The impact of now
Let me be blunt and say up front, if you’re born to parents who are 5 feet tall, it is likely you’ll only be five feet tall. Unless one of your ancestors was much taller, you’ll not be much different.
Much of what we inherit in physical terms is fixed. However what a five foot person can do is remarkable. Given the right environment, opportunities and drive, this person can achieve outstanding things. Much of our ability has a limit. Not necessarily the ones that we think though. An obvious limit is that we couldn’t last long in space without a life support system. Or we couldn’t re-grow a limb that has been cut off or build a pyramid on our own in a day.
However, the accumulation of training and adapting could allow us to last 5 minutes or more under water, we could use a prosthetic limb so well that others wouldn’t notice we were without a leg or a skilled site manager could arrange for a damn to be built in less than a year without having lifted a brick or poured a bucket of concrete. Why then, does someone with developed skills make life seem so much easier? The lazy do as little as possible, then blame everyone else.
Accumulation of skills took us from apes to rulers of this planet. Even with basic skills a child can survive in a West African slum where life is cheap.
Jon has been a good friend of mine for many years and is a very intelligent man. His love of music took him to the heights of knowledge in band culture and themed music that many of his friends admired. He had a passion for getting to know every record, band member, song writer and musician that fit his range of taste. His accumulated knowledge was outstanding. People would contact him for information and opinions. People who worked in the same industry who should have known it all and were paid to do so, called Jon for advice and tips and confirmation of history. He is a legend. That knowledge and passion served him well and he knew he would always be able to learn more and this spurred him on.
However, he smoked heavily, ate poorly, drank too much, rarely exercised and despised personal hygiene habits a bit too much.
His wife mentioned these things to him but of course he was more interested in music than anything else.
We will get back to him later, but can you predict an outcome?
The idea of time travel exists in our minds quite strongly. Have you ever wished you could go back to a certain point in you r life and do things differently? The outcome would be extraordinary. One small change could alter every ones lives so much that our current future would be unrecognisable.
We all wish we could go back and change things, but thankfully that’s not possible. If we could it would be a chaos that could never be resolved. It’s because we can’t that we should ensure we take greater and greater notice of what’s happening now.
If I could go back to when I was 12, I would tell myself to leave the sweets alone. Brush and floss my teeth three times a day and avoid a certain girlfriend who ended up getting me beat up! That alone would be worth the trip. But if I could live my life over from that point on knowing what I know now it would change so much that my life would be different to such an extent that I could cause chaos and be very unhappy.
That’s why now is so important.
That’s why today is your greatest gift. It is the present. Realising that makes you powerful, decisive, healthy, rich and wise. If you met yourself 20 years from now, what would you be saying to yourself. What advice would you give YOU? What would you tell yourself to change about what you’re doing now? There is the answer. You know what you’d say. You just don’t act upon it. Why? Because it’s too easy not to.
Lost time is never found again – Benjamin Franklin.
Going back to Jon, let me ask you. By the time he was 44 years old do you think you could describe his life? Obvious details are, health poor, over weight and quite smelly. The lesser health had slowed his learning down but not enough so you’d notice, but what of his wife. You guessed it, long gone. His kids? Never really knew him, His friends? Changed a lot over the years, mostly got fed up with his self-abuse and lack of anything but music to share with him that they just started to distance themselves from him.
Now here’s the very obvious question. Could any of this been foreseen? Of course it could. So health issues are an accumulation issue. If you eat a mars bar a day instead of an apple a day then you will be different in 20 years’ time. Is it that easy? Yes. So why doesn’t it stop us from doing the self-defeating stuff. My only answers to date are firstly its easy not to do what you should or avoid the stuff you shouldn’t touch. Secondly though, it’s a willingness to ignore the small stuff, which seems small at the time. The big stuff like whether you cheat on your partner or kill your neighbour after a row is a bit more immediate.
This is the crux of my point. It’s the distance between the event and the effect that causes the apathy. Because it is a long time between your first Mars bar and the doctor saying unless you cut down on the sweet stuff you’ll have a heart attack soon – we ignore the accumulation effect.
But it’s bigger than that. Our whole culture is built around what we can get away with. Once the Coalition forces liberated Iraq the mob element took over and looting became widespread to such an extent that they robbed the hospitals of all sorts of life saving equipment. I had a vision at the time of an ordinary Iraqi sitting in his breeze block whitewashed one bedroomed apartment with an incubator he’d just stolen from the hospital and thinking, what the heck do I do with this now? Group dynamics had taken over and he’d decided to go along and got carried away and stole the first thing he could get away with. He didn’t think at the time what shall I do with the incubator; he just thought I can get away with this.
It is hard to resist. You go to a hardware store and take five items to the till. The checkout girl misses one of the items off and you know it but pay the lower amount because you can easily blame her if you get caught. You’ve just saved yourself a few pounds and no one is the wiser. No risk no effort, just took advantage of the opportunity that arose. The accumulation effect has a long term view of course. This girl often made this mistake and just didn’t care if this happened even when she noticed she’d done it. This casualness became entrenched and happened in many areas of her life. One day she was too casual with her own young daughter at the river’s edge and the little girl fell in. Those lost seconds before she realised her mistake caused her daughter to drown.
The chap who got away with the item thought that next time he came in he’d try a few more expensive items and made a beeline for the same checkout girl. Of course given the same opportunity to miss a few items still in the trolley that should have been scanned it was easy to not bother. Our customer decided that this could be fun to try in all walks of life. Then having stolen from a jewellers a few years later, got caught. The criminal record set him back so far that he never held a decent job again.
All this is stupid when you consider that a few common sayings are wisdom enough. Like avoid the slippery slopes or casualness causes casualties. But we take no notice because we do not connect the event to the outcome based on the huge gap between the two. You know that flirting leads to infidelity. That lack of maintenance will cause your car engine to fail. But who cares let’s put it off or not do it anyway.
So if you want control of your life you need to focus on the now. Each moment of the now determines the future, so plan it and make use of it as if it were your last oxygen under water. Any seemingly insignificant event can cause a change reaction over time that impacts on your life massively. It’s our choices that help the outcome. Be careful of your choices. They make or break you.
You already have a marketing goldmine – your communications with your existing customers.
We are all so close to our businesses that it is often a challenge to step back and look at the obvious – the elusive obvious.
Most companies marketing efforts focus on acquiring new customers. But it seems that it is a rare business that is maximizing its marketing to its existing customers.
So the real question is – Are you sitting on an untapped goldmine. This goldmine consists of the wealth that is hidden in your relationships with your current customers.
How do you access that goldmine? By answering these questions:
- What products or services do you have to offer your existing customers?
- When did you last let them know?
- What are you not offering your existing customers that you could be offering them?
- When did you last send a letter or email to your customers?
- Did you measure the response?
- When did you last call your existing customers?
- What would happen if you doubled your contact with them this year?
- When you do communicate with them, what more could you be doing to clearly explain the specific benefits that they will experience?
Here are some more useful questions:
- How often do you communicate with your existing customers by email?
- Do you test and measure the response?
- Do you spend at least 15 minutes each month thinking of an exclusive offer you can make to your existing customers?
- Do you say ‘thank you’ to your customers either by letter, email or telephone?
- Do you ask your existing customers for referrals?
- If you have a limited service or product line – do you know of additional companies, products or services that your customers could benefit from?
There are hundreds of great marketing strategies for getting new customers. However long before that, you need to nurture your relationships with your existing customers.
Its so much easier and profitable to sell to existing customers than new ones. Work smart.
So if you have not got one build a marketing plan to regularly reach out to existing customers.
It is the key to the goldmine.
Enjoy the journey
Why is it important to remember people’s names?
All relationships, business or personal are built on likeability and trust which is why it is important to remember people’s names. How do you feel about someone who keeps getting your name wrong or forgets it 5 minutes after being introduced to you?
No matter how you look at it, you are likely to generate more negative feelings than positive about the person making the error. In a tough business environment this will most likely result in lost business and profits. Forgetting another person’s name simply does not create a good first impression.
At the complete opposite scenario, if you are introduced to a group of people and you know how to remember people’s names quickly you create a very favourable impression as it’s not something that most people can do.
Many people say they are not good at this and are unable to remember people’s names however it’s probable that they just don’t make an effort to do so.
So the first and most important rule is realise the importance of developing this habit and to care about learning how to remember people’s names. You could even push the boat out and tell people you are good at remembering names. This will force you to live up to it. It’s a great habit to push your own comfort zone and make yourself be held accountable about achieving great habits.
So how can you put some easy habits into place to avoid forgetting someone’s name?
On initial introduction – Meet and repeat
Someone introduces you to Adam or he introduces himself
Hi I am Adam. Pleased to meet you.
Instead of saying Hi I am Charles – pleased to meet you –insert their name in to the sentence.
Adam? Hi Adam it’s good to meet you. Follow up with a open question to generate conversation also using their name.
- How do you know (introducing person name) Adam?
- What do you do for a living Adam?
Do that a few times in the conversation if you can without being weird.
If you know someone else with the same name try and visualise the Adam you know with their arm around the shoulder of the newly introduced person thus grouping the two Adams together. Also see the point on weird visualisation later in this post.
For unusual names, names which could be spelt differently or foreign sounding names ask the person to spell it out.
- Sorry is that Phillip spelt with two L’s or Philip spelt with one L?
- Sorry, How do you pronounce Vin- chen –za?
When repeated to you, say it back and check you said it right by repeating it a few times. Most people with unusual names will be impressed with the effort you are making to get it right.
If someone is introduced by a shorter version of their name or a different version, check if that is their true name. For instance you are introduced to a lady named Charlie – ask is that short for Charlotte or is it actually Charlie?
Be careful not to call someone by a shorter version without checking with them first but once again this helps aid memory. Do you prefer Robert or Rob or Bob?
At the end of the conversation use the name one last time – Good to meet you Adam.
Basically the idea is to repeat the person’s name a few times to try to integrate it into your memory. Even as you walk away repeat the name a few times while visualising their face to get it fixed in your mind.
If you get a moment after meeting someone visualise their face and try and link a weird image in your mind to their name. The more bizarre the image the easier it will be to remember people’s names.
- Bill may have a huge duck bill
- Alison could be standing next to Ali Baba wearing a fez with his son next to him also wearing a fez – Ali – son. Put Alison in the middle of the picture.
- Charles could be next to prince Charles wearing the crown of England.
Eventually for some common names you will build some standard but unique images to link names to and put all the people you know with the same name in the same picture along with the new person.
Meeting a group of people
This is more difficult but can be done with effort by using the same techniques as the points above but just more quickly. As you get spare moments and in gaps in conversation look at the people one by one and repeat their name to yourself. If you miss one or two, double check with someone in the room who you know already. The association and visualisation with other people of the same name you already know will help a lot in this scenario. Once you can go around everyone at the table or room you have been just introduced to check you remember people’s names easily you know you have started to build a very useful habit.
It is possible to learn 20 or more people’s names inside 20 minutes with effort.
Once again it’s all about caring sufficiently to make the effort to try and remember people’s names.
Most people understand the importance of good relationships, remembering people’s names and better still other important information about them. However, most people do not make the effort required to help themselves build those relationships and suffer as a result.
So are you prepared to make the effort? Or are you just going to think – interesting post – and move on to the next thing before taking action to build a system and habits to enhance your relationships.
If you get this right people will remark upon it. Perhaps you can then help other people acquire the same skill base by sharing this post.
Enjoy the journey
How to be a great small business owner
Every small business owner is different and yet in many ways they are all the same. There are so many ways to skin a cat and the purpose of the website is to help a small business owner like you with ideas to develop their business so that it meets their needs – whatever they may be.
You probably started your small business for a variety of reasons:
- You think they can do a better job than the people who you were or are working for
- You don’t like being told what to do and would rather be your own boss
- You have a great idea which you think will make a lot of money
- You want to mange your own time
- You have been made redundant and cannot find another job.
Usually people start a particular type of business because they can do the work of the business – a mechanic opens a garage, an estate agent opens an estate agency, a butcher opens a butchers shop. – You get the idea.
However, what very few people start out with (even good managers) is first hand knowledge of everything it takes to run a successful small business.
The skills required to be a great business owner are totally different than the skills required to complete the job of the business.
It is this lack of skill that unfortunately is the downfall of the majority of small business owners.
I understand (though I have not checked the statistics) that around 80% of small businesses fail in the first five years and then of those remaining, 80% fail in the next five years. It’s a surprise that anyone starts a small business at all! However, for the successful small business owner, the rewards can be tremendous. You do have to acquire the skill base of a business owner as quickly as possible to be effective.
On running my own business for the last 21 years I have read over 200 books on the subject, been to many seminars, discussed ideas with many other owners, coached small business owners and I still know that I have a huge amount to learn. There is no “right way” other than what works in the long term but ideas are worth exploring and many have proven effective for other small business owners.
Read over this part of the site and I sincerely believe it will help you achieve your hopes and dreams. Continue reading
- The 7 year itch
- Directions on the path
- I am curious
- Your ideas and story
- Anti – testimonial
- Key people in your company and life.
- When is losing really winning?
- Holidays vs Time out
- Eight biggest mistakes of business owners
- What is bothering you?
- Do you want a new computer?
- Are you setting yourself up for failure?
- A Coach for all.
- What businesses are going to be the best in the future?
- Begin with the end in mind
- Letting go of the past
- Promise Keepers Rule Ok!
- The high road or the low road?
- Should I put a hammer through my TV? – The power of rituals
- Muhammad Ali – Inspirational thoughts