Now These are Funny!

OK, it’s Saturday and I thought we’d have a little fun.  Here are two pictures emailed to me by a friend.  I’ll let you insert your own captions.

Now That’s Funny!

As I’ve said many times, this isn’t a political blog.  However, I think all small business owners have an interest in politics.  Here’s a video from Ray Stevens that’s funny no matter what side you’re on.  Enjoy.

Check out the Ray Stevens web site for more funny stuff and to buy the audio version of  We the People.

The Art of Listening

hearing aidI was speaking to a friend the other day.  He was very excited by his new hearing aid.  He said he can carry on a conversation now, without having to ask the other person to repeat anything.  He can hear birds singing and even crickets chirping.  He said “I can actually hear a pin drop.”  It was expensive, but well worth it.  He said he thought it was the greatest hearing aid in the whole world.

So I asked him, “What kind is it?”

He looked at his watch and said “12:30”

I know it’s a corny story, but it makes a good point.  Even with perfect hearing, we often don’t hear what the other person is saying.  We may think we do, but somewhere between the speaker’s lips and our brain, the message gets short-circuited.  “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

As business people we have to know what our customers want.  Barring a psychic gift, the only way to do that is to listen to what they’re saying.  But sometimes you have to read between the lines.  It’s been said that people have two reasons for doing something.  One is the real reason.  The other is the one that sounds good.  Sometimes, but not always, they’re the same.

For example, a customer may tell you that you don’t have the item that they’re looking for.  They may cite some feature or other that your offering lacks.  That sounds good.  But maybe their real reason for not buying is that they can’t afford something with the quality that you offer.  They’re over their budget, but they don’t want to admit that.  They save face by putting up a smoke screen.

You may have exactly what they want, but if you don’t ask questions to get through the smoke, you’ll never make the sale.  You can’t overcome an objection that doesn’t really exist.

The same is true with your employees.  Let’s say your best person comes into your office and give you notice.  “Why?” you ask.  And he gives you a reason.  Maybe he says he needs more money.  You offer him a raise but he still says “no”.

Maybe the real reason is that his wife wants him to take a bigger part in raising the kids.  Maybe she’s missing too much work.  But rather than admit that his wife is making him quit, he uses money as a smokescreen.  Again, a few probing questions might get you to the real reason.  By offering an additional day off, or more flexible hours, you might just retain a good employee and not have to give him a raise.

Here’s the thing.  Information is vital in running any business, especially a small one.  The key to good information is good listening.  And the key to good listening is asking the right questions and paying attention to the answers.

Thoughts for the Day

One thing I really admire is the gift of brevity, something I obviously don’t have.  The ability to make a pithy statement in a very few words is truly admirable.  While bicycling and listening to podcasts today, I came across two wonderful examples:

Never chase the money.  Chase excellence and the money will chase you.

Pat Fraley

Blogging is a game for idiots.

Anna Farmery

Mallard Fillmore on Small Business

In case you missed it, here’s a link to the  Mallard Fillmore’s comic strip from yesterday.  As my kids like to say, “It’s funny because it’s true.”

Motivation

Here's something kind of fun for a cold, icy Monday.  Matthews Belinkie has put together forty motivational quotes in a video that runs just over two minutes.  Something here is sure to ring your bell.  Even the Grinch is included.  Enjoy.

The Top 10 Reasons Why Working Longer Hours is a Good Thing

Anita Bruzzese is a published author, blogger, and all-around great lady who writes the 45 Things blog.  (Check this out!)  Last week she pointed out that with the number of people being laid off, there's a lot more work for the rest of us.  As the holidays approach, if you've cut back on hiring, chances are you're picking up a lot of the slack yourself.  Here's Anita's list of the top 10 good things about working all those extra hours.  Some may not apply directly to your situation, but most of them are probably right on.

1. Your mom feels so bad for you she's started doing your laundry.

2. Your neighbors are dropping off meals at your house, thinking you died. (The tuna casserole was excellent.)

3. The dog has quit shredding the drapes. It's no fun when you're not around to yell about it.

4. The overnight security guard at work has been letting you in on some really good deals. It's amazing the stuff that falls off the back of a truck!

5. You won $5 from the cleaning lady who said no way would a sleeping bag fit under the desk. Way!

6. No standing in line for coffee at Starbucks. You're first in line when the doors open.

7. Living in the same suit for five days straight has really cut down on your dry cleaning bill.

8.
For Halloween, you didn't have to buy a costume. You went as one of the
"undead" and won first prize in the scariest costume category.

9. Your stalker finally gave up and went away, saying your schedule was just too exhausting.

10. You don't have far to go for your weekly groceries — the vending machine is just down the hall!

Will It Mulch?

The following is brought to you as a public service by MTS:

By now you’ve most likely seen, or at least heard of, BlendTec’s amazingly viral video series called “Will It Blend?”  The star of the show is the BlendTec blender which gobbles up two-by-fours and golf balls and other seemingly unblendable stuff.  The videos are wildly popular and BlendTec has seen their sales increase exponentially because of them.

Well, not to be outdone, I may have discovered the next series of videos which I plan to call “Will It Mulch?”  Much like the idea for “Will It Blend”, my idea not something that I planned.  Yesterday I was cutting my mother-in-law’s very large back yard with her very old riding mower.  Flying along at breakneck speed (the leaves were falling faster than I could get to them) I was enjoying my favorite podcast (Click the link to see what it is.) when the voices suddenly went still and I heard what can only be described as a sickening sound.

My worst fears were realized when I looked down to see the plug from my earbuds dangling naked from its white cord.  Like Ralphie’s Christmas turkey, my iPod was “gone, all gone.”  As you can see from the photo, the same mower that needed two passes to grind up a leaf had anhialated my iPod in a single pass.

Unfortunately, no one was there with video camera to record the tragedy and I haven’t the desire or the cash to repeat it, so maybe my video series won’t come to be.  But keep this in mind.  The riding mower may not be able to make a decent Margarita, but when it comes to destroying electronic equipment, it takes a back seat to no one.  So if you must listen to podcasts while you mow, be sure your mp3 player is firmly attached to something.

R.I.P. iPod Nano

R.I.P. iPod Nano

How Do Sewing Machines Work?

, I can’t explain it, but this post is one of the most popular ones we’ve ever done.  More than one year after it originally appeared it still gets almost daily page views.  In case you missed it, or if you just enjoy something silly that actually teaches something, here it is again.  Enjoy!

I know, MYOB is a blog about business for ALL independent retailers, but you have to see this video, no matter what you sell. 

Here’s how YouTube describes it:

"Junkyard Wars audition tape (successful!). Ever wonder how a sewing machine works? See a larger than life model constructed, and the operation played thru."

Three self-proclaimed "nerds" (New England Rubbish Deconstruction Society) build a larger-than-life sewing machine using themselves as the vital parts (needle, looper, bobbin case, tension, and feed dog).  It’s a hoot and does a pretty good job of explaining how the magic happens.

These guys will actually appear at your school, or trade show, or special event.  The details are on their web site.  (Check our post later today on special events.)

Why You Should Always Proofread

Happy Friday!  Here’s something light for the end of the week.  I picked up this ad on a recent trip.    It’s a heck of a price for a new Birck home.  Always proofread your ads.

New_birk_homes

[Click on the image to see a larger version.]

To avoid any embarrassment, I deleted all of the builder’s information.

Have a great weekend!