The Advantage Letter by Dave Martin
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Tuesday, January 01, 2013
Volume 18 | # 423
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If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, then we did it. If anything goes real good, then you did it. That's all it takes to get people to win football games. » Paul "Bear" Bryant

Unplanned Obsolescence

One of my favorite yearend lists was penned by Jay Yarow at It was simply entitled, “13 Things That Went Obsolete in 2012.”

Yarow suggested things that “became history” during the past year. What struck me is how many of the items listed seemed like they were the “in thing”, state-of-the-art if you will, just…uh… yesterday.

He points out that small smartphone screens (original iPhones) are over. No phones going forward will have screens smaller than 4”.

Yarow also kids (kind of) that we’re through with “guessing”. We’ve reached a point in America in which over 50% of the population owns a smartphone.

The odds are someone in any debate now has the collective wisdom of the internet in his hands to settle debates on the spot and in real time.

Hard drive storage, disc drives on computers, alarm clocks, and buying individual songs or albums all made the list of officially “out.”

Great! After I’m $1,000+ into iTunes, something called Spotify is apparently going to make me a dinosaur… again.

And speaking of dinosaurs, whenever I read predictions, I can’t help but think of the scores of lists I’ve seen through the years predicting the end to bank branches and our longtime business model.

Heck, the infamous Bill Gates’ “Banks are dinosaurs” quote was made in 1994. (Go ahead, Google it.)

That said, I had to shake my head last weekend when visiting family in Louisiana. We were sitting on the porch of a cousin’s “camp”.

(No alligators will be harmed in the telling of this story.)

My septuagenarian mom suddenly remembered that she had a credit card bill due. She pulled out her smartphone and completed the transaction. Later, she checked an account balance using her Kindle.

I sat there thinking, “Wow…tipping point reached.”

When I suggested that other, larger banks had even better mobile banking applications than she currently uses, she said, “Oh, no. I like our bank. They’re nice.”

She rarely interacts personally with anyone from her bank anymore. But those infrequent interactions are always positive ones.

She knows them. They…are…nice.

And she’ll use whatever technology they offer. True customer relationships never go out of style or become obsolete – even when a business model does.

Are you building new and/or retaining your existing relationships today?

Put it on your list.

It's Habit Forming

My wife recently gave me an interesting book on one of my favorite topics – habits. Actually, she gave me a code for a prepaid download of the book on

As I’m not in the habit of redeeming those codes, I instead somehow mistakenly bought the book with my credit card.

This left me with a slightly aggravated wife…and a $15 credit on Amazon. So I’ve got that going for me.

This particular book by Charles Duhigg is entitled, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.” In this book, Duhigg cites research that found 40% of the actions we perform each day aren’t the results of conscious decisions.

They are rote habits, things we do without thought.

I smiled reading that because I’ve suggested to groups for many years that our habits lay the foundation for whatever kind of day, week, month… life, we build.

The best of intentions can easily be sabotaged by bad habits.

Habits can refer to activities. But they can also be related to mindsets and outlooks. Habits greatly shape the way we think, talk, and act.

And one of the most common and destructive bad habits I’ve seen many individuals and entire teams develop isn’t an activity.  It’s a mindset.

Chronic cynicism can become one of the more deeply engrained and most damaging habits any team can develop. Pay attention to how many of your team’s group conversations are primarily focused on positive and/or proactive things and how many mainly consist of criticizing and commiserating.

Even reading that seems a little harsh to some folks. Nobody wants to think of himself or his team as chronic cynics or complainers. And we may not innately feel that we are.

But as the famous philosopher Bill Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you are.”

We are what we do.

I’m not naive enough to expect that folks who work shoulder-to-shoulder all day long will not have occasion to gripe about any number of things. But unfettered griping and complaining becomes habitual and even cultural.

And it’s nonproductive at best and destructive at worst.

Pay closer attention to the subject matter and tone of the conversations you are around and/or involved in this week.

If they are somewhat less than “uplifting,” change them.

If you can’t change them, avoid them.

It’s a habit that will serve you well.

On this team, we're all united for a common goal: to keep my job. » Lou Holtz

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any affiliated entities or sponsors.
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