Numbness is creeping in. 'Tis the season where you bless -? and at the same time curse -?the activity. Despite the efforts to be a year round region, the king of seasons, is right now.
We set up all of these commitments that are so easy to keep in April, May and even June.
The meetings fall apart, planning goes out the window and we curse ourselves for not developing the fall agenda in spring because now it's a couple of weeks away. This anxiety is nearly matched by the end of Columbus Day known to many of us as the "Halleluiah Holiday." This is where you think you can rest only to wake up in the middle of night realizing you have not worked on your holiday and winter agenda.
Yes, this time of year it is all about reaction and just "doin." In one way it is easier as the days are made up for us. We are all on stage performing we have no choice. It sure beats those long and lonely shoulder seasons where we wished we had one to cry on because then we have to force ourselves to be busy. We have to do things like paying bills that literally got swept under the rug because now we only have 5 seconds to sweep before the first customer comesin. And then there is that dreaded planning and marketing. You know you have to do it because photo-shopping a Santa suit on a guy hiking in shorts in the summer does not go over very well on your "Hey, we've got snow!" winter website.
And I don't know about you, but I catch myself on auto pilot. I tend to resort to the same answers like a remote control robot.
You tend to forget the big picture. I wish now I would have created a "Summer Survival Kit."
This would have included:
-My full name and the names of my kids
-All summer family birthdays
-A summer calendar that is one day
Noting all answers should not start with "Are you kidding?!"
Seriously, I wish I had created a brief outline of one liners. For example:
-Beginners, intermediate and savvy hikes
-One line description of restaurants
-The top 10 "Must see attractions."
Where are public bathrooms anyway?
It is all so clear to me when I have time to think. It's hard now when you are showing an item with one hand and with the other trying to secretly fix that fixture about to break into Old Faithful. Worse yet you can only mumble because your teeth are holding 4 orders.
Yes, only the "rote" is coming out now and I should have "wrote" down all of this other stuff. Maybe we need to get the region to produce this "Survival Handbook." Something I should bring up when I can remember what community meetings I am part of.
The irony is this is the exact time when you need to think big picture.
I found a quote from Goodreads.com "It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say "It's as plain as the nose on your face." But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?" This quote attributed to, speaking of robots, Isaac Asimov from his book "I, Robot."
It does not have to be a big deal and if you have any employees get them involved:
What are three words that come to mind when you think of us?
Why did you stop here?
What else could we offer?
Or, "I was thinking of a new idea. Here are three quick questions "
It's worth gold
If there were five of you and you asked just five questions each day from Aug. 9 to Columbus Day you would have 1,750 pieces of invaluable customer information. This is direct feedback that would be the envy of many a large corporation.
Thinking big is often a bunch of small steps. These days I have to remind myself that I have to keep in mind where am I going because if I don't, I may get lost as to my purpose.
The July cover of Entrepreneur Magazine was "The Best Advice You'll Ever Get" where business leaders talked about the best advice they were given. Josh Elman, partner, Greylock Partners is quoted "So much of what happens in the world of business is inbound -?you react to this, you field that. In reality, especially when you've decided to follow a passion, you should take matters into your own hands and push things outbound."
So in these crazy days, I scribbled this reminder in front of the mirror where I brush my teeth in the morning. It's filled with too many in descript words but here is the intent:
What is my perfect business day and is that what I am working on? (Who are you?)
I had this vision, has it changed?
Get 5 pieces of information from customers and their expectations before the end of the day (Who are they & who are you to them -?is it the same as who you think you need to be?)
Does the team know where the bus is going?
It really is tough to transition yourself from the daily minutiae to this big picture stuff -?especially now. Keeping a picture of November may help.
Now is a great time to experiment with ideas. We all know there is no one silver bullet. In fact, there may be multiple sound ideas. So experiment it may resist the temptation to wait for that perfect time it isn't coming. Despite all the craziness it might be now when the test subjects are running uncontrollably through your store. By the way, where are they going first and is that same for everyone?
Again from Entrepreneur's Best Advice You'll Ever Get, "In the past, business success used to be about having a bulletproof long-term strategy; now it's all about the ability to stay agile and adapt." This from Shama Hyder, CEO and founder, Marketing Zen.
Shoulder season energy
It may be important especially in navigating our shoulder seasons to continue to energize long-term momentum. If you can do it now, imagine what you can do with all that customer information in those cold, slow days when the only one you seem to be able to talk to is the fuel pumping dude.