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Let’s Not Make a Difference

Let’s Not Make a Difference 

I had a writing teacher in 6th grade who gave me a D on a paper I’d thought was great.  Her admonition: “show the reader what’s in your mind.”  It’s true: what I’d written was perfectly clear to only one person – me.    

That lesson has stuck with me and when I hear the tagline of so many companies, “(blank) that makes a difference,” I shake my head.  “Software that makes a difference.”    “Your support makes a difference,” “Our people make the difference.” “HR that makes a Difference” (that one is trademarked by Insperity).  These feel good to the creators and mean nothing to the audience.  

If a product or service makes a difference, WHAT is that difference?   

Writing this post has me reconsidering some of the statements I’ve been making.  For example: “Colorado’s a special place for business.” What does that mean?  This has been a useful exercise, and my answer: “In Colorado, the leaders of many companies share their team members’ choice to have a life enabled by work, not consumed by it.”  

Do you think this post makes a difference?  I hope that it encourages readers to articulate specifics about what they really want to articulate.  Then it will have made a difference. 

P.S. What does “redefined” mean???

Does a Nice Leader Make a Good Culture?

The most recent ProCO360 podcast episode is called “Deliberate Culture,” and was recorded with a LIVE audience watching and listening to the leaders of four Colorado companies known for having a positive culture. Recognizing that we’re in a massively competitive talent war, I wanted to explore what leaders DELIBERATELY do that creates and maintains a culture that is far superior to what might be typical (even good) in their industries.

All these people are passionate about their team members, they all seem like great leaders to work for. So how automatic is it when there’s a caring leader to have a positive culture? Here is a synthesized sample from each of the leaders I interviewed…

Anthony Lambatos, “The Coach,” Footers Catering

Alejandra Harvey, CEO of Tendit Group: “When we form a strong culture, we attract those who share our values.”

Mary Moore-Simmons, VP Engineering of AgentSync: “Difficult problems tend to be culture issues, and it’s important to include middle management in culture.”

Bill Graebel, CEO of Graebel Companies: “Seeing a new problem? Start by looking for where there is an absence of love, truth, or integrity.”

Anthony Lambatos, The Coach of Footers Catering: “Build a culture that embraces what’s HARD because accomplishing difficult things together in a fun way is the work people feel is most gratifying.”

Back to the original question: is a good culture what you get when you have a kind leader?  It’s way more DELIBERATE than that.

The Marketing Blunder That Makes My Head Explode

What’s critical to a SELLER in a competitive market?  DIFFERENTIATION that a customer recognizes.   

What do many companies do poorly?  Help a customer understand what makes them different.   

As I search for guests for the ProCO360 podcast, I look for COMPELLING DIFFERENTIATION – that’s what is intriguing and critical their success.  Campminder – software for camps.  AgentSync – software that solves a painful problem for the insurance industry.  Sheets & Giggles – bedding for the environmentally conscience who love humor.  Nite Ize – reliable, simple tools that solve everyday problems.   

Here’s a screenshot from a PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM’s website: 

In case you can’t see it, this PR firm touts five ways it is different:  Industry Veterans, Distinct Expertise: Healthcare and Health IT, Award-Winning, Traditional & New Media, Engagement in Your Success. FOUR of these ANY AND EVERY OTHER FIRM says.   

Industry Veterans – every other firm.  Award-winning – they all are.  Traditional and New Media – everyone still in business.  Engagement in your success – anyone not say that?   

Of the five above, REALLY ONLY ONE is a differentiator: Healthcare and Health IT focus.  This is what I think the content of the page should contain, in a visually effective way: 

If this firm really DOES focus on Healthcare and Health IT, then an unambiguous variation of this focus will work better.  For those of you who are also fans of Donald Miller’s book, Building a StoryBrand, you’ll notice a bit of his “the Customer is the Hero” philosophy too in the line I wrote: “Out clients make the world better through…” 

Not sure if the saying “there’s no such thing as bad PR” holds true here – but I’ve withheld the name of the firm.  We need to be brave enough to carve out a niche and then scream it to the world. 

Two Emails from Famous Authors

I was struck by the coincidence of receiving thematically related email posts from Seth Godin and Ryan Holiday on the same day.  Both (excerpts below) remind that gratification in life, both personal and in business, won’t be about money.

Ryan Holiday – “It is Seneca who writes most eloquently of this desire, this insatiability we all have. Alexander the Great, he notes, was poor, despite his conquests of most of the known world. Because he could only think of the next campaign. He notes that money rarely makes us rich because all it does is give us a craving to earn more.”

Seth Godin – “After a stock market adjustment, billionaires give less to charity. They still have more money than they can count, but they’re not as rich as they used to be, and not-as-rich is easy to interpret as not rich.  Which means that for many people, feeling rich is a choice.”

Good reminder during the holiday season to seek happiness more deeply with family, friends, team members, customers, and community.

Colorado – Summer is Coming!

I’m so looking forward to this summer – COVID is getting under control, and I’ve already been enjoying outside brewery patios with my friend Chuck, who made a map of Denver that shows about 40 breweries that he wants to explore two or three at a time!  Our plan is to create a sort of “March Madness” bracket for those we visit and crown our champion. 

Cheryl and I are also planning camping trips to enjoy Colorado outside of Denver.  If you see the PROCO360 rooftop campmobile, and if you see me sitting in my new and amazing Stargaze chair, come say “Hi!” and have a beer! 

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