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A Metaphor for the Importance of Perseverance and More November Tips

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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.


Don’t Slouch

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.

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To-Do Triumph

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.”


Alarm Bells

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.”)

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Failure Wall 

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.”

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Gene the Jeweler

When Gene the Jeweler Speaks, His Employees Listen

In this episode of Jimmy DeGroot’s Gene the Jeweler series, Gene has a simple request for his employees. The good news is that they follow his instructions. The bad news is that they follow a bit too literally.

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Tip Sheet

Make Sure You’re Part of Your Charitable Giving, And More Tips for May

You’ll get to meet more people and feel better about your involvement.

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CUSTOMER SERVICEIn the Kid’s Corner

Adults needn’t be the only ones who view jewelry stores as houses of goodies. In addition to its well-appointed kids’ corner, Renaissance Fine Jewelry in Brattleboro, VT, provides customers’ children with gift-wrapped presents to make them feel special, too. “They will remember the stuffed animal or the funky handbag they got at Renaissance Fine Jewelry,” says owner Caitlyn Wilkinson.

PERSONAL Go Gray

Worried your relationship with your phone is less than healthy? Switch your display from color to grayscale, recommends Catherine Price in her book How To Break Up With Your Phone. (This is apparently so threatening to phone makers’ addiction business model, it’s hidden five levels deep on the iPhone: go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Color Filters.) Instantly, your phone is vastly duller. Try it for a day.

CHARITY Sell On Site

When you’re asked to donate to local charities, make sure to choose only events that allow you to personally participate, says Dianna Rae High of Dianna Rae Jewelry in Lafayette, LA. This way, you’re building relationships, rather than just donating an item to sit on a silent auction table. For example, when the local ballet asked High to sponsor their annual event, she paid the sponsorship fee and asked if she could set up a small table of jewelry for sale with a percentage of sales going to the ballet. “The women loved it, we sold a lot of jewelry, I met new people, and the ballet received more than if I had just paid the sponsorship,” High says.

STRATEGY Good Citizens

If you refer to potential customers as “prospects” or “targets,” Seth Godin urges you to stop and instead call them “citizens.” His argument is based on the view that the conventional marketing terms don’t reflect the way power has shifted in the marketplace. “Citizens are no longer the weak, isolated pre-consumers in front of a TV set in 1971, with few options. Now, they appear to be holding all the cards. It sounds a bit pretentious, but then, so do most terms marketers use.” You can’t help but become a little more humble and respectful, Godin says, when you use this term.

TIME MANAGEMENTLeave the Mess for Now

If you typically feel the urge to straighten your desk before you can start on meaningful work, The Guardian’s Oliver Burkeman suggests a simple rule: reschedule. “If your job permits it, schedule a daily deck-clearing hour — but at 4.30 p.m., not 9 a.m.,” he says. “It’s time to abandon the secret pride we procrastinators feel in having completed 25 small tasks by 10 a.m.; if they’re not the right tasks, that’s not really something to be proud of.” Instead, Burkeman recommends the timeworn advice to work on your most important project for the first hour of each workday.

MANAGEMENTMore Donuts

Want to add some fun to your store? Take a tip from Sherrie’s Jewelry Box in Tigard, OR, where “you’re never late to work if you bring donuts,” owner Sherrie Devaney says.

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Tip Sheet

How to Become an Idea Machine, and More Tips for April

One tip involves a jeweler who allowed a client to pour his own gold.

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Strategy Be an Idea Machine

Write down 10 ideas a day. “Do it for six straight months and see what happens. It actually turns into a super power,” says serial entrepreneur and author James Altucher. To collect his ideas, Altucher buys 1,000 waiter’s pads at a time from restaurant supplies websites (10 cents a pad). “They’re great for meetings because I have to keep concise lists, and they’re always good conversation starters.”

Podcast: When Is It Time to Let an Underperforming Employee Go?
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Podcast: When Is It Time to Let an Underperforming Employee Go?

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Podcast: This Advertising Copywriter’s Last Minute Pitch Changed Everything

Podcast: Millennial Gem Trader Dave Bindra Steps Into ‘The Barb Wire’
The Barb Wire

Podcast: Millennial Gem Trader Dave Bindra Steps Into ‘The Barb Wire’

Management We Are Family

Leitzels’ Jewelry in Myerstown and Hershey, PA, has a cool rule to reinforce the store’s culture: Every day, each team at both its stores must include a Leitzel family member. “We take pride in every aspect of the business and build relationships. It is easy to overlook how cool it is to be a family-owned and operated business,” says third-generation co-owner Allison Leitzel-Williams.

Customer service Pour It On

The trend of customers wanting to be intimately involved in the creation of a piece of jewelry can be considered either an annoyance or an opportunity. Collins Jewelers in Dallas, GA, opts for the latter view, starting with taking the customer out to lunch to go over their renderings and then involving them in every step of production. “One customer wanted to pour his own gold, so we made that possible and he was ecstatic,” says owner Marty Collins.

Productivity Take an Unwanted Break

According to a recent Columbia University study, the key to getting the most out of work breaks is to stop even when you don’t feel like it. “Participants who didn’t step away from a task at regular intervals were more likely to write ‘new’ ideas that were very similar to the last one they had written,” the authors explained in Harvard Business Review. So, “if you’re hesitant to break away because you feel that you’re on a roll, be mindful that it might be a false impression.” It’s notable, too, that the “break” in each case merely involved switching tasks. A change, it seems, really is as good as a rest.

Community Show Your Spirit

Communion season, which often takes place after Easter to around Mother’s Day, can be a nice opportunity for a jewelry retailer that is involved deeply in its community. Orin Jewelers in Northville, MI, is one such business, sponsoring a host of activities in support of groups from USA Hockey to the local hospital. They also sponsor, as well as make custom jewelry for, the Catholic high schools in their area.

Management Bad News First

When you’re delivering good and bad news to employees, always give the bad news first, says Daniel Pink, bestselling author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. Pink acknowledges this often feels counterintuitive, as many bosses hope that by starting out positively, they will cushion the bad stuff. “The reason has to do with endings. Given the choice, human beings prefer endings that elevate, that have a rising sequence rather than a declining sequence,” he says.

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Tip Sheet

The Best Question to Ask Job Candidates and More Tips for March

Don’t miss “the right-hand close.”

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SecurityBeware Social Thieves

Going to Basel? Beware of who you tell, what you post, and how you move. “Skilled gangs of robbers monitor social networks, and, based on information that the exhibitors post, the robbers have attacked, robbed and even burglarized hotel rooms that the exhibitors were staying at,” Itay Hendel, CEO of Israel-based ISPS, which specializes in theft prevention for the jewelry industry, says in a statement.

ManagementWill Do, Not to Do

When making your daily to-do list, don’t pick 20 things you hope to do and that you think will add up to one day’s work: you’ll overestimate your capacities. Instead, pick the three or four most important things and really commit to doing them, even if you think they’ll take you only a couple of hours, suggests Luciano Passuello at litemind.com.

ShowroomSign Language

When you go to a jewelry show, you ask your vendors what’s new, right? Of course you do. Consultant Larry B. Johnson, author of The Complete Guide to Effective Jewelry Display, says the best way to draw customer interest from regular clients is to put a whiteboard on an easel (total cost: $79) just inside your door with all of your new products written on it.

SalesThe Right-Hand Close

Owners are uniquely placed to provide a blessing to close a sale, but knowing when to intervene can be tricky. The sales associates at Linnea Jewelers in La Grange, IL, signal such situations by shifting the piece to their right hand (a technique recommended by sales trainer Shane Decker). Owner Denise Oros will then step in to provide the reassurance that’s often needed with a line such as “Great choice! I got that stone, pearl, etc. in Tucson, it is a one-of-a-kind, she will love it! You really have an eye for the finer things.”

PersonalKeep Vacations Short

There seems to be a belief that a “proper” vacation requires at least a week off. But as the American psychologist Thomas Gilovich told the Boston Globe recently, “If you have to sacrifice how long your vacation is versus how intense it is, you want shorter and more intense.” That’s because we remember and judge our experiences, whether good or bad, not in their entirety, but according to how they felt at their emotional peak and at the end.

HiringAsk How They Prepared

Anand Sanwal, the CEO and co-founder of fast-growing tech company CB Insights, has an interesting take on the best question to ask a job candidate: “Tell me how you prepared for this interview.” Not only does the reply likely reveal a lot about how the person’s commitment to the position — do they care? — but it will hint at their work ethic and their analytical capabilities, he says.

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