What a month! Colin delivered the keynote address on the benefit of embracing the millennial generation for a group of insurance leaders in California.
We have been working on three large consulting projects, and Steve is bouncing from coast to coast with projects around our Elegant Simplicity platform, Why We Love the Movies, and our sales platform, Repeatable Successful Acts.
Steve has finished all of his homework around the Repeatable Successful Acts book, including the first sample chapter. The project is now in the hands of our editor/agent team.
We launched the OVER COFFEE series and have three more video chapters "in the can." Check out chapter one below.
THE ONE-CLICK ARMAGEDDON
"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."
- VIKTOR FRANKL
I sat with my feet on my desk, my headset plugged in, and a blank sketch pad on my lap as I listened to a great friend and good client explain a project to me. This friend is a big thinker, actively engaged in new and different approaches not only within his company, but his industry as a whole. For seven years we have had the privilege of working with him as he challenges his team and his clients.
I started sketching ideas as he described an event in October he was in the midst of planning. He said it would have four parts, and he described three of them. After pausing he said, “I hope you can do part four.”
He had a real concern that his business as he and his fellow practitioners knew it would not exist in five years. The advent of instant data, automated services, and a growing dependency on technology would snatch the table cloth out from under the neatly set table of their industry. “Steve, I would you to create what the future client experience will look like for our industry.”
An hour later I had three sheets filled with ideas all around a new, custom platform I would propose to him for the vaunted fourth and closing segment to his cutting-edge gathering.
The fear of being eliminated from the value proposition in any business is very real. Web-based services are changing the nature of professional relationships. Thirty million tax filers use TurboTax, making the accounting industry nervous. Internet lawyers LegalZoom just reached the 200,000 mark in consultations. The Information Revolution is shifting everything. While true, we all know this is not the first time something like this has happened.
In 1760 the gears of the Industrial Revolution began grinding. This was a historical turning point that impacted every aspect of life. Incomes and populations boomed. There was unprecedented sustained growth. Beginning in Great Britain, moving to Western Europe, and heading across the sea to North America, the machine was moving. We went from hand to machine as textiles, chemical, and iron production became automated. Steam was harnessed. If you weren’t ready, you were rolled over.
In the late 17th century the next revolution hit the world. Led by names like Franklin, Ampere, Faraday, Ohm, and Maxwell, the age of electricity was upon us, and the foundation of modern technology was born. Electricity has given us unlimited applications in transportation, heating, lighting, communication, and computation just to name a few applications, changing the landscape not only of business, but of the world.
We are now in the third revolution, and the age of information is roaring like a tsunami. The deafening blast and blazing speed of informational outputs have us spinning. Growth in this age is virtually exponential. Our constantly connected lives have turned data into our oxygen. Remember the day when you could argue over conflicting facts? Now a quick IMDB app check will tell you that, yes, John Travolta was indeed “The Boy in the Bubble.”
People consistently mistake information for knowledge, giving them a feeling of invincibility. They can simply look up their aches and pains and instantaneously become physicians. They can peer at capital fluctuations in Indonesia and know right where to put their investment dollar. The self-serve lane at the grocery store looks fast. The airport kiosk is an option. Remember when there used to be people? All of this access is pushing the value of the individual professional off the playing table.
I’m not saying all of this is bad. I like the convenience of some of it, but it also bears a red flag for how you will connect to your clients, and it should challenge you to develop new models to create a higher level of value.
For leaders, this is not a lightning strike, it’s more like a creeping wave of potential obsolescence. You have seen it coming for a while, and if you are still attacking your key relationships with the same ideas you and your fellow industry leaders used a decade ago, your best surfboard won’t be enough for the wave of this tsunami.
The key is to find a formula of value and relevance. It is easy for us to put the irrelevant away when something better comes along. Goodbye, print photos and the photomat. So long, pay phones and the TV Guide. Pixar’s epic Toy Story series was all about the toys’ staying relevant. That’s your job, too, and to be relevant you need to be of value!
To stay ahead of the wave of a new revolution and to design strategy to attack relevance and value, here are a few ideas.
PROVIDE INSIGHT -If your idea of value is to repeat something I can just as easily look up, you will be replaced. What do you bring to the table that is of real value to me? How about insight? Data cannot provide understanding. Insight is all about bringing the big connection between cause and effect to your client. Your experience should allow you to see the “inner nature” of things, and this is valuable to your client. You should be the master of value-driven advice, and you should have strategies that let your clients know this. Where is the next deal? Is this the right choice for my needs? There are 70 kinds of golf clubs, but I want my golf pro to give me his/her insight not only into which one is a good choice, but specifically which one is the right choice for ME. I want insight that brings personal impact!
STAY IN TOUCH - You need to make your client contact points meaningful. Just marking a quarterly contact reminder on your calendar is NOT meaningful. Your contacts need to be focused and strategic. You need to stay closer to your best clients than ever before. You need to learn their likes and dislikes. You need them to want to hear from you. It doesn’t matter if you are in a transactional business or a relationship purchase model. Amazon knows me. They know what I read and contact me with recommendations. They do this a lot, and these touch points don’t bother me because I am always looking for a new book. Over 70% of Disney World guests are returning visitors, so when Disney sends out guest discounts, they love it. Develop strategies that keep you top of mind with your clients and customers, strategies that are not just about your product.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WHO- There is a lot written about the critical nature of the “why,” but in a model of relevance and value, WHO trumps why. At the heart of business, especially in the relationship model, it is about “who.” People do business with people, people they like and respect, people who bring value to that bond. So, how do you become a critical WHO of the greatest magnitude in your existing and new relationships? Simple. Build your skills. Focus on what will make you better, even invaluable to your clients. Maybe it’s communication skills and you need to be a better storyteller, maybe its better thinking skills that would allow you to see needed value connections. Build a better you to become the best WHO in any relationship.
THE COME BACK KING: It was not that long ago, the mid-1990’s when the home of Spiderman, The Avengers, Iron Man and about 400 other characters was at rock bottom. The comics market crashed and Marvel went broke with bankruptcy the sad reality. But, some brilliant restructuring and a change in focus from print to film started their hero powered comeback. The X-Men, Avengers, Iron-Man are billion dollar franchises. Add Disney’s purchase in 2009 of Marvel for $4 billion which puts their sizable strength of merchandising and marketing behind their superhero universe and there is no sign of slowing down. Even their “B” level characters, Ant-Man and Guardian’s of the Galaxy have proved to be winners! Marvel has become one of pop culture’s most valuable brands.
THE IMPACT OF AN IDEA:IFounded in 1901, the Hanes clothing company is a serious player in basic apparel. From bras to briefs, the red Hanes tag is synonymous with underwear. In fact, they are the #1 selling brand on the planet. But it was the idea of going tagless that made a game-changing impact on their clothing line. Getting rid of that uncomfortable tag made a $4.5 billion dollar difference for the company. Ideas can be like that, simple and full of big time numbers.
COME ON, WHERE'S THAT SMILE: You may not have noticed this, but apparently happiness has become the modern day Holy Grail. We seem to be in a constant search for it. Apparently there are those who hold the secret of happiness (it’s a shame to keep something like that a secret!) Social media is filled with lists on how to be happy. If you Google “happiness” you will come up with 75 million results. Looking for a book on happiness? Well, Amazon can keep you reading about it forever, currently with over 40,000 books on the subject. We have built an entire industry around myriad ideas of what happiness is. You can go to retreats, seminars, and workshops that will unlock what you need to do or think to be happy. William Davies’ new book, The Happiness Industry, follows the rise of emphasis on this aspect of emotional health. Perhaps the stress of our frenetic world has buried our happiness and we do need some help to dig it out. Being happy is a good thing, one that is more often than not a result of choosing to be happy, at least according to Viktor Frankl in his epic work, Man’s Search for Meaning. Start there.