Networking: How To Be The Most Interesting Person In The Room

I recently came across this topic because I am organizing an event on this them with my non-profit team for Lean In Vancouver. In the midst of searching for a speaker who can lead our networking event, friends and mentors of mine got to talking about what actually makes a person interesting. There were a few great pointers that came out of our discussion and I will share them with you.

  1. BE INTERESTED! To be interesting to others you first have to be INTERESTED in learning about them. If you are interested to know this person beyond what they do for a living, and ask questions regarding such topics, they will find you much more interesting to talk to because you have taken an active interest in who they are as a person, and what they do.
  2. BE A GOOD LISTENER. I don’t even have to go into details with all the statistics that reinforce how LITTLE we listen to others, because we are always thinking of the next great thing that will come out of our mouths. Listen to what others are sharing with you and take the time to appreciate the fact that they are sharing with you. Great listeners ask great questions because they pay attention – and that makes them interesting.
  3. WELCOME OTHERS. It’s a skill to be in a conversation and keeping an eye out for people who are at events alone, looking to join in on a conversation. They would love it if you were inclusive and welcomed these people into your conversation. The more the merrier!

Try out the three simple tips above and it will make a world of a difference in your networking interactions – you will be building real friendships / relationships instead of just exchanging business cards.

Advertisements

On Hiring: How To Test For Real Skills

Lately we have been on the lookout to add more members to our team. With the number of marketing tools in the market, there are likely over 20 tools you can use for email marketing, another 30-40 to create content and post onto the many different social media platforms, and even more to manage follower engagement.

A lot of times when people hire, we first skim the various tool the prospective employee is comfortable with using. CHECK – great they are familiar with these key tools we use. (We should also keep in mind that a lot of times familiarity with various tools is inflated in a person’s resume.) During the interview, they then ask them questions about themselves to assess fit. CHECK – seems to fit in with culture.

The missing piece is actually interviewing for the marketing SOFT skills required to make use of the tools. Does the potential candidate show promise of a strategic mindset that can utilize these tools to improve your business? I suggest testing this out by throwing a few real life business scenarios at them and seeing what they approach is to solving these problems.

The rest of the questions we ask them people can usually BS through, but business scenario questions are a good way to gage how much they really know and can apply. So the next time you interview a candidate, try this out and I guarantee you will have more useful information to make a better hiring decision.

A Life Lesson I Learned from Photography

I very recently decided to pick up photography both as a hobby and as a potential additional service for my marketing agency.

I’ve been running around taking photos of anything and everything, pestering my friends with various shots to ask for advice on how to take better photos and what lens I should invest in for a robust photography kit.

As I began to see snapshots of my life through the camera lens, I saw that different lens captured slightly different versions of the same thing, in different tones, contrasts, colour hues, etc.

I suddenly had a very cheesy, yet positive and uplifting thought.

Life is beautiful, it really just depends on what lens you choose to use.

The same event can mean happiness or worry for different people. We all know one person who is super positive regardless of what happens they manage to find something good about the situation; and the other, who always feels like the sky is falling (and not just falling, but very probable to land directly on top of them. Just them.)

So, sift through your thoughts today as you journey on through your day and notice how you are reacting to situations. Does an event really warrant you to be worried for the whole day? Do you really need to be stressed out about the job next week (it’s happening next week! Not in the next minute!)

You experience what you LET yourself experience, so change your perspective and don’t try to change the situation and you will see how easy it is to find happiness. 

HAPPY FRIDAY!

 

 

 

 

Entrepreneurship – Getting Past Yourself

Though I would not call myself a serial entrepreneur, I have often encountered the question: “How do you get started on a new business or project?” As a refresher, I have started 3+ businesses in the past in different industries (Finance, Fashion, Marketing) and rebranded, turned around, or built 3 non-profits as well (in the areas of adults with disabilities and female empowerment).

It is one of the most frequent questions I get at events, and honestly, you just starting DOING things and see what sticks. Debating over the best course of action is great, once you have developed say 2 – 3 options, and thought of the worse case scenario of what could happen if sh*t hit the fan, you just need to get out and start trying things.

I recently watched a Tony Robbins video clip where he reiterates the same concept, you just have to come up with and try as many approaches as possible until you find one that succeeds. Easier said than done because most people stop when they fail ONCE; they are so easily deterred I’m amazed that anything gets done in this world.

So here are my key steps to “getting started”:

  1. Note down all the brilliant ideas you have in a notebook
  2. Go talk about it with a few of your closest friends and get their opinion
  3. Go talk about it with a few prospective clients or users of your product/service and see what they say
  4. Take this feedback and strategize on what can be improved, what’s the minimum viable product you can throw out to the market to get some in-market feedback.
  5. Make sure you have a “testing fund” cap. For me it’s somewhere around $2000. If I can’t make anything happen with that amount, or even test for operations and logistics, then at least you tried. Don’t dump money into an idea that’s not showing any action after you exhaust your testing fund. If you do get any positive signs, it might be worth your while to keep testing – the decision is up to you.
  6. Produce the minimum viable product, launch it and observe the market reaction.
  7. Make changes based on the feedback and keep doing more rollouts.
  8. Repeat until you are successful.

Most people stop at step 2 or 3, because of what their friends or prospects tell them. Keep in mind the point is for you to gather information to see HOW you can make your idea work. Most of the time the market doesn’t know what it needs, or how much they are willing to pay for it, until the option to purchase the item is available.

So just get out there and start doing. Only once you get the ball rolling can you experience momentum, so crucial to giving you the good vibes of success to fuel your passion forward. If you fail, well, it’s time to pull out your notebook and try out another idea.

I challenge you to test out all the possibilities you’ve been thinking of.

 

You Weren’t Made to Fit a Mold

You weren’t made to fit a mold, and that’s okay.

Growing up we would play puzzle games where we earn points for finding the perfect fit or for matching jewels to the same colour, and were taught to fit circular objects inside circular spaces, and squares inside square spaces. The idea is that everything should fit and conform.

We are in an age where individuals are thriving on finding their irregular edges, the sides of them that don’t conform, that don’t seem to fit the mold, and it’s actually exciting.

Take myself for instance. I am a business owner of a marketing agency, non-profit leader and advocate to create equal opportunities for females in the workplace, and fashion stylist.

You could be an Accountant or Risk Analyst or Programmer/Developer by day, and run a side business baking cakes, creating a ceramics line, or magazine columnist.

You don’t have to be artistic OR academic in this day and age – in fact, most of the new people I met are supremely multi-faceted and it’s fascinating. In 2017, you can be artistic AND academically inclined. For those who have read the book A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink – I believe magic happens when you develop BOTH sides of your brain, the ability to see the abstract and to think in logistical, rational terms lets you strategize AND implement. Be a thinker AND a doer.

So if you are a Financial Analyst and have always wanted to become a freelance Graphics Designer, there is nothing stopping you from doing so. In fact, you will probably find that developing this new dimension of you helps you achieve balance and progress.

So give it some thought today – what do you want to be?

The “Sold-Out” Strategy – It Works!

We learned in our marketing lessons to use a “skimming” pricing strategy (price high then reduce price as the product matures) to draw early adopters willing to pay high prices. This assumes as we observe the sales pattern we will adjust supply to meet demand at the optimized price, meaning we would be selling out at just the right amount, because we would get every customer willing to pay that specific price to purchase. Some new businesses are now marketing on the principle of “people always want something they can’t have”, and finding success through utilizing the “sold-out strategy” (aka. Leaving business inefficiencies unattended) 

When someone starts a new business, if demand is higher than supply and the product is sold out, usually they say it’s a “good problem to have.” However, if there is a constant, shortage of product for prospective clients, it then points to inefficiencies in the business, where there is a lot of money left on the table. 
Case in point, a popular cake shop’s opening hours are 11-6PM, but runs out of cakes each day around 3PM. The usual, rational strategy would be for the business owner to adjust their production to ensure they have cakes to serve clients until 6:00PM, so every client walking in willing to pay for a slice of cake would be satisfied. Contrary to the rational option, since the cake shop is following the “sold out strategy”, the business owner continues at a lower level of production, so that each day customers arriving after 3PM are disappointed (at times vowing never to return). 

There are pros and cons to the “sold-out” strategy, with the pro being customers clamorig over each other to get there early to try this rumored cake in high demand, and the con being not enough return customers after they made the initial effort to try their first slice of cake, and more importantly, the opportunity cost of lost revenue. 

So would you use the “sold-out” strategy, which may potentially frustrate prospective customers, or adjust your strategize over time to ensure you don’t leave money on the table? 

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

A sudden wash creativity some evenings ago had me pondering about store layout and design. We think of places and shops where the design intentionally initiates a quick turnaround of customers whilst others make the extra effort to keep the customer in store – the longer they stay, the more they spend. 

SHOULD I STAY? 

 
The perfect example of this would be IKEA. While there are emergency exit signs through the store, shall you dare to deviate from the planned route you are likely to stand confused and lost amongst the aisles. 

Therefore we trudge slowly along, following the yellow arrows, ooo-Ing and aaaahhhh-ing as we take in all the designed kitchen and bedroom showrooms, unconsciously picking up various items we “need”.

You always end up spending a slightly (or much more) unexpected amount, and this is where the design evidently assists in boosting sales. 

SHOULD I GO? 
  

I see this most often in restaurants – think Ramen. 

Usually ramen shops are designed to be small and cozy; the chairs aren’t intended for comfort, the spacing between tables isn’t intended for privacy – sometimes you find yourself sharing a communal table with several other people or groups. If you want to stay longer and have a conversation with friends, this isn’t exactly the ambiance you are looking for. 

Usually there are two factors at play here: pricing and operations. A ramen meal would be considered at the lower end of the meal cost spectrum, leading to an incentive for the shop owner to turn as many tables as possible – at low(er) prices, you are banking on making money by doing volume. 

At a “high-end” restaurant where you are paying $150 per person for a meal, you usually feel like you can stay and chat over a 5-course meal, a few glasses of wine, a decadent dessert and a cup of tea or espresso to complete your meal. 

So when you dream up your next business, think of how your strategic elements will affect your relationships with your customers – should they stay or should they go?