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It’s not all about you!

It's not all about you! When you write sales or marketing for your company, the natural tendency is, of course, to talk about yourself. Whether it’s a brochure, website, blog or even talking points for your sales staff, you find yourself rhapsodizing about how many years you’ve been in business, the stellar expertise and efficiency of your staff, your robust, proprietary technology, your latest and greatest product, or a service that’s unmatched in this galaxy and beyond. But believe it or not, customers really aren’t interested in you. They’re only interested in what you can do for them. No matter how “experienced,” “respected” and “cutting edge” you claim to be, customers are ONLY going to fork over their hard-earned bucks if they think you can help them in some significant way (reduce their wrinkles/melt their fat/put money in their pocket/improve their love life/make their life easier). That’s why you have to turn your sales and marketing copy paradigm on its head. Rather than telling prospective clients how many awards you’ve won for your financial advice, tell them how many of your past clients have retired to Rio because of it. When you’re tempted to talk about catering that party at the Governor’s Mansion, instead tell potential hosts how they can throw a great party in just two weeks or they’ll enjoy their events as much as their guests (better yet, have past clients tell them!). When you want someone to like you, it’s easy to go on and on about how great you are. No matter what the context, that strategy doesn’t often work. However, once you understand customers (and people in general) and are poised to fill their needs and wants, you’ll find them needing [...]

Southern Hospitality

Southern Hospitality You can become rich, you can become a blonde, you can even become a Republican, but the fact is you just can’t “become” a Southerner. Pretty much you are or you aren’t, and not even an address on your driver’s license can alter that fact. So when my mother moved my sister and me south of the Mason-Dixon line, we were nothing but a bunch of hopeless, hard-edged square pegs in a world of unaccommodating round holes (so much for southern hospitality!). We couldn’t have appeared more alien to this strange territory if we had been dropped right out of a spaceship. Everything about us was not only different but strangely enough—shorter: our names (not one of us had a hyphenated first name), our haircuts (women in the South chose to ignore the shorter, shaggier styles of the 60s), the number of syllables in our words, and most importantly, our bloodline. We drank pop, not soda; our mother’s sisters didn’t mind being called “ant”; and when we visited the john, he generally had a last name too. We eventually came to realize that no matter how long we lived in the South, we would always be outsiders to these bred-in-the-bone Southerners. The lucky thing for us was that Southerners, although humble as all get out about most everything else, are pretty darn self-righteous about being southern. We had all kinds of friends and neighbors willing to show us how being them was so much nicer than being us. We had a lot of unknowing teachers in those early years, from the lady at Roses five and dime, who steered us to the dotted swiss curtains for my bedroom to my Girl Scout leader, who [...]

Travel memories that I wear in my ears and around my wrists

Travel memories that I wear in my ears and around my wrists When I was in my 20s, I developed a passion for travel. It started with a backpacking trip with a girlfriend through Europe and almost every year thereafter, I visited a new place, travelling by train through the Rockies, watching salmon flying through the air in Seattle, having my hair braided on a Jamaican beach, eating beignets in New Orleans, shopping for bell bottoms in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, seeing Old Montreal from a horse-drawn carriage, and so on and so on. At the time, I didn’t have the disposable income to buy jewelry at stores like Schwarzchild’s or Zales; however, when traveling, I allowed myself the purchase of at least one piece of unique, often hand-made, jewelry from the cities that I visited. Scoring interesting finds everywhere from street corners to craft fairs and markets, I built an eclectic collection of jewelry that way. While none of the pieces I purchased had any real monetary value, they were all worth a fortune in the memories that came flooding back when I wore that ring or bracelet. Some pieces have become part of my identity like the square, brushed-silver ring, which I purchased in Park City, Utah, while attending a training session there about 15 years. The whole group enjoyed some music at an amphitheater perched in the mountains at Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort (a real thrill!), and then the next day, while wandering around a craft fair, I fell in love with a ring handcrafted by a local silver artisan at a craft fair. It was a bit over my allotted $20 or $30 but I wore it home anyway. For my sister’s 40th [...]

Rock star: A job with no retirement age

Rock star: A job with no retirement age I went to a live music show this weekend, where the band was made up of four guys in their 60s (in other words, my peers). During the show, that group of aging rockers, with their gray hair, creased faces and even a couple of potbellies, had just as much swagger and animal magnetism, and whipped the receptive crowd into a frenzy just as quickly, as any young, agile boy band strutting across the stage. It occurred to me (and pleasantly so) that music might be the last public bastion for aging men to be viewed as sex symbols. Sure, there are still some silver-haired gentlemen on the silver screen, but they’re typically not given leading man status anymore, i.e. parts designed to make women swoon. Whereas, the part of surly and seductive heartthrob that these aging rockers are playing hasn’t changed one iota over the past 40-plus years. Actually, their acts have probably gotten a whole lot better with time! Take musicians like 71-year-old Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger, 72, for example. I dare you to name a single young artist who has the stage presence and charisma of either one of these seasoned performers. Why else would Adam Levine claim to have “moves like Jagger”? However, these guys are certainly not the only ones who’ve still got it. At 66, Bruce Springsteen, still commands the stage like “The Boss” and Sweet Baby James, 68, continues to have that quiet, unassuming charm when he strums out “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” to women of all ages. Then there are Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Paul Simon and “old friend,” Art Garfunkel, all now septuagenarians and all still [...]