The little secret of keeping your clients (and your friends)

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
- John F. Kennedy -

Few days ago, my good friend Dani shares this video with me, it is a 7 minute video about a little secret toward becoming happier. Spoiler alert, stop here if you want to watch the video! Ok, are you back? Great, so you now know the secret to increase your happiness level. It is expressing gratitude toward the people you care about.

I shed many tears during watching the video. The second time, I asked my young daughter Ashley to join me, and yes, I cried again when Ashley simply said “I think I would have called my mom”.

I thought quite a bit about gratitude. I feel so much better after expressing gratitude to my friends and the people I care about but why don’t we do it as business owners? We send thank you cards after a big purchase (do you?), and yes, we send once a year a thank you card during thanksgiving holiday (do you?), everyone is doing it. Is doing that really expressing our gratitude? Read more

What is one question to ask before letting go of an employee?

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing”
- Theodore Roosevelt -

Jenny came over last night, she was upset. She told me “I cannot handle Richard anymore; he is sabotaging my business. He has this tendency of not showing up to work on days which are the most important days for my business. He knows my other employees are dependent on him and he just disappears!”.

She kept on saying “Richard is really a good lawyer. He really knows his stuff. He sometimes rush things and misses few details but he is the only one I have. It took me months to find the right lawyer. You know Liz, it is not easy to find a good lawyer for an international business like mine”.

Jenny looked at me and asked “How do you know when to let go of an employee? When is enough is enough?”. Read more

How to attract your clients and make your fans stay with you?

“I believe in anything that will engage the audience and make the story more effective.”
- J. J. Abrams -

Charlie always tells me that I have to read more about other companies. I need to read about companies from my own industry and related industries. He always tells me “Liz, you will get great insights if you just read more about other companies”. So, yesterday I took four hours and read Hasbro, a major US toy company, investor’s day transcript. It was nice to read about all these great brands Ashley (and I) play and interact with. However, my major insight came towards the end of the transcript (you can read the full transcript on www.SeekingAlpha.com).

A company representative, Mr. Victor Lee, spoke about customer engagement. He focused on the vast and ever growing digital landscape. He spoke about measuring customer’s engagement. He spoke about how Hasbro tries to distinguish itself in a world where every second, there’s 72 minutes of videos uploaded to YouTube. How do you reach your audience? How will you make them stay with you? Read more

How to simplify your customer experience?

“Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.”
- Leonardo Da Vinci -

Last night, Charlie and I talked about my new venture for several hours. It required quite a bit of strategizing. It might sound too common, too simple. You might even think “everyone is doing it for years, Liz, what’s the big deal?”.

Oh! I never really told you about my new venture. It is really about creating a distinct experience and capabilities. Simply put, my venture goal is to enable people from all over the country to buy my chocolate on-line. Sounds simple right? Ah, there is one more “little” thing. They need to have the same experience as the customers in my physical store!

How can I keep my company vision while not “directly” talking with people? How can I replicate the fun and simple experience of selecting and buying chocolates at my store to a similar intriguing online experience? My online venture requires me to think very hard about my customers’ experience. I told Charlie I am worried that expanding my operation online will create confusion and complexity in my customers’ mind. Read more

Why are we so afraid to create?

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seems obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things”
- Steve Jobs -

I have just witnessed creativity and passion. I cannot wait for my regular writing time. I need to write about it now. An hour ago, my friend Amir and his amazing partner at Lemonade Stand Animation came rushing to my store saying, “Liz, we cannot keep it to ourselves any more. We have to tell you about our new project. We have to tell you about the Legend of Novo”.

This burst of energy, passion and imagination made me think about creativity and why don’t we see more of it.

When I learned about businesses, I always try to learn from successes and mistakes of other similar businesses. I know if I can avoid their mistakes, my business will flourish. However, what happens when your business goal is to create something which does not exist yet? What happen when your imagination is ahead of reality? How can you learn from mistakes which have not happen yet? Read more

How to handle negative publicity?

“There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary”
- Brendan Behan -

It happened a few days ago. It was my first time. I was in the middle of a meeting with Charlie when Jenny came running into my office. She held up our local community newspaper. She could barely breathe. She just kept on saying “I cannot believe that, I cannot believe that, have you seen what they wrote about you?”.

Charlie took the paper out of Jenny’s trembling hands and laid it out in front of both of us. There it was on page 5, under “around our town” section. It had a picture of my little store with a title which stated something like “Do we really need another copycat chocolate store in our town?”. The article itself was not much better.

My first reaction was anger, how dare she wrote that. She did not even know who I am. Then the feeling changed to despair, “No one will ever come to the store”, I continued to deny, “maybe no one will read it” and turned back to anger. Read more