The Advantage Letter by Dave Martin
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Sunday, June 01, 2014
Volume 20 | # 457
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Do not wait; the time will never be 'just right.' Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along. » George Herbert

Can You Appreciate That?

My older son and I were sweating heavily last week as we cut PVC pipe into sections for a Boy Scout project. I had underestimated the amount of effort it would take to complete the project and was getting grumpy.

To my son’s credit, he has the work ethic of a coal miner and wasn’t complaining.

Our initial output wasn’t what I had hoped for. Granted, it wasn’t terrible. Nobody would have objected, but they just weren’t turning out right.

After several adjustments and a bit more effort, we eventually began producing sections I could live with.

We took longer and put much more effort into the work than more-experienced folks would have needed or less committed folks would have given. But we had volunteered for this project.

And don’t volunteer if you aren’t going to make a noble effort.

As we finished, a comment a former (bad) boss made to me a full 25 years ago popped into my head. A few friends and I had put in about 20 hours of labor for a non-profit group over a weekend.

When I showed up bruised and sore on the following Monday morning, he said, “I wish you worked as hard in your real job as you do for that stupid club.”

At the time, I just shrugged it off. But he wasn’t entirely wrong. I did frequently work harder “for free” than for the company that actually paid me.

It wasn’t until quite a while later that the reason dawned on me. I actually felt appreciated by the non-profit group.

I don’t think I ever cheated that boss with my work output, but I know I wasn’t exactly looking to go the extra mile for him, either.

Through the years, I’ve long marveled at how so many people willingly donate their time, talents, and labor to various charities, civic organizations, schools, youth leagues, etc. And in many cases, they are every bit as driven and conscientious (or more so) in the work they donate as in the work someone is paying them for during the workweek.

If you talk to folks who are skilled in attracting and keeping volunteers, you learn a couple of keys.

Yes, people like working for a cause that they believe in. But as important to keeping them engaged and committed, is ensuring that they are shown that their extra efforts are appreciated by others.

Acknowledgement is a powerful motivator.

It’s likely that members of your team are giving extra effort this week. Let them know you recognize that fact.

You’ll see more of it in the future.

Projecting Success

We attended a friend’s daughter’s wedding last Saturday. The reception was at a very nice, rustic hall with a large pond…and zebras and peacocks… outside.

It’s Texas. Don’t ask.

As the reception started, I noticed a very large projected image of the newly-married couple on a far wall. I thought, “Nice touch.”

A little later, I noticed that the photo had changed to a more playful shot. I thought, “Oh, it’s a slide show. Cool.”

Later still, I noticed playful pictures of wedding guests, with and without props, chalkboard messages, etc.

When I walked over, I found that the photographer had studio equipment set up (big flash, bright backdrop) and was snapping photos for anyone. The shots were then projected onto the nearby wall.

Before long, family and friends’ images were showing up on the large wall behind us.

This guy was upbeat, helpful, and knew what he was doing. He had a pro’s eye for detail and set up each shot “just so”.

As this was going on, I thought, “This is genius.” Family and friends are together, dressed up, and in a playful mood.

This guy took photos of my family that were better than ones we’ve paid serious money for in a studio. And the continued, projected images had folks laughing and thinking up new photo ideas.

He gave everyone a card with his website information. Two days later, all of the photos were on his website.

For only a couple of bucks per photo, you could download larger files to have prints made. You could order prints from him directly, as well. The process was so simple that it was fun.

While buying several downloads, I found myself thinking that I’m going to give this guy a call the next time I need photography work. I also began mulling ways to borrow the photo projection idea at a branch function or promotion.

There are scores of great photographers in the Houston market. It’s not exactly easy to stand out.

But this guy leveraged the opportunities he had while serving an existing customer to meet, entertain, and market himself to many more potential ones.

That concept had strong appeal to an old in-store banker. Strive to make your current customers happy while creating fresh opportunities to engage the multitude of prospects around you in the process.

Can you picture you and your team doing that today?

I've found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often. » Brian Tracy

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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