Archive for the ‘Productivity’ Category
By: Stephen Novak
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” Eleanor Roosevelt
I was with my childhood friends the first time that I felt it. We were passing a construction site when it first crept in to my subconscious. I spotted leftover plywood and two-by-fours in a scrap bin behind a six foot fence…it whispered. It enticed me to create, unencumbered by logic, whatever I imagined. An hour later I was white-knuckling the handlebars of my bicycle while headed full speed towards a makeshift ramp that had formerly been a pile of scrap. We all took turns, laughed, and with each scream of happiness we unknowingly fed the creature. Now awake, from that day forward it would always be lurking. It would help me to get my first date and land that first job. It would irritate me until I got the courage up to ask for that first raise. It pushed me in front of a group of sales trainees and through it all, my fear of failure became my best friend. That fear forced me to prepare properly ahead of time; which, of course, greatly improved the odds of my success.
The process is known in the world of extreme sports as “Feeding the Rat”
The phrase is first known to have been uttered from Mo Anthoine, a mountain climber, who is highlighted in the book “Feeding the rat” by Al Alvarez. Some believe that the rat is a philosophy that motivates certain people to do “crazy” things. I believe that the rat is alive in all of us. It prowls under the surface of our awareness until it gets hungry. It then gnaws on our well-being like an addict wanting their next fix – most of us have heard the phrase “Adrenalin Junkie”. And, of course, crazy means different things to different people.
When we are young and are not as afraid to make mistakes, the rat is more present and accessible. In that state we are generally more mentally free from the possibility of failure. Then, as life hands us our bumps and scrapes we unfortunately start to plan for failure and hold back. Instead of taking risks, we throttle back for a more tame and sensible, albeit predictable path. And while this tact may pay the bills and help keep the lions at bay (Very important, for sure), we should try to tap into that primeval instinctive urge to press the boundaries. Our ancestors did this to survive physically – modern man must do this to survive mentally.
The principle of feeding the rat dovetails quite nicely into the business world. The rat still requires feeding in order to move beyond the “Predictable” rut that most people and businesses find themselves in today. Staying put, just idling in their comfort zone irritates the rat. Soon after, his mischief begins. Then, after a while we become discontent, agitated with ourselves and everyone else. Some may resign from one company and start with another only to find that they are still trapped in this self-imposed rut. Owners or managers may become paralyzed, unable to effectively make decisions. Entire company philosophies can fall victim as uninspired leaders and disconnected employees feed off of the business until the business no longer exists. Many begin to feel trapped in their jobs with little real commitment to their own future and certainly not to the organization’s success. This meager existence is no path towards success or happiness.
Take a chance!!! Dare to be great!!! No one becomes the best that they can be without stepping outside of their comfort zone.
So whether you’re dangling off of the side of a mountain, four-wheeling through some mud, kite surfing, white water rafting, or standing up in front of a group of your friends screaming down a makeshift ramp while being excited to be alive; you are feeding a primordial part of your very being. The rat is that gnarly edge of our personalities (Our other half, so to speak) that makes pushing the edge possible. The rat is always creeping about. And sometimes it gets really, really hungry. It needs to be fed…SO FEED IT!!!
Remember, Fear is there to prepare us, not hold us back.
“Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.” Claude T. Bissell
Copyright © Stephen Novak 2012 Rising Moon Publications. All rights reserved.
By: Stephen Novak
I was heading home after a late meeting and didn’t feel like cooking. On my way was an Italian restaurant that I’d heard had great food – being a sucker for Italian, I thought I’d give it a try. When I entered the building I walked to the front counter. I approached the employee behind the register who was seated on a bar stool leaning back against the wall while staring off into space. I explained that this was my first visit, I had heard good things, and would like to order some dinner to-go. The employee leaned forward…popped out his ear buds…and said, “Hugh”. I took a step back and then repeated what I had just said. He had a puzzled look on his face as he said, “You can’t order to-go food up here.”
Of course I asked, “Well, where can I order food to-go?” He pointed to an area towards the back of the restaurant…put his ear buds back in…and leaned back. I walked to the area that he designated and waited…and waited. Two servers walked by at least twice before I flagged one of them down. I immediately recognized the why-are-you-bothering-me look on her face. I’d go on, but the rest of my visit wasn’t any better. This experience enlightened me to the fact that although good customer service may be hard to define, poor customer service stands out like fingernails scraping along a chalkboard. Let me explain:
You could pull a hundred different people off the street and ask them the question, “What is good customer service?” And you would probably get a hundred different responses. What’s OK for one person may not be good for another, but there are some fundamentals that must be present in any customer interaction.
Some typical “good customer service” elements that we all look for are:
- We want to feel welcomed when we enter a business.
- We want to be treated with respect.
- We want to be listened to.
- We want to get what we were promised and treated fairly.
- We want to be thanked for our business.
Any business that is serious about providing good customer service must have these elements at the core of their customer service process. Keep in mind that these elements are just a starting point. If your goal is to provide excellent customer service, then you must notch up the intensity of the above elements while monitoring their effectiveness. Tweak when necessary and eliminate any obstacle that prevents your customers from having such a positive experience that they honor you with their business time and time again.
Copyright © Stephen Novak 2011 Rising Moon Publications. All rights reserved.
Help your employees work more and stress less. Providing a comfortable work enviroment for your employees will help with their work proformance and reduce their stress. Many companies are incorporating pets into the workplace, maybe this is something you can work with.
The less stress your employees have the harder they will work, the less sick days they will take and the more likely they are to stay working for you. So anyway you can help to reduce their stress is a plus for your business.
Making the workplace less formal and more personal will help your employees to relax and feel comfortable. Provide them a place to put personal items such as pictures and plants to make their workspace more pleasant.
Have a quiet place away from the main floor for them to go and eat lunch or just relax on their breaks. It will give them a place to re-group and refresh for the rest of their workday.
Instead of barking at them and telling them what to do, give them the opportunity to show you that they can take the initutive and do it on their own without you harping or asking them. Suprisingly many employees say that when they do it without being told it makes them feel more important and they want to do more! Give them the chance.
Make sure to compliment and thank your employees whenever possible. Very rarely do employees hear this from their bosses or even the owner of the company so when it does happen it makes them feel good and then they know they are doing a good job and will continue to look for that praise.
Make sure that office equipment is comfortable and easy on your employees. Hard, uncomfortable chairs and desks, even a keyboard or mouse can make it uncomfortable for your employees and when they are uncomfortable they won’t work as well.
Have company gatherings, a company picnic or christmas party is a great way for your employees to socialize away from the work enviroment and the more comfortable they are with you and each other the better they will work in the long run.