Irritatingly unrealistic, yet common movie scenes part 1

Yeah, I know. It’s a movie, so therefore, nothing should bother me, right? But certain things are just flat out annoying when they are enacted on the silver screen. So I’ve tried to come up with a list of the most irritating things depicted in movies. Where possible, I’ve tried to include a video for demonstration purpose.

1. Showing a dial tone after someone hangs up on a cell phone. Now this, I actually WISH would happen in real life. But then again, I’m a T-Mobile customer, so I drop calls all the time. If I had a dial tone, instead of silence, I’d spend a lot less time talking to myself.

2. To quote Lonely Island, “Cool guys don’t look at explosions”. This just bugs the crap out of me. What man wouldn’t want to get the perfect view of his pyrotechnics? If I’m blowing up a car/helicopter/building, you can bet I’m not only watching it, I’m filming it. And I’m uploading that clip to youtube later. Proudly. But that’s because I’m a little kid at heart (as all guys are) and there is NO WAY I’m missing out on an awesome explosion.

Just watch the video.

3. The “infinite zoom” otherwise known as “Enhance that”.  You’ve seen this on pretty much any movie involving a crime and surveillance footage. Through enhancing video footage, millions of crimes are solved on television through zooming in 1,000,000,000 X, and clarifying the graininess, and voila! You see the killer’s reflection in the glistening enamel of a man’s tooth.

Here’s a great montage, dedicated to the “enhance”

4. The computer that makes all kinds of whiring and beeping noises as it is transferring files, opening files, or in this video–being hacked.  This one is contributed by Cory Anderson.

I found a great video that not only shows a noisy computer, but also has a ridiculous scene shows that two morons actually take over the same keyboard to try to type fast enough to prevent a hacker attack… ? But then again, it is NCIS, the cheesiest cop drama ever. In the existence of all of television.

5. Also technology related, the scenes where a hacker has to access a top-secret government computer. Well, darn, there is a large, blinking, dark red lettering, that says “ACCESS DENIED!!!” every time he enters a password. A couple of tries later, he gets it in green this time, “ACCESS GRANTED!” Then, he types in commands simple enough for us idiot audience members to understand–like “upload secret files”, or “Open President’s personal data”. Then, it’s open… and with a bunch of clicking and whirring, they have it downloaded. Not without a blatantly obvious progress bar, of course.

Couldn’t find a video for that–but you know what I mean.

That’s it for this post… Part 2 I’ll include some more…

What unrealistic scenes do you find most irritating on movies?

 

My open letter to Mitt Romney

Governor Romney,

It’s odd to me how stubborn the “anyone but Mitt” crowd is among the GOP.  Though you have consistently been the first choice of about 20-25% of those polled, you have traded leads with Perry, Cain, and now Newt.  For a variety of reasons, there is some of the republican base that just doesn’t feel comfortable with you quite yet.

Now, I’ll vote for you–because I’ve seen first hand what you did with the Winter Olympics. And I’ve shopped at Staples, The Sports Authority, and ordered pizza from Domino’s. So I have seen the effective organizations you have created, and want to see the same effect on our country’s economy.

But there are a few things I think you should consider that could give you an edge.

They say “to the hammer, all the world’s a nail”. Well, I have a sales background, so I watch people and observe how well they sell themselves and their experience–because virtually ALL professions are in sales, one way or another. ESPECIALLY politicians. In fact, I would say that Obama is one of the best salesmen of our time–selling the majority of the American People to vote for a very charismatic, yet very inexperienced politician with very shady circle of influence. But if you think about it, Obama didn’t win just because he is charismatic, he won because he CONNECTED with the majority of voters. And that’s something you haven’t done. But there is still time, as you enter the home stretch of the campaign.

So here are my suggestions on how you can do a better sales job througout the remainder of your campaign, as well as once you go head to head with Obama.

  1. When it comes to job creation, start with your real life experience, using real numbers and real names:  You frequently talk about how your entire life as been spent in the private sector to differentiate you from “lifer” politicians,  yet I haven’t heard you list how many jobs Bain Capital created. Saying something like, “I’ve spent my entire career creating jobs. We created Dominos pizza, which currently employs 145,000 people.  We created Staples, with over 100,000 employees, and The Sports Authority, which has over ___ (couldn’t find the number) of employees. I’ve also worked with hundreds of other companies, creating over _____ jobs. That’s all in all over (half a million, a million, whatever the number is) jobs created through my leadership at Bain Capital.” Hearing the number of jobs created in your private sector experience is a huge advantage you have. How many jobs did Obama create during his time as a community organizer?  And USE REAL NAMES. Obama does this ad nauseum, and it WORKED the same way testimonials of infomercials work. People relate to other people’s stories. Period. You have 100 times the experience that Obama does, use real-life stories of real-life people.
  2. Provide the vision through sharing personable stories of people who worked their way up: Many very qualified Americans are sitting on the sidelines, collecting unemployment, because they are afraid to take a “low-level job” because either a. they are afraid they’ll get stuck in that low-paying job, b. the pay is lower than what they are collecting on unemployment, or c. they are holding out for a higher salary like they are used to making. Painting vivid pictures of how your economic policy will create an abundance of jobs where people will be able to work their way up will go a long way to minimize these fears. Again, use a story from Domino’s Pizza or Staples: “We had people like Jeremy Larson, who started out as a pizza deliverer, and who is now regional manager over 4 stores making ___ a year.”  People aren’t afraid of starting over, if they feel there is opportunity for advancement–but they need that kind of visionary leadership, and a clear vision of what kind of world of opportunity YOUR economic policy will provide.
  3. THEN transition into your time as Governor, but stop emphasizing percentages, and focus on overall numbers and use some real life experiences.Percentages matter to CFO’s and hedge fund managers. If you want to connect with the everyday person, you need to give numbers and testimonials. This would be time to tell stories of what happened while Governor.
  4. Acknowledge your perceived weaknesses: I’m not campaign strategist, so take this with a grain of salt. But I think it would be refreshing if you actually acknowledged some of the silly reasons someone might not vote for you, then list the reasons that person still should. It will make their reasons not to vote for you seem immature compared to the hands on experience our country need. For example, if you addressed the American people and said something like “I know some people still haven’t made up your mind if you’ll vote for me. You may think I’m plasticky, stiff, boring, or you are uncomfortable that I changed my mind on abortion rights. I may seem like I’m uncharismatic, especially when compared to Mr. Obama.  Look, I KNOW I may not be as charismatic as Mr. Obama–but we’ve seen how well his charisma can change the economy for the better. Consider my actual on-the-job-experience. I’ve led groups that have created over ____ of jobs. And that’s what this country needs. This country needs strong economic policy, and that’s what I’ll bring to the job. Besides, if you think I’m not personable or charismatic enough,  I’ll hire a spokesperson who is–while I’m furiously working behind the scenes to improve this country’s economy the same way I did Staples, The Sports Authority, Domino’s Pizza, and the Winter Olympics.”
  5. Don’t criticize EVERYTHING about the Democratic party: A lot of us are sick of the bipartisan finger-pointing log-jams like the failing supercommittee. These GOP debates are nauseatingly full of the “there is nothing good about the Democratic party” moments. One of your most relatable, strongest debate moments is when you said “Look, this president is a nice guy. He just doesn’t know how to lead.” Because at least you acknowledged the President is a nice guy, when most of your peers would rather spit out his name.  The problem is, those kinds of moments have been far too few. Most of America voted for Obama–and they don’t want to feel like they made a stupid choice, maybe just not the best choice. Sometimes candidates get too passionate about bashing Mr. Obama–which I think makes people defensive of their choice to vote for him. Point out his strengths, but trust me, his weaknesses are more than enough to bring him down–but people get sick of the “everything about the democratic party is wrong” philosophy.

In conclusion, you’re an extremely strong candidate. You are the most qualified person on stage. I hope you get elected, because I think you can put the right teams in place to move this country forward. Many voters will make their decision based on how well you connect with them during a debate or speech–rather than researching your Bain Capital experience, or your turnaround of the Salt Lake City winter Olympics. And that is truly unfortunate. If they did minimal research, they’d see you have the most applicable experience for getting the economy back on track–especially when compared to your competition.

Good luck in the remainder of the election, Governor Romney, I hope to see you in the Oval Office.

Craig

A few thoughts on Social Media–Part 2

In part 1 of this series, I established  that any business or professional who isn’t using Social Media  is missing out and falling behind. In this post, I hope to discuss HOW business and professionals should use Social Media, by focusing on  one single point:

The primary focus of social media is NOT to advertise your product. If that is your main focus, STOP. NOW. The PRIMARY focus of your Social Media activities should be ENGAGEMENT with your customers and prospects. 

Let me describe why.

Have you followed or “liked” businesses or professional on Facebook or Twitter, only to be receive a barrage of never ending self promotion?  I certainly have. I’ve followed Journalists and bloggers who seem to think the only reason for twitter is to announce a link for their newest story, or to make their followers privy to their wisdom. I’ve followed businesses whose every FaceBook post tells me to come in and try a new product. It gets old. Quick. I followed them initially to show my loyalty to their brand, and to be a part of it, but my loyalty began to wain as they clogged up my timelines by “push” advertising.

This kind of advertising is essentially no different than what has been done for 100 years on “traditional” forms of media.  And this is why these types of companies or individuals only achieve a small fraction of what they are capable of.

See, what many don’t realize, Twitter is a huge party, filled with good friends discussing common interests and reflecting upon current events. And some of the same social rules apply to Twitter, as apply in party situations. So staying with our party analogy,  you arrive–not really knowing anyone, so you start to eavesdrop.  You get to know people by engaging, asking questions, and learning about others. Twitter is filled with insightful, hilarious, and very interesting people.

Suddenly, a guy shows up in a nice car. Everyone notices, because this guy is filthy rich or a celebrity, and at first, everyone surrounds him to see what he’s like. Well, this guy proceeds to ONLY talk about himself. Or as Brian Regan puts it, he is a “Me Monster.” (Watch the clip here)  What do think happens at the party? People start to lose interest and walk away.   Why? Because oh yeah, it’s a crowded party. And there are a lot more interesting people to talk to, and quite frankly, no one has time to waste listening to someone only talking about themselves. The same thing happens on Twitter. “Famous people”  and businesses get massive followings, just because they want to see what they’ll say. But if they don’t mix things up, and only advertise, they may not lose many followers–but they will definitely miss out on the passionate following they COULD  have.

Also comparing Twitter to a party, Marla Tabaka said in her article entitled “Giving up on Twitter–if you are thinking of throwing in the towel, take a closer look at what you’ll be missing out on.”

“So now you’re asking, “what do I say?” Well, what would you say at your party? Remember, it’s not all about you. If you are a good communicator you typically ask questions and show interest in the life of others, right? Social Media is about what you can give, how you can help others, and learning from others as well. If you are expecting to make a quick buck you might consider another form of internet marketing. I’m not saying that it isn’t possible, but realistically most seasoned veterans are here to offer value.” (emphasis added)

Back to what this means for businesses… quite frankly, a century-old buying cycle has been completely destroyed within the last 10 years. This is a remarkable revolution that you cannot afford to not know about.  Many customers have all but abandoned the “funnel technique” of choosing a product–which is starting with several possible brands, comparing, narrowing it down, until finally making their choice and not engaging with the company at all, until they need to buy again.

Today’s buying cycle looks more like this model, taken from a Harvard Business Review article on this very subject:

In this new model, it shows that how the relationship with the company doesn’t END with the purchase. But rather, customers want to continue to INTERACT with and PROMOTE their favorite brands. As customers enter the “Loyalty Loop”, they want to follow their brand on Facebook, communicate with their favorite company, and advocate the brand to others. In other words, they want to feel involved.

It is a business owners dream come true–armies of passionate customers, advertising by word of mouth.

This will ONLY happen  if you have ways for customers to bond and engage with you. If you aren’t engaging, it’s one-way self-promotion. And unable to participate, your customers won’t become advocates.

By publicly answering questions, laughing at customer’s jokes, and retweeting what they write (not just about you), you are showing publically that those indivuduals are IMPORTANT. It also proves you or your company are personable, and they will love you for it.

Here are my questions, in order to better engage with customers:

  1. Try to publicly answer every question posed to you by those who follow your company or brand. If it is a complaint or criticism, apologize, and ask them to send you the details in an email, where there is more space to discuss.
  2. Follow people you think are interesting.
  3. Retweet tweets you find funny or interesting–NOT just tweets about your company. Retweeting is a form of praise on Twitter.
  4. Be approachable. On blog entries, show respect for their comments–this goes a long way to encourage more participation from those who are silently reading.
  5. Be AUTHENTIC. Be real. Show a sense of humor. Don’t force it, but just be genuine.
  6. On your Facebook page, consider discussing not only your business, but other subjects your customer base is also interested.
  7. Try to stay away from automated tweets. On twitter, the more personable, the better.
  8. Encourage fan participation through things like giving awards for the best photo uploaded, conducting polls, holding contests.
  9. Read everything you can on how to use Social Media. www.inc.com is a great place to start.
  10. Read the book “Unmarketing” by Scott Stratten and follow him at @unmarketing. That guy is a genius when it comes to social media, especially Twitter. Even though he has over 100,000 followers, he regularly interacts with readers.

The more you engage, the more loyal your customers will be. You’ll be amazed at the results.

Craig

P.S. As for my Social Media experience, I was VP of Marketing and Sales for a small business that provided services to Senior Care companies. I oversaw our implementation of Social Media, as we tried to develop a plan for our nich company in our industry. I left to focus on my own entrepreneurial efforts.  I’m a business owner of a local Utah business, and  conduct all of the Social Media. We aren’t HUGE, we have about 3,200 fans on Facebook, and about 700 followers on Twitter. So I know there is room for growth, and I’m learning as I’m going, while studying, and attempting to implement what I learn. I hope something I’ve shared can provide a benefit of some kind.

What can gratitude do for you?

While celebrating Thanksgiving, eating turkey, yams, pumpkin pie, and all the countless other traditional treats, don’t forget to reflect on the REAL meaning of Thanksgiving. No, not the original picturesque meeting between pioneers and native Americans with corn on the cob and an enormous cornucopia, I mean the meaning of GRATITUDE.

I’ve found a few articles about the benefits of gratitude, and it is truly remarkable that simply cultivating this “attitude of gratitude” can do so many things to improve the overall quality of life.

Here are three articles I’ll cite–but I HIGHLY recommend you read them as well:

Borenstein writes, “While it seems pretty obvious that gratitude is a positive emotion, psychologists for decades rarely delved into the science of giving thanks. But in the last several years they have, learning in many experiments that it is one of humanity’s most powerful emotions. It makes you happier and can change your attitude about life, like an emotional reset button. Especially in hard times, like these.”

Borenstein goes on to quote  University of Miami psychology professor Michael McCullough, who has “studied people who are asked to be regularly thankful. “When you are stopping and counting your blessings, you are sort of hijacking your emotional system.” And he means hijacking it from out of a funk into a good place. A very good place”

How many of us are in a funk? We go through this life trying our best, and even though we try hard, do things the right way, sometimes the role of parenthood, or spouse, or friend can seem thankless. Sometimes we feel at work that we are under-appreciated, and no feeling is quite as persistent as despair–however mild it may feel.

While expressing gratitude takes the effort of digging through our brains to think of everything we are grateful for, followed up with expressing said gratitude, the effort of doing so is worth it. Cultivating and regularly reflecting on things we are grateful for not only provides psychological benefits, but it is linked to PHYSICAL benefits as well.

These studies have found that regularly expressing gratitude is linked to:

  1. Greater happiness and life satisfaction
  2. Higher quality relationships
  3. Less anxiety
  4. Improved physical health
  5. Greater likelihood of achieving goals
  6. Weight loss
  7. Easier time falling asleep
  8. Optimism

In Marostica’s article in the Deseret News, she outlines the idea of a “Gratitude Journal”.

“Robert Emmons of the University of California, Davis studied the effects of gratitude by experimenting with the “gratitude journal.” According to the Times, he and fellow researcher Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami selected a group of subjects to simply record five things every week they were grateful for. After two months of this behavior, the study reports, “Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based)” than those who did not.

The study also showed physical changes: the authors reported those keeping gratitude journals exercised more regularly and reported fewer physical symptoms.”

 

So now time to take action. Tonight I’m starting my “Gratitude Journal”, where I’ll list 5 things to be thankful for this coming week–and update them each week. I’ll reflect upon them daily, and send letters or thank you cards where necessary. During that time, I’ll do brief updates to see if it really provides the benefits from the above list.

What kind of help would I like? I have my job frustrations and challenges. I have some chronic back pain, and some difficulty achieving certain fitness and nutritional goals. I have terrible insomnia, and occasional anxiety. So yeah, I could use a few things on that list.

So we’ll see how this goes. I invite you all to join me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A few thoughts on Social Media–Part 1

If you would have approached a business owner, a celebrity, a politician 15 years ago, and told them, “ok, I have a technology which allows you to listen to what your customers are saying about your product, your competitor’s product, and give you  insight into what they value most in their buying decisions.”  Essentially, you have just offered them the holy grail of marketing… to know EXACTLY why people buy what they buy. If you know this, you can provide that product–and sales go up.

How much do you think you could have charged for such a product 15 years ago? Probably millions of dollars. Think about what a company like Johnson and Johnson could do with that kind of technology, or Proctor and Gamble. They pay millions of dollars each year for market research, and it only touches the tip of the iceberg into gaining this kind of true customer insight.

That product exists now… it’s called Social Media.

P.S. I received a suggestion that I needed more pictures in my blog entries…so I hope you like that one– 🙂

Social media fascinates me for so many reasons. When we think back to different revolutionary technologies–the assembly line, the cotton gin, the transcontinental railroad or the first telegraph across the Atlantic Ocean, the world changed forever. Entire industries were created. Fortunes were created that were only dreamed of before. Ford became a household name. Names like Carnegie, Vanderbilt, and Rockefeller became business titans. But think about those first few points. Entire INDUSTRIES were created. The business world changed FOREVER.

We are witnessing this in our own lifetime. We point our finger and mock the person who is completely addicted to facebook, but we’re ALL part of this revolution. We are changing our very habits of communication, buying products, interacting with brands, and conducting research. I’m about to leave T-Mobile for another cell provider. How did I conduct most of my research? Asked my friends on Facebook. Why? Because I trust them. I could have just compared the info found on Verizon Wireless and T-mobile’s websites, but anyone can create a great website. I can read testimonials online all day long, but I don’t know if the positive ones were written by a Verizon employee, and if the negative ones were written by someone from Cricket.

Never again will companies wonder what their customers are saying, because they can search the hundreds of millions of tweets being sent every day. They can set up highly interactive brand pages on Facebook, and conduct polls, contests, and ask for testimonials. And the best part about it? It is FREE.

Free.

This isn’t a $10,000 a month contract you sign with people, this is literally a service that takes about 3 minutes to get started.

So my first series of questions: Why are SO MANY professionals not doing everything they can to learn how to harness the power of Social Media? Why isn’t every business developing a strategy for how to implement Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare? Why doesn’t every company answer customer questions or frustrations right away, like Dish Network (@dish_answers) and  America First Credit Union (@AFCU) did for me this past week? Literally, within minutes, they had answered.

For @dish_answers, I had just complained that my recording I had scheduled was off by an hour–which made it useless.  They contacted me right away, apologized, and made some recommendations of how I could fix the problem. With @AFCU, I had just praised their customer account services, and mentioned we were looking into their business services. They thanked me for my business, and sent me a link for some of their business services. To tell you the truth, I was extremely impressed. Just like that, in a medium I feel comfortable using, they addressed my issue. No hold time, no automated voice telling me which options to push, just good customer service–through Twitter.

And just like that, I went from a satisfied customer, to a loyal customer.  Mind you, this was all in public, for tweets that all could see (more on my next post).

I find it incredibly odd that ALL businesses aren’t more deeply engaged in Social Media. Why the continued skepticism? Why the whole, “Ah… I just don’t get Twitter… it’s just not for OUR business.”  You realize almost ALL of your customers are on Facebook, right? They use it. They interact with countless brands. Except yours. You have access to their preferences, insight into buying decisions, and the chance to build your own brand image which will build customer loyalty like never before… DIVE IN!

Here are a few suggestions for getting started:

1. There are a LOT of very insightful articles on developing a Social Media strategy for businesses all over the internet. I really like Inc Magazine though–at simply inc.com. I’ve read some really good stuff there–particularly written for beginners.

2. Set up a Facebook, Google+, and Twitter account for your business. From day one, use it as an opportunity to INTERACT with your customers. Don’t use it as just a sales tool. use it as a chance for customers to see just how human, funny, and personable you truly are. Be genuine, though.

3. Get started! Tell your customers about your page, and set up notifications for whenever you receive tweets, or when someone posts on your company’s wall.

When my wife and I were first told to put up a Facebook page for our business, we wondered, “What would we ever write on there?” Our business has about 3,000 fans now, and I honestly wouldn’t know what we’d do without that opportunity to interact with our customers. We absolutely love it.  It’s become  a priceless part of our business.

What have been some of your experiences with interacting with companies or professionals through social media?

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