friends over the fact that 2009 was the worst year ever. From that particularly low point, we've been able to offer each other immense support and perspective for moving forward.

Sad Saucer image from Helgasm!'s Flickr feed.

Original draft date: 6/27/08