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Why I LOVE Shoe Shopping!

Posted: 2016-01-28

My wife loves shoes. My three daughters love shoes. My sister loves shoes. Most of the women I know love to shop for shoes. It’s a group activity and team sport. This phenomenon should not surprise a lot of people. Some people are surprised when I tell them I know the difference between flats, pumps, T-Strap, sling backs, espadrilles, peep toes and wedges…and the NEED for all of these in one color.

While sitting in the shoe section of Nordstrom one day, I realized I LOVE shopping for shoes too! Why? Most men hate shoe shopping, so why was I getting caught up in the excitement? I realized, I still didn’t care about the shoes. The shoes are just a product. They are functional and, at times, a commodity. However, the experience was eliciting a feeling in me I wasn’t prepared for. How can I duplicate this same feeling in my customers and clients?

  1. Experience – When people attend a SciSpeak workshop, I make sure it is a fun and memorable experience. They can go anywhere and learn social media, mobile technology or presentation skills. However, when they attend my workshops, they leave wanting more. When my wife leaves a shoe store, she doesn’t think, “I’m done buying shoes.” If she could stay longer and buy, she would. That’s the experience you want your customers to feel about your product.
  2. Emotions – Shoes make people feel a certain way. Some shoes make you feel pretty / handsome. Some shoes make you feel powerful. Some shoes make you feel athletic and strong (even if you don’t go to the gym). Even Apple designs it’s products and stores to elicit a certain emotion. How do your customers feel after they buy your products or services?
  3. Total Package – My customers always ask me for a package. Their question is not always based on price. A package indicates that it is “complete.” When I go to the Men’s Wearhouse to buy a suit, they lay out a suit with a shirt and tie and socks and shoes. They know I don’t just need a suit. As a good salesperson, we need to understand the package needs of our customers.
  4. Community - My wife loves when other women notice her new shoes. She has spent good money on them and she wants recognition. ALL people want recognition for the work they have put in to something. If a quarterback throws an amazing pass, they expect people to cheer and yell. Fitbit Exercise bands have done an amazing job of building a community around steps taken, calories burned and fitness. Build a community around your products and the sales will increase.

I probably have more shoes than most men. I have four pairs of black shoes. I have 3 pair of boots. I have loafers, lace ups and wing tips. My shoes are for different occasions and each makes me feel a different way when I put them on. Don’t judge me for my sense of fashion. Think about how you want your customers to feel after buying your product or service and strive to design for that.

Now about those purses… :)

Scientifically Speaking, of course

I Wore Jeans to a Job Interview!

Posted: 2015-12-01

There I was getting ready for a job interview with one of the leading technology firms in the country and I had decided to wear jeans. Premeditated. This was a conscious decision on my part. I have NEVER done anything like this before. So why was I doing it now?

I know my audience. I If there is one thing I have learned in working in the tech community over the last 4 years it’s this: they are comfortable. Even the investors rarely wear ties. There is even a phrase to describe it: “chic geek.”

The first rule of public speaking is: know thy audience. With whom are you speaking? What do they value? What are their interests? My instincts didn’t let me down today. My interviewers had on jeans as well.

  1. Know your audience - This is the first rule of public speaking. Every audience is different. Many of my clients are scientists, engineers and technology professionals. They speak a “different language” than most people. I advise them to design different presentations for different audiences. When they are speaking to their peers, they can “talk high science.” When they are speaking to members of senior management or investors, change the language (but keep the content the same).
  2. Know yourself - The ancient Greek aphorism stated, “know thyself.” Scientists are going to speak in a technical manner. Many times they dress in a way that is comfortable for them and their work environment. If you are not President Reagan or Tony Robbins, don’t try to speak, act or dress like them. When I was in high school, there was a guy named Tom Brown who was cool no matter what he wore. Even if I wore his EXACT OUTFIT, I couldn’t were it like he did. When speaking and dressing, make sure and know yourself and be the best you that you can be.
  3. Know your objectives - What are you trying to accomplish? If you are going for funding, dress for the role. If you are conveying information to scientists during a life science lecture, work toward that goal. There are dozens of types of presentations: informative, persuasive, problem – solution, inspirational, etc. Whether you are preparing for a presentation, date or a job interview, know what you want the outcome to be and use your tools to get there.
  4. Know their objectives - When I went into the job interview, I thought about what the interviewers wanted. When I knew their objectives are, I could plan the conversation and content for them. If a person goes on a date and only thinks about what they want, it will be disastrous. I answered questions in a way that appealed to them. You want the audience to always know that you have considered their needs and objectives.
  5. Never wear… - No matter the audience, there are some things you should never wear, say or do. I have seen men wear ripped jeans to a job interview. I have seen women wear 6 inch spiked heels…with 2 inch platforms to work. I don’t care what Cosmopolitan or GQ says, some outfits should only be combined with a pole and a fistful of singles.

I never tell people to hide who they are, but I do advise them to work toward their objectives (e.g. – get a job, deliver a speech or inspire a group). To keep my own style, I matched my jeans with a shirt, tie and sport coat. I was able to match their expectations and objectives with my personal style. I gave them something to remember in what they saw and heard.

Scientifically Speaking, of course

“Average” No Longer Exists

Posted: 2015-11-04

I no longer desire to be “average.” When I graduated college, I had an average job, making average money and was destined for an average life. Even today I talk to people who say they just want a good job, with good pay…and benefits. There is nothing wrong with that, but these days I want some thing exceptional..

In 2012, Thomas Friedman wrote a New York Times article called “Average Is Over.” He’s right. With the automation of everything from fast food to high tech manufacturing to website design, the average jobs are going away. As an entrepreneur, I am charged everyday with showing how my services are extraordinary and exceptional. Even when I worked in corporate America, there were some people who showed everyday they were not going to be average. They were destined for success and everyone knew it. Here is how they do it:

  1. They have a plan - Exceptional people have a plan. They know where they want to go and they have an idea as to how to get there. They start their careers in corporate America knowing the departments they want to work in and how those departments play into the “Big Picture” of their plan. The average employee wants a job; the exceptional employee wants a career.
  2. They manage their fear - Everyone is afraid at some time. That’s normal. Exceptional people use their fear to decide on another course of action and next step. Every time I get in front of audiences to speak, I am afraid. #Truth I use that fear to force me to know my craft more every time and practice before every presentation. I’m now convinced I can accomplish all things. (Philippians 4:13)
  3. They network - To grow personally and professionally, you will need to leave your cubicle and talk to people outside of your department. I am a better salesperson if I know people in marketing. My conversations with them help me understand how and why they design campaigns the way they do. I could even schedule monthly meetings to give them feedback on the effectiveness of the handouts and presentation aids.
  4. They are educated - Education does not = college. I have worked with some exceptional people who did not have college degrees. The exceptional person reads books, attends conferences and listens to podcasts on their field of expertise. The average employee works 8 AM – 5 PM (and spends a lot of time in the break room).
  5. They have vision - There is a story about two men working for the railroad in the 1920s. When someone asked one man what he did, he said worked at the railroad. The other man responded, “I work in transportation.” See the difference? The second man had a vision for his job. He knew railroads would go away one day. His vision could transform his role from trains to automobiles to planes and beyond.

I won’t hire average employees. I won’t let me my children be average students. I will not be an “average entrepreneur.” My clients expect exceptional programs and exceptional results from their training events. “Average” has left the building. His work space is occupied by someone who expects more from herself and her coworkers. She is exceptional, and no automation can replace that.

Scientifically Speaking, of course

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