#CustomerLove Interview : LaVonne Ellis

Image by LaserGuided

I love the #CustomerLove challenge and so I did a short interview with LaVonne Ellis about it. Listen to our short conversation about how the challenge started, how you can get involved and even some good suggestions on learning and making money.

Downloadable MP3

You can learn more about LaVonne at her site MakeCustomersLoveYou.com and CompleteFlake.com.

The original post by Naomi Dunford that LaVonne mentions is here.

I’m doing my own Customer Love giveaway — free, no strings consulting — read about it here.

Customer Love

Do you run your own business or creative enterprise? My friend and client LaVonne Ellis is doing something cool — she’s laid down the Customer Love challenge and a site called MakeCustomerLoveYou.com, with details and a free e-book when you sign up. (The e-book is really pretty, too!)

There’s a #CustomerLove hashtag over on Twitter and daily challenges to help you creative a great, value based relationship with your customers. Go read all about it and take part.

And IF you take part, let me show YOU some love — a 1/2 hour of free consulting about your business. My normal rate for consulting is $125 for a half hour, so this is a real doozy of a giveaway. We can talk about any business or creative challenges you have, brainstorm or discuss marketing, tech issues, copywriting, networking — whatever you want!

There’s nothing to buy, no contest to win. If you want the consulting session, you’ve got it. Just ask.
And if you’ve never worked with a consultant before, no problem — it’s fun and I make it easy!

Here’s what one of my clients says…

I had no idea what to expect during my first coaching session with Lee. What I didn’t expect was that he’d be able to immediately cut through the all the irrelevant issues that were distracting me. Before we’d even spoken, he already knew what was most important to me and he focused on that. Because of that first session, I am now working daily toward reaching the goal that is closest to my heart. It’s a great feeling to finally be moving forward towards the life I’ve dreamed of … one day at a time.
Jamie Lee Wallace, writer and marketing coach

No strings, nothing to buy — just be part of the #CustomerLove challenge and then email me at Lee@Stranahan.com, say FREE CONSULTING in the subject and we’ll set it up.

Controversy & Perfection

Flickr image by annais

I get in controversies sometimes because I don’t shy away from getting into controversies. Here’s a new one — it’s a blog post that doesn’t name me but it’s about me and I show up about 100 comments into the discussion. Even if you like following my controversies, this one is pretty confusing if you don’t know the context.

I’ve been fretting about it for a couple of days but now I’ve decided that it’s just the price I pay for pushing the envelope sometimes. If I let it slow me down, I’m doing anybody any good..

I’ve gotten so many nice emails & twets about this brouhaha and they far outweigh the negative ones. I got one surprising, thoughtful negative one and I appreciated that, too. (It was from someone kinda well known who I respect a lot and I didn’t think I was on their radar, really — hence the surprise.)

“Some people will like me and some won’t. So I might as well be myself, and then at least I’ll know that the people who like me, like me.” — Hugh Prather

Here’s what I’m stuck with: I’m me.

I’ve got plenty of faults. I’m not afraid to take risks and I screw up frequently. I don’t like being misquoted or misrepresented and when that happens, I say so. I’m not afraid of a fight. I don’t go down quietly. I can be off-putting. I can be divisive. Sometimes people find that my negatives outweigh my positives. I can go on like this for a while but that’s who I am and I’m coming to grips with the fact that it’s okay.

It’s perfect, even. That means accepting the reality that I’m perfect. You’re perfect, too, by the way. No, really — you are. It’s really hard to accept and humans are the only things on the earth that even give the idea of perfection any thought. Rocks and kangaroos and ferns never worry whether they are good enough, much less perfect. They just do what they  do. And once you accept that, you can accept that perfect doesn’t mean it can’t get better. Weird, I know.

If I’m going to worry about putting myself in the best possible light or just being comfortable in my own skin, I think the smart bet is on comfortable. I write this in the hope that this message finds someone who needs it. Maybe even me.

At Least You Know You’re Alive

Crossposted at Question The Rules | | Flickr photo by Behrooz Nobakht

I’ve been going through a rough few weeks but in tough times, you sometimes hear people say “Well, at least you know you’re alive!” and I know exactly what they mean.

Here’s what today was like foe for me; my wife woke me up at a little before 7am because we’re having a moving sale since we have to be out of our house in a week. We tried to move our couch upstairs to sell but we couldn’t do it and gave up, leaving it wedged sideways in our hall.   We did the yard sale, sold the two huge, heavy TV sets (yay!) and the couch (the new owners will figure out how to get it home) and a few smaller things. Now, I’m at Starbucks using their Wifi and I get on a 15 hour train ride to Los Angeles in a couple of hours to teach a visual effects class tomorrow then another 15 hours back to Albuquerque for the final pack up before we go to live in a hotel for an unspecified amount of time.

But at least I know I’m alive!

I’m not stuck in a rut. Every day is a new adventure. It’s a bit stressful but it’s also exciting and I’m making sure to keep it fun and interesting. There’s a lot of drudge work in packing but I’m keeping my eye on the new places we’ll be exploring in about 8 days.

Adventure is a choice. If you aren’t risking anything, you probably have very little to gain. I certainly understand the drive to dig in and hold onto the what you have but I also know that staying in a holding pattern eventually makes you run out of gas.

My Triple Whammy

Flickr photo by Matthieu Luna

I’ve hinted a bit at parts of what I’m about to write but I realized that I haven’t actually laid out the whole thing that’s going on in my life all in one place – so here goes.

September has been a rough month. Three major things have happened to me and my family, any one of which would be stressful all on its own. I’ll use the popular numerical checklist format to add a little emotional distance…

  1. About three weeks ago, we found out that we have to move. The house we’ve rented for nearly a year in New Mexico needs major construction that will be very disruptive and last months. I work at home, we have kids, and the owner of the house never made any offer about how to resolve that.
  2. The filmmaking seminar business has been really weak and the last two events I did have lost money. I’ve made sure the events have been great and the show must go on but it’s been a big financial hit.
  3. I talked a bit about the problems with my eyesight due to diabetes but it’s worse than I said, really. I need medical treatment at this point and I probably need to get back on some medication.

So – health problems, financial problems and we have to move. That’s been September so far.

But I’m an optimist and a realist. Things could be a lot worse. The kids are good, we’re not starving and Lauren is the love of my life. We’ve adjusting and the adjusting contines.

My experience is that things in my life seem to happen for a reason and it’s a growth process. Our time in New Mexico has been great and we learned something about suburban living; we like some parts of it and other parts we could do without.

I’m a fan of simple philosophy that people like Leo Babauta write about in his great blog Zen Habits. I’m a fan, not an example…but I’m trying. I’m trying to regroup and really hone in on what’s important.

In screenplays, the hero often doesn’t choose to embark on their journey but instead they are forced to by forces beyond their control. That’s a lesson that’s shown up a couple of times for me lately. It came up in the Donald Miller book A Million Miles In A Thousand Years and it came up a few days ago in a conversation with screenwriting expert Derek Rydall. If you believe the universe is rather barren and mathematical, you can call it a coincidence even though that doesn’t explain a damn thing. What I’ve noticed in my life is that sometimes the universe seems to toss out messages to me and I’ve learned to try and listen.

Whatever prevents you from doing your work has become your work. – Albert Camus

The journey I’m being forced into is one where I’m a writer. I loved to California over twenty-five years ago to write and I just haven’t.

I’ve done other stuff. I’ve done things that I loved doing including photography and visual effects and other things that blind people don’t do all that well.  So now while I’m at a fork in the road where I may actually go blind, I’m getting the message that maybe I should write. I can do that, so I’m going to do a lot of that.

I’ll probably do some other stuff because I do but I’m trying to reboot my life yet again and focus on writing and my health and actually walking the simplicity walk.  I want to stabilize my businesses, too and of course, my family is all wrapped up in everything I do.

I feel very lucky. I’ve had so many things happen in my life that went far beyond my wildest dreams and excited to see where this next phase of my life leads. Thank you for being part of it, just by being here.

What You Can Learn From Trader Joe

Lauren and I LOVE Trader Joe’s — a chain of small grocery stores that are in 25 states plus D.C. If you’ve shopped at TJ’s, chances are good you love themm too.

So I found this article from the Fortune really interesting. Some of it relates to my Essentials Project, too.

One example — Trader Joe is twice as profitable as Whole Foods Market per square foot and their secret isn’t more but less selection.

With the greater turnover on a smaller number of items, Trader Joe’s can buy large quantities and secure deep discounts. And it makes the whole business — from stocking shelves to checking out customers — much simpler.

Swapping selection for value turns out not to be much of a tradeoff. Customers may think they want variety, but in reality too many options can lead to shopping paralysis. “People are worried they’ll regret the choice they made,” says Barry Schwartz, a Swarthmore professor and author of TheParadox of Choice. “People don’t want to feel they made a mistake.” Studies have found that buyers enjoy purchases more if they know the pool of options isn’t quite so large. Trader Joe’s organic creamy unsalted peanut butter will be more satisfying if there are only nine other peanut butters a shopper might have purchased instead of 39. Having a wide selection may help get customers in the store, but it won’t increase the chances they’ll buy.