You Are Not A Red Zebra

red zebra

Isn’t it strange how zebra’s stand out so much?

Shouldn’t they have evolved to be a sort of brown colour?  Like the lion, so that they would blend in with their environment and not get eaten?

Interestingly enough when scientists were studying zebra’s, they found it awfully hard to keep track of which zebra was which, so they came up with a solution:

“Why don’t we paint a red spot on the zebra we want to track?!”

Every time the scientists did this, the zebra in question got eaten.

Why?

Because the Zebra with the red-painted spot stood out from the rest of the herd.  It turns out that the herd provide the camouflage for the individual.

But here’s the thing:

You are not a zebra, you don’t move in herds and you don’t need to worry about getting eaten

Can you think of a single person you admire that didn’t stand for something that set them apart from the crowd?

Whether it be Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi or a soldier who fought for their country.  All these people stood for something and most likely would put their life on the line for what they believe in.

At some point it seems, we have to put our foot down, draw the line in the sand and say:

“This is what I believe is right.  This is what I believe in.  This is who I am and what I stand for.”

I don’t fear laying on my death-bed and feeling sad that I didn’t accomplish X,Y or Z.  I am afraid that I will be on my death-bed and look back at my life and realise that I didn’t stand up for what I truly believe in.  That is a life not lived.

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Avoid The Tourist Trap

A great meal in Paris…

One of the best things about spending a week in Paris is getting to experience some really great food.

A simple way of knowing if a place is worth visiting is by simply walking inside and listening carefully to the customers. Are they speaking French? If they are, then you’ll likely have a good meal.

The reason places which cater only to tourists suck is because they usually just want to make a quick buck. They’re not interested in starting a new relationship with a long term customer. They want to maximise profits and spend as little as possible while doing so.

However, this kind of plan won’t work with locals. With locals you have to play an “infinite game”. Developing and nurturing longstanding relationships where you actually care about the people you have the privilege of serving.

The question is, are you treating your customers like tourists? Do you want to take them for a ride?

Or are you playing the infinite game? Are you in this for the long haul because you actually care and want to build longstanding relationships?

Still Or Sparkling?

When you’re asked at a restaurant if you would like “still or sparkling water?”, what do you say?

Often we do things in a certain way without asking why. It starts off innocently enough in school. We get shown how to tie our shoes the tried and tested way, so that we don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel every time we are presented with a new problem.

But it starts to become a problem when we stop realising that it’s ok to not do things the “tried and tested way”. After a while we become completely blind to different ways of doing things. We forget to ask why things are done the way they are and as a result we stop ourselves from breaking the status quo and creating meaningful work.

A little known fact; the waiter asks you if you would like”still or sparkling”, because then you won’t say “tap water”. They trick you into thinking that there are only two options.

Another little known fact; you’re probably not tying your shoe laces properly:

So the question becomes; are you avoiding doing something meaningful because you’ve become blind to the opportunities all around you?

Or worse. Are you blind to the amazing contribution that you can surely bring to your community?

If you are reading this blog, then I know for sure that the world needs you. Don’t let the world blind you into thinking otherwise.

What Your Mother Can Teach You About Sales

(Before I tell you this story, I would just like to say a big thank you to my mother.  She’s really an amazing woman and this is just one of the many indirect lessons she has taught me over the years.)

I had a crisis of confidence before I started medical school.  I nearly didn’t go.  I don’t know why, but at the time I felt that perhaps I wasn’t meant to be a doctor , that there may be opportunities elsewhere which could be better.

My mother knew that I wanted to be a doctor since I was very young and knew what was best for me.  When I was having doubts about going to medical school she said:

“You’re going to medical school!  Or you’re not welcome in this house!”

OK, sounds harsh, but it really isn’t and I am eternally grateful.

I really did want to be a doctor since I as far as I could remember.  And now as a doctor, I am very glad I chose this path as the work is continuously interesting and challenging.

The point is that my mum cared about me.  Like, really cared.  She cared so much that she cut through the BS and basically just said “you’re gonna do it, or else!!”.

Interestingly enough, this is the best way to sell as well.  This overly caring yet demanding attitude is how you approach customers and prospects.  Sales people usually try to persuade prospects to do things for the wrong intentions; money and commissions.

But the approach and the mindset that works is:

“You are going to use my product or else!  Because I know what’s good for you and my product will REALLY REALLY make your life way better!!!!”

As a doctor, sometimes I know that a drug that I am starting my patient on will basically save his or her life.  There better be a good reason to not go on the medication, otherwise I’m not letting you get out of my office without a prescription!  I know what’s good for you!

As a salesman, I have the same attitude as this.  I know my product will really enhance my customers life!  As a result I have no issue with demanding that they sign up and start using my product.  I care so damn much, that I’m not leaving until they’re signed up!

“Mind The Gap”

“Please mind the gap”. It’s a phrase that is announced over and over again on the London Underground.

When I was a child I would avoid “the gap” at all costs. It was a terrifying idea; falling into “the gap” would surely result in immediate death…or worse…having to come face to face with some kind of “gap monster”.

Why then as we get older, do we start to embrace “gaps”? People seem to love “gaps in the market”, they love an “opening”, they embrace “integration” with legacy software.

Perhaps we should have the same attitude towards these sorts of “gaps” as we do towards the “gaps” on the London Underground.

If you fill a gap in the market, if you are always looking for an opening or trying to partner up with someone then you are giving up your chance to lead, to create and to make something truly new and remarkable.

The gaps in the market were left there by the companies that created the market. You have the opportunity to create your own market.

(No, not as hard as you think.)

If you build guitars for example then you could be the only person to create a unique body shape, with a certain type of wood in a certain type of way.

If you are a chef, you have the opportunity to cook with the ingredients exclusive to your region with the recipes that have been handed down for generations.

If you provide a service you can provide your service in the unique way you would like your problem to be solved. If you like it solved this way, then it’s incredibly likely that a lot of others will as well.

It’s all too easy to fall into the gap.

So “Mind the gap”, because your life might just depend on it.

Are Your E-Mails Making You Look Like A Douche Bag?

Why is it that when we receive E-Mails from large organisations there is a threatening message attached to the bottom?

Here is an image of an E-Mail I received when I used to work as a doctor in the Emergency Department:

E-MAIL

No doubt this footer was cooked up by a room full of overpaid lawyers and consultants covering their own back.

What type of message are you sending your clients when you send E-Mails like this?  If you are sending an E-Mail like this are you building trust and connection?  Or is this a way of hiding?

Perhaps it’s an easy way to not take any responsibility for how you come across, what you stand for and what you say…

Here’s a better footer template, which my company uses.  No, it’s not cooked up by a bunch of overpaid lawyers, but by someone who actually gives a damn about what he stands for*.

*************************************************************************************

This message was hand typed by “ENTER NAME” from “ENTER COMPANY NAME” who cares about your thoughts and feelings.  

Please feel free to disclose, copy and distribute the contents of this E-Mail as you see fit.  If there is anything at all we can help you with, then please hit the “reply” button.  We look forward to hearing from you again! 

 

 

*….Erm, I was talking about me if you didn’t guess already. :p

Michelin Star Chef Goes Out Of Business!

He spread himself too thin, gave away all his cooking secrets in his TV shows and cookbooks and was too generous with his criticism to improve food in the UK.  As a result he had nothing left to say, no more new recipes to cook and disappeared into obscurity.

Of course none of this is true… (I’m sorry for the click bait). Gordon Ramsay and other chefs continue to thrive by giving away all their secrets.

When Gordon Ramsay opens a new restaurant he isn’t paranoid about some copycat opening a restaurant on the opposite side of the road to his.

So why for God’s sake do people not take the same approach in other industries?  Entrepreneurs and business people in particular are so paranoid of their “ideas being stolen”, of people “knowing their secrets”, of customers knowing the truth.

No good business has ever gone out of business by being open and generous with ideas, approaches and ideologies.  No good business has gone out of business by showing the inner workings of their business, by allowing their employees to voice concerns and opinions, by showing others their code base.

Let’s take a leaf out of Chef Ramsay’s cookbook and be more generous.  If I can give you my recipes and “secrets” in creating a successful business then perhaps we can all enrich the world that little bit more.