Are you free next week?

Business, Planning
When travelling to Spanish-speaking countries I contact friends four or five weeks in advance to ask when I can meet them. In 90 per cent of cases they answer that I should contact them the week before I arrive, as they aren’t used to planning so far in advance when it comes to meeting friends. But if I call some of my Anglo-American friends and ask them to meet me for a coffee next week, chances are that people will tell me that they’re fully booked. Do you think people meet more often in the UK or the USA where social interactions are planned way more in advance than in Spanish speaking countries? It seems not. Sometimes too much planning doesn’t leave space for things to happen.  There is a…
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I chose this job

Business, price
There’s a street performer in Edinburgh who knows his job. He asks people to come closer to create a more cohesive and intimate group. He creates tension so that everybody stays to watch. He knows how to make his show compelling to people who are just passing by. If you think about it, he has a really difficult job. His performance takes place in the middle of the street in winter, in Scotland. He’s competing against other street shows, indoor entertainment, cafes, people’s tiredness, the shops, and the cold. He has a couple of minutes to grab our attention. His success lies in creating group big enough to make other people curious and want to join.  Just a couple of minutes before his big finale, he stands before the crowd…
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What is your business saying about you?

Business, self-expression
That other day I went with my son and his friend to the woods to make a den. They were excited about the idea of building  something together. When we arrived, we headed off to a clearing where kids do their own projects. They were a couple of dens that were looking already great. Some of them were only the foundations of dens, so I thought maybe they could continue with any of these instead of starting from scratch with their own project. It happened that they were not enthusiastic about continuing someone else’s den. They wanted to make their own. You might think that there’s nothing logical in this inclination. If you can build something better based on someone else’s job, if you can save time by building on…
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Is your business a brand?

Branding, Business, story
You can sell coffees at the beach and be both a business and a brand. And you can own five cafes in town and be just a business and not a brand. Being a brand is intentional, and it’s not related to the size of the business in itself. When you are a brand, you don’t just want to sell your products or services: you want to tell a story and put across a message that can be recognised in everything that you do.  Businesses sell a product. Brands sell something bigger: a dream, a story that they believe in and their customers can relate to. Brands turn buyers into believers. A business is a brand looking for a story.
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Who do you want to become?

Business, customers, story
The story we tell our customers shapes us. In a way we hope that this story will become the way we see the world, and the world sees us. But the story we tell has many layers. The most superficial ones talk about how we want to be perceived and seen in order to grow our business and get more customers. This is the story that sometimes we feel we need to create to stand out in a crowded and noisy market. The other story is the real one, the one that drives our decisions, the reason we’re in business, why we do what we do and who we’re doing it for.  No matter what’s reflected in the mirror, most of the time we become the story we truly believe,…
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The meaning of growing

Business, growth
We are so strongly wired for growth. Since we were children we have been experiencing growth in both a painful and a delightful way; the pain of becoming a teenager, with all its insecurities and anxieties, and all the excitement; the pain and the joy of doing something new; the pain and the work of learning a new skill. As human beings, most of the time we’re thinking in terms of growth. Everything that we do, and the choices we make, including businesses, relationships, jobs and where we live are, one way or another, tied to this idea. When we think about growing our business, sometimes we design it as a combination of the power of reaching out for more and the pain of doing that. Many times we frame…
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Finding your unique voice

Finding your unique voice

Business, customers, story
  You have a great business idea. You don’t know whether you like it or not, but it’s good, the market is growing, there are great opportunities in this sector. You’re already planning how to go ahead with it, but how do you see yourself executing this idea? What emotion does it bring? Is this something that you truly like doing? When bringing your business or project alive, you need conviction and passion; you need to like your product, your customers; you need to build something that matters to you first.  We don’t find our unique voice for our customers, we find it because it matters to us first. What is the need that you have, and what is it that you think the world would like to see happening…
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I don’t want to sound like a salesman

I don’t want to sound like a salesman

Business, sales
Nobody wants to sound like a salesman, but we are, you and I. We sell products, services, we sell our craft.  Having a story helps, having a script and some steps might feel like a safe place when we need to pitch. I did this and it costs this. I did this for you and it costs this. I did this for you, so that you can achieve X and it costs this. I did this for you, so that you can achieve X and be this person, and it costs this. We need a narrative between our product or service and how much it costs.  Not just for the customers, but for ourselves.  We can’t sell something that we don’t believe in.  What is it that you are helping…
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How far would you go?

How far would you go?

Business, customers
  Adrien Brody went on an extreme diet to prepare himself to play Szpilman the pianist and classical composer in the film The Pianist.  ‘There is an emptiness that comes with really starving that I hadn't experienced,’ Brody said. ‘I couldn't have acted that without knowing it. I've experienced loss, I've experienced sadness in my life, but I didn't know the desperation that comes with hunger.’   ‘I was very disturbed by what I embraced [in making that film], and the awareness that it opened up in me.’ We don’t need to get that close to our customers’ pain to tell a story that matters, but what is certain is that empathy changes us. How does it feel to be the person buying your product or service? What do they…
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Please rate your experience of the service provided by Jamie

Please rate your experience of the service provided by Jamie

Business, customer service, feedback
When a teacher asks a class of 150 first-year students a question, it’s unlikely that she’s going to get an answer. You need a lot of courage to raise your hand. There are many reasons why people don’t dare to ask. These are some: They feel terrified about asking a question in public. They’ve had a bad experience before. They can’t think of anything interesting to say. They want to grab lunch. They’re not interested. When we ask our customers for feedback, similar processes are happening.  Asking for feedback requires courage, and providing it should be a generous and honest exercise of caring.    Messages like  ‘Please rate your experience of the service provided by Jamie’ are not about feedback and customer service, they’re about ratings, giving points and rewarding…
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