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Recession Proof – 2 Recipes

October 14, 2008

Have you ever needed to have an escape night.  Different town, new restaurant, great meal?  Maria needed to run away from her husband and I needed to run away from my cooking.  I did not expect to also receive a lesson in business success but I did.

Marilyn, the waitress at M.E. and Suzy’s restaurant in Port Stanley, welcomed us warmly. After fun, friendly banter she suggested the cheese ale soup to start. It was spectacular. SPECTACULAR. But wait…you and I know that everything we make can be copied by someone else. Toyota takes apart Mercedes’ vehicles to figure out how to improve their own brand.  Lots of companies conduct corporate intelligence to gain competitive advantage. But take heart dear friend, while people can copy what you do, it is much harder to copy how you do it. Marilyn was gifted at her job. The chef was gifted at his. It was the marriage of person, product, and presentation that made this night perfect.  There are so many ‘p’s in that last sentence you can use it for speech therapy.

You need talent and you need input to be recession proof.

Consistently ask for feedback after every client or customer interaction. Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles, described this method during a tele-class. He said that each week he would ask his wife, ‘On a scale of one to five, how was I as a husband this week?’ She would give him her rating. Then he would ask, ‘What could I do differently to be a five?’ Then it was her turn to ask for feedback. It was Jack’s second wife. It was mine too (well sort of).  Anway, I wanted to keep mine so I started using his technique every Sunday night. Yeah, it ahh…works, well.  A little to well. So well in fact that I would  cringe the minute I realized I’d done something that I was going to get nailed for. I had a built in accountability system. It changed my behaviour.

The technique was so valuable that I stated using it at work. At the end of every coaching session, and at the end of every client meeting, I now ask “On a scale of one to five, how was I was a coach or consultant or speaker today?” I asked every time. Every single time. I got immediate feedback about what my clients’ valued and how I could make a mid-course corrections or a more major change. You will get the same valuable input if YOU ASK. You also might get ideas for services or products. You can’t lose by asking. You can lose by not asking. Give your clients air time to vent with you and they won’t vent with someone else. It takes less than a minute to ask. The feedback, positive or negative is invaluable. I know this as a wife, professional and even as an athlete.

When I was a competitive figure skater, even if I won my event, I would wait outside the judges’ room to ask if anyone was open to giving me feedback. I asked. I listened. I implemented. And I became annoyingly difficult to beat. I did this because, oddly enough, I remember my father telling me that Arnold Schwarzenegger consistently asked his body building judges for feedback and he became a world champion. Now, after a lucrative acting career, he’s the governor of California. (By the way, my dad also told me, chuckling, that when ‘Arnold’ started as a body builder, he would pose standing in water to hide his less than perfect calve muscles. Oh Arnie that’s so cute).

Ask for input and hire talent. Marilyn at M.E. & Suzy’s restaurant?  She even brought M. Earl Wilson, the chef to meet us. Did he ask for feedback, yes. Were we well taken care of? Yes. Will we be back? Did I rave to my friends about M.E. & Suzy’s? Yes and some of my friends have already made reservations.

Excellence is your best defense – Hire Talent and Ask For Feedback.

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If it is not your genius it is not your job.
Louise B. Karch