Shine Bright Lights on Your Business

Jewelry stores shine bright lights on their business. Take a look at this one on Grand Cayman:

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Think about it–ever been in a jewelry store where the lighting was dim, and you could barely find your way around? That’s highly unlikely.

Same goes for car dealerships. Visualize a dealership showroom. Notice how the ceiling spotlights make the cars look as new as they really are.

This leads me to a question: How well are you spotlighting your business?

Consider these four suggestions for illuminating who you are and what you offer:

1. Display testimonials from satisfied clients

In the year (or by now it seems like years) of an American presidential race, we get constant reminders of the power of highly credible endorsements. A news headline declaring that a prominent person “has thrown his support to. . .” catches attention and sways votes. Candidates boost their credibility by relying on the credibility of respected leaders.

What’s true in politics is true in business. Whenever a person of integrity says publically that you are the “go to” business, you’ll experience a spike in sales.

How do you get testimonials? You ask for them:

*Face-to-face. At the restaurant you operate, Jack tells you “that new item on the menu is delicious.” Have a “Customer Comment Card” you can hand Jack, as you say, “Jack, will you please write that comment down and sign your name, giving me permission to share your opinion with others?”
*On your company blog
*On your Web site
*In surveys mailed to customers
*In personal (not recorded) phone calls, placed by a well-known company official

Fortunately, some clients still write complimentary notes and letters. Now all you have to do is ask their permission to reprint their unprompted support statement.

In our age of advanced technology, I urge you to arrange brief video interviews with your most articulate customers. While written kudos still carry impact, think how much more even a two-minute video compliment jet-propels your product or service. The content is simple. An interviewer begins, “Barbara, you have made your business travel arrangements through our agency for fifteen years. Please take a minute or two to tell us what advantages our agents have provided for you.”

2. Participate in your community’s most reputable causes

People prefer to do business with individuals and corporations who support their community. Possibilities for volunteer involvement:

* United Way fund raising
*Your local hospital’s auxiliary
*Serve on the board of a local college
*Coach a Little League team
*Attend Chamber of Commerce functions
*Affiliate with a civic club, and accept a committee assignment
*Enjoy breakfast or lunch where “movers and shakers” gather

One important caution: Your involvement in community organizations and events must combine your quest for publicity with a genuine, heartfelt desire to help others. Hollywood has laughed about the statement, “Sincerity is vital, and we’ll get by as long as we can fake sincerity.” That shallow approach doesn’t work outside of Tinseltown. Most of us can spot hypocrites quickly.

So a relevant tip: In selecting where you are going to devote your volunteer time and dollars, choose only the groups you are enthusiastic about.

3. Select, train. and keep Ambassadors, not merely employees

Herb Kelleher, the man who made Southwest Airlines famous, said: “Southwest’s communication–its message–is its people. Southwest has 25,000 employees spreading the word as missionaries.”

Wow, that’s powerful stuff. Kelleher prompts me to ask, “Are your employees your missionaries?”

Truly, putting this bright light in place is a three step process:

*Select only those who will represent you well
*Train them constantly, to keep their dedication and skills at the highest level
*Keep only those who display a missionary-level zeal, and reward them appropriately

4. Remain on the lookout for better spotlights

Imagine this: If a jewelry store owner heard about a lighting system that would replace the current system and make the showcases 25% brighter, you can be sure she would write a check for the new system right away. There are numerous books, CDS, and videos available to help you spotlight your business more effectively.

Read this review I wrote today about Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid:

Also, sign up for my year-round Online Coaching Program:

NOTE: Wherever you live in the world, you will get all the advantages of this Internet-based coaching program.

Escape from Job Captivity

Watch this very brief video, featuring a young lady in mock captivity on Grand Cayman. Listen to my comments about how her imprisonment in the “stocks” resembles how we often feel about our jobs.

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My guess is that you can identify with this feeling of confinement quite easily. Check these thoughts you might have expressed, either silently to yourself or vocally to others you could confide in:

“This is a nowhere job, and I don’t get any sense of fulfillment from it.”

“The job market is shrinking so quickly, I don’t think I could get another job if I tried.”

“I despise Mondays, because they mean I’ll have another week working here.”

That’s the problem. What’s the solution?

Here are 7 ways to escape the sensation of being a workplace prisoner:

1. Get involved in a project that demands your full energy and creativity

I didn’t originate this tip. Years ago, I told my good friend Eagle Day that my job situation distressed me. Eagle was a high school classmate who became a star quarterback at Ole Miss, played with the Washington Redskins, and then had a stellar career with the Canadian Football League. After his athletic days, he excelled in both business and government, so I valued his advice highly.

“Bill,” he advised, “the best way to handle your anxiety is to start a big project that requires your best effort. Become totally committed to the project, and soon you will feel more productive. In fact, you’ll probably enjoy the job you dislike so much now.”

His recommendation worked, both then and later.

2. Share your concerns with those closest to you.

That’s part of the major reason for families. They support us emotionally during tough times.

Yes, there’s the tendency to try to shield our problems, “because I don’t want my spouse or children to have to worry.” However, this approach merely keeps tensions simmering, and eventually they will boil over. That hurts both your job and your domestic scene.

You may be surprised how little blame will be hurled at you when you describe your anguish. You will get encouragement and empathy instead of fault finding.

3. Expand your interests not related to work

For most of my career, heading to the golf course has given me the diversion and pleasure I need to forget work woes. Often, I was swapping one set of frustrations for another set, but at least the scenery had improved.

 For you, diversion could be reading novels, doing volunteer work, going out to dinner, tailgaiting with friends at football games, or heading to the movies.

4. Take vacations, annually at least

Omitting vacations just magnifies our unhappiness. Stated more positively, a week or more away from our duties will recharge our batteries.

If you’re thinking “there’s too much to do here for me to leave, and my boss wouldn’t like it,” please reconsider. You will gain serenity and strength as you

*watch a beautiful sunset
*see and hear the waves coming onto the beach
*go hiking through a dense forest
*stand on a mountaintop
*hear your children laugh at an amusement park
*create lasting memories through photos and videos

5. Recognize that no job is worry free

That’s why they call it work, not play. That’s why employers pay us. As long as we earn an income, we will have to do some tasks we don’t like.

6. Acquire new skills that will increase your value at work

The greater the service you can render to your employer and customers, the more your satisfaction level will climb. So take a computer course, learn a foreign language, attend professional seminars and conferences, read books by authorities in your industry, and align yourself with coaches and mentors.

7. Read inspirational books, and listen to motivational audios and videos

Some of my favorites:

Og Mandino, A Better Way to Live

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Shad Helmstetter, What to Say When You Talk to Yourself

Bob Burg and John David Mann, The Go-Giver

James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self Reliance”

Russell Conway’s story “Acres of Diamonds”

While we’re on the topic of motivation, I invite you to order my audio CD, “Maintaining Maximum Motivation: Strategies for Staying in High Gear!” I describe my own methods for keeping my spirits elevated, and I tell what others do to sustain their motivation. You can purchase the CD at:

My online store accepts Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.

In short, use these 7 steps to assure yourself that your life is more than your job–in fact, far more.