Monthly Archives: July 2015

Scrambled Eggs

For our Foodie Friday Fun this week, let us consider scrambled eggs. They can tell us a few interesting things about business, as it turns out, and I’d like to spend a moment reviewing those things today. As an aside, you might not know that the original title of the classic song “Yesterday” was “Scrambled Eggs” and the verse began “Scrambled Eggs/Oh, my baby how I love your legs” (sing it; it will make more sense).

Scrambled eggs in the microwave

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In any event, back to our topic. You might think of scrambled eggs as one of those incredibly simple dishes that’s not worthy of investigation. I mean, has anyone ever asked you for a recipe or instructions on how to make them? Probably not. But everything is not as simple as it seems.

Some choices: do we season the eggs with salt before they go in the pan, immediately thereafter, or once they’ve firmed up? Do we add liquid? Is that liquid water, milk, cream, or something else? Is our intended texture runny, soft, fluffy or firm? Those decisions influence the heat we use for cooking, the adding of butter, and starting with a hot or cold pan. Finally, are we adding things to our eggs because some things (mushrooms, for example) need to be cooked first so the liquid they release doesn’t affect the intended egg result.

In case someone asks you for advice on how to cook scrambled eggs, those are but a few things you need to consider. It’s much the same when discussing business. There are layers of questions and no one right answer. It all depends on the results you’re after.  That’s why I don’t often tell clients what to do.  I ask them about their intended results and lay out the options.  Part of my job is to help them see what the recipe they’re using will produce, hopefully before they have wasted a lot of resources making something that they will find unsatisfying.  Even if you’re not a consultant, that’s sort of your job too as part of your team, isn’t it?

There are not a lot of times in business that there is only one way to reach your goals, just as there are many different ways to cook a delicious dish of scrambled eggs.  It’s important to take the time before you crack open the first egg or spend the first dollar to think about the end result.  That’s what drives the recipe!

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Filed under Consulting, food, Thinking Aloud

What Motivates You?

A friend and I were talking about a few things the other day. He’s considering a new position and we were going over the pros and cons of the opportunity when he asked me a pretty basic question that really doesn’t have a simple answer. Let’s see what you think.

English: Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Resized,...

Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The question was “what motivates you?” What he meant was why would I, or anyone, get out of bed in the morning and go to work. He wasn’t looking for a rehash of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs since I think everyone understands that we have to earn money somehow in order to live (unless you’re already wealthy). He was more interested in what would have to appeal to me in a position for me to want to spend as many hours as we all spend working doing that job.

I’ve found over the years that there is no one answer.  Some of the folks with whom I’ve worked are motivated by the need to prove themselves, either to a parent, a significant other, or maybe to a teacher or coach who told them they couldn’t do something.  It’s really an external motivation.  Others are self-motivated – they feel a deep desire to achieve.  Other people just fear failure, while still others are after material rewards.  It probably doesn’t matter since every one of those root causes can produce an excellent worker who feels fulfilled by their job.

I thought about my answer.  It really has changed over the years.  At first it was just the self-motivation to do a good job and to learn as much as I could.  Over time, not wanting to let down my team became really important.  I suppose that some of the other motivations mentioned above were part of the mix as well.  Thinking about it now, I’m at the point where it’s about the challenge itself.  How will it push me?  What will I learn?  How will I grow?  That sound strangely like the self-actualization that Maslow mentions.  Who knew?

So what motivates you?  If someone were to approach you about a new job, as they did my friend, what would be the first question you’d ask and why?

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Filed under Growing up, Thinking Aloud

Don’t Pitch

Every business needs customers, and along with acquiring those customers inevitably comes the need to make a sales pitch. Think for a minute: how many sales pitches have you seen over the years (and yes, ads are pitches too) and of those, how many were really memorable? I’m willing to guess not many.

I want to focus on the personal kind of pitches today – generally those in some sort of business-to-business context. Maybe what I have to say applies to ads as well but they’re generally shorter. This is one of the things with which clients seem to need a good deal of help for a number of reasons and I’d like to lay out some of the guiding principles we discuss.

First, don’t pitch. While some of us who have been in sales enjoy watching someone sell, most people don’t seem to find “being sold” very appealing. The nature of marketing has changed. Prospects want to have a conversation, so take it easy on the superlatives as you’re describing your product or service.  If you make a claim (we reduced costs and increased profits for our clients), back it up with specifics.  Prospects are skeptics and verifiable hard data goes a long way to changing that.

Before you get to that product or service description, however, you need to explain the problem you’re solving for them. In order to do that you need to demonstrate that you’ve taken the time to research their business and to understand the challenges they face. I realize that’s difficult as an outsider, but it turns out this internet thing makes research really easy if you’re willing to spend the time and to ask the right questions.

Finally, and I can’t stress this enough, assume that your prospects can read.  If you’re going through a deck with them, remember that it isn’t a bedtime story and that they’re not children.  Do not read the thing verbatim off the wall or page and expect that you’re going to hold their interest.  They can read faster than you can speak and their minds are elsewhere while you are on bullet point #6.

The plan is this: research the target, solve their problem, and tell them a story in a conversational tone.  I’ve found that method to be pretty effective.  You?

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Filed under Consulting, Helpful Hints