Thank you

We launched The Story School, PurposeBrand, and FutureProof your Retail Business, all in March … all at the same time!

It seemed like a good idea. The concepts have been in various hoppers for many years and it was time to press “GO”.

I was fully embracing Michael Bungay Stanier’s philosophy of setting worthy goals.

He describes a worthy goal as something that “unlocks our greatness and allows us to work on the hard stuff.” Not too intimidating, is it?

Worthy goals being further defined as having three primary criteria:

  • They must be thrilling. Check.
  • They should be daunting. We could check this box like 3 times, or 5, ok 10, but who’s counting?
  • They should be important, as he describes it, “the accomplishment of these goals will have a positive impact on others.” Check.

So, all three criteria had been checked, and I sat in my bright office and hovered over “go” or in this case “send” or “post”, or both.

Whatever “go” is, it really is weird to press “go” during Covid. It’s a bit like watching a Raptors game with no fans! Did we score, did anyone start the wave, was there a collective gasp of “oh this is just what we needed?” We pressed “go” and still my pup slept on my feet – no happy dance from you Stella? C’mon we have worked so hard on this!!

And then a ding here, and then another, and a few DM’s there and then…. oh wow! It was full on! There were many great conversations, I met new people, and we shared desires to strategically tell the right stories, build purpose driven brands and leaders, and to Futureproof Retail.

Pressing “go” was every bit as thrilling, daunting, and important as it should be.

And I have each of you to thank for helping me to actualize these worthy goals. You are at the heart of every new initiative. This great response leaves me both humbled and thankful.

We might not launch 3 courses at the same time again(!) but we will continue to set worthy goals, and deliver with big hearts and deep connection, while remaining committed to our purpose of elevating others through the power of their own story.

Game on!

Do Something Unscalable

What can you do for one of your customers that is completely unscalable? I know the buzzword right now is scalable, not unscalable, but stick with me for a minute.

Think of the one gesture, which immediately has you and your team saying “Well, we can’t do that for everyone!”

Think show stopping, I can’t believe it, outrageous, kind, thoughtful, out-of-the-box, hilarious, unexpected, empathic, differentiating, unforgettable, and purpose driven.

What can you package up, send over, create, do (covid friendly mariachi band serenades are on the table here) to delight and surprise (in a good way) your customer.

Yup, it is so outrageous you can’t do it every day, that is the beauty of it!

I am convinced this unscalable action will become a scalable story.

I am sending one out the door today…I wonder where it will land 🙂

I can’t wait to hear what you come up with!

Life interrupted

We have a puppy named Stella.

She works with me, and after having her for three months I am smitten, all in, and sometimes losing my mind!

I have a bag of tricks to keep us both happy but sometimes she gets annoyed and wants my full attention. And she has now literally found a way to “pop up” between me and my desk.  She is like Houdini, and then she stares me down, all the while madly wagging her tail.

I started to laugh thinking she is the furry version of a pop up ad in a world that has been very interrupted! 

I wonder how many brand messages we turn off or frantically X out of in a day, maybe 500?

We have so many ways to tell our stories, but interrupting isn’t the best way to do it. I mean really, who likes the interrupter who never lets you finish a thought? Do you picture your brand as the annoying person at the cocktail party (remember, we used to have those!) who, while you are in the midst of a fabulous conversation with someone else, butts in to control or change the dialogue? It is simply rude and annoying and the fastest way to get you off the invite list. The same holds true online.

The pop up is a poor way to start a relationship (unless you are as adorable as Stella), yet it is the core of so many campaigns. Realize that this is the old and out-dated model. The model of unrelenting frequency and reach, because we can, is still interruption-based marketing and not what drives a purpose brand.

Yes, by all means reach out to your beautiful community, reach out with empathy and reach from the very core of your values and purpose. Give them a meaningful experience.

Make the shift from a transactional relationship to a transformational experience and let me know what happens. Not sure what this might look like? Check out a video on Yeti’s storytelling website called “Shut Up and Paddle” on the Texas Water Safari. I bet you will watch the full 7 minutes and share it on. No one is screaming the Yeti brand except for a few well-done product placements. They sell very expensive coolers but what hooks us in is the inspiration and the desire to be part of the story, to join the community, the desire for us to feel transformed.

Ditch the pop up for real engagement (at the proper distance of course) that goes beyond transaction and then take your dog for a walk 🙂

In a creative funk, out of good ideas? Get Silly!

We have a new puppy.

And I am the one with puppy dog eyes – only my eyes are puffy like a pug, and I look a bit exhausted, and hers are bright and alluring. 

This puppy makes me silly. She loves silly, and I love her, so on it goes. Play for the sake of play –  crazy unstructured ridiculousness. It is both exhausting and revitalizing at the same time. Which made me wonder how can that be?

In university I took a course called “Theories of Play”. An elective meant to lighten my load – a “bird course”! If you wanted to make someone giggle or raise their eyebrows – you told them that yes, “Theories of Play” was a course that I was paying for. 

The course held many surprises – as play often does. And when the world surprises us we pay attention.

Now all these years later I am still paying attention because the fundamentals of this “bird course” ring true in a way that for me calculus never did, or will.

There is a direct relationship between play, creativity and the more business buzz-worthy word: innovation. Play often lets us break the rules and experiment with new conventions. (Which should not apply to puppy training!) It forces our brains to find new pathways and new solutions.

When we play we have no agenda, no outcome in mind, process is thrown to the wind. If you can’t go under, you go over, if you can’t go over you go through, and if you can’t get through well who knows what is next. Being surprised is the foundation of play.

 We love being surprised. How many of us remember buying the paper bag labelled the “surprise bag”? Or check out Jillian Harris’ outrageously successful launch of the Jilly box: 50,000+ people signed up to receive a box curated by Jillian Harris with no idea what was in it. Not only do we love to be surprised, we will wait hours and willingly pay for the thrill of it too!

The enticing nature of play is that it opens us up to new possibilities. It frees our mind from barriers so that curiosity and innovation reign. Play does not invite nay-sayers to the party! That in itself is revitalizing!

In the Scandinavian Journal of Education Research, Sandra Russ notes, “Central to both play and creativity is divergent thinking.” Her study revealed that “play can facilitate creativity as well as insight ability,” and that we can be taught to improve our play skills.

 As adults our play skills can get pretty rusty. Amanda Lang in her book “The Power of Why” noted, “70 percent of creativity is related to environment, which means that it’s entirely possible for just about anyone to learn to think more innovatively.”

How can we ramp up our play skills and create a more creative environment?

  • Ignore conventional wisdom
  • Get silly with your kids, your puppy, your friends
  • Listen to new music
  • Learn a new skill 
  • Be driven by enjoyment
  • Try a new board game
  • Hang out at a co-work space
  • Daydream
  • Encourage curiosity in others
  • Embrace not having the answer

As 2019 is coming to a close and I glance at my goals for this year, right at the top are the words: Play more! Who knew the abandoned pup we named Stella Polaris Lee, from Fond Du Lac, Saskatchewan would be the surprize that would help me to play more. And enhance my own creativity.

Get silly, be silly, invite silly and watch your creativity soar. And if that seems hard to do – get a new pup. 🙂

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