Exceptional Follow Through

I just received an rather interesting book in the mail. It is called “Earning Serendipity,” by Glenn Llopis. I will be digging more into the book later tonight.

I am actually quite excited to read this book. From what I can tell, Glenn has explored the traits that successful people have and uses this knowledge to help the reader develop her own path.

Like several of the other books I have read and reviewed here on the Damn Simple blog, I was contacted by the publisher and asked if I was interested in reading the book. I am always open to exploring new ideas and genres and I emphatically responded yes when asked about this book.

Here’s what I loved about receiving this book. Typically when a publisher sends a book out, the book just shows up. I guess they assume you know why you are getting it so there isn’t a note or any other info sent along with it. I was impressed with Glenn’s publisher. She sent along a handwritten note thanking me for reading the book and letting me know to contact her when I complete it so we can set up an interview with Glen.

Glenn – if you read this, make sure you thank Andrea. Though this is a simple extra, it is the type of customer service that earns loyalty.


About half way through the first season of Mad Men. It is a great show. What did you think?

Efficiency Vs. Emotion: One Last Thought

Woman standing at the grocery checkout

Update: I have been in the process of moving to a new server. Though I am experiencing a few glitches, the move is almost complete. You can start following me at jwsokol.com/scc/. Though I have a few more posts scheduled here, I hope to have my blog completely moved and running soon. I hope to see you there.

Today’s Post

As a teenager, my first job ever was as a bagger for a local grocery story. It was an interesting job and it played a big role in who I am today. But back then I was just an impatient, naive teenage that didn’t have much knowledge of the business world. There were lessons to be learned all around me and luckily I had several great friends and mentors back then that helped me understand what great customer service looks like.

For me, it was always about being quick. My job was to get our customers’ grocery orders bagged as quickly as possible and then get them to their cars as quickly as possible. In my mind, this is what produced happy customers. But this wasn’t always the best solution.

We had a checker named Sharon. She was an older lady and she had to of been one of the most social people I knew back then. She used to drive me nuts. She talked to everyone and as a result, she was incredibly slow. But there was a lesson to be learned.

Our customers lined up to go through her register. Those customers that were in a hurry simply skipped her line and went to another, but more often than not, they chose to go through Sharon’s line. Back then, I didn’t understand why this was so important, but it has become glaringly apparent in today’s stack ’em deep, sell ’em cheap world.

What matters more to you?

  • Genuine social interaction or robot-like repetition
  • Speed and efficiency or minor inconveniences
  • Quantity or quality

Take a close look at your business and try and discover if you are truly focused on what matters most. If you care about people and about developing deep, meaningful relationships with your customers, then you might want to reconsider becoming overly focused on efficiency.

Blogs Worth Reading

If you are in marketing, there are literally hundreds of blogs out there that you can read and learn from. The same goes is you are a small business owner. If you run your own blog, the situation gets worse because if you genuinely want to write well and build your own community around your blog, you need to be engaging others via their blogs and social media. It can become a full-time endeavor if you are not careful.

As a marketer that also loves blogging, I’ve found that reading the big blogs isn’t as useful as it once was. Sure, I will read Seth Godin’s blog every once in a while, but not like I once did. Wanna know why? Seth has a massive audience and he doesn’t have to respond to comments I write. It’s just not efficient for him to do so. There are a whole bunch of blogs like Seth’s that read for educational purposes. But when it comes to who I read and interact with online, I have an entirely different approach.

I look for people like myself, people that are interested in building great conversations around topics we love and that want to help others by sharing their ideas, comments and links. Today, I thought I would share a few links to the people and blogs I really love.

Andy G. Cook – I ran into Andy totally by accident. One night I was trying to figure out how to best redesign my Twitter page to fit the new Twitter layout. It started searching around the web for some layout dimensions when I discovered Andy’s site. He had a great post on the issue and I decided to leave him a couple questions on his post.

The next day, Andy emails me three time with links, photoshop templates, etc. Andy came through for me in ways I had never imagined. The amazing thing is that he took a simple question and turned it into a wow for me. I can’t tell you how impressed I was. I have since subscribed to his blog and look forward to reading more of his great ideas.

Suzanne Vara – Suzanne is amazing. I first heard about her from one of Chris Brogan’s posts. Since then I have been reading her posts almost religiously. Suzanne offers something unique to the whole marketing blogosphere – her voice. She always seems to find a unique way to look at the marketing and brings a fresh perspective to all of her writing.

Suzanne is an active blogger. She posts almost every day and comments like crazy. She is genuinely interested in building community and conversations about communications, marketing, and public relations. You might also want to check her out on Twitter.

Jack Macholl – You are going to love Jack’s blog. He is an amazing marker. With over 28 year’s experience, he knows his stuff. Jack is active in the blogging community. He is out there reading and commenting. If you love marketing or run a small business, you need to subscribe to his blog and listen to what he has to say. Thanks for all the comments Jack!

Oh and by the way, if you are interested in e-mail marketing, Jack’s recent post might bolster your reasons for why this is still such a powerful tool.

Josh Chandler – Josh is another one of those bloggers that I found by accident. If I remember right, I ran into a guest post he had written somewhere. I love it and followed it on over to his blog. You have to check out Josh’s site and blog. He has a rather unusual business model, one that I really need to learn more about. He is a great blogger, writer and commenter.

Marjorie Clayman – Marjorie is another blogging genius that I found from a Chris Brogan post. She is an active blogger (with a new site) and active commenter. She is hilarious and has one of the funnest writing styles around. She is also interested in helping others. Make sure you check out her site and start commenting on her posts.

Alex Whalley – I have no idea where I found Alex’s site, but I am glad I did. Alex is a brilliant guy and he is actively working to build a great community. His focus is on keyword and blog optimization, as well as helping others with tips on how to drive traffic to their sites. If you are a blogger or webmaster, Alex is sharing a variety of info that you probably need.

Marketing Emotion vs. Efficiency: Round 2

Several weeks ago, I wrote a post about how inefficiency can actually have a role in a well-marketed business. I received some great feedback regarding the article and I wanted to return to the subject with a story from a recent trip I took to Colorado with the most amazing team of people in the world.

Mexican Food Gone Wrong: Where Inefficiency Spells Trouble

mexican foodIt was the last week of September and we pulled into Eagle, Colorado. The drive was about 7 hours long and all of us were tired, hungry and ready to move around a bit. We debated about where to go for dinner and after one of the hotel staff members recommended a small Mexican food restaurant right around the corner, we promptly headed out.

I don’t know what your experience is with Mexican food restaurants, but here in Utah, few of them, especially the more authentic ones, are well kept. Typically, they look like little rundown places that are in need of some TLC. Granted, we weren’t in Utah, this restaurant was no exception. It was a complete dive, but we went anyway because it was supposed to have great food.

As soon as we walked in, we probably should have realized that we would have been better of trying out luck somewhere else. There was no air conditioning, the service was poor, and none of us walked away satisfied with the experience. My buddy, Ryan tried like crazy to get us to leave after we had walked in. Instead, we sat there like good little martyrs and sucked it up.

Back when I wrote my original post, Marjorie Claymen made an astute observation. She wrote:

I think somewhere along the line, inefficiency, regardless of the experience, became symbolic of some deep and underlying problem. If it takes a long time to get your food while eating out, even if the environment is very beautiful and relaxing, we assume that there is a problem. If someone tries to reach out and execute good customer service, we get antsy and feel like they must not get many customers. Why else would they want to talk to us so much?

In the case of this Mexican restaurant, Marjorie nailed it. We should have been tipped of immediately. My guess is that there was far more wrong with the place than what we saw. But…

Back Bowling: Where Inefficiencies Make for a Great Experience

The Back Bowl Logo

The next night, our team strolled into a local bowling alley called Back Bowling. It had also been recommended to us and after doing some research online, we decided to give it a try. At first glance, you might not want to go there. It is located in the basement of an older building. As you first enter, you have to go down two flights of stairs. All the way down, the walls are covered with local flyers and posters from recent and upcoming events. But then you enter the bowling alley.

It was one of the coolest places I have ever hung out. There were actually two separate bowling alleys on opposite ends of the area. Between them was a reception desk, an arcade, a small sports bar. The place was like a full on man cave, complete with large over stuffed leather seats, classic rock playing throughout the place, couches for the bowlers, gorgeous decor, posters and other artwork, and televisions lined the walls of the sports bar so you could catch up on all your favorite sports. It was the kind of place you could go to and hang out for hours on end, whether enjoying a beer with a few friends or even just to watch a little television.

Here’s the hitch. The service was at the counter and in the restaurant was slow. But did it matter? What I would tell you is that it didn’t matter in the least. I doubt that this was done intentionally, but it worked. They had created such a fantastic environment that none of us wanted to leave. Getting our food quickly was secondary. We wanted to be there. We wanted to enjoy our time together and we have found a great place to do it in. Slow service was actually a welcome change (none of us felt like we were being rushed through the place so the next person could have a table).

Our waitress was incredibly nice. She chatted with us at length, make a bunch of jokes and made us feel incredibly welcome. When she did come out with the food, we were awed. It was some of the best food we had eaten as a team over the last two years.

Inevitably, the conversation turned to how silly we had been the first night. It was unanimous – every knew we should have visited the bowling alley the first night instead of the Mexican restaurant. The final test came on night three. We left Colorado around 4 p.m. and had a 7 hour drive home. And everyone wished that we could have stayed another night so we could go hang out one more time at Back Bowling.

Lesson’s Learned

It is incredibly important to understand, it is important that we find ways to be efficient and to provide customers with a great experience at the same time. But at the end of the day, focusing on efficiencies may not always be what is best for our business. Being quick is good, taking care of your customers and meeting their emotional needs is even more important, especially if you want to develop long-term loyalties to your business.

10 Things I Learned from Tom Peter’s Vook on Excellence

Tom Peter's The Little Big Things: ExcellenceI started reading through the second of five Vooks that Tom Peter’s recently published. The series is based on his book, The Little Big Things (amazon affiliate link). This one was focused on excellence. It is a simple read and Tom’s videos are great.

The concept is simple – be excellent in everything you do. Whether you focused on work or life, Tom provides us with a clear challenge – why would you want to do anything in life that you are giving your all to?

Think about this question for a minute in relation to your life. Are there things you are doing today that you aren’t giving your all to? Come on, be honest with yourself. Maybe you have focused all of your time on work and your personal life is suffering. Perhaps you have a hobby that you’ve always wanted to pursue, but you have only been able to commit 10-15 minutes a week to it? What about that project at work that you’ve been procrastinating on for the last month?

Stop wasting time on the things you don’t love. Now is the time to find those things you love and pursue them with all your might. Be excellent. Here are 10 other things I learned from Tom:

  1. Excellence is a state of mind that can propel you beyond your current limits.
  2. Excellence can become your differentiator.
  3. Excellence doesn’t stop at the office.
  4. Excellence is a process that requires a commitment to continual learning.
  5. Excellence is not common.
  6. Excellence is all about hard work.
  7. Excellence is all about seeing a project through to the very end.
  8. Excellence is not something that most of your competitors are worried about.
  9. Excellence requires focus.
  10. Be excellent. Why would you want to be anything else?