243 I May Not Be The Best Fork In The Drawer, But I’m Your Favorite Fork

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I’ve been helping small business owners with content marketing for over 5 years now. I’ve written “thousands, consequently millions” (thanks Deion Sanders) of words on behalf of clients. Video, podcasting, using Google Hangouts On Air, blogging, email marketing, social media marketing – it’s all that and more. I’ve yet to meet a small business owner that doesn’t want “everything” and “right now.” The conversations are pretty funny actually.

I need everything.”

Yes, they say that. Repeatedly. Regularly.

It’s like a buddy of mine who once asked me to send him everything I had on leadership. He texted me, “Send me everything you’ve got on leadership.” I replied, “Just everything. Could you be more vague?” Then he called me laughing and repeated his request, jokingly. But that’s how it is for almost all of us. When we want something, not quite knowing what we want, we make these declarations that we want everything!

These Short Courses Won’t Be Everything, But They’ll Be Something (Else)

The world is full of paradoxes. We have short attention spans the experts tell us. To be fair, non-experts tell us that, too. Yet some bloggers will tell you their most popular posts are ones where they dive deeply into a subject using thousands (consequently millions) of words and illustrations. Three minute inane videos on YouTube give way to 20 minute killer TED talks. Five minute podcasts may not fair nearly as well as the hour-long episode. Who’da thunk it?

There’s a place for long-form content. And there’s a place for the quick tip.

I enjoy all of it if it resonates with me enough to be interesting.

People want easy, not short. Some things are easy. Others things…not so much.

I think most of us operating in an advice-giving capacity hate it when people aren’t willing to put in the effort or work. They want to ride on our back of knowledge and experience…asking us to hand them everything in a neat little package that’s easily consumed. And executed.

They’re the same people who rushed to buy Cliff Notes the night before the reading assignment is due. Refusing to read the book, spending more time looking for short-cuts instead of doing the work. It’s not about fast-tracking. It’s about being lazy. At least for quite a few.

Others? They honestly don’t know where to being or what to ask. So they ask for everything. They don’t really mean that. It simply means they’re clueless. Some even say so. I’ve got a lot of tolerance for them than I do the person unwilling to do the work.

Are you an advice giver? Do you show people how to do something?

Then you’ve likely done what I’ve done and told people that they have two terrific online friends, Google and YouTube. Yes, even that takes some work. And time.

I’d love to tell you that I alone can be your end-all, be-all. I’d even be satisfied to tell you that there is somebody out there who could be your end-all, be-all. But I can’t. Because it depends on what you’re wanting to do. It depends on where you are. It depends on your present constraints and challenges. It also depends on your current level of knowledge and expertise.

Maybe one of the toughest challenges any of us have is finding somebody in the area of expertise we need most…somebody who is really good. But the world is full of self-proclaimed gurus and it can be tough to find the right one for us. This is especially true in crowded spaces filled with many so-called experts. Search engine optimization (SEO) is such a space. I confess I’ve invested too much money in a variety of SEO experts and mostly found little or no reward in it. For starters, I’m about as interested in Major League Baseball as I am SEO. That’s my problem, not the fault the experts. The other issue for me is it seems a bit like gaming the system and years ago I figured Google’s entire future hinged on making sure people couldn’t game the system. That sort of takes the motivation out of it, don’t you think? Now, I’m smart enough to know that SEO is worthwhile. I’m also smart enough to know there are a few people in the space who I actually do pay attention to. But mostly, I’m smart enough to know that I really don’t much care (which many will tell me is stupid).

But there are other spaces where there seems to be a clearer leader in the field. My friend who asked me for “everything you’ve got on leadership” is a big fan of John Maxwell. He’s in good company, including me. John Maxwell is a clear leader in the field of leadership (ironic, huh?). There are tons of others, but for many, John Maxwell is THE man.

The other day I was consulting with a solopreneur who was in the professional services space. Increasingly that’s a space I find myself serving more and more. These are people who have tremendous skills and “know-how.” They often struggle with incorporating the building blocks necessary to create consistently good workflows and processes that result in predictable success. Additionally, too many of them aren’t fond of marketing…understandable because they’ve got so much time and money invested in learning their craft. They mostly want to do what they do rather than sell what they do.

As I’m visiting with this solopreneur I find myself for the umpteenth time encouraging him to loosen up a bit and let himself relax, especially in his online persona. We talk about why that’s difficult for him and like so many other service professionals he says, “People want professional and qualified.” He rambles on about credentials and association memberships and other things that I’m sure have value. But he’s missing the point.

Personality. Attractiveness.

I take our conversation beyond the mere qualifications of people because in his space people make some strong (and mostly correct) assumptions about being qualified. So I ask, “So you’re telling me that people do business with you solely and only based on the fact that you’re the most qualified ____________ they can find?”

“No, but it’s important,” he says.

“Okay, how important?” I ask. If that’s not the sole or only reason why people select you, then what else factors into their decision?”

“I don’t know. Recommendations I guess.” He’s clearly shadow boxing with no idea who the opponent may be.

“And what’s the basis of the recommendation?” I ask.

“I did a good job for whoever recommended me,” he responds…thinking he’s finally got an answer correct. It’s not a test. But it sorta is.

“Do any of us recommend people who do poor work?”

“Of course not.”

“So good work, or competent work is a bare minimum for what we require as customers and clients, right?”

“Right.”

“Do you have some place change the oil in your car?” I ask.

“Of course,” he says.

“Have you ever recommended them to your friends?” I wonder.

“I don’t know. I don’t think so.”

“Why not?”

“Well, they’re right by my office and I just don’t think about it.”

“Bingo. You don’t think about it. You don’t think about them. You take their competence for granted. You assume they know what they’re doing because they’re in that business. What would they have to do for you to recommend them?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it.”

“What if you got to know the manager or the owner? What if the manager or the owner knew you by name? What if every now and again they asked you if you had time for a  free wash and vacuuming…on the house? Would any of those things make them stand out?”

“Of course. Any of those would make them stand out.”

“And if they did all 3 would that just blow you away?”

“Yes,” he said. “Honestly, I’d be blown away if they were just a bit more polite.”

“And yet you go still take your car there because they’re competent and close by your office. But you don’t think to recommend them.”

Knowing the manager or the owner hasn’t got anything to do with changing oil. Neither does washing or vacuuming a car. But if we stake on a few subtle, but personal things…suddenly they’re worth talking about.

I May Not Be The Best Fork In The Drawer, But I’m Your Favorite Fork

Some years ago when our son was still single and living at home, he was preparing to move out of town for an excursion we had hoped he wouldn’t take. It’s a long story with details that aren’t important except for the fact that my wife packed up some silverware to give him to take with him. It was an everyday set of eating ware that contained my favorite variety of forks. Yes, I’m a fork snob. The tines on these forks was just right for my liking. I had no idea she had given them to him. Until one day after he was gone I went looking for a fork.

I found one. Just one. “What happened to all the forks?” I asked. “I gave Ryan that set of silverware,” she said.

“So I’m left with this one fork that somehow got left behind?”

“I guess he forgot one.”

Well, I can’t tell you how pleased I was to have at least ONE. I still have it. It’s in the drawer with the other forks, but my wife knows me well enough to know that if that fork is clean…I want that one.

It’s a fork. How important is a fork’s style, you’re wondering? VERY IMPORTANT, to me.

We’re attracted to what we’re attracted to. I don’t know why necessarily. My first girlfriend in 1st grade was blonde. And in spite of their reputation to be ditzy, I’ve been a lifelong fan of smart blondes. My first girlfriend was the smartest girl in the class who happened to be blonde. Ditto for my wife (okay, she’s reddish blonde…but I kinda like redheads, too). 😉

The point is, I don’t know why my first girlfriend was blonde. I do know why she was smart. I’m no fool. But some guys like girls who aren’t so smart.

From music, to films, to TV shows, to food, to colors — we like what we like.

I hate sushi. I’m not a fan of fried chicken. Or beets. We hate what we hate.

Find something I love and I’ll find somebody who hates it. Find something I hate and I’ll find somebody who loves it. My view isn’t likely to change their opinion any more than they’re likely to change mine. As the sign in my office says, “It Is What It Is.” My daughter bought me that sign ’cause I say it so much.

You’re either attracted to my style and substance or you’re not. More substance isn’t likely to alter your view. That doesn’t mean I’m not learning stuff and getting better at what I do all the time. I am. I take my work to help people seriously. I just don’t take myself all that seriously. If you don’t like that, there’s the door. Wait a minute. There’s the button somewhere up at the top to close this page and forget me forever. I won’t be offended. Because you may feel toward me like I feel toward beets. There’s nothing possible to make me like them. Everything about them offends me. The color. The smell. The taste. The texture. The name.

The FREE Higher Human Performance Monthly Short Course

For years listeners, readers and casual observers have noticed something about me. I wasn’t selling anything. Well, I was…but not to them. My work historically has been face-to-face. Selling has been direct and physical. Not virtual.

I know. I know. Makes no sense for a guy who’s been producing online content since about 1999, but that’s the truth. And I’m about to change all that. Very soon if I can.

But first, I’m ready to step up my game in the freemium arena. Email newsletters. Ebooks. Reports. Videos. All those ethical bribes people use to get you onto their list…I’ve never worked at any of them. I’ve always felt like asking you to listen or read the content was pretty awesome enough. It seemed rude to ask you for more, even though I’ve had optin boxes at the site for some time. Honestly, until now I never cared if you opted in or not. As a result, most people didn’t. And that makes sense. Why should you care if I don’t?

Today, I do care. I care because I’m preparing some short email courses – and I’m talking 20 minutes max (audio) and a single email. No, they’re not designed to go in depth and teach you EVERYTHING. They’re mostly designed to make you use the greatest tool you’ve got, your brain. I want to help you think. More clearly. With greater hope. And belief.

I want to be your favorite fork. I know there are plenty of forks out there fully capable of being a fork just like me. Maybe even better than me technically. But not better than me at having you feel the way you feel when I’m the one serving you. I don’t feel the same about a meal that I have to eat with my least favorite fork. I enjoy the same food much more with my favorite fork in hand. That’s how I want to be for you.

If that’s the case – if I am your favorite fork – I want you to join the email list so I can send you the monthly short courses. For now, that’s all I want in return for this dazzling content I’ve been giving you free of charge! If you sign up you’ll get some other cool stuff that I’ve been giving folks for awhile. Once the honeymoon is over and you’ve been sent the free video and audio that I’m still sorta proud of, then each month I’m going to do my best to send you something pertaining to HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE that I hope will help you. I’ll be leaning on your feedback to improve these as we move forward. And I’ll expect you to tell me if what I give you sucks. My mandate is going to always be to suck less! 😀

Be well. Thank you for listening!

Randy

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