Today my son is 24! Yahoo, party tonight!
When my son turned 21, he was away in Japan as a the U.S. Marine, serving as an Air Traffic Controller. Since I did not get to celebrate with him, I wrote this post on 21 Business lessons . It helped me make the day meaningful for him and for you.
(Previously titled, “My Son Turns 21 Today: Here’s a 21 “FUN” Salute to Help You in Work & Business!”)
There are a lot of business (and life) lessons here and some great fun! ENJOY!
My son has a great sense of humor, and a keen understanding (usually) of how people with half a brain should behave out in the business world.
So in honor of his birthday, here is a 21 “FUN” Salute, with business lessons from the light side of life and kids and stuff like that, and making fun of whatever I can.
1. When I was a little girl, I thought there were little plastic army guys inside my transistor radio playing the music. Business Lesson: PERCEPTION is EVERYTHING, and it often helps to communicate a product, service, or idea as if the audience knew NOTHING about it.
2. When I went to wash my hands in the kitchen today, I noticed that my honey had watered down the dish soap (again). I told him, “stop watering down the soap or I’m gonna blog about you”. He said, “go ahead, and also tell them I’ve been doing it for a long time!”. Business Lesson: Do rediculous things and peeps will blog about you!
3. I had three kids in four years. When I potty trained my youngest, Sarah, I gave ALL three kids a few M&M’s whenever she used the potty. Understandably, the other two encouraged her BIG TIME. (On a few occasions, my son even snuck in and pee’d for her, lol). With plenty of praise, support, and help from her brother and sis, Sarah was effortlessly potty trained in short order! Business Lesson: You’ll reach your goals faster by rallying the team. It will also help all team members to feel important and connect more meaningfully.
4. After a year in Japan, my hormonal son was missing the familiar comfort of American girls. I put together a “HOT CHICK KIT” for him by recruiting single college girls who were willing to, 1) have their picture taken, 2) sign a note card to my son on the spot (which we attached to a mini-chocolate bar and their photo) and 3) Give him their Facebook or Myspace address. The girls were flattered and more than willing to contribute. They all wrote such wonderful messages thanking my son for his service and asking him to stay in touch. My son was pleasantly annoyed when I sent him the kit. Business Lesson: Create a product or service to meet a need or desire, no matter how crazy it seems. It will likely be a huge hit.
5. My honey and I love Schlotzsky’s . Recently we signed up for a taste-test they were doing to test a new whole-grain bun for their sandwhiches. From that experience we got a free lunch, a date together, plus a $25.00 gift certificate each. Business Lesson: Save gobs of research money by going right to the horse’s mouth (your current customers). You’ll solidify loyalty by rewarding your customers for giving you important product and service information, plus you get to show them a good time and get good referrals from them (see, four years later I’m still talking about it)!
6. My sister-in-law and I got kicked out of Harrods in London for taking photos of their beautiful displays, AFTER they told us to stop taking photos of their beautiful displays. Business Lesson: Don’t push your luck (too much anyway) when it comes to FREE publicity!
7. I’ve been asking my husband (not my HONEY this time) for weeks to buy ROASTED SALSA from the grocery store (he does most all of the grocery the shopping). Several times now, even after my numerous requests, he bought the regular kind instead (probably becasue it’s cheaper)! Business Lesson: Don’t assume your customers will stay if you continue to ignore them (even though I’m staying).
8. One time I delivered a custom home fashions order to a client’s home, including custom bedding (which has a very high total cost). I installed all the items and politely requested final payment (she had previously made a down payment). The client asked if she could pay me later, as she was expecting company and in a hurry and she did not have time (even though she knew we were coming and knew payment was due on day of install)! Business Lesson: Collect the balance on the day of install or delivery, BEFORE the install (P.S. I was firm, and I did get full payment that day).
9. Another time (before I finally changed my payment policy) I delivered a custom order to a client, including custom window treatments and custom bedding (which again, all have a very high total cost). I installed the treatments asked for final payment. The client, who knew the installation date in advance, said she did not own a checkbook or credit card and she did not have cash (I think that’s bazaar and amazingly funny)! Business Lesson: Drop the bottom 20 percent of your clientele on a regular basis.
10. When I was five years old, my aunt made me a sandwhich and asked how I wanted it cut. I said “corner to corner”, which was VERY important to me at the time. Instead, she cut my sandwich into four triangles. I went ballistic, flailing and crying with intense protest, demanding “I said corner to corner, NOT corner to corner to corner to corner.” Business Lesson: Don’t ASSUME (more assuming) you know what the customer wants just because you “sort of” know.
11. A friend and I visited a run-of-the-mill, uninspiring (why even be in business?) variety store. On every wall in the place, I saw signs posted, repeating to me, the valuable shopper, these tacky messages:
“If you break it, you buy it” (no, if I break it, YOU have to clean it up),
“Kids must stay with an adult at all times” (how about if I make the kid stay with YOU while I shop, you’re an adult, aren’t you?), and
“A $2.00 charge will be added to all credit card purchases” (isn’t that illegal? If not, it should be).
I’ve seen many stores play the sign game. My favorite was on the entrance of a popular hobby store. It read:
“Upon entering this store you agree that we have the right to check your purse”.
For REAL! So, you know me…I went into that store just HOPING someone tried to look in my purse! (By the way, just because you post a sign that reads, “Upon entering this store, you agree to give us your car” doesn’t make it so.) Business Lesson: Don’t talk to your customers through negative signage. Don’t talk to your clients and prospects negatively AT ALL! Ditch the “You’re a bad girl and we don’t trust you, and we really don’t even like you all that much” type of attitude and communication!
12. At another establishment, this one an otherwise upscale boutique, I saw a sign that read:
“$30 fee on all returned checks” (and yes, some peeps still write checks)! Business Lesson: Drop the ridiculous HOT CHECK FEE (because then you have to have a stupid sign). If you must have it, make it just a few bucks, not $30. Reasoning: Someone who writes a hot check on purpose won’t be stopped because of a fee threat, and they probably won’t be coming back anyway, and a valued customer who writes one accidentally should be shown kindness and grace so they WILL come back. NEVER shame or embarrass your customers, and NEVER post their check on a wall for all to see (I can’t believe people do this).
13. I recently saw a T.V. commercial for Proactive where Avril Lavigne said, “I literally tried EVERYTHING”. OH, the poor girl must be completely exhausted. Business Lesson: Don’t advertise and publicize that you are an idiot (yes, grammatical mistakes happen all the time, but this choice of wording was intentional, planned, scripted, and reviewed by a slew of people, and aired over and over agian.
14. I tried to return a ham. We had just bought it, and when I went to open the package, I saw the expiration date had long time expired. To top it off my honey had thrown away the receipt. “So what” I said, “I don’t care about the receipt. I’m taking it back, they should never have sold this”. At the store, I politely explained that I didn’t have a receipt, that were weekly shoppers at that store, and that the ham was long expired the day we bought it. The clerk made a phone call sharing all the details (including that I had no receipt) and went out of her way to make me look bad. The person on the other end O.K.’d the return with no problem (I could hear). The clerk then snobbishly handed me a gift card for the amount of the ham, and proceeded to tell me (adding these words even though her manager said nothing of the sort) “The next time you return something like this, don’t throw away your receipt”. Well, no sh_ _ Sherlock (I kept that to myself), that’s why I told you from the beginning that I had no receipt. But I guess the poor girl just HAD to have power over SOMEBODY! Business Lesson: Don’t SCOLD or LECTURE your customers (especially not me. Don’t worry, I was nice), and use every obstacle, including returns, as an opportunity to show the client how totally amazing you are to work with!
15. I love Triscuit crackers, but I rarely buy them, and I wasn’t sure why. Then Nabisco came out with a new cracker called “Triscuit Thin Crisps” which is a thinner triangle version of the original square cracker, but with the same taste (which is tummy). I tried them, and suddenly I am easting them with everything from eggs to chicken salad. They’re like my new bread. interestingly, after buying them and eating them so often, I realized why i seldom bought the originals even though I loved them. The original crackers were just too thick and filling for eating everday. Business Lesson (2 here): 1) Always be thinking of how to serve your client better, even before they ask you (you could ask them), and 2) Don’t throw the cracker out with the kitchen-sink water—don’t totally replace an idea. Simply TWEAK a product or service just a bit, and you could have tremendous success. See, I am now eating more Triscuits AND sharing the product with you, and THAT’s how it works!
16. When I just seven years old, I bet my older brother five bucks to ride down the stairs on his bicycle. Loving all things money, he took the bait. He bumped and rocked as he went down, and landed at the bottom with a bang, a bent up bike, and his handlebars shoved firmly into the wall. My parents came running frantically, only to end up screaming and hollering at him once they saw he was alive (that’s what they did in the old days). Later, when he asked me for the money. I said, “No, ‘cause you didn’t do it right”. Business Lesson: Get it in writing.
17. For several years, I served on a national Board of Directors (I’ve served on several, so don’t try to figure it out). I volunteered a great deal of time, and traveledfor many trips, meetings and think sessions. The leadership was weak, and one of the main reasons i felt this way was that they did not value or capitalize on the diversity of exceptional thinkers and successful people they had right there at their immediate disposal. they were competitive and catty, and they embraced only ideas that were in line with their viewpoint and repertoire’ of knowledge, and their current way of doing things. They mainly reached out to joint venture only with groups who resonated with them personally in their indivdual business category. they also quickly denounced innovative ideas that involved knowledge that was new to them (I believe it was because it made them uncomfortable, and allowed someone else to have authority or influence in the meetings). They also quickly put a stop to any type of back-and-forth respectful and passionate discussions among the 12 board members (but they would throw a hissy-fit if you disagreed with THEM). They did not encourage or facilitate the negotiations and friendly hashing out of a group of innovative thinkers who were willing to synthesize concepts and ideas, and bring innovation to an entire industry. the result? No real growth to speak of. Today, that organization is still in just about the same place they were five and even ten years ago. Business Lesson: Diversity of thinking, respectful tension from different ideas, and strategic conflict are where growth, change, innovation, and incredible ideas and products come from.
18. Today my honey, who is quite kind and generous, (but who LOVES saving money), turned away two adorable girl scouts who came to the door selling cookies from a wagon. When he told me, I gave him a short mini-lecture on the importance of their entrepreneurial efforts, and then I ran down the road after the girls, and brought them back to make a sale. On our front porch, Joe and I sttod side-by-side, and proudly bought a box of Caramel DeLites (he was the one who paid, and later he actually thanked me). As the girls left, one of them said to me “isn’t your husband the man who rides his bike all around”? Business Lesson: Don’t be too quick to blow off a golden opportunity to invest in the lives of others, besides, someone might recognize you and always remember your kindness. (UPDATE: This year, just days ago, Joe bought several boxes of Girl Scout cookies from the door to door sales-girls–without any prompting or input from me!
19. I once worked with a particular feisty, NO-BULL East Coast woman (one of many, and no, not me) on a joint venture BETA project that had some kinks. Most of the BETA testers were great, but some were not skilled at communicating concerns respectfully. When someone harshly voiced a problem or issue through email, my JV partner was very swift to shoot off a reply blasting them right back. I quickly took over the emails that were forwarded to us from our assistant, so as not to tick people off. I was able to turn every one of the critics full-heartedly towards our efforts through first respectfully acknowledging their concerns, and then offering greater understanding or solutions that worked for them. Business Lesson: When responding to any lind of message containing sharp or tactless complaints, take a deep breath, then take the high road. Approach problems as a co-creation project for meaningful solutions. Also, when dealing with email inparticular, don’t put it out there if you don’t want it to come back at ya’. Customer Service is actually a revenue stream in disguise. Kind replies to ill-communicated concerns can win the virtual hearts (and real cash) of customers for years to come.
20. Go ahead, type into Google (O.K., O.K., Bing, too) any kind of term that relates to “crappy service”, “bad customer service”, “rude store”, or “great places to shop”, and see what the universe brings you. Behind the laptopn and ipad, everyone’s voice has just about equal authority and volume. If the nerdy nobody from OklaNowhere shares her experience online, it can hurt a business-owner, as she can direct droves of customers towards or away from you. Be amazing and always give your very best. Help make the conversation one you can be proud of. Business Lesson: Today, the “little guy” has power, and the supposedly insignificant people of the world are talking, sharing, tweeting, and blogging, and maybe about YOU!
21. Today is my son’s 21st birthday (UPDATE: 24th birthday). It has gone by so extrememly . I remember him so clearly when he was just one day old (pictured bottom left), and I called him “mommy’s salami” because he was all wrapped up in a cozy blankie, in a meaty little bundle. I have fully and thouroghly enjoyed every moment and every year that he was my son, and I look forward to many more years, days, and moments together. Business Lesson: Always put your time, your efforts, your priorities, and your business concerns into perspective. Celebrate your life each and every day. Celebrate your kids. Celebrate your loved ones, and enjoy every minute of it.
Happy Birthday Ryan!
Thanks for letting me share this older post, and in celebration of your 24th birthday today, I am making yummy Indian food for you and all your friends! ~Mom
Have a Wildly Fun Week,
Margo (pic from 1989, LOL)!
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