Don't Get off the Bus
There is nothing new under the sun, goes the proverb from Ecclesiastes, so if you want to be innovative, it’s best to stay the course rather than look for new areas to conquer. Consistency, hard work and persistence yield success. So says photographer and writer Arno Rafael Minkkinen’s “Helsinki Bus Station Theory.” If you hop on a bus leaving Helsinki (a metaphor for your work), you’ll see that the route you’re taking has been taken before. Wanting to be an innovator, you’ll get off the bus at the first stop, grab a cab back to the bus station and jump on a different bus. Again, you’ll realize that this route has already been taken, too. “This goes on all through your creative life, always showing new work, always being compared to others. What to do? Stay on the bus. Because if you do, in time, you will begin to see a difference,” he says. Over time, your own personality, voice and ideas will shine through.
This article originally appeared in the November 2016 edition of INSTORE.
Love Your Vendors
The vendor-retailer relationship can become strained at times. But ultimately, it’s one of mutual benefit. To keep those bonds healthy, Long Jewelers in Norfolk, VA, holds an annual Vendor Appreciation Dinner toward the end of the year.
Keep Bad Debt Honest
Sooner or later a customer will fail to make good on a debt, leaving you with no option but to write it off. Many business owners record the hit against revenue, but Ken Kaufman, author of Impact Your Business, advises against this, so as not to distort how your business is actually performing. “You should expense it. It is a cost of doing business and it should not hurt all the work you are doing to correctly recognize revenue,” he writes on the Amex OPEN Forum blog.
Stop slouching. “If you take on a collapsed position, it really shifts the physiology,” Erik Peper, a health education professor at San Francisco State University, told Bloomberg. Tests have shown that slouchers’ testosterone levels go down, cortisol levels go up, and they have more helpless thoughts. The opposite happens when you sit up, stretch, or, even better, skip on the spot for just 10 seconds.
If you use a to-do list to guide your task choices through the week, leave your “done” items at the top as you knock them off, suggests productivity website Lifehacker. The feeling of accomplishment will help you get through the other items.
Day Trips Dazzle
Nobel laureate psychologist Danny Kahneman showed that when it comes to experiences, our memories of events are dominated by what they were like at their peak (for positive events) and at their nadir (for negative events) — and what they were like at the very end. In terms of vacations, that suggests it’s often better to plan more, shorter breaks, rather than stretching them out to two weeks.
It Starts with Sales Staff
Preparing a holiday ad campaign? Rather than start with a big concept, reverse-engineer the process, says Mark Stevens, author of Your Marketing Sucks. Talk to your salespeople first and then work your way back to strategy, he writes on the Amex Open Forum. “Salespeople are the ones who get the phones hung up on them. They’ll tell you what works.”
Vanishing Email Address
Ever wanted an email address you could discard like a pair of chopsticks? 10 Minute Mail (10minutemail.com) is for you. The service sets you up with a self-destructing email address that expires in — yep — 10 minutes. Your temporary inbox works just like regular email. Whitepaper downloaded, anonymous comment posted, whatever — once you’re done, pull the pin and walk away.
Speak on the Breath
Harness your breath for a more powerful sales-floor presentation, says Allison Shapira, lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Shapira recommends this exercise: Stand tall. Put one hand on your belly button and one hand on your chest. Breathe deeply into your stomach and then take note which hand moves. (It should be the lower one). “Then exhale slowly, and speak ‘on the breath,’” she says. “Use your breath to support your words by letting it out steadily while you are speaking.”
Red flag: A shopper who asks to see the most expensive item in the store. The Jewelers’ Security Alliance recommends establishing a price threshold where staffers ask to see identification when a consumer wants to try on something “super expensive.” (Tip: blame it on “insurance company rules.”)
Consider a “failure wall” — a flat space, preferably in your back room, where you and staff can share your “growth lessons” with each other. “Something magical happens to failure when it’s openly acknowledged,” writes business author Jeff Stibel in a column for Bizjournals.com. “Paradoxically, it becomes less of a big deal. The idea of failure is often the elephant in the room.”