The Advantage Letter by Dave Martin
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Friday, July 15, 2016
Volume 22 | # 508
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Life is made up of little things.  It is very rare that an occasion is offered for doing a great deal all at once.  True greatness consists in being great in little things. » Charles Simmons

Getting Where You Want to Be

I’ve long preached that there are motivational moments all around us if we choose to see them.  

That isn’t the easiest thing to do if we allow ourselves to be perpetually irritated by whatever annoyances fate has presented us with that day.

My son had a choir practice on a Saturday morning at a facility located within a large retirement village.  I grabbed a book I’ve been putting off and found a bench to pass a couple of hours.  

Even at 9:00 AM, Houston was a sauna.  

As I contemplated wimping out and heading to the A/C of my car, I noticed an older woman leaving a nearby building.  

She shuffled with the aid of a walker and had significant posture challenges and mobility difficulties.  

I instinctively began to stand up to head over, but realized I might startle her.  Moreover, she wasn’t in a wheelchair that I could push.  

I found myself leaning forward on my bench preparing, to jump up.

For a few moments, I kept my eyes on her as I envisioned having to run the 100 feet or so between us to help her if she fell.  Then I considered (hoped) that the folks who run that place would not let her out alone if she were not able to handle herself.

At that moment, a quote that has been a favorite of mine since I first read it decades ago popped into my head.  

A poet named Stanislaw J. Lec once said, “He who limps is still walking.”

I imagine she had a favorite spot as she passed several benches to get to a certain one.  

And the process to go from standing with her walker to sitting on that bench seemed equally arduous.

After she settled, I considered walking over to tell her how impressed I was by her effort, but I worried that might come off as condescending.  I instead simply waited for a chance to make eye contact and smile at her.

As I continued my book, I reflected that there was likely nothing I was going to do that week as difficult to me as what I had just watched this woman take on.  

It may have taken her more time and considerably more effort than most to get where she wanted to be… but she sure as heck got to where she wanted to be.  

In life and in business, others will sometimes have easier paths than we do.  

That won’t deter the truly determined from giving whatever effort they need to give to get where they want to be, as well.  


Who's the Listing Agent?

Preparing for a houseful of overnight guests last week had me thinking about half-joking advice I have given to branch bankers over the years.  

I’ve told them that they should sometimes pretend that their branches were homes for sale and they were the real estate agents in charge of the listings.

Almost without fail, no home ever looks as nice as it does when someone is trying to sell it… or, in this case, when we’re expecting overnight guests.  Those events tend to bring on a different level of cleaning, organizing, and discarding of clutter.

My sons and I give knowing looks to each other in the days leading up to houseguests.  I remind them that if they have anything that they truly value that might possibly be considered “clutter” by their mom, they had better hide it…well.  

Things that were lying around or stacked in a far corner that previously may have gone unremarked upon may end up in trash bags when the Overnight Guests Code Red is issued.  

We are reminded of the difference between everyday-clean status and guests-will-be-staying-in-all-areas-of-your-home level preparedness.

Groups tend to chuckle when I mention those types of preparations for inspections.  Many who have sold a home have their own stories about having friends and relatives store loads of their stuff to prepare their homes for potential buyers to see.

But laughs aside, there is a business element to giving our branches regular “inspection ready” cleanups.  Simply, we become comfortable with what is around us.  

There are things that tend to pile up or accumulate that we simply don’t notice anymore.  

Things do not have to be sloppy to seem cluttered to others.  Neat stacks of needless papers still look like clutter to customers and prospects.

From a retailing standpoint, clutter attracts our eyes every bit as much as marketing elements do.  We may look at our surroundings and focus on the marketing pieces we want customers to notice.  

Customers, however, are just as likely to notice things like messy desks, random piles of papers, and untidy back counters. 

I’m not suggesting we eliminate the personal touches that give a branch “personality”.  However, we need to be careful that personality isn’t “hoarder.”

A little decluttering now and then may be one of the most impactful “marketing activities” we can perform.   


You will make more friends in a week by getting yourself interested in other people than you can in a year by trying to get people interested in you. » Arnold Bennett

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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