Your Husband Does Not Notice Your Shoes

We always think that other people see things and notice the same things as we do – today, another scenario where I was proven wrong. 

I am looking into some designs for high heels shoes for one of my businesses and I wanted to get some feedback from men. I posed this question to my host and business consultant in Korea: “Does your wife ever complain about pain in her high heels shoes? Does she always need to wear high heels to her meetings [for a professional/polished look]?” 

His response: “I don’t think she wear high heels? I think she wear these lower shoes.” (In girl talk this would mean kitten heels)

Let’s not go into the conversation of what brands his wife wears – I got blank stares throughout. 

The conclusion? Men don’t notice women’s shoes. They only kind of notice whether it’s high heels or flats. So when you go on that date and dress to the nines for the guy, they’ll maybe notice that you’re taller but that’s it.

Customer Market Research Tip? When you are doing research for your new product, don’t assume – always ask whether it matters to your target segment. Do they notice the difference? They have to notice it to value it in order to PAY for it.

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McDonald’s International Service Standards

This is a true story showcasing how a brand has to decide on the value of each of its customer segments and invest accordingly. If you want to give the impression of an international corporation serious about its tourist and business traveler segments, invest in foreign language menus and train staff to speak English.

So. Here’s the scenario.

I thought there used to be a 2-minute service standard (plus a smile) at international McDonald’s, but I was proven wrong this morning.

I landed in Korea at 4:49am this morning and was craving breakfast. I saw a familiar logo, and had a craving for a savory McMuffin. I lined up and noticed the menu didn’t have full English translations on it so I guessed at some of the items. When I reached the counter I asked the cashier what the third item was. Blank look. Ask again making gestures. Another 5-second blank look. I give up and order a sausage McMuffin McMorning combo.

I asked if I could switch my coffee for orange juice. Met with a side wave and a quick no. I thought: “ok understand that I shouldn’t change a combo.”

Since I don’t drink coffee (I am allergic and get migraines from drinking it), I asked for a glass of water.

This request was met with a “no water”, a bigger side wave and an annoyed look.

Who wants to guess whether I’ll ever go back to McDonald’s? Service was definitely below par compared to service in North America. Hopefully McDonald’s finds the tourist/foreigner market important enough in Korea to make the necessary training improvements. Even then it’ll take me a while to consider trying it again.

Remember – we tell 100 people about a negative experience and only 10 about a positive one. Your staff is an extension of your brand, that’s why it’s so important to ensure they are ALWAYS on their best behavior.

Escape Rinse & Repeat

Escape the rinse and repeat trap of corporate planning. 

For consultants out there who have successfully convinced their clients to take some risk and even foster some borderline creative behaviour, kudos to you. For the first year you were probably able to establish new partnerships, gain some traction, largely because your client wasn’t really sure what to expect with this new endeavour. 

Once your client thinks they understand the process and see some good results in the first year, they simply want to rinse and repeat and do everything the same for the next year; easy for you to sit there and collect a retainer, tough on your brains with all those awesome ideas trying to get out. 

So what do you do? 

  1. Find a champion – someone in management who buys your ideas and believes that continual innovation and creativity is required to get to the next level. They will actively vouch for you to ensure that the ideas are implemented. 
  2. Move on – pick your battles. You can’t change the world view of a client (until their competitor ends up doing exactly what you told them they should’ve done and then they call you and say “oh my god you were right!”), but you can change who you work for. When they need you again, they’ll come to you. Even better, keep an eye on their progress, and reappear when you feel like they are ready to do something creative again. 

Whatever you do, at least do something about it instead of sitting there and just going through the motions. If they tell you it’s “too risky” or “out there”, I would say that great ideas usually had a relatively higher amount of risk and almost doesn’t seem possible at first. Finance 101, risk/reward ratio.

Always Keep Your Class

If you want to be respected, always keep your class (and your cool), no matter the situation.

Scenario: Sitting in a premium fashion retailer I overheard an angry customer going off about not getting service. Let’s lay out the facts first:

It’s around lunch time so the store is bustling with tourists all trying to buy products – so the sales staff are extremely busy.

Here are the words that then came out of this well-dressed, mid-30s ladies mouth:

“I have been here longer than anyone else and have been begging to pay! What? Am I not getting service because I’m a minority?! I’m white? This is terrible!”

Needless to say the other customers are staring at her. She believes that her actions got her the attention that she needed, when in reality others were staring because they didn’t expect a polished lady to say those things. She just lost all respect.

So the next time when you’re angry, don’t say anything on the spot; breathe, think about how big if a fool you’ll look like, before saying anything.

Keep your class. Keep your cool.

Progress is a choice – YOU have the power to change things

Today in a meeting I was told it’s recommended that I take progress slow with a potential new charity I might get involved with and not try to change too many things at once.

For those who know how I do things, the exact words that went through my head were: “Challenge accepted!” – I’ve always liked to work with moving parts, change multiple things at once, because bigger changes meant you could go UP a lot, or DOWN a lot. Not only is this process fascinating to me, it’s also a thrill to oversee entire turnarounds in a business.

I was told that there were no more resources to be allocated, that first we needed a plan, many plans, before new things can be implemented…

Having built and operated a few startups both in the for-profit and non-profit sector, I’ve learned these things:

  1. When there’s no more resources, go find more (seriously, you’re not trying hard enough).
  2. A plan is a work in progress, and changes as soon as you’re done writing it – you might as well go out and DO stuff and make some progress that you can actually write about.

I also don’t stick to the way things “have always been done”. If I followed those rules then I would never have built a peer-to-peer forex platform, never pulled together a fashion show in an ambitious 1.5 months, or had the crazy thought of calling up Vogue to host Fashion’s Night Out in Vancouver.

If you don’t try, you don’t know. If you want to do things the way they have always been done, you’ll get mediocre results at best. It’s your choice.