You’ve Been Upgraded

Greetings.  It seems like all of us have been conditioned to expect an upgrade. To a bigger hotel room, a larger rental car, a better table at our favorite restaurant, more legroom or a business class seat on an airplane and even a more important job when we are relatively new to the company.  These are the "free" upgrades we feel entitled to receive based on our history of loyalty, a hope for our future loyalty or just plain luck.  And each is designed to make us feel special and way above average.

Then there are the upgrades that we simply deserve until companies get their acts together.  These include new and improved versions of our operating system that hopefully remove the most pesky bugs and the improved text clarity of our Kindle which makes it easier to read and enjoy.  And in a world in which more and more products, services and solutions are invented and sent to market quickly we should expect these types of upgrades to be part of the cost of doing business.

And finally, there are all of the upgrades that companies would like us to purchase because their basic offerings are simply the "starting point" for capturing our true interest and enabling us to live more complete and wonderful lives.  Basic enough to provide some value but a bit too basic to help us achieve our full aspirations as individuals and organizations.  As a result we'll need to upgrade to receive all of the bells and whistles that bring higher value, higher status and a higher price. These include car features like premier audio systems or tire and wheel protection plans, premium LinkedIn accounts, enhanced video game experiences, fast and furious internet speeds, priority response times and more skilled technical support staff…or a higher level of almost any offering that can be made more valuable.  

So first we get free upgrades and then we pay for them.  Because most of us can't live without this constant barrage of opportunities to be more capable and more special.  And that's just sound business–a "win-win" for companies and customers alike.  Except when the upgrade is a lot more than we need because in many cases the basic offering is good enough.  And filled with more value than we'll ever be able to use or appreciate.  In these situations, wouldn't it be great if companies began by helping us to get the most out of their core offerings.  Then took the time to understand us better before offering us the upgrade that really matters to our personal or business success.

In essence, made the notion of upgrades more meaningful.


We win in business and in life when we expect value from every thing we buy.  And when we feel complete–with or without an upgrade.


The Magic of Being Adorable

Greetings.  It's the start of a new week and another chance to stand out from the crowd.   But how will your company or organization make it happen?

Over the weekend, while buying natural and organic dog food at our local pet store (I sure hope our dog Ella appreciates it or can at least taste the difference), I found one possible clue to greater business success.  The clue appeared in a large plastic crate filled with five adorable six-week-old puppies.  Puppies who were obviously on a field trip to purchase some essential supplies.  And as I and other customers marveled at their energy, enthusiasm, curiosity and total cuteness, I realized that practically everyone loves puppies.  That doesn't mean that everyone would love to have one or more live with them, but at least for a few minutes while out and about practically everyone thinks they are downright irresistable!  

And wouldn't it be nice if we could be downright irresistable too?

And why can't we…with just a bit of creativity and innovation?  Maybe, instead of trying so hard to have the best products, services and solutions, we should strive to have reasonable offerings backed up by our own enthusiastic, playful and adorable selves.  Maybe, instead of having the lowest cost products, services and solutions, we should strive to offer the highest level of energy, enjoyment and total cuteness.

Maybe puppies have powerful insight to share about the real keys to success!

So as you approach the week ahead, why not spend a few moments figuring out what you can do to create a compelling "puppy effect."  And what it would take to get customers and prospects to stop dead in their tracks and want to connect with you–even if it's only for a few minutes.  Because in that few minutes you should be able to discover their real needs and let them know the real value of what you and your adorable organization have to offer.


We win in business and in life by being cuter than a bug's ear.  And by bringing moments of joy to those we have the privilege to serve.


P.S.  Looking for some additional inspiration?  The web is filled with more than enough sites and blogs devoted to puppies…

Improving Our Focus

Greetings.  Having a clear focus is essential to innovation, creating remarkable customer experiences and assuring business success.  In fact, the more focused we are on the results we hope to achieve the more likely we are to push the envelope in a way that really matters.  But is it essential to have perfect focus at the beginning of our efforts?  Or, is our initial focus simply a good start point for becoming even clearer as we test ideas?

This notion is at the very heart of a remarkable new camera that is quite literally "refocusing" the world of photography on a new way to think about pictures and the light that comprises them.  The camera is the Lytro Light Field Camera, invented by a Silicon Valley start-up named Lytro, and it uses a sensor to capture the entire light field around the moment you are trying to capture–11 million light rays.  This enables the user to improve or change the focus of their pictures after they take them.  Mess up a bit?  No problem.  Decide that you'd like to make certain parts of your picture more focused that others.  A piece of cake.  Which means that as long as you have an eye for composition, you can be a great photographer.  And truth be told, you can always crop your photo to improve the composition.

All of which suggests that while focus is important to the finished product, having a perfect focus might be less important at the outset of our creative endeavors.


We win in business and in life when we continually improve our focus. By opening our lens and our minds to a place filled with possibilities.  


The Genius of Mentors

Greetings.  Behind most successful people there is a mentor.  Someone with the experience, wisdom and dedication to teach and guide.  Someone able to see and unlock our great potential long before it ever takes shape.  Someone to bounce ideas off of.  Someone to listen and encourage.  Someone to bring a different and more knowledgeable perspective from having made a similar journey…often on a road less traveled.  

And while most companies, organizations and leaders readily admit that mentors are valuable, few have figured out how to create mentoring programs and a culture of mentoring that really works.  Instead, initiatives launched with great optimism and fanfare seem to vanish quickly–except in rare cases in which mentoring is part of a company's DNA and the roles of mentor and mentored (or is that "mentee") are seen as essential to innovation, growth and business success.  Which suggests that we need to be more innovative in how we think about mentors, because the truth is that practically every one of us would benefit from having one or more along our journeys.

The idea of having more than one mentor was brought to my attention by my wife Lisa, herself a wonderful clinical nurse, educator and mentor, who suggested that people find their real talents by being exposed to different mentors whose insight and styles gives them a broader base of guidance on the real keys to success.  And when mentors work as a collaborative team the benefits are even greater.  Plus, the pressure is taken off a sole mentor who must fit their support into the constraints of everything else on their plates.  So just as many enlightened organizations have job rotation opportunities for high-potential employees, we might imagine mentor rotation opportunities too.  The main differences being that we don't give up our engagement with a first mentor when a second mentor enters our lives, and that we view all of our employees as being "high-potential" and capable of reaching new heights with the help of someone who has already been there.

And just for fun, here's a bit of historical context.  The word "mentor" actually comes from ancient Greece and a very clever fellow named Mentor who was a close and trusted confidante of our buddy Odysseus.


We win in business and in life when we are eager to learn from those who have walked on the path before us.  And when their support and passion for mentoring enables us to discover their wisdom and our own unique brilliance.


Genius on Sale

Greetings.  If you haven't read "Surrounded by Geniuses" and own a Kindle or a Kindle-enabled device now is a great time to read one of my favorite books.  I mention this less as a promotional plug and more as a unique opportunity to buy the book for a mere $1.99.  Yes, the kind folks at have decided to put the book on sale which means that for a limited time you and every one of your closest friends, colleagues, neighbors and family members can have your very own electronic copy of this award-winning book for less than half the cost of a double decaf skinny mocha chai latte with soy milk.  Or roughly half the cost of a gallon of gasoline.  Or half the cost of a "Happy Meal" at MacDonald's or an "Unhappy" meal at another fast food restaurant.  Or less than half the newstand price of the latest issue of People magazine (which you can also read for free at your dentist's office).  Or roughly one fourth the cost of a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts (which are tasty but a bit unhealthy and provide very little insight on innovation and business success).  

Seems hard to believe, doesn't it?

But before I get you too hungry to read, I'll simply leave this link ("Surrounded by Geniuses" for Kindle) and go back to drafting an even more substantive blog post for tomorrow.  After all, a sale like this won't last forever.

Or will it?

SbG Kindle Edition