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The HiTech Hippie

Experience Life

More than a Resume

In the world of business, you are defined by a few things typically. Some people look at the title you have behind your name. Some look at the years of experience you have. Some look at the degrees and plaques you have hanging on your wall. Some people even look at your company name, yet while all of these things are admirable… there is still more to you than the plaques you get and the years you have under your belt. You are more than what you can fit on that 8.5×11 you give to your potential employer, let’s talk.

I began thinking about this topic again as I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am finishing up a 2 year training program with a company called Rexel. After this program I will be moving into a more permanent full time role in which I am currently interviewing for. While preparing for my interview I began to think about all of these things and thought about some of the intangibles that you can put down on a piece of paper. I wanted to outline them and truly show that it shouldn’t always come down to your resume.

First up is character. Character is about what you believe, how you were brought up, and your “moral” compass. It is often overlooked until it bites you in the rear. We can find this information out about a potential employee by talking with previous employers and the associates he/she had worked with in the past. People with similar beliefs and values allow teams to be more cohesive as well as trusting in a shorter period of time. You may see similar beliefs and values, but you don’t want all the same people doing the same thing. This is the beauty of trait number two, Perspective.

Perspective is the way you perceive and interpret the world and its inhabitants. Perception is based on the summation of your experience in life and is different for all people. We often forget that all people are different and don’t “walk a mile” in their shoes. It allows us to not only diversify our problem solving abilities, but also creates an opportunity for learning. Someone who sees all the details in a problem may not understand the big picture. Someone who is used to the creative process may not be able to stick to a strict schedule. This is why humans have survived for so long. We were meant to work together. We don’t need to be good at everything. This is why we need to have trust, transparency, and build strong relationships with the people we work with.

The third thing we can all bring that is hard to measure is energy. One of the things I pride myself on is to get people energized around an idea and I do it through my own excitement for that idea. I remember going to one of our leadership trainings and talking with a few of my coworkers about the karaoke event we were going to have at the end of the training and how many of them were dreading it. I kept talking with them about how excited I was for it and how great it would be and brought my excitement level up to try to rub off on them. Then after a couple beers… and my persistence we got them up on that stage! It’s not only about me being energetic, but it’s also showing that we can be vulnerable. If you are willing to stick your neck out, to make a fool of yourself, to show your people that the environment they are in is safe. Safe environments allow us to begin building trust among one another. If you don’t have the energy, then use your passion. Passion shines through and you can tell when people truly care about something. Speak openly, honestly, and with energy about the things you care about and you will see the reciprocity not only in growth of your company, but in the togetherness of your team.

The last thing that we often talk about yet is not measured by your resume is leadership. Now, I know you want to argue with me. “Matt…. I was the team captain of my college sports team, I the head of the outdoor recreation group, and I started a volunteer team to raise money for local charities”… and so on that you have listed on that paper. I understand that you have been in a role of managing people or resources, but leadership has nothing to do with your rank in a company or a title behind your name. Many people who hold high positions in companies are not leaders, while some of the lowest level employees possess amazing leadership skills. Leadership is a choice and that choice is self-sacrifice. As I was touching on earlier, sticking your neck out for people shows that you care. People often mistake leadership as something we can learn just in a classroom or after a week of training. If it was that easy then why do we not have leaders running around rampant in our companies?? It’s because it’s not! We know that working out for an hour a month will not get you a six-pack. Yet we think going to a leadership course for a week prepares you to be a leader for the rest of your career. Evolution not revolution, sustained change is not an overnight process. You must work at it just as some people work on their fitness or their sport or whatever facet of life you are trying to improve upon. Every single day getting one percent better and improving while focusing on the process, not the result.

I have said it before and I’ll say it until my time is up; it’s not about the result. The 8.5×11 sheet of paper will tell people all about your results. Then employers will compare you among the 500 other candidates and see how your results stack up. It’s not about the result, it’s about the process. Focus on getting better each and every day in order to see yourself continually grow. This will also begin to open up your mindset which will take you beyond that piece of paper. So, I hope when you sit down to talk about your next career opportunity with your future employer, you can say I understand I may not have the most experience. I know I may not know everything, but here are some qualities about me you don’t see on that piece of paper…

On purpose,

Matt

The Science of Acceptance

We want likes, shares, re-posts, favorites, or whatever you want to call it, because we seek acceptance. Some of why we seek it is based in how we were built and how we function, some in how we are social animals, but I think the biggest reason is in our fear of rejection. The science of acceptance, let’s talk.

A long time ago when we all spoke in grunts and killed food with spears we were a group hominid social animals living throughout the world. We lived in groups of people in which we relied on each other to gather food, protect each other, and survive. Some people were the hunters that went out and protected the tribe, some stayed back to keep track of the youth, some were builders, and so on… We all played a different role in these groups and worked together. This is the reason we have lasted longer than any other species, we have not always been the strongest, biggest, or fastest, but we have worked together to take care of each other and ensure each other’s safety and security. This leads me to my first topic, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Maslow came up with a theory in which he structured the needs of the human race into different categories. There are five total, but I want to focus on the first three; physiological, safety, and belonging. First is physiological, this is where your most basic needs are met. Food, water, protection from the elements and other functions that are crucial to our ability to survive. Next is safety. This has developed into a multitude of types of security, but at its base level it is security in knowing that you will not die or be killed, a great asset that comes with being a part of a group. This is the first sign of acceptance that we see. In older times we had to look out for each other while others were sleeping or working in order to survive and if someone were to ostracize themselves from the group they would be left to defend themselves, hence group living. We need each other to survive and prosper. This leads into the third level of the hierarchy, belonging. We want to belong to a group, we want to be accepted not only for the safety and security, but to be a part of something that is bigger than just ourselves. At the end of the day we don’t find fulfillment by doing things ourselves. It’s about sharing those moments with others that allow us to feel fulfilled and satisfied with what we are doing with our lives. There is also another play that we as humans feel, chemically, involving dopamine and oxytocin.

Dopamine and Oxytocin are two of the four chemicals that represent happiness. To hear more in depth about all of them, listen to the Simon Sinek talk called “Leaders eat last” on YouTube. Dopamine is released when we achieve our goals or accomplish something. Other activities that release dopamine include, drinking, gambling, drugs, and even your cell phone. This is why we seek out the like, retweet, favorite, and so on because it gives us a “hit” of dopamine. Dopamine is very addictive and this is why you see people become engulfed and dependent upon these substances mentioned above, including your cellphone. This is why people and our society as a whole have become obsessed with the result. I believe that we have become so asphyxiated on acquiring things that we have become addicted to dopamine and another chemical called serotonin. Between these two chemicals we can see that we try to find acceptance through the acquiring of material goods and “Status”. We strive to be a part of a group so badly that we look for any avenue to get it, like buying a car or seeking more promotions at work. It is a mindset of “keeping up with the Joneses” or seeking that next dopamine fix. It is a great chemical and allows us to accomplish our goals, but be weary in where you find it. Fall in love with the process, not the result and see yourself grow and learn.

The second chemical is oxytocin, which is the chemical that is released by human touch, love, and sexual acts. It also plays a part in our search for acceptance. It is in our best interest to be around other people and to build relationships with them not only from theory set out by Maslow, but also because chemically it drives us as humans. Oxytocin is the reason we enjoy hanging out with our friends and family. It is a chemical that has our best interest in mind. It wants to bring us closer to people and to continue to seek out safety and belonging in those hominid groups as our ancestors did.

The last driver as to why we seek acceptance and why we need acceptance has everything to do with the opposite, rejection. I think we are so afraid of rejection and not being a part of a group that we often find ourselves with groups and people that we may not be happy with. Rejection is such a big factor in our lives that we can fundamentally go against what we believe or what we value to a point in which we drive the groups we want to be a part of away from us. I see this often as we develop into adults, with groups of friends through grade school, middle school, high school, and into college. Find out early on what is important to you and don’t let it waiver. Rejection affects your relationships. Guys won’t ask girls on dates, girls are afraid to make the first move, fear is crippling. We live now in a technology dependent world in which we are losing the ability to deal with this type of emotion. It is not about getting rejected, its about how you react to the rejection. As Rocky said, “It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” Bad things are going to happen in your life, don’t let it change or alter your core values and beliefs and build a support network of people who have similar ideals. How can you find those people? Everything you say and do is a symbol of what you believe, and that symbol will attract people. So who do you want to attract?

In closing, we see that acceptance is a part of our core as humans and is needed for our survival. We cannot let it become our addiction though; we need to learn to function as a group, but also independently. So I challenge you to have the confidence to take the next step, push your limits and make a small change in what you are doing. Try something out on your own and have the confidence to not only accept yourself for who you are and what you are doing, but know that you have a strong network behind you to pick you up when you fail. Growth comes not in stagnation, but in vulnerability and change. We need other people in our lives to support us, but know that we can function on our own when we need to. Go out and experience life and grow each day to get better, because in 20 years do you want to look back and say I wish I had the confidence to have done it, or I’m glad my friends and family were there to support me through it?

On purpose,

Matt

New Year, New Me…. Bull$h#&

This will be the year I quit smoking. This will be the year I lose that weight. This will be the year I…. bull$#@t. This has been a topic that has been bugging me for quite some time. Why is it that we make new year’s resolutions? Why is it that we need a new year to make changes in our lives or businesses? I want to talk about making sustainable changes and how we implement them in our lives in a few ways. Let’s talk.

Time is the one of the main unrenewable resources we have in our lives. So, when I hear that people are waiting for the New Year or utilize the New Year as some type of epiphany to create a change it frustrates me. We have such a limited time on this Earth and we don’t know when it is going to end, so why wait? Also, sustainable change is an evolution not a revolution, which is why there are so many statistics surrounding the failure of these “resolutions.”

The first step in sustainable change is taking a small step. Most often people never take the step, which is the hardest part of making a change, getting going in the right direction. Or, people take to large of a step and never commit to such a drastic change in lifestyle. So, whatever your decision is make it now, not later and make a small commitment before you grow into a bigger one.

The second step, after you have decided what direction you are heading, is keeping it simple. Let’s take losing weight for an example. You may pick a target weight or desired pant size (which we will talk about later) and start working out 5 days a week for an hour. Then after a month you realize how taxing it is and start to cut back eventually dissipating the habit all together. We try to take on too much in the beginning and eventually get overwhelmed. Keep it simple. Try something like once a week for 30 minute and then build on it! Add another day; maybe try eating a healthier option just at breakfast, whatever it is make small changes that you can hold yourself accountable for. This way you can work in more and more small and simple changes to reach your goal. We can thank Tony Horton for the quote, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your body”. The same goes for your business. If you are struggling as a business, you know that it did not happen overnight. So, you can’t assume that you can fix it overnight either. Look at what simple changes you can begin to make and hold people accountable for to begin to fix your problem. Remember evolution, not revolution.

The last piece of sustainable change is about an article I wrote a few weeks ago focusing on the process not the result. As people and businesses we get caught in a mindset of a certain “result”. Things such as; pant size, weight, sales numbers, customer acquisition, sports championships, and so on, yet science shows that goal achievement only give you a short burst of a chemical called dopamine, one of the four main chemicals responsible for happiness. While this is great and in the best interest of you as a human it is short lived and often we fall back into old habits losing the most important part of our goal setting process, sustainability. We need to change our mindset from the result to the process. I see companies who set these large scale goals of hitting sales numbers and we are often fooled because of the scale of the number, when in the end it is still a number. We will eventually reach this goal and then be left to fall back into our old ways. Focusing on the process of what you are doing rather than a result will allow you to not only continually chase and pursue a lifestyle or mindset, but often will push you beyond your original goals and expectations. Let’s look back at our losing weight example. If I said I wanted to lose 20 pounds and over a month or two of eating healthy and exercise I got to my goal weight, then what? I may feel good about myself over the next few weeks and most likely will fall back into old habits that I am accustomed to, just like every other new year’s resolution… Instead, let’s focus on living a healthy lifestyle. Each day I try to move towards having a healthier lifestyle which involves me eating healthier, exercising, and being conscious of what I’m doing in pursuit of this lifestyle. We tie numbers to our goals because it’s easy, we can process and understand numbers. A mindset or lifestyle is a lot harder to quantity because we all define these differently. Don’t take the easy route; choose the pursuit of a process rather than a result.

Sustainable change is something we all continually struggle with. Take small and simple steps in the direction like you would like to take your life or your business. Then focus on the process rather than the result all the while thinking about sustainability. Don’t forget that in the end we are all people and we struggle and may fail. This is the reason we also must rely on each other. The reason the human species has lasted so long is because we are social animals. We have not always been the strongest or the smartest, but we work and live in groups allowing us too take care of each other and grow together. So what are you waiting for? Go out and make the change you want in your life keeping these things in mind. Reach out to your friends and family for support and see your dreams become reality.

On purpose,

Matt

Culture and Environment, The “X” factor among great teams and businesses

As businesses and sports teams we are always focused on acquiring top talent. Our goal is to get the best of the best and that will “solve” our problems and make us the best in our respective areas. I disagree. I think that “A” performers are going to perform well in most environments. We get so caught up with who is on our bus, we forget that were driving it off a cliff. While top performers may not be as impacted negatively by environment, having the right culture and environment can help them grow tremendously and bring those around them to a higher level. Environment and culture play a huge part in developing your teams and creating growth, let’s talk.

Having a great team, whether you are the manager in a business or a coach at a school, is important. A great team is not defined as being all the best players or the top performers. A great team is a group of people who have trust in one another, look out for the group over themselves, and help each other grow and learn. These values are not just instilled in the people; they are installed in the organization or the group. This is how great teams continually perform and how great businesses remain profitable. It’s not about the result, or if someone leaves the team, it’s about the environment and culture of the team which is based in the culture and environment the respective leaders produce. People will come and go, but the environment in your team will always be in your control. The challenge you have as a leader in your company is how do I create the right environment and how do I repeat it and sustain it?

I listened to Simon Sinek talk about the bus metaphor I mentioned earlier and I really think he portrays it well. As I said, we are very concerned with the people on the bus. In sports teams you see it through the acquisition of other players and maxing out salary caps, in business you see head hunters stealing top talent from other companies. For the most part, these people go to these new teams and companies happily as they often get better deals, more money, better schedules or whatever other incentives they can think of.  I don’t want to look at those people though; I want to look the people they didn’t get. The people they have called and offered every benefit under the sun yet they will not leave their company or team, why? I think it’s because the environment and culture they are a part of is something they are not willing to give up. They know that gaining more money or benefits is not worth giving up what they have with the group of people they work with. It is not just about “A” performers. Take care of your people and allow them opportunities for personal and professional growth and watch them blossom. Then when and if you bring more top performers into this growth environment you will watch them not only grow themselves, but bring those around them up. This is why environment is important. It brings your people together and creates loyalty, as well as a thriving culture that allows for innovation, growth, and trust.

Now we can establish that it’s not all about the right people on your bus, environment and culture are more important. Next comes where the bus is headed, vision. Having a vision is something I have talked about before and continually will talk about because it is something that ties people together seeing the connection between why they do what they do and what they are doing. This also affects environment. Your vision directly impacts your culture and your environment. These are mere reflections of what you believe, so having them be in sync not only creates trust with your employees, but also shows them that you are being genuine and authentic. Get the bus going in the right direction and watch your people prosper and grow.

The last piece to this is the bus itself. Another thing that people get caught up in, “keeping up with the joneses”. All I want to say is that a nice bus is just that, nice. It does not affect the aforementioned items. Look at start-ups that being in garages or in college dorm rooms. It’s not about what you’re driving; it’s about having the culture to drive your ideas to fruition and completion.

So what does this mean for you at your desk? How can you make an impact? The good news is you can, but the bad news is it won’t happen overnight.  Sustainable change is like going to the gym. You don’t see results from working out for 8 hours one day a month; you see results from going three times a week for 30 minutes for a year. Continue to make small changes in your office or on your team and preach them constantly. Build the culture you desire by creating the environment you want. Then as people come and go maintain the direction of your bus and the standard you believe in and see your results flourish.

On purpose,

Matt

Thailand Lesson 4: Say Yes

A mindset often preached about, yet never lived. Take life as it comes, don’t rush and see what is out there. It’s the last takeaway I have from Thailand. The concept of going with the flow and being impulsive, trying new things and experiencing life…Say yes, to life! I want to look at how it impacted my trip as a whole and how it’s changed my life over the last couple years. Let’s talk.

While I was in Thailand I had a general plan for what the beginning of my trip looked like, having a “yes man” mindset helped greatly in my exploration of the country. When I say “yes man” I am actually referencing the movie with Jim Carey. In the movie he was someone who turned down opportunities in life, continually saying no to doing almost everything. Then he attends a seminar that changes his perspective and gets him to start saying yes to everything.  I am actually planning on taking a trip similar to the concept of movie with some friends here in a few weeks. The main concept of the movie though is to not say yes to everything, but not be closed off to new opportunities and experiences.

After getting to Thailand after 4 flights and 23 hours I finally met the initial group of people I would be getting scuba certified with, my first and only plan. After class that day we went out for beers and I got to know them a little better. Ultimately the time came where these relatively new strangers and I had to part ways, but I had a choice. I could go with them island hopping in the south or head back north and be travelling by myself once again. I ended up choosing the island hopping route and amongst fire shows and snorkeling trips I found myself among a whole new group of people who were all doing the same thing and had the same mindset, say yes!

Travelling is not for everyone. I understand that and I actually am currently making a video for some tips on travelling to Thailand, but when you’re travelling keep in mind that your boundaries are going to get pushed. You have the opportunity to say no, but what you turn down may be something that leads you to a new group of people and to potentially new areas/countries. Whether it’s staying in a hostel, or trying a new food give it a shot. It’s like the butterfly effect. One decision can have huge implications down the road for your growth and potential friendships/experiences.

Next time you are travelling in a new country, in the U.S., or even going down to the local bar for a beer after work, have this in the back of your mind. This mindset can open your eyes to such a new world that is out there. I know it’s going to be uncomfortable, but get comfortable being uncomfortable. Growth happens on the edge of your boundaries, not in your daily routine. In a few weeks I am taking my first “yes man” trip in which we will be booking our flights that Friday before we take off. We are going to book the cheapest flight round-trip and wing it from there. I am so excited to go and truly enjoy a city by trying all sorts of new things with not a single plan in mind.

It’s a mindset I have taken on in the last few years and I can see has become more infectious with the Millennial generation. I see risks being taken, countries being explored, and people connecting with people. Some people are even turning it into a business! Who’s to say that you can’t do the same? Go out, say yes, experience life.

On purpose,

Matt

 

Thailand Lesson 3: Planning

I was talking to a friend recently on the subject of success. I asked, “What does success look like to you?” While they were describing some things to me, something stuck out. They had said the following, “I never thought I would be where I am now… I had all these plans and thoughts about the way my life would look by now and all of it has changed.” It inspired me to write this third article about my time in Thailand. The concept of planning and how we tie it into our lives and how travelling works in conjunction with it. Let’s talk.

In my opinion, past generations have been content following the general path of previous generations, and by that I mean sticking to the “mold”. This mold goes something like this… Find a girlfriend, get married, move in together, buy a dog, buy a house, have kids, work 30 years, retire to have your last 30 years be enjoyed in you red door, white picket fenced house. It’s a prototypical plan that we all follow and expect to have accomplished or be going through at some point in our lives. While that mold still is applicable to some of the millennial generation I think we see a drastic change in most of the millennials. Things like “gap” years or moving abroad, to starting your own company, and so on are now typical paths we can take. We are continuing to push off big life decisions to find paths we are passionate about and to see what this world has to offer.

This concept of a life plan really plays into almost all aspects of our lives. We even schedule our vacations to a “T” and have every last second mapped out of what we want to do. I see the value in scheduling certain aspects of your life and trips, but what happened to spontaneity and impulse decisions? Where is the flexibility?

So, what does this have to do with Thailand? Just as my friend had this life plan, I had a plan for Thailand, where I was going to go and what I was going to see, that all fell apart the third day in.  I was finishing up my open water scuba certification and a new friend I had met during diving, was asking what I was going to do next? I had told her about heading north to Chiang Mai and seeing the elephants. Then, fly back to the city to head back to the U.S. to finish off my trip. She responded by telling me to stay south and see the other islands, so on a whim…I did. I loved it!! That night I proceeded to go on a local pub crawl involving multiple bars, a ladyboy show (holy schnikes), multiple fire juggling shows, and even an LED rope light turned jump rope. The following morning came and then I continued travelling with a new group of people that we had met involving scuba trips, GoPro filming, and drinking out of sand bucket all the while not having a plan of what to do or where to go. Had I not taken that opportunity I probably would not have made the friends that I did and not gotten a full experience of the south. It’s amazing what a group of young, ambitious, and adventurous people can find in a foreign country.

Just as my friend did not have her plans go the way she wanted I had my plans change completely as well. Life does not slow down. I know I am only 25, but to this point in my life I cannot believe how quickly the years have gone by. It’s an amazing ride and I am blessed to have been able to do what I have and see the places I have seen. I have always been somewhat impulsive in life, but I too had this concept of the life I wanted. I think now my ideology has changed. We don’t need a perfect plan for life. I have set goals for myself and know what I still value, but trying to put a timeline to these is almost impossible. Life is full of turns and twists. You never know what will happen next and that is the beauty of it, we learn to deal with the hand we are dealt.

Everything happens for a reason. In life we have all these plans and preconceived notions of what we want to do and how we want it to look. I think the biggest challenge we face as young adults is truly defining what we love to do and what is important to us. The same perceptions and plans that our parents define as success or what it looks like may not be the same for you. So I challenge you to go explore and let life deal you what it will. You will never know your true capacity if you’ve never tested. So try something new, do something spontaneous, and get out and find your passion. It may be in the last place you thought you would look…

On purpose,

Matt

Thailand Lesson 2: Perspective

Perception is reality. How we interpret our world is unique to each and every one of us. We all are a summation of our past experiences and our individual upbringings. It’s what makes all of  us tick, our perspective on how the world works. In today’s society we have begun to lose sight of this. We are becoming less culturally aware and more selfish in nature; we don’t seek out differences we want people to accommodate to our lifestyles. We need to change, let’s talk.

First, let’s talk about how we have become so unaware of other cultures. We go as Americans to other countries and expect everyone to speak English, eat hamburgers, and drink bud light. I will go into some of the culture differences I saw in Thailand later, but why is it that we are so insensitive and close minded? I’m not sure what the trigger is, but we have begun to push our culture onto people rather than the preservation of their cultures. I believe is that we have become arrogant in our capabilities as a country. We think that we are always right as Americans and think our way is the only way. We need to walk a mile in their shoes, see things how they see things, learn to appreciate our differences. If we had more appreciation and understanding for other peoples beliefs and cultures I think we would see the world become a more collaborative and productive place to live.

It is amazing that in my first trip overseas I was enlightened to the fact of how unaware of the rest of the world I was. I want to touch on some of the differences I saw in the southern islands of Thailand.

Number one, phone plans. When I first arrived in Thailand my phone did not work, which you too will experience unless you buy a phone plan. I opted not to buy a plan and only utilized Wi-Fi where I could. The thing I noticed about the phone plans was that they were opposite of our traditional plans here. The calling and minutes were limited and data was not, while in the US data overages are what phone companies thrive on.

Number two, driving and roads. Other than in Bangkok the rules of the road were never posted nor talked about. I did not see a single speed limit, stop, yield, or any similar sign that we see here in the US down in the islands. I spoke briefly about this in my last blog as well in being mindful of the people around you while driving. Also, road conditions depended on what part you were in. Some roads were gravel, some dirt, some paved. It was all relative to how close you were to the main part of the island.

Number three, the service industry. No shoes, no shirt no problem. I think Kenney was talking about Thailand when he wrote that song. Most places of business in Thailand ask that you take your shoes off at the door. Try walking into a target shoeless, ha. The other thing I noticed about the service industry is there is no sense of urgency. When you go into a restaurant in America it is often a well-oiled machine, pushing customers in and out as fast as possible. In Thailand, you often have to ask for the check and even flag the server down to place your order. The pace of life is a lot slower along with the service. They are in no rush to push you out the door. I often forgot to pay and had the server run after me because I was so used to having the check brought to me.

Number four, schedules. Feeding off number three, the concept of schedules is very vague and quite unpredictable. You may have a ferry scheduled for 8 in the morning and it may show up then, or 9:00, or maybe even 9:30. Schedules are not a steadfast thing in Thailand and you need to be flexible when it comes to planning surrounding them.

Last, but not least number five. business in general. As I touched on there are some key differences in the way businesses function over in Thailand and one of the main ones is the way a business starts and is marketed. In order to open a business you must have a Thai partner in the business, you cannot start one unless you are a Thai citizen. Once opened the typical marketing strategies are used except in my experience most of the recommendations I came across were by word of mouth. Most businesses are tied together somehow and will recommend each other’s establishments for this word of mouth marketing. So when you are eating that hamburger at a food stand and don’t have a place to stay yet, I guarantee that the Hostel the chef running the stand will recommend is the same place that recommends his hamburger stand for food. The culture is very tied together and impacts how their businesses work together.

We are not the only culture on the planet. There is so much exploring and adventuring one can do in this world to bring awareness to what is happening in other cultures and countries. What is stopping you from becoming more aware? Get out and experience the world, experience life.

On purpose,

Matt

Thailand Lesson 1: Mindfullness

Be mindful of the person in front of you, such a simple idea. I was on bus heading to Ko Phi Phi Island when I was making small talk with a man from the Netherlands. He was telling me about his time spent up north in Chiang Mai and such that they had a very simple rule for driving, be mindful of the person in front of you. Let’s talk.

One of the things that I noticed while in Thailand was the lack of road rules. Looking back at my conversation with the Netherlands man, I don’t recall seeing hardly any street signs in the islands or anywhere for that matter other than in Bangkok. It is a simple rule, but very effective. In a country like Thailand that is rampant with tourists, I think having simple rules such as that, begin to make us more mindful of being aware of the people and culture around us.

Help others. Simon Sinek talks about how we have created a culture in which we no longer help or care for each other. He often says in his talks that when we genuinely try to help someone else we find that the other person gets defensive in thinking that you want something from them. Simon also speaks about the self-help industry. He says that its always about us, and how we can make ourselves better, but never about helping each other. This is true in business! We find that big companies often look out for themselves and their bottom line rather than the greater good of our societies. This creates a huge siloing effect on the different departments in companies as well. It lowers employee engagement and often raises attrition rates. It is such a sad thought that in a rapidly advancing society technology is creating a society in which we become more obsessed with our own interests rather than taking the time to help someone out.

The theme I am continually pushing and want you to take from this article is helping others. I want to talk about the Spartans. I am guessing most of you have seen the movie 300 in which Gerard Butler and his crew of “jacked” Spartans fight the Persians in an epic battle of good vs. evil. The bigger picture though is the belief that the Spartans had. There was a scene in the movie where Leonidas (Gerard) was talking to a commoner who had aspirations of joining the Spartan army. He had also brought valuable information to the king about a hidden goat path, which was the ultimate downfall of the Spartans in this fight. Leonidas asked the man to raise his shield thigh to neck, in which the man by no fault of his own did not have the strength or mobility to do so. This resulted in the king not allowing him to join. The belief that the Spartans had was that they belonged together in battle in one single unit, meaning that everyone would protect the person to the left of them and to the right. That is why they were often so successful in battle. It was such a simple idea, yet a drastic result for an entire army of people.

I think also in today’s society we not only have stopped caring for one another, but we have also begun to lose perspective on each other’s lives and cultures. We often jump to conclusions and find ourselves aware of our own beliefs and unconscious of others. I want to talk more about this in my next blog so I won’t drag on, but we need to start the wheels of change.

Be mindful of the person in front of you. I think as a society we have this capability and I know that there are companies and people getting behind this concept more and more each day. From startups to large corporations it starts with one idea, one person, one belief that we can make our companies and our cultures more about each other and less about the bottom line. It is amazing how one trip to a new area meeting a group of new people can change your perspective. I think we can continue to drive this into the workplace as the millennial generation has a stigma of being more invested in a company’s ideals and culture. So start today, why wait? Find someone and hold the door for them. When you go out to lunch, invite the new guy with you. All it takes is one small act to get people to start caring and working with each other, rather than against. Its a world I imagine and a world I know we can create.

On purpose,

Matt

Retail: Sell your people, not your products

As I was shopping the other day I had a floor salesman approach me at REI asking if needed help with anything. I proceeded to tell him that I was interested in a backpacking pack and the respective brand that I was interested in. As our conversation went on we talked about my trips I had done and where I was heading next, all the while he was continuing to help me get fitted and sized for my pack. After the sizing was complete he told me how to purchase my pack online as they did not have my size at the store, and then he sent me on my way. This experience solidified the way I believe we should sell in retail, focusing on people not products. Let’s talk.

 

I work for an electrical distributor in which we offer different products and services to our customers through branch locations all over the world. We continually focus on how to improve these services and how we can beat our competition, some of whom are other distributors while others are retail locations such as Lowes or Home Depot. I think the problem that we face is that not only are we focusing on how to beat the competition; we are not focusing on our people. I think the main difference between a Lowes and our company is the way that we sell. We utilize our people as technical resources that have an in depth knowledge of our product and applications. While in a retail store such as Home Depot, the average employee is an hourly teenager that knows locations of products, but not an in depth look at a specific product family.

 

This is what happened at REI and why retailer’s such as REI are so successful. Their people are what they focus on. The sales force within the company does not just push a product line or something that we do not want as a customer. They align with what you are saying and adjust accordingly. Their sales teams are knowledgeable in products, but also in experience. They use this experience to guide your buying decision to the best fit for you, and not just a specific brand.  Good retailers sell their people, not their products. This is why retail still exists in a world of online and virtual selling. As a company you must not forget that what separates you from an Amazon or EBay is the people in your store, not the products on your shelves.

 

We often lose sight of this in sales and sales management. We have management continually driving down specific vendors to sales teams to push for some type of bonus or kickback to that manager. Instead we need to be focusing on how we can improve our experience for the customer through our people by giving them the proper training and development that they need. Products are just accessories to our people.

 

In the book The 12 Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner and James Harter they talk about a survey given to companies surrounding employee engagement and satisfaction. They pull our 12 major themes for managers to work on with their employees. I have been reading this book and I can see that it has a great outline for managers. I think it could be a great foundation for companies to start giving to their managers to stop focusing on products and start focusing on people.

 

In our everyday lives we are all in sales, whether you’re selling an idea to be implemented internally or out talking to customers in a retail setting. We need to begin to push our people in retail. As the physical store becomes obsolete, the only way we can grow our respective businesses is to acknowledge our difference, which is not the products we carry it is the people we employ. The sooner we can invest more time and money into our people, the more optimistic we can be about our future.

 

On purpose,

 

Matt

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