December 18, 2015


The 8020Info Water Cooler

Highlights from the latest information for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs

Leadership Stocking Stuffers:  

Best Zingers From Our Past 250 Issues

As you wrap up 2015, we’d like to pass along some tasty “stocking stuffers” to enjoy during some relaxed moment over the holiday season — quick-to-read tips compiled from 15 years of our 8020Info Water Cooler’s popular “Zingers” section. Some may provoke. Some will resonate. Some should remind or intrigue. The best, we hope, will be like memory darts that stick in mind as you start to design your plan of action for 2016.

Since this Water Cooler marks a major milestone for us —our 250th edition, and almost 500,000 words— we went back through past newsletters and more than 1,200 zingers to pick a few of our favourites for you. (A special thanks goes to our associate, Harvey Schachter, who writes the lion’s share of each edition of the Water Cooler and took on the task of selecting these nuggets for our anniversary issue!)

So enjoy these “zinger” stocking stuffers. Thanks again for reading, and have a safe and happy holiday season. We’ll see you again in the New Year.

Rob Wood, President & CEO

1. For The Marketers On Your Team

  • What doubles click-throughs? To double clicks on your web site or in tweets or email links, try the Jeopardy approach — pose a question that connects to the answer. Norwegian researchers found writing headlines in question format almost always increased clicks, sometimes by as much as five times. (Source: Neuromarketing Blog) Issue 224.
  • What comes before and after? Be alert to the three-minute rule, advises venture capitalist Anthony Tjan. Learn what your customer was doing three minutes before and three minutes after he or she used your product or service. He notes that Thomson, Reuters found that immediately after investment analysts received its data they painstaking imported the numbers into an Excel spreadsheet, leading the company to come up with a more seamless plug-in. (Source: Harvard Business Review blog) Issue 165.
  • Are you using social influence? The first signs in hotels urging people to re-use their towels in order to help the environment received only modest support. But, when social psychologist Robert Cialdini tested a sign that said “the majority of the guests who have stayed in this room recycled their linens”, up-take increased significantly. The reason is social proof: Using the many to influence the few. He suggests using it in marketing, and in office change efforts, by enlisting supporters to persuade the wary. (Source: Knowledge @ WPCarey) Issue 114.
  • Art-centuate the positive: A University of Georgia study found that using art with your marketing makes consumers evaluate products more positively. Art has connotations of excellence, luxury, and sophistication that seem to spill over into the product with which the art is associated, even if the association is tenuous — even a painting of a burning building on the face of a soap dispenser, for example, made it seem more luxurious. (Source: ScienceDaily) Issue 120.
  • Working to earn testimonials: One small firm shows prospects a book of testimonials. Then they say, “we hope when we’ve completed our job for you, you’ll be willing to write one also.” That seed increases the likelihood they are going to be looking for something good to say, and will enjoy the relationship. (Source: Seth’s blog) Issue 121.

2. Some Sales Stocking Stuffers

  • “Proposal” signals flexibility: Negotiations expert Michael Sloopka says it’s important to highlight the word “proposal” in all your negotiations. The word proposal implies flexibility. (Original Source: Negotiatingcoach.com) Issue 133
  • And by the 43rd day: In sales, the magic number is 42 days, according to consultant Colleen Francis. If you go 42 days without some form of contact, your client will lose 10% of his or her value. (Source: Engage Selling newsletter) Issue 126.
  • Let’s talk about you: If you’re out on a date —a date night with your spouse, or a blind date with a total stranger— how would you start the date if you really want to win that person over: by talking about yourself, or talking about your date? Extending that to business and when making a presentation, consultant Mark Murphy says always start by talking about the other person and their interests. (Source: LeadershipIQ.com) Issue 169.
  • Name tags can help: If you network often, buy a permanent name tag. Including your company’s logo in it will enhance your impression and give conversations a starting point. (Source: Productivity Café) Issue 134
  • Which way do you lean? When you lean forward in a sales call, you’re pitching. The customers note it, says sales consultant Jill Konrath, and start erecting barriers. So don’t lean forward. (Source: RainToday.com) Issue 155.
  • There’s a cost either way: Marketing consultant Jay Lipe recommends that your business proposals should include a section called “Cost Of Not Doing Business” that outlines the costs the prospect firm will incur by not doing business with you, such as sales lost to competitors, lower awareness, and lost momentum. (Original Source: Smart Marketing newsletter) Issue 129.
  • Emotional factors stick: Consultant Charles Green says what sticks with customers is not your rationally conceived “value proposition” —such as price and target market and needs you aim to satisfy— but emotional factors such as “reliability,” “caring about my business,” “saving me time,” “and making me smarter.” (Source: RainToday.com) Issue 146.

3. Treats For Leadership & Management

  • How do you weigh advice? Entrepreneur Ben Casnocha says studies show that we overvalue advice on difficult decisions and undervalue advice on easy ones. (Source: Ben.casnochia.com) Issue 165.
  • Sure, I’M an effective communicator! Research by the Tracom Group found that more than half of managers consider “effective communications” one of their greatest strengths, yet nearly 78% of staff and 85% of executives believe communication skills are a deficiency amongst managers. (Original Source: Executive Excellence) Issue 142.
  • How did that “dead wood” get in here? In a similar vein, Peter Drucker once asked a group of executives how many had “dead wood” in their companies. Almost everyone raised their hand. Then he asked if these people were dead wood when hired, or had become dead wood after working there. (Original Source: Executive Excellence) Issue  144.
  • Sharing the burden: When a member of your team comes to you with a problem, ask for his or her opinion on what to do before you offer your opinion or take the burden off his or her back and put it on yours. (Original Source: JimClemmer.com) Issue 135.
  • Skip to the same rhythm: When a new boss arrives, it can be like skipping rope, suggests executive Karin Hurt. Don’t think that you’re the one with the well-cadenced jump rope and that the boss should adapt. At the same time, bosses make a big mistake when they ignore the value of the existing pace and rhythms. Treat it like double Dutch jump rope, finding a new cadence that works both ways. (Source: Let’s Grow Leaders blog) Issue 243.
  • Don’t hide behind: Trainer Dan Rockwell advises: “Stop using others as excuses. You are [then] smaller than the people you hide behind.” (Source: Leadership Freak) Issue 228.
  • Make people your change focus: Consultant Kevin Eikenberry notes that organizations don’t change, people do. (Source: Kevin Eikenberry’s blog) Issue 191

4. Helpful Hints For Human Resources

  • Respond to your reactions: If it isn’t love at first sight when you are interviewing a candidate for a job —if you aren’t enthralled— continue looking, says HR consultant Tim Sackett. If the person scares you because they are so talented they could take your job, that’s great. You should want the incentive to work harder. (Source: The Tim Sackett Project)
  • Ask about acceptance criteria: The best question to ask in recruitment, according to recruitment expert John Sullivan, is: “What criteria will you use to determine if you will accept a job offer?” (Original Source: DrJohnsullivan.com) Issue 121.
  • Are you judging too early? After hiring a new assistant, don’t be too quick to judge him or her. Remember that one of the most common movie plots starts with a disastrous encounter between two totally incompatible individuals who 90 minutes later end up sharing a Nobel Prize, or collaborating on a hit musical, or finding conjugal bliss in Seattle. (Original Source: Management Today) Issue 104.
  • Three-way reference checking: Here are three helpful reference-checking questions from Gilt Groups CEO Kevin Ryan: Would you hire this person again, and if so, in what capacity? In what type of culture, environment, and role can you see this person excelling (and in what type of role likely to be unsuccessful)? And, would you describe the candidate as a leader, strategist, executor, collaborator, thinker, or something else? (Source: Eric Jacobson on Management And Leadership) Issue 235.
  • Closing the hire: Don’t assume the candidate you have chosen for a job will accept. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison tries to spend time presenting the offer personally, when possible at a dinner outing with the candidate and spouse, since that demonstrates the genuine importance he places on the candidate’s future. (Source: ChiefExecutive.net) Issue 215.

5. As You Plan Productivity Resolutions

  • Drop something on the way up: Trainer Elizabeth Grace Saunders says that, after gaining a promotion, you must define what you aren’t going to do anymore. (Source: Fast Company) Issue 242.
  • Still good email advice: Don’t feel guilty if you don’t reply to every e-mail. If it’s a waste of your time or a reply is not needed, move on, and delete. You already did the writer a favour by reading. (Original Source: Radical Hop blog) Issue 113.
  • Dismiss your first tired ideas: Want to generate innovative ideas? Sit down with a pad and paper —or an open computer file— and list the first 20 inspirations that arise, advises blogger Ali Hale. Then reject the first 10, since they’ll almost always be normal, familiar and bland. You have to get through those easy ideas in order to be really creative. (Original Source: Dumb Little Man) Issue 151.
  • Group direct-report emails: Create an e-mail folder for every one of your direct reports. Save all of your incoming and outgoing e-mail to them in those folders, to document your management relationship with them. (Original Source: RainmakerThinking.com) Issue 136.
  • What do you need right now? When you get stuck, ask yourself one question: “Do I need action or introspection right now?” (Source: The M.A.P Maker blog) Issue 150.
  • Stop and refresh on goals: Productivity expert Jason Womack suggests stopping halfway through the designated time for a meeting and reminding people of what you intended for the session. (Source: The Womack Report) Issue 186.
  • We act by how we sit: The geometrical shape of seating arrangements can affect how we act. If people are sitting in a circle they’re more apt to cooperate, while if they’re arranged into rows they’ll become more independent and cutthroat. (Source: Fast Company) Issue 226.
  • Summing Up: Entrepreneur Robyn Scott recommends that, after any meeting or other significant experience, you should take 30 seconds to write down the most important points. She stresses this is not note-taking — even if you took notes at the session, afterwards you should reflect on and write down your takeaways. (Source: Linked-In) Issue 237.

6.  News From Our Water Cooler: Our 2015 Shout Out

At 8020Info, it’s been another busy year jammed with fascinating projects, and we’d like to say thanks to those special people we collaborate with and serve — our clients.

Again this year we facilitated stakeholder consultations and research, strategy development and planning sessions, and designed communications approaches to help their organizations move forward.  Best wishes of the season from our team to:

  • Brockville General Hospital
  • City of Kingston (various projects)
  • Community Living North Grenville
  • Community Network of Specialized Services (Ontario)
  • Downtown Kingston BIA
  • DTZ Eastern Ontario
  • Extend-A-Family/Developmental Services Ontario
  • Events & Management Plus Inc
  • Friends of Kingston Frontenac Public Library
  • Guelph-Eramosa Township
  • Hospice Kingston
  • K3C Counselling Centres
  • Kingston Arts Council
  • Kingston Accommodation Partners
  • Kingston Canadian Film Festival
  • Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO)
  • KFL&A Public Health
  • Kingston Frontenac Public Library
  • Kingston Police
  • Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises
  • Limestone Advisory for Child Care Programs
  • McMaster University Advancement
  • Melos Choir & Period Instruments
  • Ministry of Community & Social Services (Developmental Services)
  • Ongwanada Kingston
  • Providence Care
  • Providence Manor
  • Queen’s Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science
  • Queen’s University Library & Archives
  • South Frontenac Township
  • Springer Group of Companies
  • Lawrence College
  • University Hospitals Kingston Foundation
  • United Way of KFL&A
  • Youth Employment Strategy (Kingston)

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8020Info helps teams think better together as they develop and effectively implement research/stakeholder consultations, strategic plans and marketing communications. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries at watercooler@8020info.com.


7.  Closing Thought:

“It is never too late to become what you might have been.”

George Eliot