Friday, May 21, 2010

Showing up

As Woody Allen says, "Eighty percent of success is showing up." I couldn't agree more. Wouldn't it be stunning if people actually did their job? Showed up on time (or dare we hope - early)? Told the truth? Acted out of kindness? It certainly would make work simpler wouldn't it?

When you have work product done, exceed the expectations. Provide a consistently superior product by being PRESENT when you are interacting with your client. Show up as needed and delight your customers with more attention than they may expect. Make an effort to deliver in a way that makes the client see value in your very attendance to their words.

One of the most driving needs that people have at a cognitive level is the desire to be understood. Strive for clear, concise understanding of what they say. Repeat it back as needed. Trust me, they will appreciate you more for it. Both your attention and demonstration of your courtesy to listen and comprehend.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The "feeling of knowing"

Occasionally, I come across a book which is truly stunning in relevance and presentation of a perhaps esoteric subject. I have been enjoying the basic findings of one of them, On Being Certain (pictured left). As a consultant, we often have to see the pattern in potentially unrelated items. We are asked for answers and often have to express it with confidence and certainty. How do we achieve certitude? What does the "feeling of knowing" feel like? Below is an excerpt. I would ask that you read the following and determine if you have a strong understanding of the passage:

A newspaper is better than a magazine. A seashore is a better place than the street. At first it is better to run than to walk. You may have to try several times. It takes some skill, but it is easy to learn. Even young children can enjoy it. Once successful, complications are minimal. Birds seldom get too close. Rain, however, soaks in very fast. Too many people doing the same thing can also cause problems. One needs lots of room. If there are no complications, it can be very peaceful. A rock will serve well as an anchor. If things break loose from it, however, you will not get a second chance.

Is it meaningful? Meaningless? A simple stream of consciousness? Is it possible that a single trigger will make it compressible? What does the "feeling of knowing" feel like?

If you want the answer - post a reply.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bizarre Comments, their moderation & hijacking sites

Some time ago, I didn't know why some of my friends who started blogging before I did, moderated their comments. Now I understand. I have had many attempts to place unknown Chinese characters on my blog. No translation is provided, I have no idea if the comments are even relevant. It is a strange and potentially offensive post. The next attempt, I will try to determine the source and report them back to Google as spam.

I find this particularly upsetting as my website was recently hijacked due to an absentee hosting company and became an attack site. Not what you want first time clients to experience! It is humiliating and embarrassing. While I recognize we can't all be experts in all things, having content which is uniquely yours taken over and used for a bad purpose feels very "rape" like - I feel used, abused and violated. One of the reasons I have not been blogging is my frustration with the internet as a medium. I have also backed off on Twitter - not because I think poorly of the media, but rather, I find the participants are covered by a degree of anonymity which brings out some of the worst in people.

Anyone else have relevant or cogent thoughts on this?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Is it really Leisure World?

Last night I had the opportunity to speak to several hundred residents of Leisure World Seal Beach. I was invited by a group who's identifier is "Where We Live." As keynote speaker, my comments focused on the importance of the large, engaged senior population to the surrounding area. Here is some background on it.

From Construction on the approximately one square mile (2.5 km²) community was begun in 1960 with the first residents moving in on June 6, 1962. This was the first major planned retirement community of its type in the U.S. Today, Leisure World has 9,000 mostly older, retired residents. The Leisure World in Seal Beach was developed by Ross W. Cortese's development company, the Rossmoor Corporation, which also developed the nearby community of Rossmoor. The same company developed several other Leisure Worlds around the United States, and started, but did not complete the Rossmoor gated retirement community in Walnut Creek, California.
The community has three guarded gates with a private security department that provides traffic enforcement, patrol service and gate control 24 hours a day. Housing consists of one and two bedroom apartments as well as condominiums. Recreation opportunities include a swimming pool and heated pool, a 9-hole 3-par golf course, a well-equipped weight room, 6 clubhouses, woodworking and art studios, a sewing room, lawn bowling courts, horseshoe pits, shuffleboard courts, ping-pong tables, pool tables and other amenities. There are also numerous planned activities for the residents, including regular dances with lessons. There is a very large number of clubs and organizations as well as religious groups that meet in Leisure World.

The meeting was focused on what I would consider a phase three branding exercise. Final determination of a first, second and third name choice. What also was interesting was the impetus for the renaming - a potential financial liability by the Cortese heir for the trademark control of the name "Leisure World." Leisure World's entrance is also, as you can see in the photo above, quite dated and commercial in style and feel.

Since the community stands at the exit ramp area of the I-405 freeway and CA-22, it is often the first impression visitors have of our community. Like any brand, there is some benefit for updating the look & feel of it. As is often joked, Seizure World has unfortunately connected it's name to the most infirm of elderly constituents. In reality, it is a vital, vibrant community full of amenities and activities. Since it represents a significant number of voters and consumers (roughly 30% of the full time residents of Seal Beach), any sort of rebranding is likely to have a great impact on our community as a whole.

As to my own feelings, a name change would make sense. The outmoded, dated appearance only creates a visual cueing to an old, out of touch population. This is not an image that I believe captures the essence of it's residents, nor it's vital impact on the City. Added to that, a financial incentive (or lack of liability), it seems to be a no-brainer. Then again, what do I know as a marketing

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mother's Day reflections

Mother's Day is an important day for all of us. We have the opportunity to connect with those remarkable women who have helped shape us to who we are today. Mother's have a unique position in our developmental lives, not just because they bore us, but because they represent the uniquely feminine and the reflection of what is feminine in all of us as we grow and develop.

There are several key gifts my mothers have given me in my professional and personal life:

1. A keen sense of emotional awareness and sensitivity
2. Patience - especially with men
3. A strong independent streak - a "can do" attitude
4. An appreciation of the beauty in life
5. Nurturing others
6. Comfort in identity

As individuals in business who are constantly interacting with others, these gifts have helped me understand others and meet their needs. Thanks Moms!

Monday, May 3, 2010

A review of some recent events

“All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.” Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president spoke those words about the endeavors not just of government, but our society as a whole. Work has been evident in the past 30 days in our very own Seal Beach. Two of our signature events, the 5K/10K and the Classic Car Show both happen in April, and this year was a banner year for both.

I had the pleasure of being at the finish line of the 5K/10K and was in awe of the thousands of runners, walkers and riders (some in strollers!) who performed to challenge not only themselves, but to generate resources for our community. Dennis Kaiser, of the Sun and I tag teamed via walkie-talkie the approaching finishers and announcing them.
The race takes literally hundreds of volunteers and nearly eight months of planning. The results however, are well worth it. According to Bill Ayres at the last City Council meeting, the race raised $110,000 in funds for grant programs. It was also the biggest race to date with over 5,400 registered runners. Had there been same day registration, this number might have been higher! Grants are via a request for proposal (RFP) process to qualified non-profits, so if you are interested in learning more, go to Last year, the 5K/10K Race Foundation gave away $100,000 to various non-profit recreation programs in the Seal Beach area.

The Classic Car Show this year was perhaps one of the best ever. What sets the tone of the entire show is actually the parking of the cars. This year, we were able to get everyone in and parked well before 9 am. The show didn’t start until 10 am, but Main Street was pretty packed in the early morning. We actually performed all of the parking with half the volunteers in comparison to last year, only 15 people! Approximately 516 cars were here with 30 trophies awarded. The “Best in Show” was an amazing ’28 Model A Ford by Steve Wilkinson. This car was carefully brought to show condition by he and his family and it included a hydraulic lift to pick up the rear end of the body of the car to showcase the mechanical interior!
Best 32' to 34' Closed Car, ’32 Ford 3 window High Boy, was built by kids 15 to 18 with the direction of a Christian youth leader, Pete Youngma who lives in Surfside. The kicker is, these kids were delinquents and been in the criminal justice system. Most all parts were donated and under guidance, these kids enjoyed the personal experience of how to apply their energies to creation instead of destruction. And boy did they build something special!!

In talking with Brian Kyle of O’Malley’s on Main, “Sales this year were 15-20% ahead of last year.” With vendors on Main Street and in Eisenhower Park, reactions were mixed. Some felt that it was a great addition, while some merchants, like Woody of W. Woodruff Hair Design, were concerned about the food vendors. Pascal from Thai on Main, also sent me a quick email note congratulating us on the Car Show, but concerned about some vendors. He shared, “The car show was a great event for the city but truthfully not so much for our business.  I was hoping the crowd would bring in some patrons to the restaurant but most as I noted went for street food.  Nevertheless, I thought the food booths were a great addition to the Car show but let’s promote the local restaurants.” Honestly, the Chamber is here to promote our community, so we take to heart our member’s and community concerns. Let us know what you think.

The Car Show owes a debt of thanks to not only our sponsors, but the dozens of volunteers, hundreds of participants and of course our merchants who all make it happen! Great job team! We also know it was successful, because the show for 2011 is over ¾ of the way sold out already. As Coolidge stated, we must consistently work in our town to make it grow and flourish. So be on the look out for the incredible Summer Concert Series, the LION’s Fish Fry, Rotary Fishing Derby and more all in our town this summer, and remember to always shop local!