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How to make me want to punch you in the face

I’m not a violent guy. Well, most of the times I’m not.

Sometimes, though, I seem to forget all my manners and I imagine I’m grabbing some deeply unhelpful rep called Randal, and shaking him until he gets rid of the crap he keeps in his ears.

But I don’t do it. Partly because I don’t feel like going to jail, and partly because somebody has yet to invent a way to do that by phone or email.

What puts me in this state of darkness? Glad you asked!

Please Kick The Shit Out Of Me!
Creative Commons License photo credit: laverrue

The beginning of the story: do you care about the experience?

More specifically, do you care about the experience of your clients, customers, and whoever you’re doing something for?

You want to provide a service, that is useful and appreciated, so you care.

You probably remember a situation when a clerk, let’s call him Randal, was complaining, and you even felt like you were bothering him. You thought “Why are you doing this job if you hate it so much?”.

And you really, really, don’t want your customers to feel the way you did.

So yes, you care. And you try to make sure each experience is the best possible. You want to improve your service so your customers are happy.

But you can’t always know what goes on in your customer’s mind.

Where you ask for feedback

So you ask for feedback. I mean, you know your customer knows best what she wants in her encounter with you and your services.

And you’re not the only one asking for feedback, the big ones do it too.

Let’s say Randal Corp. is a big Internet service provider. They record the support calls so that the “customer support experience” can be improved. They even send an email after a call to the support asking for a small 30 seconds feedback. So small that the only thing they ask you to do is click on a simple radio button to express whether the customer rep was competent and helpful. They don’t give you the opportunity to ask why the h*** they don’t provide support via email!

And why? Because they don’t want to know. Because they don’t actually want to improve the experience, they just want to rank it, to normalize it, so that it’s appropriate, not so that it’s good, or better. Otherwise, why wouldn’t they give the opportunity to send forms via email? Or – God forbid – put them on the web so their customers don’t have to spend 15 minutes waiting on a call then wait a week for the forms to arrive?

Where you get feedback

I want to make things better. This is who am I at the core. And I’m pretty good at pointing out things that could be improved. But more importantly, I’m a (potential) customer willing to help.

This is a message for the Randal Corps of the world: Most of the time you ask for feedback. Often, I give it. Sometimes you answer. Most of the times you make me understand that my suggestions won’t go further than the Trash mailbox. If by chance, you not only listen, but hear me, and I ask you to keep me posted on the elements that prevent me from buying from Randal Corp., why do I never hear from you ever again?

You say you care about your “customers”, but don’t understand it is always one at a time!

Where I want to matter

I want to be cared for. When you tell me you care, because you want feedback, I trust you, and I give. Then you do whatever you want with my gifts and forget about me. Why don’t you go until the end?

What I learn from your actions is that you want to use me and dispose of me.

Then I just want to punch you in the face, because, seriously, it’d be so easy to do it right.

Where you do it right

If you are passionate about the experience, and if you listen, I mean really listen to me, make me feel that I care, I’ll be devoted to you, I’ll help you grow and serve your clients better than ever, I’ll bring you new customers, and a wealth of ideas and services I want to buy from you.

But that brings up a question: do you want a relationship with me, or do you just want me to buy stuff from you?

Be passionate about your customers experience, and you’ll get loyal fans. Be a Randal, pretend to care and don’t follow through, and not only your customers will not care about you, they’ll jump ship as soon as something looks better on the other side.

If you’re not passionate about your customers, are you serving anyone but yourself?

No Randals were harmed in the making of this post (though I certainly thought about it).

How a system can help you attain your goal

Who needs another constraint in their lives? Between jobs, opening hours, taxes, and other rules, systems have a bad rep. Not surprising, they are limiting your freedom.

The magic box

But systems aren’t all bad, if you learn to use them well, they can be used to help you attain your goals.

How come?

  • They give a direction, helping you visualize the goal
  • They create space to focus
  • In time, they provide the comfort of a known situation and process

But be careful, not all systems are created equal.

Think outside the box

For a system to be truly effective for you, its goals and limitations need to be clear, which means, you have to look at it from the outside.

No system if all-encompassing, they are all limited. Decide what you want a system for, and look for the limits of the system, so that you are not subconsciously constrained by them.

Let’s take an example. If you want to do some exercise to keep in shape, you know that a certain regularity is needed. Depending on how you feel in your body and mind, you could need to show up once a week, or every day.

Let’s say you decide to run twice a week, every Tuesday and Friday, at 6.30 am, for 30 minutes, before you go to work. So, that’s your system. Sounds good? Take a minute to imagine what its limits are.

Done? Here’s what I came up with:

  • I have to wake up one hour earlier than usual. Can I do it?
  • What happens when I’m tired or don’t feel like running?
  • What if it rains?
  • If for whatever reason I miss one day, do I try to catch up the next day or do I just skip it?

These are all questions which hit the limits of the system. When building a system, you want to make sure that all aspects are covered so it’s effective. For example:

  • Find a running buddy to get support and accountability, it’s way easier to show up when someone’s counting on you.
  • Run everyday (or 5 days a week), so it can become a habit and you don’t have to change your all routine each odd day you planned to run.
  • Decide beforehand the amount of rain you’re willing to sustain, and a contingency plan in case you can’t run, don’t skip!
  • Be willing to change the plan if it’s for a better one long-term, otherwise, you’ll simply destroy the system for a short-term gain.

Every habit or lifestyle decision we make is in its own way a system. I am a vegetarian, my system is that I don’t eat meat or fish, even if they are the only things available (never happened). I trust and depend on that system. I know that when I started, had I tried to be vegetarian, I wouldn’t have been able to cope to the social pressure, but I created a box, a system, then trusted and followed it. It’s been 19 months, and counting.

Create within the box

Now that you’ve built the box, it is time to have fun and be creative. The system is meant to help you show up, and in the long term, attain your goal. But once you’ve showed up, it’s up to you to create whatever you want. You can make a challenge to run 10 miles in 90 minutes, or run slowly for 30 minutes then sprint until you’re exhausted.

If you want to create a system to help you write a book, the system will need to give you both limits (you can’t do anything else for an hour) and a space to create (you have a full hour to create!). You could try to write the worst draft you possibly can on one day, then the best one the next. Make it entertaining.

Me? I’m trying raw food, new ingredients, new ways of preparing and consuming food. I am much clearer on the effects of food on my body and mind. When you try different things, you learn. The system allows you to try.

Love the box

Ultimately, a system helps you show up, it works if you trust it enough to respect and follow it, so that it becomes a dependable part of your life.

Once you depend on a system, you don’t need to worry so much about your goal. If you run three times a week with a partner, each and every week, you won’t worry anymore that you “should” do something to keep in shape, it’ll be taken care of, by the system.

What’s one system that allows you to thrive?

What to do when you’re scared of change

You want to improve your health, finances, your life.

You really want to go forward towards your goals, but you’re afraid of what it takes to accomplish a change.

A world of changes where everybody stays the same

Everybody wants to change something, but everybody is also scared of it.

Have you noticed how most people, when talking about change, want the change to come from someone else?

The government, a company, their employer, their spouse or friends. Rarely we find someone who truly understands that any change worth making comes from within.

And that’s not surprising, humans are creatures of habits, we cherish both comfort and safety, and we find them in routine.

However messy and always-changing the lives of some of us are, they still provide habits and comfort, if only by their unpredictable nature. It can be the food you’re eating, the TV you’re watching, but most importantly the image that other people have of you.

Change IS scary.

Why?

Simple: you know you can survive in your current situation, you know you can handle how people see you, because you are! But any change that threatens the status quo begs the question: will I survive this? How much pain might I encounter along the way? Will I succeed? Will I fail? How people will look at me either way?

It doesn’t matter whether it looks like a good change or not, if it is significant enough, fear always creeps up.

It doesn’t mean you should never change. On the contrary, sometimes, fear shows us what we care about.

When to consider a change

Simply, when you feel the current situation isn’t right, when it doesn’t satisfy you. When you wake up dreading your work, or even worse, feeling completely apathetic.

Now, if you don’t know what to change, or how to change it, your mind will trick you into believing you don’t want/need the change.

Acknowledging you want a change and knowing how the hell you’re gonna make it are two completely different things. The first step is bringing more truth. If you want to change, accept it. Only then, look at your options. It might take time, be patient.

What if you don’t feel ready?

Why don’t you?

If you believe you’ll be ready when you’re not afraid of the change anymore, the next change you’ll make is going six feet under.

Do NOT wait for the fear to disappear, the more you care about the change, the more the fear will try to stall you. As Susan Jeffers wrote, feel the fear and do it anyway.

Now, if you wonder if you’re ready because of your financial situation, or career, or [insert very good excuse here], does that also prevent you from taking one step forward?

No, you do not need to quit your job tomorrow, but what about looking for classes to improve your skills or job offers to see how the market is going?

Assume the change you want to make, and start gathering information, go to workshop, the momentum will help you go forward. Your worst enemy is inertia. The more steps you’ll take, the easier it’ll get, even if the fear stays.

If you still doubt, here’s the killer trick: on your deathbed, what will you regret more? Making a scary change in order to attain your dreams, even if you fail, or stalling to keep the fear and safety under control (and failing by default)?

Share what you can do today to bring you closer.

Thanks to Bon for inspiring this post.

The 30-day Passionate Being challenge

Good day, Passionate Beings!

How’s life going these days? Pretty good? Not bad?

What about making it Passionately Awesome?

If you’re interested, it’s your lucky day, as today marks the launch of the Passionate Being 30-day challenge to help you build your Passionate Life.

What I believe

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
Helen Keller

Early Morning Train
Creative Commons License photo: The Wandering Angel

I believe that a life lived at 50% is a life half-wasted. I believe that doing something because you “should” instead of because you love doing it is a cry for change. But most importantly, I believe it is possible to live a life filled with passion, creation and pleasure. I believe this kind of life is the best there is, not only for ourselves but for the world. I also believe that if you want to leave a truly positive mark in the world, you have to be passionate about your life.

Finally, I believe I can help you build a life that you’ll be so passionate about, you wouldn’t change it for the world.

But who would I be if I believed I could help you build a passionate life but limit myself to helping a few friends here and there?

It is time to step up and share my beliefs and skills with the outside world.

This challenge is how I’m doing it.

The Challenge

During 30 days, from today August 23rd until September 21st 2010, if you allow me, I will help you get clear about your situation and get started building your passionate life.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a job you hate and have no idea how to make a change, or if your life is pretty good but you feel there’s something missing.

As long as you’re willing to make changes, I can help and guide you.

To do that, I offer you one session with me.

For free.

Two sessions if you’re among the first five.

Yes, I won’t ask a dime.

But I’ll ask for feedback so I can hone my skills, and if you feel I helped you, I’ll ask you for a testimonial to describe how.

And I’m asking you right now for your help to share the word. If you know someone who is ready to make some changes, please send them a link to this page. You can also use the buttons below to post a link to Twitter, Facebook, digg, and others.

Helping you change your life in exchange for a feedback and a testimonial, that’s a pretty good deal, don’t you think?

I will do my best to help as many of you as I can, as to make the biggest impact possible.

I’ll keep you posted on how the challenge is going on this blog in a couple weeks, maybe before if I have lots to say.

How does it work?

If you want to participate in the challenge, use the contact form below to ask for a session before September 22nd 2010. We will schedule a Skype or phone call that will last about an hour, maybe a bit less, maybe a bit more. Then you can leave a message on this post if you feel like it.

Fill out the form below to ask for a free Skype session with me (two free sessions for the first five persons).
Please indicate your availability and time zone. I am in GMT+2 and I’m mostly available between 10am and 10pm.

All fields are required.


Do not fill out this form field:

You can contact me right now using the form above to schedule a free session, or if you want more details, keep reading.

The situation

Securely Bound
Creative Commons License photo credit: Thristian

We are all attached to things, people and situations in our lives: our job, partner, friends, diet or even our couch. When one or more of these elements are somewhat misaligned with what we want and the path to get it, this creates confusion about the road to take.

You think “this job doesn’t fulfill me, but it has a nice paycheck and I kinda like the people there”. In these circumstances, nothing short of a hurricane would get you off your current path without your say so.

Sometimes the hurricane is getting fired. In other circumstances, it is getting sick, or deeply depressed.

Quite often, this struggle is completely unconscious, because you don’t see another way, you believe there isn’t any, and without realizing it, you dismiss the alternatives that would put you on the right path.

What I do for you in the challenge

We schedule a Skype session, and during that session, I listen, I ask questions.

Then together we find the barriers and resistance that are preventing you from experiencing a truly Passionate Life. We uncover the inconsistencies between what you say and what you do. We reveal how you subconsciously prevent yourself from going forward.

Once you have more clarity about your path, your obstacles, we explore together the different ways to attain your goals so you have a clear vision of the steps to take. Then it is yours to make decisions and take actions to get closer to your goals.

In a nutshell, we look at your current situation, what is not working, and we give you more options to get you where you want to be.

What you can expect from our session

  • gain more clarity about your current situation, and how it fits with what you want
  • get a better picture of what you really want (it might not be what you believe you want)
  • uncover and understand the reasons you’re not going forward
  • get rid of the lies you have accepted as truths that prevent you from being more passionate and happy
  • come up with a few action steps and possibilities to get more of what you want

How can you be a part of the challenge?

First of all, use the opportunity for yourself by scheduling a session for free (using the form below).

Then go tell two of your friends who would really benefit from the challenge so that they can participate if they wish to do so (use the buttons below).

Finally, share your experience in the comment section of this post.

Times and dates and stuff

So, the challenge starts today, August 23rd and goes on until September 21st.

To schedule a free session use the form below before September 22nd 2010. The first five to ask get two sessions. Don’t delay.

Please indicate your availability and time zone. I am in GMT+2 and I’m mostly available between 10am and 10pm.

All fields are required.


Do not fill out this form field:

Final words

By being more passionate about your life, you improve the lives of others, especially those close to you. Join the path today.

The value of an idea

Do you have more ideas for new projects than you can keep up with? Or are you waiting for the million dollar idea to quit your job?

How many times did you see a new object/software/thingy being released to the world and think “Damn! I thought about that! Why didn’t I do it?”?

The 260-million sales idea

zen garden
Creative Commons License photo credit: Eddi 07

If you have a really great, innovative idea, you can surely create a new market, crush the dull competition, and make billions in revenue in only a decade.

Take the iPod for example, it seems like everyone and their mother have one or two. 260 millions units sold since the launch of the first, Mac-only, iPod on October 23, 2001.

Even their competitors have to agree Apple did an awesome job, putting thousands of songs in our hand. And they succeeded because they came up with the idea first.

Or did they?

In 1996, Audio Highway announced the first ever portable MP3 player, Listen Up, which was released in 1997. Then came  Saehan’s MPMan, Diamond’s Rio and Compaq’s Personal Jukebox in 98 and Creative’s Nomad in 2000.

Apple entered the market after most of its competitors in 2001. And they still took most of the market share (72.7% in 2007). How did they do it?

Making an idea real

Was there a new, killer idea/feature in the iPod which justified such success? Did the iPod do more than the Rio for example?

Not really.

Their success came from great implementation and marketing of an idea, and creating the eco-system to make it flourish (in that case, great design and iTunes).

Don’t think they just got lucky, they did the same thing with the iPhone, then again with the iPad, taking everybody by surprise with a brilliant implementation when the competition was fighting over average.

Yes, being the first to market can be useful, but if you can change quickly, which is the case on the Internet and in small businesses, it’s better to work on the implementation. You don’t even need to release all the features at first, make a subset of features, only the core, but make the experience great and attractive. Remember, the first iPod required a Mac to work, had no store and no touchscreen.

Having the vision

I’m not saying an idea isn’t important, it is.

But it is important because it allows you to have a vision and get motivated to implement that vision.

The vision itself is more important than the product. Only the product is required in the market place, but it is the vision that creates success.

The vision will keep you going when it’s hard, and the implementation (the product) is the structure you need in order to go forward and share the vision.

Opening new perspectives

If you give too much weight to any idea, it’ll be very difficult to change course when something isn’t working, or to seize new opportunities, because you’ll be too attached to your first, “perfect”, idea.

Ideas should be free-flowing, coming and going, when it makes sense and you’re passionate about an idea, act on it, but leave room for new ideas to come to you anyway. An idea loses value with new discoveries.

Being Passionate

The value of an idea is found in how passionate you are to make it a reality. If you are passionate about bringing your idea to more people, while still be open to change it as you go along, it will grow enough to take a life of its own. You’ll end up simply serving the idea and the greater good.

Be careful not to fool yourself, you can have a great idea, but without implementation, it isn’t worth a dime. And if you’re waiting for the killer idea, remember that a good idea with a killer implementation will trump a great idea with a bad one any day of the week.

What’s the idea you’re passionate about enough to make real?