You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2008.
I spent 30 years creating intricate artwork and successfully marketing and selling it. My attention to detail was pretty intense, but I was humbled by what I witnessed during my recent stay at the Golden Door. I found their devotion to the customer’s experience unparalleled.
A few of the outstanding touches:
1. Upon arrival each guest is quickly and digitally photographed. Those images are posted in an inner sanctum where they are seen by the staff. From that moment forward, everyone from the masseuse to the bathhouse attendant addresses you by name. “Jane, would you care for a warm robe from the sauna?”
2. Participants on the early morning meditation hike are provided with a backpack containing their breakfast to be eaten at the mountain summit. An attentive kitchen staff member called me aside after dinner the evening before the hike. She’d noticed that dairy was not a part of my profile and wanted to know if soy yogurt would be an adequate substitution.
3. There were broad-brimmed straw hats poolside along with dispenser pumps of sunblock. The aqua fitness instructor asked if anyone needed a visor during the workout.
4. Every night there was a different treat on our pillows reflecting something that had happened that day–a personal note and exercise instructions from my trainer, an autographed copy of the book by the nutrition consultant who spoke at lunch, vials of lavendar and gernanium to soothe and relax us.
These were all in addition to the meticulous care in evidence throughout the week. It’s inspiring to see so much care and awareness exhibited by any business. I don’t want to imitate what they do at the Golden Door. But I’m motivated to take my business and customer care up a notch. Plus, when I do, I’ll be more easily able to afford another trip there.
I posted Monday’s entry (8/25) from the San Diego airport while waiting for my return flight to JFK. The draft, written a week or two earlier, was ready to go. Until I left for my Golden Door retreat, it accurately reflected my mid-August doldrums.
It was amusing to re-read it after my week as a goddess. I couldn’t remember a single day in my life that had ever been less than perfect. That was my sentiment after seven days of massages, facials, breakfast in my room with my favorite newspaper, poolside lunches and more one-on-one attention than I have ever received–including in my infancy!
In addition to all that pampering, beauty and fun I also gave myself the gift of completely disconnecting. My outbound voice message and an out-of-office response both announced that I was unreachable. I touched base with my husband only once and called my brother to wish him a happy birthday on the 20th. That was it.
The payoff is that today I feel as though I’ve been away for a hundred years. I’m completely refreshed and re-invigorated. I feel grounded and happy. Best of all, opportunities manifested while I was away.
Some pots need to go unstirred for successful outcomes.
Lest you think that every day in this entrepreneur’s life is bliss-filled and stress free, let me set the record straight. In the dog days of summer I have days that would drive many to drink, shop, abandon ship or nap.
My phone stops ringing. A big prospect I’m pitching is not returning calls or emails, even though her outbound voice message changes daily. I know she’s checking. Responses to my marketing blasts are falling on deaf ears. Places in my upcoming groups are languishing. The long-promised checks I’m waiting for haven’t come.
I begin making up stories. No one wants my services. I’m annoying this prospect. The company that owes me money has run out and I’ll never get paid. I’m not that good.
Any of this sound familiar? What I do know is that negativity is born out of isolation. I’ve been in my office a lot looking out at the beautiful sunny days. There are no networking events to attend where I can compare notes with other entrepreneurs. My affirmations partner is away. I make up that my accountability buddy is too busy to hear all this.
What I do to counter this–I go for a walk and get into nature. I pick up the phone anyway. I leave my office for a few hours. I read a book. I let someone else know what’s going on in my brain.
I met a businesswoman for coffee recently so that she could tell me about her company. I noticed myself turning off fairly soon into the conversation. Here’s a short list of things that contributed to the disconnect. I offer them in the hopes that you and I will never find ourselves guilty of these misdemeanors of etiquette.
- Don’t apologize for being tired.
- Do know about your prospect’s business. This woman had not looked at my website and was surprised when I told her what I might want her services for.
- Do know about your own clients. When I pointed to someone’s logo in the company’s client roster and inquired about what they do, she didn’t know explaining she was on the sales side of the business.
- Don’t do a PowerPoint presentation where you read word for word what the slides say. What’s the point?
- Don’t pass out a stack of your cards and ask for referrals before you’ve signed the business or done any work that satisfies the prospect.
- Do pick up the check. (She did.)
I just received a compelling email marketing piece from someone I admire and learn a lot from. But, I’m not going to pursue the offer.
I’ve got my own plan which I am following and don’t want to get distracted. That’s the major benefit of having a plan–sticking with it and saying ‘no’ to whatever comes down the pike. Not easy in this computer-based age when spending precious minutes or hours visiting vetted links or youtube postings is addictive. It takes focus and persistence to stay on your set path, but it’s essential.
My best tool for sticking with the plan, one I’ve talked about in the past and continue to use, is my little Radio Shack timer and my daily list. When I assign time slots to activities and to-do’s, they get done. I do schedule time for idle play and enjoy surfing too.
Whether you take this advice or allow yourself random wanderings, don’t miss this hilarious alternative to Hallmark: someecards.
By the time this gets posted I’ll have been at The Golden Door in Escondido, CA for the first of my seven day stay. I know I’ll have lots to report about it when I return, but looking forward to it is almost as satisfying.
For years extreme self-care has been a high priority in my life. As a woman and business owner I am constantly using my energy to create, relate, motivate and deliver. There’s also the life force I use to nurture my family, friends, clients, prospects and vendors. That’s a lot of good juju (as my friend L.A. Reding would say) going out. I know I need to replenish that on a regular basis.
I meditate twice daily, exercise almost daily, eat well and have an active spiritual life and community. I surround myself with positive people–loving friends and family.
My intention in spending a week at the Golden Door is Inner Focus as their Welcome Package so eloquently puts it. I want complete quiet away from my office and home, the phone, email, noise and distractions. I have no idea what will come out of this empty space. I do know that nature abhors a vacuum. I’m ready to receive new insights, ideas and inspiration from that place within that rarely has space to get heard.
Since one of my own company’s offerings is a retreat for women at a luxury spa, I’m modeling the behavior for future clients. Nice to have this “assignment” as homework.
Driving into downtown Westport I passed two antique stores in a row on the Saugatuck River. “Hmmm,” I thought “they must know their market and can be located where there’s not much parking.” Antiques stores don’t require the volume of spaces, say, that Costco needs. I also knew, in that moment, that I am not their customer.
Since I filter everything through the eyes of an entrepreneur, coach and blogger, I leapt to an “aha” for myself. I don’t intend that every person I meet–i.e. passenger that drives by the antique stores–needs to hire me. Like those shops, I only want well-qualified prospects taking an interest.
The antique stores and I all want customers who need our products and services. Our job is to locate ourselves physically through bricks and mortar in a prime location, or virtually by optimizing for search engines. Anyone looking for a coach or speaker who specializes in women entrepreneurs, small business owners and success needs to see those signposts that will lead to my services.
In this digital era, our location, location, location has morphed into SEO, SEO, SEO – search engine optimization. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m in the generation of digital immigrants. I’m on the learning curve of adding keywords to my website and blogging so that my market can find me. It’s challenging and exciting–especially when I get found.
When you think of me, what words come to mind regarding my services? I’d love your comments.
Here’s why I love blogging! When I posted the piece about getting one’s product into O magazine–and how it can unexpectedly temporarily overwhelm a business–my intention was simply to report what I noticed. The incident stood out for me because I felt a kinship to Anne, having exhibited alongside her at the same craft shows years ago.
I immediately heard from a representative who’d read my blog (thank you, Google Alerts) offering a thorough explanation of inventory and ordering. In our communications, I mentioned to her my history with Anne, the business owner. And, because they were out of stock on the “Stop me before I volunteer again”, the company graciously and generously sent me post-it notes, a note pad and emery boards with the same message as a gift.
The unexpected pleasure has been in re-connecting with Anne personally and establishing an account with her company. Her products are perfect gifts for my clients and friends. Her tag line is Making Smart People Smile since 1985. Perfect, right? What woman business owner doesn’t want that?