Will it Crush Ice?

I bought a blender a few months ago.  An Oster bar blender.  I paid $39.99 at Target.  My old Cuisinart blender gave up the ghost and a couple days later I was hustling through Target when I saw a big display of  these blenders, so I picked up my new blender.  And barely two months later, the plastic base had worn out.  So I got on their Facebook page, sent Oster a close-up photo and a description of the damage, then assumed that would be the end of it.  After all, this was a $40.00 blender and I’ve had plenty of disappointments when dealing with the social media accounts of large corporations.  Trek bicycles, for instance, is great at telling the world that there’s a handful of men that get paid to travel the world and race on Trek bicycles, yet they’re lousy at the rest of their social media.

About three hours later I received a reply from Oster.  Then a phone call from a very courteous gentleman.  After discussing the issue, Oster decided to send me a new blender.

Oster B

“Um, all I really need is a new plastic collar.”

“Well, we’d like the whole thing back so we can see if there’s any manufacturing adjustment we need to make.”

“Well sure, of course.”

 

About ten days later I received a brand new blender from Oster.  I packed up the damaged blender in the same box, and the next day  off it went.

And that is a great example of customer service and the efficacy of social media.  I recently gave a presentation on my services and issued this statement: “Your customers would much rather interact with your company through social media than through email or your website.  And the potential client wasn’t sure that was accurate.  And I’m here to say that it is.  If your business is on social media, you better make sure that it’s social and that you’re using it to take care of your customers.

And now I need to crush some ice.

128 Miles

Have you ever seen that motivational poster that says, “Shoot for the Moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

The Moon

I hate that poster.  For a lot of reasons.

The moon is roughly 240,000 miles away from Earth.  The nearest star, about 4.5 Light Years.  If you don’t remember how far that is, it’s the distance a beam of light could travel in a year’s time.  And remember that light travels at 186,000 miles per second.

And I hate those sort of cheesy, fuzzy platitudes.  And besides, that’s hardly a goal, right?  But 3,000 miles on a bike, in a year, now that’s a goal.

The end of 2014 will mark my second year in business.  And it’s been a very good year.  I diversified my services, found a niche and have exploited that niche.  Along the way I’ve learned some tough lessons on salesmanship and trust.  One particularly glaring mistake was trusting a PR gal out of New York.  The company she represented sold high-end grills and I was a natural for their product.  A guy that can write, manage social media, and has a food background would be the natural fit for a grill company, correct?  Well turns out she was only interested in my ideas.  Three days after discussing my proposal and ideas, I knew I had been “had.”  Ah well, live and learn.

This year I also got back in cycling in a big way.

RTR 4

Halfway through day three of the 2014 Ride to Remember.

I have a cycling team dedicated to one event, the Ride to Remember.  It’s the largest fundraiser for the South Carolina Alzheimer’s Association and it happens to be a 252 mile, three day bicycle ride across the state.  All of us on Team Coast Busters have a personal connection to #ALZ and that’s what brought us together.  And in  the process of preparing for this ride, I reconnected with road cycling.  Heaven help me, I do so love it.  About two months ago, I realized that I have a very good shot of putting in 3,000 miles for the year.  Three thousand!  I certainly didn’t start out with that goal.  I just wanted to complete the #RTR with my team and along the way raise a nice chunk of money.  Which I did.  And now here it is early December and I’m only 128 miles away from three thousand.  December…with its endless invitations, cold weather, minimal sunlight and endless temptations.  You would think I would totally devote myself to putting in those final 128 miles, but I’m not.  I’ve already reached my cycling goals for the year, but haven’t reached my business goals and honestly, those are a bit  more important.  If I end the year with only two thousand, nine hundred and forty miles then that’s that.  Not bad for a guy that spent the first half of 2013 on crutches, right?  I’ll delight in the fact that this year I’ve made a lot of new friends, seen some incredibly beautiful sights, lost twenty four pounds, and increased my company’s reputation in Greenville’s business world.

GSC at night

Greenville, SC and the Reedy River at night

The lesson?  Set lofty goals but make sure they’re concrete, something you can track and manage.  But make sure they’re big.  And if you don’t make them, then you’ve still gotten close.  But along the way to achieving those goals, enjoy the view and the fringe benefits.

“Is This Your Car?”

 

We’ve known for months that a new contractor was about to build in our neighborhood.  We were excited as well as a bit nervous.  New home construction comes with all sorts of variables and challenges for the existing neighbors.  There’s the headache of construction debris, the constant traffic, the noise, and the influx of the labor force. Yet we’re looking forward to a new set of neighbors.  Our quiet, unassuming neighborhood was about to go through a 180 degree about-face.  But we needed it.  We needed someone to come in and turn our neighborhood around, fix our pool, finish the clubhouse, and maintain the amenities.  So although the transition could be challenging, the end result would be worth it.  Or so we hope, because the jury’s still out.

The builder would also come into this relationship with challenges.  And as the tenant of the home across the street from their new model home, one would assume that the builder would want to start off on the right foot with the new neighbors.

So imagine my disappointment when the first words out of the mouth of the initial point person in this new relationship were: “Is this your car?”  Not good morning, not my name is…, not hello.

“Is this your car?”

“Yes.”

“Well we’re about to start building here, you need to move it.”

“And good morning to you, too.”

Sheesh!

Here’s the deal folks.  You only get one shot at a first impression.  One.  Who’s going to make that impression?  Not your CEO.  Not your CFO.  Not your Director of Human Resources.

I don’t care if you’re selling dreams, a new lifestyle, horsepower, bicycles, or an opportunity to retire in luxury.  You best make the right first impression or all of that goes right down the drain.

Now imagine if that first encounter with this builder came with a greeting:  “Good morning, I’m Robert Jones.  I’m head of construction for West Field Construction and tomorrow morning we’re going to start building across the street.  This is Julio, he’s our Construction Supervisor and here’s our contact information should you ever have any concerns.  And your name is?”

Your social media should be in sync with your company’s.  If you’re going to be on social media, no matter what you’re selling, make sure that your people are portraying the same image as their employer.  If you own a strip club, no one will be surprised to see photographs of pole dancers showing off their legacy.    For the rest of us, your people better have it buttoned up.   If you want to go out on the town with your co-workers on Friday night, go right ahead.

But DO NOT post anything on your social media about how you “Love hangin’ with the Wild Bunch at Company  XYZ!”

sams_hofbrau_girls_facebook_thumb_560x384

Gettin’ hammered before the slammer with our awesome HR Director!

 

Remember, your social media may be someone else’s first impression of your company.  And when a prospect interacts with your social media,  what will their first impression be?  Make sure it counts.  And if your team isn’t accurately representing their employer, perhaps it’s time for some counseling.

As for my builder,  there’s always the next project and another shot at making a better first impression.

 

 

Out loud. In church.

So you’re ready to get on Twitter yet you still have some reservations, so you decided to set up a “private” Twitter account.  Makes sense, right?  That way anyone that decides to follow you has to be approved by you.  And a private account will offer you a level of privacy with respect to all those photographs of your dog or your spouse in a swimsuit that you plan on sending out.  And a private account will protect you when you accidentally get a bit too much liquor in you and decide to send out a tequila fueled #selfie.

drunk

Well…you’re wrong.  And I’d be happy to show you plenty of examples.  But how about if I just tell you.  Let’s say my Twitter account is private, so all my tweets from @chefjohnmalik are protected from being viewed by anyone I haven’t given access to.  Well, what’s going to stop someone from getting on Twitter and searching “@chefjohnmalik,” finding my handle mentioned in thousands of retweets from my followers and then looking at all of those shared tweets?

The answer: nothing.  So much for privacy.

So if you’re thinking of jumping on Twitter then here’s my rule of thumb.  Treat everything you say on Twitter, or any other social media platform, as if your Pastor was going to read it.  Out loud.  In church.  All those platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are free yet there’s a cost involved.  We give up our privacy and we open ourselves up to their promoted tweets and advertisements.  Don’t like it?  Then don’t use it.

Now, shall we discuss Snap Chat?