Elevator pitch. You’ve all heard the expression before but may be wondering, what exactly is an elevator pitch?
An elevator pitch can best be defined as your verbal business card, your sixty seconds of fame, and a great one can mean the difference between getting clients or scaring clients away. Meant to create excitement or, to create desire in a potential client to want to learn more about you or your company, a lot of elevator pitches do the exact opposite simply because the language used was dull or boring. Or, maybe the language was colorful and descriptive but the person’s down-trodden tone of voice and defeated attitude dropped the bottom out of what could have been an awesome elevator pitch. Wondering what a bad one might sound like? Here’s an example of a dull, boring pitch to the question, “What do you do for a living?”:
“I work at Pulse Beauty Academy. It’s a cosmetology school in Downingtown.”
Wow. Underwhelming, right? Pretty sure the person wouldn’t be interested in an amazing career in the beauty industry after that response. An example of a better elevator pitch might be:
“I’m a DayMaker at Pulse Beauty Academy in Downingtown. It’s where people who want to have the most exciting and successful careers in beauty, fashion, and business come to get educated.” Or:
“In the most amazing industry on earth; where people achieve their dreams, have fun, make money, and live beautifully.”
The last two sound a thousand times better than the first response, right? Now, I’m not suggesting that every person you come in contact with will be a potential lead, but you never know who knows who knows who…so, this week, challenge yourself to develop your elevator pitch. And, if you already have one, challenge yourself to develop a better one, head into your local Starbucks and test yours out. Share your successes and fails here – I’d love to hear about them!
Personal mission statements go hand and hand with goal setting as both offer us the opportunity to begin with the end in mind. Why are they important? The same reason why goals are important – they give us purpose and they provide a framework in which to work. Don’t have a personal mission statement yet? Use the following questions to get you started on what can be a fun (and revealing) journey.
- Who are you? Write down some words that you would use to describe you (kind, funny, outgoing, driven), then write down some words that others would use to describe you (innovative, inspirational, focused, patient).
- What do you do? Or, what do you want to do? Write it down.
- When are you doing what you’re doing? Now? In the future? Write it down.
- Where are you doing what you’re doing? At home? At work? In your marriage? In your family? With friends? The public? At a homeless shelter? A dog rescue? Visualize and write it down.
- Why are you doing what you’re doing? To create world peace? To inspire others? Visualize, clarify, and write it down.
Okay, so when you’re finished, you’re going to have a bunch of words, ideas, and sentences that you’re going to have to put together. Don’t let it overwhelm you – I’ll share an example of how my personal mission statement evolved from a page of scribbled notes to this (and, p.s., it’s still not finished):
I am a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. My legacy will be one of personal integrity, hard work, enthusiasm for life, and love and service for others. At work and at home, with family and with friends, my interactions with others will bring real and lasting personal value. I will achieve this through meaningful conversations, heartfelt listening, genuine care, and God-inspired servitude.
It’s still a work in progress, for sure, but I can use it as a guide (or, reminder when things get crazy) to make sure that what I’m putting my energy into every day is in alignment with what I want for my life and for the lives of those around me.
Okay, now it’s your turn. This weekend, grab a pen and paper, brew a pot of coffee, and get your personal mission statement started. Remember that it’s a living document and will change so don’t stress if it doesn’t turn out the way you want it your first time around. I’d love to hear how you make out though; so, if you get it finished, feel free to share it here!
“I like thinking big. If you’re going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big.”
I’m talking about goals, you dirty rascal.
Don’t be intimidated by other people’s big &%$#^. Here are 3 easy steps to help YOU get bigger #@%$! starting today:
- Daydream I’m not sure how you made it through boring history lectures in school, but I can sure tell you how I did; I daydreamed. That boy I was crushing on? In my daydreams we were already a couple. Those ten pounds I had to lose? I could see myself running, working out at the gym, and then parading around in my bikini all tan and fit. I may have even lost weight while I was sitting there daydreaming, I was that good at daydreaming. I visualized everything from the lighting, to the smell of the air, the surroundings – I didn’t miss a detail. Little did I know, I was actually laying the groundwork for what would help me achieve my future goals – beginning with the end in mind. So, today, dream.
- Make a list Based on the things you dreamed about (the fabulous career, the awesome house, the amazing relationship, the fat bank account, the skinny thighs) make a list of which of the dreams you’d like to make real first. Once you’ve done that, you can move on to the next step – creating the roadmap to get to your destination.
- Map it Thanks to Siri, we don’t have to think about anything, “Siri, get me directions to Pizza Hut.” But if our dreams (which are now our goals) are our destination, Siri is not going to help us get there. Okay, now that you’ve all asked Siri how to get to your goals (lol) think of it this way, if your goal is to lose ten pounds, how do you lose ten pounds? You do an hour of cardio five times a week. You drink eight eight ounce glasses of water a day. You don’t eat McDonald’s. You eat more leafy greens, fruits, and proteins. You lift weights. See how easy this is? You are creating the map to your destination (without Siri’s help). #booyah
“If you don’t know where you are going,
you’ll end up someplace else.”
So, go out and get some big $#%@^ of your own, and make sure you tell us about it here. We love big @#$%&.
Stephen Covey, the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, made Habit 2 ubiquitous among business thought leaders of the 90s. “Begin with the end in mind,” he encouraged readers. In his best-selling book, Covey walks readers through an exercise where they visualize being at their own funeral. Who is in attendance? What do they say when asked to speak? Covey has readers imagine the things they want people to say about them at their funeral, “He was the best dad ever.” “She was warm, loving, kind, compassionate. She changed my life and the lives of those around her for the better.” “He was incredibly successful and used his success to help others. Our community was inspired by his generosity.” He then encourages readers to use the things they imagine people saying about them as a blueprint for the life they want to create, for the person they want to become. Covey’s belief was that if you begin with the end in mind, every decision, every action, everything you say or do, will support what you are creating.
That same principle can be applied to one’s career. Is your career going the way you want it to go? The way you dreamed it would go? Are the decisions you’re making, the things you’re saying and doing, supporting what you wanted to create? Let’s do a little career focused begin-with-the-end-in-mind exercise where you imagine where you want to be (stylist, salon owner,) and then imagine what it will take to get there (the roadmap) . Staying in the present tense, use the following as a how-to guide to get you started:
- Where do work? What does it look like? What is your position? How do people interact with you? How are you interacting with others? What industry publications are you reading? What events are you attending? Imagine yourself there now.
- How are you dressed? What kind of clothes are you wearing? Are you wearing your favorite brands? What is your style? What kind of car are you driving? Where are you living? Is it a house? A condo? What does it look like on the outside? How is it decorated on the inside? Is it bright and modern? Classic and sunny? Envision yourself there now.
- What are words people use when asked to describe you? Successful, loving, kind, firm, fair, generous, caring, devoted? What words would a magazine editor use to describe you in a feature article? Make a list and imagine how a person described using those words would interact with others.
Habit 2 is a great tool to help you discover who you want to be in your career and how to get there. This weekend, take some time to begin with the end in mind. Grab some coffee, a pen and some paper, and mind map the answers to the questions listed above. Get specific, dream big – I’d love to read your discoveries here so feel free to share!
In an industry where everyone on your team “touches” a client – the receptionist, the assistant, the stylist – it’s important that everyone on your team defines and delivers customer service the same way. What does that mean? Well, if your receptionist creates magic for your guest, creating the expectation of exceptional customer service, but your assistant chews gum while speaking, gossips about the client she just had, and then leaves your guest with a wet head at the shampoo bowl then, guess what? You know that their definitions of service vary greatly and that you have probably gotten a one star review on Yelp. “But I have an employee manual that outlines my expectation when it comes to customer service; I have systems in place,” you say. That’s a great start, I’d reply, but modeling what exceptional customer service looks like must be your next step.
Think about it this way – if a person’s only perspective of customer service is the employees they interact with at WaWa, or 5 Below, the local grocery store, Kohl’s, or Walmart, then their idea of customer service is basic: unenthusiastically greet the guest, take their order, take their money, and then look past them and say, “Next.” And, before you get your undies in a knot, I know that there are some amazing service providers at those places but they are the exception, not the norm. The service standard is B.A.S.I.C. Let’s pretend for a moment that another member of your team’s idea of customer service is with the people they deal with at Nordstrom, the Ritz-Carlton, Whole Foods, or Morimoto; places where customer service takes on a whole new meaning – borderline obsession. I’ll give you an example.
On a business trip to the Tyson’s Corner area of D.C., my husband and I stayed at the Ritz. When we arrived, we were exhausted and hungry. I picked up the menu for room service to order a quick sandwich and was disappointed when I discovered they had only white bread as a bread choice. I ordered a sandwich anyway and at the end of our stay when asked to complete a service survey, I wrote a note that said I was surprised that a hotel like the Ritz-Carlton would only offer white bread to its guests. A few weeks later I received several voicemails from a Ritz-Carlton employee apologizing for my disappointing experience at their hotel. A few days later I received a letter in the mail from the GM at the Tyson’s Corner hotel offering me a free overnight stay at any Ritz-Carlton hotel in the world to make up for not having a different choice of bread during my stay. Talk about INSANE customer service; their decision to go above and beyond shocked me, pleased me and, ultimately, ruined me because now I expect a free hotel stay anytime WaWa is out of my favorite kind of bread. Realistically, though, that customer service experience forced me to rethink what customer service really is.
BusinessDictionary.com defines customer service as: All interactions between a customer and a product provider at the time of sale, and thereafter. Customer service adds value to a product and builds enduring relationship. Huh. Really? So, then that should change every single client/employee interaction, right? Right! And, it should also make defining customer service pretty simple: every interaction should be adding value and building enduring relationships and if it’s not, then your employees aren’t providing customer service at all. “But what about modeling customer service, like you talked about earlier?” Good point. We’ve defined customer service, now how can exceptional customer service be modeled for your team? Simple. A road trip (or, two).
If you’re conducting regular trainings with your team, take the next training time and pack everyone into a car and drive them to Nordstrom. Take them into the makeup department and have them speak to the counter staff; purchase something – ask questions – observe. Go to the clothing or shoe departments and mosey around; engage a sales person and watch the customer service experience unfold before your eyes. Let your team see, hear, and experience a level of customer service they may not be familiar with. Afterward, go to Starbucks and grab some coffee and while you’re there, observe how the Starbucks team interacts with one another and with their guests. Then, sit down with your team and ask them what stood out the most for them at Nordstrom and at Starbucks. Ask them if the service experience they received was different. And then, ask them if they think that that level of service would be well received at the salon and if they think exceptional service could have an impact on the salon’s bottom line. When you get back to the salon, engage your team in a role playing exercise where they will have the opportunity to practice delivering exceptional customer service. It may feel awkward at first – change is sometimes uncomfortable – but when your salon develops a reputation for being the most customer-centric salon in your area, your paychecks will feel anything but awkward.
I went to work for my husband eight years ago when he decided he wanted to open a beauty school and I’m pretty sure that’s when my definition of work-life balance changed. I came from a traditional corporate work background – you know the drill – go to work, do your thing, and at five o’clock, turn it off. Even with a busy sales career that required extensive travel and life as a single mom, I still managed to maintain a life, one that consisted of riding my horses, exercising, running, and spending time with friends and family. I read magazines for leisure, cleaned my own house, and on weekends went into the city for dinner with girlfriends. I had a firm grip on my career and my life; the only balance I sought was whether to ride every other day, or run every other day.
While the school was being built, I continued to work at my full-time sales career and worked part-time, recruiting students and giving tours, in the mornings before my day began, in the evenings after work, and on the weekends. It was an exciting time but neither of us noticed the candles burning at both ends, nor did we realize the habits we were creating at the time would haunt us even after the hungry days of being a start-up were long gone. But with every penny we had going into the business, work-life balance really was no longer a corporate buzz-word or water cooler conversation – it was work-work, period. In my mind (and in reality), if I wasn’t selling, we weren’t making money, and if we weren’t making money, we weren’t eating. And, in the beginning, since it was only us and I was responsible for the sales and marketing, and my husband and his business partner were heading up education and operations, if I didn’t work, we literally didn’t eat. Those were lean days, and they ended up lasting years. The fear of failure, of losing our house, of my husband’s business partner losing his house, of us going belly up, gnawed at me every day and at night kept me far from sleep. But every enrollment, every sale, drove me to want another, and then another, not to mention the insane satisfaction and pride I got knowing I was making my husband’s dream a reality.
Steve Toback, a former senior executive in the technology industry (and, probably no stranger to the work-life balance conversation) wrote a brilliant piece on the work-life balance myth and had this to say about my lament, “We stay connected 24×7 because we want to. Nobody’s holding a gun to your head when you answer a call or a text when you’re supposed to be playing with your kids or out to dinner with your better half. So why do we do it? We love the attention. It makes us feel special. We’re addicted to it. No kidding.” Yeah, Steve, no kidding. But why? Why does working so much make us feel special? When did the latest text or email become the new aphrodisiac? According to Harvard Business Review contributor, Leslie A. Perlow, “Many — if not most — of us are addicted to success. We are successaholics not workaholics. We’re obsessed with work because of the satisfaction we get from the kudos for achievement, not because of some deep-seeded satisfaction from working long hours, as an end in itself. And what this means is that it is the definition of success, not some ingrained personality issue, that is at the source of why we are always on. If this is true, then turning off requires changing what we value in each other, not changing ourselves.” She goes on to share the results of an experiment she conducted where people were applauded for taking time off and shunned for staying plugged in. She concluded that people who appear to be thriving on a non-stop work week are actually thriving on a job well done. I love that story, but what if the judge of the “job well done” is actually the person doing the job? I was beginning to feel like Indiana Jones.
Fast forward eight and a half years, and the business we worked so hard to make successful is just that; yet, my work-is-life mindset vacillates between feast-or-famine and we’re-not-quite-there-yet mentality, choosing to lag behind the business’s obvious success, choosing instead excuses ad nauseam for the countless hours spent on Hootsuite “updating our site” into infinity. Had I trained myself to live in this space of always being “on,” my phone pinging incessantly with emails and text messages? Was my lack of balance excusable in light of the fact that we owned the business and that if it wasn’t successful, our family could lose everything? Or, was I using all of those covers to hide the fact that I am a workaholic and that I’d rather be working than doing pretty much anything else? To make myself feel better, I googled “successful entrepreneurs, work-life balance,” and this is what I found – “If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, there is no such thing as work-life balance.” Thank you, Paul Brown.
So, rather than over think this whole work-life thing, I’m going to a.) go back to my seashore vacation (yes, I’m writing this while on vacation – another sign of a workaholic with zero work-life balance – but, hey, I’m writing it at midnight and everyone’s asleep) and b.) I’m going to follow Steve Toback’s advice, “The next time you hear yourself complaining about how little time you have or your lack of work-life balance, try this instead. Think about your priorities. Think about what you spent your time on that day, that week, that month. Then think about what you didn’t get to do. If there’s a disconnect, do something about it. Simple as that.”
Resting and being thankful.
The story is as old as time.
You’ve always dreamed of starting a business. You and a friend decide to strike out on your own. You form a partnership and, boom, you’re on your way to making your dreams come true. The partnership starts out (like most do) crazy fun. During the early days there’s a heady excitement that makes long hours, no money, and little to show for all the work you’re putting in, a “We’re-gonna-look-back-on-this-one-day-and-laugh,” experience. The stress level is high, your partner’s and your patience is worn thin, but you both suck it up and keep plowing forward. Moodiness, elation, depression – it’s par for the course, right?
Fast forward a decade and all the start-up giddiness is gone. The frenetic day-to-day roller coaster craziness? It’s been replaced with steady, business-as-usual work days. And, your business partner’s mood swings, negative attitude, and manipulative survival-of-the-fittest mentality exhibited during the start-up days? They’re all still there.
Your business is established now! Your partner’s still acting like he’s too stressed, too exhausted, too overworked? I thought times were good? You both enjoy a flexible, relaxed schedule and (finally) cushy paychecks are de rigueur. So, why is your partner still miserable? Why is he still acting like the sky is falling? Is something going on that you don’t know about? Concerned, you start digging into your company financials; who knows – maybe your partner is feeling the year-end pinch? That’s when you realize the impact your partner’s decade old eat-or-be-eaten mentality has had on the organization as a whole and now, not only are you wondering what kind of weirdo you’re shacked up with, you’re actually beginning to question the survivability of your partnership.
But wait – slow down here – everyone has a bad day, right? I mean, it’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to have a series of bad days, right? Starting a company is tough! And, for Pete’s sake, we’ve all snapped at a colleague at one time or another, or sulked behind our monitor for a day (or two), ignoring our office mates, mumbling about how much we hate our fucking job. Is that a reason to suddenly want to part ways? In most cases, probably not, but according to studies, If the bad days your partner is having have turned into years? Then it may be time to determine if the negative behaviors that you and your staff have brushed off as, “You better stay away from him,” “He’s in a bad mood today,” Ugh. His team lost last night,” are actually negative behaviors at all, or if your partner’s bad days are merely his dysfunctional management style in disguise.
Dictionary.com defines dysfunction as not performing normally, having a malfunctioning part or element, and behaving or acting outside social norms, and defines management as the person or persons controlling and directing the affairs of a business. So, then, it would probably be safe to say that the definition of dysfunctional management could be the malfunctioning person or persons controlling and directing the affairs of a business while not performing normally and/or behaving or acting outside social norms. I’m pretty sure we’ve all reported to a dysfunctional manager at some point in our careers – the sales manager who always got a bit too tipsy at happy hour sales meetings and then spent hours spilling the beans to her subordinates about her affair with the company’s VP and how it ended badly – or, the department manager who blatantly favored the guys on his team over the women and would take them to strip clubs and golf outings for meetings while leaving female subordinates at the office with a casual, “We’ll download tomorrow,” as he left the office. Dysfunctional managers are everywhere but (surprisingly) some people wouldn’t recognize one if that dysfunctional manager was their business partner. Huh? I sit right next to the guy, you may be saying. Ever hear the expression, “Can’t see the forest through the trees?” It’s based on the ancient expression, “Can’t see the psycho partner through the door.” Now you know why.
So, to determine if you have a dysfunctional business partner, take a minute to read the bullet points I gathered from Med Yones’ amazing article, and then answer the questions I added to each of the bullet points. The comprehensive article, written for the International Institute of Management’s Executive Journal, outlines with laser accuracy the characteristics of a dysfunctional workplace (which, by default, highlights the characteristics of a dysfunctional manager).
• Dictatorial Leadership: Management that does not allow disagreements out of insecurity or arrogance [How does your partner lead?]
• No 360 Degrees Feedback: There is limited or no leadership performance feedback [Does your partner allow subordinates to give him or her feedback?]
• Personal Agendas: Recruitment, selections and promotions are based on internal political agenda [Who is your partner promoting, and why?]
• Political Compensation: [raises], bonuses and perks are not fairly linked to performance [What criteria is your partner using to determine raises?]
• Unequal Workload Distribution: You’ll find some departments are underutilized while other departments are overloaded [Does your partner favor one department over another? Why?]
• Fragmented Organization Efforts: Interdepartmental competition and turf wars between rival [departments] lead to the emergence of silos, which results in communication gaps. [Does your partner create or allow turf wars? Do you find departments unwilling to work with one another?]
• Too Much Talk: Plans are heavy on talk but light on action. In a political corporate culture, image management becomes far more important than actions [Or, A.T.N.A. Does your partner talk out his or her ass but never delivers?]
• Ineffective Meetings: Argumentative and heated cross-divisions meetings with discussion and language focusing on point scoring and buck-passing rather than sharing responsibility and collaborating to solve the problem [Observe your partner in meetings – body language, posture, eye contact, tone of voice. Observe if staff members object or disagree with the partner or do they yes him or her to death for fear of backlash?]
• Lack of Collaboration: Every person for himself/herself. Low sense of unity or camaraderie on the team. The key criterion for decision-making is What is in it for me? [Does your partner encourage a W.I.F.M. culture? How has it negatively impacted your business?]
• Low Productivity: Management wastes more time and energy on internal attack and defense strategies instead of executing the work, innovating and overcoming challenges. Critical projects fall behind on deadlines, budgets and performance targets (e.g. sales, market share, quality and other operational targets) [What controls do you have in place to ensure your partner’s dysfunctional management style isn’t, or hasn’t, negatively impacted your business? Would you know if they were?]
• Constant Crisis Mode: Management team spends most of their time on fire fighting instead of proactive planning for next-generation products and services [Dysfunctional managers love to “put out fires.” In fact, you may even hear your partner using that expression all the time as in, “I’ve ben putting out fires all day.” Sound familiar?]
• Morale Deterioration: Muted level of commitment and enthusiasm by other teams. Even successful results cannot be shared and celebrated due to animosity and internal negative competition [You may have noticed the decline in morale and could have, possibly, shared your concern with your partner whose reply may have been, “Fuck ‘em,” followed by laughter to put you at ease.]
• Backstabbing: Backbiting among the [staff] becomes common and public [Perhaps your partner engages in the same behavior WITH the staff.]
• Highly Stressful Workplace: There is a high rate of absenteeism and a high employee turnover rate [Or, even worse, your employees quit but don’t leave, their work a clear indicator of their mental “I-already-quit” status.]
Still not sure if your partner is dysfunctional? Consider the greater impact your dysfunctional business partner may be having on your business. In an article written for MIT Sloan Management Review, authors Cialdini, Petrova, and Goldstein, revealed some of the additional, not so obvious, side effects of dysfunctional management that contribute to “ruinous fiscal outcomes.” They included reputation degradation [people don’t want to buy from a company that sucks], lower job satisfaction [people don’t want to work for a company that sucks], and fewer candidates in the employment pool [because people don’t want to work for a company that sucks]. Yikes. Starting to see why determining whether or not the years long depression your business partner has been in is, in fact, just depression and not dysfunctional management is critically important to the overall health of your business and, possibly, the survivability of your business? Yones’ research revealed that employees in an environment where they feel disrespected, taken advantage of, or abused, will oftentimes resort to passive aggressive behaviors like intentional sabotage, excessive absenteeism, or purposely produced substandard results in their work. “But I give them pep talks all the time,” you may be saying. I hate to disappoint you (your partner probably does that to you enough) but your positive attitude can’t make up for your partner’s shitty attitude. Yones’ study also revealed that employees view positive company initiatives with skepticism [and, oftentimes, intentionally undermine them] because buy-in no longer exists for them. Add to that the studies that have revealed that in environments where dysfunctional management is the norm, employee theft and shrinkage are exceedingly high.
The long and short of it? Having a dysfunctional business partner can not only be an aggravating energy suck (hello), it can cost your company a lot of money and, quite possibly, annihilate the dream you started the partnership with. So, is there hope for people with a dysfunctional business partner? Can dysfunctional partners be fixed? Next time, we’ll explore partnerships what happens when a dysfunctional partner is confronted and why you shouldn’t expect a healthy, normal response from an unhealthy, abnormal person.
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