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Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Volume 18 | # 431
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Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out that they've got a second. » William James

Decorations Are Signs of Life

Over the years, one of my favorite suggestions to branch teams has been to regularly and enthusiastically decorate their branches. And for years, many senior managers have gotten a little heartburn over the suggestion.

They have trouble trusting that branches will not be “junked up.” I often point out that we trust branch staff enough to give them keys to the vaults. I’m thinking that decorating their branches is something we can learn to trust that they can handle.

One argument that I’ve long made is that decorations change (even slightly) the look of a branch. Humans are wired to notice when things change. Static branches become ignored branches.

Another positive thing I’ve witnessed through the years is that branch teams who are more personally engaged in the physical appearance and merchandizing of their branches simply seem to be more engaged in general.

Does being more engaged lead to increased decorating or does increased decorating lead to more engagement? Uh…yes.

But I was reminded of yet another good reason to be a fan of seasonal, holiday, and/or bank campaign decorating last week. There is an in-store branch in one of the stores I frequently visit. It is almost always nicely and thoroughly decorated for whatever season or holiday is upon us.

On this trip, I caught them on one of the few days in which the last theme had been cleared out, and the new one was not up yet. I stopped in my tracks. To put it lightly, that branch was…well, ugly.

Even tidy, it was ugly.

Finishes and décor that were the style ten years ago now look dated.

The decade of dings and dents this branch had taken gave it more of a general DMV vibe than a best-of-class-level financial services provider (which this bank actually is.) I briefly found myself hoping this branch wasn’t in the process of closing.

To my relief, it was “back to life” a few days later with spring decorations and flowers. Suddenly, the visible wear and tear of the branch weren’t the focal points.

And I’ll bet the cost of the flourishes was less than $100, and most of that was on flowers. (Flowers and plants are always a great investment.)

In an expense-sensitive industry, purely cosmetic repairs are fewer and farther in between. But that doesn’t have to mean unattractive branches.

Are your branches showing signs of life this week?

Dream Big. Work Hard.

We had a really neat event take place in our town last weekend. Houston Texans’ defensive end (and current NFL Defensive Player of the Year… cough, cough) JJ Watt held his first annual charity softball game in our neighborhood’s minor league ball park.

For the record, QB Matt Schaub won the pregame homerun derby and JJ hit the farthest ball of the day…well, assuming the ball actually landed that day. It may have achieved orbit.

As a parent, you have to be very careful whenever you even tacitly give your endorsement of a professional athlete as a role model for your kids. Heroic performance on a playing field frequently doesn’t correspond to heroic behavior away from it.

But sitting there watching Watt be a hands-on host and then listening to him address a sold-out ballpark, I felt comfortable telling my sons, “That’s how you want to be.”

Surrounded by literally thousands of #99 jerseys in the stands and a couple dozen Texans teammates behind him, he didn’t refer to himself much at all.

He brought his mom out and thanked her for helping him start his foundation. Its motto is “Dream Big. Work Hard.” He thanked volunteers, sponsors, his teammates, the concession workers, the police, the press, and the folks in the stands (multiple times.)

He also briefly told of having a dream while still living in his parent’s basement of one day being in a position to make a difference in people’s lives.

Standing there in a moment that symbolized the achieving of that dream, all he could think to do was thank others and promise that their support was not going to be wasted.

The guy was having a “look at me” moment like few humans ever get. And in that moment, he focused attention on everyone else.

Of course, this is the guy who only a few years ago was delivering pizzas to pay his bills in college. His story of being recognized by a 10-year-old who asked his mom why “JJ Watt-the-football-player” was delivering a pizza is one of my favorites.

Watt says he keeps the memory of that humbling moment with him even as he trains today.

Some people wipe humbling experiences from their minds once they succeed. Others use those memories for grounding and motivation.

Remember that many of the things that humble us today are the very things we need to make future success possible.

Dream Big. Work Hard. Indeed.

Perhaps our eyes need to be washed by tears once in a while, so that we can see life with a clearer view again. » Alex Tan

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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