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Has anyone else noticed movie audiences declining in etiquette?

After weeks of blogger’s guilt, and agonizing over what all important subject to cover, I finally settled on this one…. Not politics, not new years resolutions, not fatherhood, or anything else far more important. My return to blogging will be about this: My annoyances with certain yayhoos at the movies. And my theory that it’s a cultural phenomenon. Enjoy!

I got my first job at age 11. I was the official weeder for Mrs. Fackerell’s flower gardens. Thank goodness for my older brother Mike paving the way for this lucrative opportunity, otherewise I would never experience the pay-day from 11 hours of weeding at 1.25/hour. Plus, if there were ever a check that added up to, say,  $17.75, she would generously round up to an even $20.00. I was rich!

But this isn’t a post about working as a kid. This is a post about what I’d experience with that money.

For years, most of my money was excitedly spent on movie tickets at the two-auditorium movie theater in American Fork, called “The Towne Cinemas”. What movies did I see?  I remember seeing the Daniel Larusso duke it out with Johnny in Karate Kid. I remember going with Marty to the 50’s in Back to the Future, and pretending to see my parents as extras. And then of course there were the Star Wars movies, which felt like a constant roller coaster of adrenaline and cringing in my seat from terror of Darth Vader. The Indiana Jones movies certainly made the list as well, which lead to me buying a bullwhip from a very talented haggler in Tijuana, when I was 13.

Back then, though, the movies were a true escape to a magical world. And I loved every minute of it.

Yeah, you had your loud talkers and loud laughter, and occasionally some punk would try to be obnoxious before being shushed by the girls he was there to impress…. but pretty much everyone obeyed their parent’s instructions, quieted down, and followed the movie. If the loud laugher laughed during the funny part, what was the big deal? Everyone else was laughing anyway, so it wasn’t bad.

And when children misbehaved, they were escorted out of the movie. Not by an usher, but by the parent. My hard earned money was well spent seeking a temporary escape into the fantasy and wonderland of the silver screen.

My love for movies continued througout high school and college. I saw movies often on the weekend they came out. It became a popular date night activity for me. Not because I didn’t have creativity, but because I truly loved seeing movies.

Then cell phones arrived on the scene.

Not just arrived, but became ubiquitous. Cell phones do so much culturally. Besides making you available, by virtue of staying connected to someone who isn’t present, you devalue those who are. In emotionally immature people of all ages, this leads to rudeness towards strangers. The bodies that sit around them aren’t nearly as important as their own, and the person they are texting. What I’ve noticed during movies now, is that almost everyone has to check their phones for texts, reply if “urgent”, check the time, check their call log, and in some rare occassions, answer their phones. Not in the foyer, SEATED. It has become increasingly annoying. Kicking or propping your feet on the seat in front of you is the norm, even if someone is seated there.

This behavior has also coincided with the world’s worst case of inflation for any single item. The movie ticket. In my lifetime, it has gone from 1 buck a ticket, to as much as 12.50 for an IMAX showing. For two of us, that’s a cool $25.00, not counting their popcorn and awful tasting, yet necessary diet coke–both of which have to be laced with gold dust to justify such a high price.

But I still WANT to enjoy the movies. So I suck it up, hand over my month’s wages, and hope for the best. I find my seat (learning more and more that I’ll enjoy it far more if I sit on the top row), and my wife and I get seated.

The theater then begins to fill…. I watch them enter, and predict who they will be. Will they be the constant texter? The phone answerer? The loud laugher? The seat kicker? The OMG’er? The line-repeater? or will the be one of the worst ones, the constant “what did he say?-er.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m starting to watch for them. but the disruptive have been very hard to ignore. Then I get so frustrated that I’d just forked over 50 bucks for an enjoyable night out, and these morons have to ruin it, by acting as if it were their own home theater.  And quite frankly, I don’t feel that love of going to the movies like I once did. And that’s sad to me.

Most of childhood has to stay with childhood, and you become “too old” to do those kinds of activities. But I like to have SOME things to bring with me. I like to feel that love of the movies again. The same way I love to feel the love of Disneyland. It’s fun. It’s innocent. And though my life is filled with responsibilities, deadlines, critiques, pressure, stress that sometimes pound all of the childhood innocence out of me, it would be nice if I could count on a good ol’ movie escape every now and again.

Has anyone else noticed a drastic decline in movie etiquette? And if so, what do you attribute it to? I have a few theories:

1. It could be blamed on Hollywood, for making movies which attract the more youthful, boisterous crowd? (Please read this article “The day movies died” for further opinion on that subject)

2. The advent, and constant connection to cell phones

3. Poor parenting, by not teaching the proper way to behave in movies and other group settings.

4. Other— please explain?

I welcome your opinions—if you have any about what I observe to be a phenomenon–or if you haven’t noticed a change at all.



Why are entire call centers built to handle customer complaints, yet virtually no organized way to express thank you?

First off, did you know you could download a Kindle App for PC’s, MACs, or smartphones? I didn’t. Here is the link here. The links to download your various devices are right above the list of apps that are sold. So don’t be led astray, your free kindle download is above the list.

So, as per a suggestion from my extremely smart and well read brother Mark, (And relatively new to twitter, so go follow him at @markwc) I downloaded a free book of essays entitled “The Myth of the Garage” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. EXCELLENT article on showing gratitude. The point the Heaths make is this: In America alone there are 2.7 MILLION call center employees whose sole mission is to handle disgruntled, dissatisfied customers. The infrastructure to support the callers is immense, state of the art call tracking software, top of the line phone systems. The reps are professional, personable, and you know that the feedback is getting to the right sources. That’s a lot of families getting paid off of us complaining.

But on the other side, have you ever tried to show gratitude? Does a “thank you line” exist, with any company? Let’s say you enjoy a stake dinner. You compliment the server, and do you really think the compliment gets to the right person? Do you think it might be dilluted before it is delivered, and be a watered down version, resembling something like “Hey, a customer likes this.”

The point is, while there are multi-million dollar ways to receive complaints, there is virtually nothing to receive thank yous. This is especially remarkable when as the Heaths said:

“This is an economic issue as well as an emotional one: In a survey of 10,000 employees from the 1,000 largest companies, 40% of workers cited “lack of recognition” as a key reason for leaving a job.”  Taken from The Myth of The Garage–essay 3 entitled “I love you. Now what?”

Sure, there are online surveys. But few companies do them, and those that do, don’t do them correctly or personably. There are comment boxes… but those are taken as a joke.  As a business owner, I want an official way to give thanks to my specific employees, and I want those thanks to be delivered to them directly.

And we all know how showing gratitude makes us feel, from a previous post…

So go out and do it. Find a way to make sure that the right gratitude gets to the right person. Don’t just tell the waiter, write down the note. Tell him it is for the creator of that steak. And do it!


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?


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.


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 I’ve been reading

Ok, after the post on TV shows–I thought it would be good to type up a post on what I am reading currently…so  you all don’t think I’m a total couch potato. Or should I say, so you “both” don’t think I’m a total couch potato.

I recently read The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly. Liked it, so I saw the movie… Pretty good adaptation of the book. I liked the character Connelly created,  so I read”The Fifth Witness“, another Lincoln Lawyer book. Pretty good as well, and it is about the mortgage/foreclosure mess that is going on right now, so it was really interesting to me. In the book, he mentions a character named Harry Bosch, who is a detective, and from a list of other books by the author, it looks like Connelly has written a bunch of  Lincoln Lawyer books, as well as some Harry Bosch books, but then he’s created some Lincoln Lawyer/Harry Bosch books. I really like it when authors create their own world with intertwining characters like that, so I decided to pick up “9 Dragons”, a Harry Bosch novel that isn’t actually about dragons (I know one of my 2 readers is now significantly less interested). NOT good. In fact, the ending pretty much pissed me off. It was really frustrating how he tied everything together. So I don’t recommend that one.

Now, I’m reading “Term Limits” by Vince Flynn. It is a political thriller set in Washington DC. 3 senators are  murdered within 5 hours of one another by some professional hit men, who also send a message to the major TV networks citing the following quote from The Declaration of Independence:

“…. Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers form the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government… it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.”

The political setting for the book is a rising national debt, over-inflated government spending, and the president is trying to pass a new budget–but it is laden with pork (sound familiar???), including billions of dollars for outdated programs (like a division dedicated to providing electricity to rural America–the recipient of a half-billion dollars, yet everywhere in America has electricity).

So far it is a great read. I’ve read books by Vince Flynn before, and liked them–now I’m trying to read all of them in order, so I’m starting with what I believe is his first book, and where he introduces a lot of characters involved in his “Mitch Rapp series“. Plus I really am feeling skeptical about politicians lately, and all of the tomfoolery and shenanigans that are going on in Washington, so it’s nice to read a book that is about that subject–and about some people taking action (though no, I don’t advocate the actions they took.)

Anyway, I’ll give the full review when I’m finished–I’m about 80 pages in or so.

Other than that, I’m reading a book on public speaking, called “As We Speak”, by Peter Myers and Shann Nix. Pretty good, and since I work in sales, very appicable to my job.

What books are you reading? Would you recommend them?

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