We’re getting to the time of the year when political conversations, which are always lurking, come front and center. It’s not just that nearly every media outlet is covering the elections almost full-time. Social media, at least my feeds, is almost entirely politics (along with dog and cat photos). What strikes me most about all of this is how little of the discourse is a conversation and how much of it is a rant.
Of course, politics isn’t the only place where that pattern holds true. I’ve been in many business situations where people with opposing or different views on a topic don’t really converse and try to resolve their differences. They do a lot of talking and almost no listening. That’s something I always found to be unacceptable when my team did it, and so I’d remind them that being creative and developing ideas, is like playing tennis. You send something out and wait to see what comes back. In order to continue to play, you need to make adjustments since it won’t be coming back to the same place at the same speed every time.
Take note, as you scroll through the comments in social media, or on some blogs or in your next business meeting, about how little factual information is hit over the net at the other side. Note as well how a lot of the “players” don’t really have an interest in the game. They “win” by reciting whatever preconceived notion ad infinitum and either waiting for everyone else to give up or by taking their ball and racquet and going home. That accomplishes nothing but to make each person who participates in this way more dug in, angrier, and frankly, dumber, or at least, less smart.
If you’re having a dialog, remember that the word is rooted in the notion of accomplishing something through speech (dia: through and logos: speech, reason). You need to listen to do so. What do we accomplish via monologue other than to express ourselves? Does it matter if anyone is listening?
Playing tennis against an opponent requires you to adjust and accommodate and change your tactics. Playing against a wall by yourself doesn’t. Tennis anyone?
This Foodie Friday, it’s about chickens and eggs. Putting aside the age-old question about which came first, I read something interesting about them the other day and I thought it pointed us all in a good direction.
Before we get into our topic at hand, let me ask you if you wear any sort of device such as a Fitbit? I only started wearing one about 9 months ago but I’ve learned quite a bit about how my body works. For example, I have a very low resting heart rate and I generally fall within the norms for men my age when it comes to my sleep pattern. It’s also helpful when it comes to tracking how much exercise I get and I was surprised to find that walking up and down the hills of my golf course is equivalent to walking up and down 60 floors.
It turns out that we can use Fitbit-like devices for other things, one of which is to improve egg production without chemicals. Scientists at the University of California have found that a Fitbit-like device worn by farm chickens may help combat insect infestations and eventually increase the production of fresh eggs. The tiny device tracks bird behavior rather than steps. It measures a chicken’s distinct actions, such as biting, pecking, and preening. Chickens who engage in more feather cleaning are more likely to have infections, and the data can help farmers track down affected chickens before an infestation spreads to the whole flock.
It got me thinking about how we tend to take whatever measuring we’re doing in business for granted without actually spending time thinking about if there are things unmeasured that could be useful or if we could measure things in a different way. Many of the analytics we’re used to seeing are, frankly, pretty useless. Marketing investment is justified based on activity (GRPs, Impressions, Reach, etc.), and not based on outcomes (Revenue, Loyalty, Intent, etc.). The chicken producers are smarter than that. Their focus is on the outcome – more eggs.
We need to think about what we measure in terms of purpose and not just in terms of output. We need to reframe our thinking. And I must be pretty passionate about this because according to my Fitbit, my heart rate is up a full 3 beats per minute as I’m writing this!
Filed under Consulting, food
I was having a conversation this morning with a fellow who represents a number of the franchises with which I do business. He asked me how things have been going during the pandemic and how I thought things had changed. I thought about it for a minute and this is the gist of what I said.
For most folks, investing in a franchise, or starting a business of any sort, is a scary process. It involves risk, both professional and financial. Oh sure, there are some well-to-do folks I’ve worked with who are just looking to start something up on the side while they keep their day job, but the risk is still there. While the risk is decreased when you go with a franchise (proven system, strong support team, etc.), you’re still jumping out of that airplane. Maybe you’ve got someone strapped to your back who has jumped a hundred times before, but it’s still a scary process.
The pandemic has only intensified that fear. Every person that goes into the process to any deep degree has hit the “stuff got real” moment when they have to make the leap or back away from the door. When almost every news story each day is bad and when neighbors, friends or family might be hurt by the pandemic, it’s a lot more difficult to convince people that they’re making the right move. Couple that with the fact that many 401K’s became 201K’s almost overnight and many people would rather not add to the risk it seems we all take just by waking up each day.
Many of the folks who express interest in learning more are, unfortunately, not good candidates for many brands. They don’t have much liquid capital and due to what’s been going on, their credit may be damaged. Honestly, some are pretty desperate to buy themselves a job which is not a great reason for them to be looking at starting a business. The virus has made it harder to find really well-qualified folks in many ways.
It hasn’t all been negative. Getting financing has rarely been less expensive for those who decide to move forward. The government has been delaying loan payments to help borrowers out. Some business sectors – in-home care, home repair and remodeling, cleaning, and some others – that were good businesses before are even better businesses now. I had one person who was looking at some food businesses shift overnight to wanting handyman businesses. That’s smart thinking because he is looking at the business as something that makes his goals possible and is unconcerned with the means to that end. Shifting on the fly is something we all need to be doing more of these days, right?
Those are my general thoughts about what’s happened to my business over the last few months. What’s going on with yours? How can I be helpful?