If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it. ~ Maya Angelou.
I would be remiss if I didn't point out my favorite indicator that people believe we are turning the corner. I sit on the Board of Directors of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, which had its annual gala in Miami last week, and in spite of a very tough year for charity gifting in general, this evening produced stellar results under the circumstance. Norm Wedderburn, the President/CEO of the Chapter, is truly a marketing and business sage. He has nothing to sell, no leverage to hold over others, and a staff that is overworked, undermanned and highly motivated. His life is to "ask." In truth, all businesses life is to "ask" but most have forgotten and instead try to sell, manipulate, and at time hold hostage there very people that allow them to operate in the first place. Not Norm, he selflessly engages, informs, acquiesces, listens, cares, AND because of that, he receives. I admire him greatly and strongly believe that if more business leaders ran their organizations with the same playbook we would see significant change.
A great deal of our work over the past 18 months has been focused on helping our clients chart the murky and at times treacherous waters of business fluctuations. For some, “the best laid plans" have simply become plans "laid to rest.” For others though, this period has been one to focus on building the foundation for the future. While some sectors have a while until they return to "normal" growth, that should not be mistaken for no growth currently. In fact, most of our clients are having a banner quarter (Sure we think it's because they hired us. Paging narcissistic, party of one.).
However, the one area of concern and discussion is concentrated on creating a positive united mindset. We have spent so much time in precipitous slide to emotional malaise, that for many have become content with mediocrity. A collective shift of confidence needs to occur in order to right this ship and make these small positive upticks unfailing.
For business owners, that means the focal point needs to be back on the workforce and the consumer. In order to survive the past few years, companies did all possible to stay afloat. Some of these changes were positive business decisions and actually should have been made during the best of times. Much can get lost when we are collectively patting each other on the back. However, the same can be true when our time is spent at the water cooler of doom. We made so many alterations to the operational fabric that we didn't focus on how it would continue to fit or feel.
Personnel have been left despondent and reduced to a cog in the process. In earlier blogs we have discussed how we have advised companies to remove all silo lines of communication and create a circular dialogue. Businesses would be amazed how something as simple as providing a voice back to the employee will yield overall productivity and boast moral. Corporate leaders need to get back to leading again and stop covering their asses, while piously tucked in their ivory tower.
Consumers have spent the past few years absorbing the changes small and large. Some popular rolls of toilet paper cost 10% more than two years ago with the roll decreasing in the same sheet count. General net weight of packaged foods have been reduced slightly enough to shave costs and ultimately consumer confidence. Think I am being hyperbolic? How many times have you heard, "I have never worked so hard and made so little as I do today"? How any consumer loyalty remains is beyond me, but there are cases. Companies that have remained authentic to their brands morals will prevail. I view the seemingly minute changes as indicators for future transformation. On November 1st, weeks before the start of the holiday shopping season, a few of the companies that follow our marketing and communications principles, Amazon.com, Target and Walmart, shot the first salvo with free shipping. These companies listened to the cry of the consumer via a recent study by ComScore, which found that 55% of shoppers said they would abandon purchases in the middle of the transaction upon learning that shipping cost extra. I know you may be thinking this is inconsequential, but I argue we must start somewhere.
Bottom line is that we must finish this year strong and carry this "mo"mentum into next year. That means in all areas of your life take a moment and determine what’s working, what you can discard, what can you enhance and what needs to be jump started.
All my best,
The Big STIR
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