Category

Motivate Others

No More Pity Parties

By | Be Genuine, Be Honest, Motivate Others, Take Risks

My daughter Ella’s response to her Instagram troll

Flip the Script on Negative Feedback

Even though I am often mistaken for Amy Poehler, and have been asked literally more than one thousand times, “Do you know who you look like?” I am pretty sure I could never actually BE a celebrity. The “online digital” age we live in is a breeding ground for meanness. Generally, cowardly meanness of those who hide their keyboard and throw insults (often anonymously) any and every chance they get.

We sometimes forget people on the other end of screen are humans. Yet cyber bullying of businesses, peers, and celebrities is rampant in our society. My ten year old is a working actor in LA and I am not sure I will be able to handle it if she ever actually “makes it big”. My daughter was recently the victim of an online troll who spent hours (it must have taken all night) to post negative comments on about a year’s worth of Instagram posts. Things like “You are so ugly how are you a model?” or “I don’t even know you, you are irrelevant as an actor”. My daughter was a total champion and handled it like a pro. She actually said “Mom, for someone who hates me that much, they sure spent a lot of time going through all my pictures and on my account.”

If you are a regular reader of Telltale Ten, or know me in a business capacity, it is no secret that culture and employee satisfaction is really what motivates me. I’ve said it before (and at the risk of pissing someone else of), will say it again, I don’t care that much about Market Research. What I do care about is creating an amazing work environment where people are fulfilled personally and professionally and love to come to work every day.

Recently, I visited Glassdoor to see how we were doing. We only have a handful of reviews on there and they are mostly positive. Like 80%+ are great. But it seemed like I could only see the negative ones.

“Stakeholders should hire someone who actually knows something.”

Or how about this one:

Pros

“There are no pros because this company is awful.”

Cons

“Everyone hates their jobs, but the COO and most upper managers are never there to see it.”

Advice to Management

“Bring in a CEO who knows what they are doing.”

Can you say OUCH?? Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Why the heck is Jacqueline writing a BLOG exposing bad things people say about her and SoapBox?” Good question (give yourself a round of applause – I was also referred to as condescending and disruptive. Up to you to judge that one). When I read these, my heart dropped. My feelings were hurt. I wanted to fix it. I totally get that there will always be a couple of disgruntled employees in the wake of a super-fast growing start up. And I am not everyone’s cup of tea. But I am human, so it bothered me personally, but also made me hyper aware that maybe not everyone is happy and we need to do better. After reading the negative feedback I was faced with the following options:

A. I could have stayed butt hurt and thrown a pity party, feeling sorry for myself and wondering why the work doesn’t love me

B. I could have just got self-righteous and pissed off and dismissed the negative reviews as “irrelevant” people

C. Or use the feedback (albeit unsolicited) as an opportunity to self-reflect and then take action to improve

I choose C.

I went from being sad, to wanting to take an honest look at what improvements I can make as a leader, and what improvements we can make as a company. I called a meeting and those involved were quick to dismiss it as pissed off people who were terminated for not doing their job. I get it. That is probably true. But maybe, there are a few things we can tweak to make things better too.

So we have set out on a mission built around a WRITTEN plan for improving culture led by our Marketing Team. We identified potential areas of dissatisfaction, ways to gauge an ongoing pulse of satisfaction, put pen to paper and came out with a plan that we will be rolling out starting this month. I am SUPER excited about it.

As you move through your days, I urge you to

  • Be kind – in person and online
  • Remember that people (including celebrities, bosses and politicians – ok maybe not the last one) are humans with feelings
  • When ill words are said, don’t dwell, be strong and also look for the lesson

 

27

By | Be Genuine, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others, Take Risks

“Hello ma’am, do you have access to the internet and would you like to take a survey?”

As a young, bootstrapped startup, SoapBoxSample is fortunate in that we can draw from the vast experience of our parent company ISA (Interviewing Service of America). ISA has been in the Market Research business for 35 years. It’s humbling to think of how many lives have grown and changed over the years. Children have been born and grown into adults and had children of their own in that time.

Some of the ISA people still question my unconventional leadership style, but I’m happy to say I’ve made genuine connections with a lot of them, including Gregg Stickeler, Senior VP of Client Services, who celebrates his 27-year anniversary with ISA today. He may not admit it, but I believe his initial feelings toward me were disdain. I also think he now has grown to like me, or at least tolerate me. When I asked Gregg to guest blog he took it seriously enough to do some extensive research, which is fitting considering all of his years of experience. Congrats Gregg!

27

For me, the number 27 is much more than just a random number. It holds quite a bit of significance in my life. Here are just a few fun facts about the number 27.

  • 27% of the Earth is land.
  • It takes 27 days for a human cell to re-grow.
  • The Moon orbits the Earth every 27 days and coincidentally, the Sun revolves on its axis in those same 27 days.
  • The total number of letters in both the Hebrew and Spanish alphabets is 27.
  • It is the atomic number of Cobalt.
  • There are 27 bones in the human hand.
  • It is my daughter’s lucky number.

And on June 27, 2017 I will be celebrating the 27th anniversary of becoming a member of the ISA team. Yes, 27 years ago a young Gregg Stickeler uprooted his life from the East Coast and started a new career and a new life in Van Nuys, California. And boy what this guy has seen.

When I started with ISA in 1990, we had just expanded from 48 telephone station seats to over 55. Well over half of these positons were equipped with a CRT (Cathode Ray Tube), in order to perform Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI – which on the East coast we pronounced Kay-Dee and on the West coast, Ka – Tee). The majority of the interviewing was done in English though we had a handful of bilingual Spanish interviewers and an on-call staff of Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese speaking interviewers. We ran a number of tracking studies as well as ad hoc studies. Usually up to five different projects would be running at any given time.

But we grew and so did I.

In the next few years we expanded to over 100 seats, all CATI, now crammed into three phone rooms (all at 16005 Sherman Way in Van Nuys, CA). I moved from Manager of Telephone Operations to Project Manager to Director of Client Services. Our Quality Control department was renamed Quality Assurance and Interviewers were now dubbed Data Collectors. And we added a Focus Group Facility named Creative Data.

And the years passed. I was promoted to Vice President and my future wife (which I did not realize at the time) joined the company. We expanded our phone capacity by nearly 60 seats, opening a facility in Alhambra (just outside Pasadena with a large Asian population – at this point we were doing over 25% of our studies in a language other than English). Lopy Williams, who had served as my right hand in the phone room, opened that facility and quickly proved we can expand, without problems, beyond the walls of our Van Nuys Headquarters (yes, we were a Headquarters!).

But according to the normal ebb and flow of life, you’re up one minute and down the next. Soon after ISA’s expansion my father passed away.

As the seams were bursting in our office (we had taken over additional office space and were at 150 seats in Van Nuys), we moved a few miles east to 15400 Sherman Way, 4th Floor, the location we still occupy to this day. Our entire headquarters phone room was now in one area, sporting almost 200 stations. Our next great challenge, Y2K. The year 2000 was quickly coming upon us and it was time to convert all the data we had (study and internal) to comply with the new century. Months were spent rewriting software, reevaluating data, and figuring out how to put all the pieces together. Thankfully, I was nowhere near this issue. The phone work continued to expand and I was heavily involved in staffing and scheduling and client interaction. In 1999, that was the easy part of the work.

And time marches on. We made it through the Y2K conversion fairly unscathed, our phone work continued to grow, and we were again looking to expand. We opened a 75-seat facility in Lancaster, CA. (I was kind of hoping for Pennsylvania as it would have given me a chance to get some shoo fly pie).

Creative Data, our focus group facility, became Qualitative Insights (and eventually Q-insights), I got married and we had a son, named after my Dad.

And suddenly there was a buzz about doing surveys online. Yep, actually hoping enough people were on the world wide web to get enough surveys done that way instead of using phones. And we toyed with the idea. Around this time I received the title of Senior Vice President. My daughter was born.

Our ability to do surveys online was added to our product mix, my Mom passed away, and then, on my 54th birthday (oddly 27 times two), we launched SoapBoxSample, our division specializing in online sample.

During the first few days of SoapBox’s existence, I remember thinking to myself, “Why is Amy Poehler in our office, and can she keep it down?” I thought it was cool that ISA was entering the age of internet research in 2013.

Three years later, we added icanmakeitbetter, an insight community platform. Once I learned to stop calling it “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter,” I really got excited about the platform when I figured out that it was another way I could share photos of myself wearing outlandish costumes with my co-workers.

It’s been an interesting 27 years. So many things have happened in my professional and personal lives which have remained intertwined since I walked into the lobby at my new company that Wednesday. (I can’t believe I was three minutes late, but I was only living in California for two days and was still getting used to the traffic). I have found new friends and lost a few of them along the way. You can read more about my personal and professional adventures on my blog, stickeler.blogspot.com.

How to Stay Human While Working From Home

By | Be Clear, Create Value, Motivate Others, Take Risks

Not all employees work from an office. Apparently, starting this week’s BLOG intro with the obvious just feels right for some reason.

Telecommuting, working from home, remote employee, flexible working environment, or whatever you call it, there is a lot of it. Some deem it to be the perk of all perks. Others deem it to be a dreadful prison within your home of social isolation and a perpetuation of not showering.

You can find endless articles about the pros and cons. My personal opinion is that it can be a super good fit from some, and not so much for others. It is NOT for everyone. This week’s Telltale Ten post is from Jennifer Holland, a successful salesperson who works for SoapBoxSample’s parent company, Interviewing Service of America, ISA. She works remotely from her home in New York. She offers some great tips for those who work from home, or those who are considering it.

“You. Are. So. Lucky.”

I hear it at least once a week.  And yes, I am.  I’m one of the over 3 million Americans working from home.  While I must admit, it’s a good gig if you can get it, it does come with its own set of drawbacks.

When I started working remotely over ten years ago, I looked to my friends who’d been working from home for advice.  How did they manage their time, what did their typical day look like, how did they not go insane with all of the alone time?  The answers were varied but there was always a common thread in their responses.

Have an Office with a Door

Working from home can go one of two ways.  If you’re not disciplined, this situation isn’t for you.  People who are easily distracted, need someone checking over their shoulder and don’t like their job in general aren’t a great fit for remote employment.  The other side of that coin is you work All. Of. The. Time.  You’re working from your home, a place where you spend the bulk of your time.  So in essence, you’re always at the office.  I often find myself at my desk at 11 pm, checking email, working on bids, etc.  I start by walking through the house, picking up the backpacks, turning off the lights, checking the kids in their beds.  I end up walking into my office and working for two hours.

You need to work on maintaining an actual life outside of your home office.  I needed to make sure I had an office in my home with a door.  Somewhere I can walk into in the morning, and walk out of at night.  And close the door.  It’s not foolproof, and I’ve been known to bust out a proposal from my laptop in bed, but it helps to have an actual space in your home dedicated to your work.

Leave Your House

I have this trick that I do every morning.  I wake up, take a shower, get dressed and leave my house.  I know that sounds like I’m negating one of the main benefits of working from home.  You don’t HAVE to leave!  But I NEED to leave.  I get coffee, and come back to my office. It’s as if I’m arriving to work every day and not just Groundhog Day’ing my life away.  I also work from a coffee shop a few times a week, for a couple of hours a day.  A change of scenery is key for me.  It keeps me focused and sane.

One of the main struggles of working from a home office is the lack of social interaction.  I basically accost my FedEx guy with conversation when he shows up.  All he wants me to do is sign for a package.  All I want to do is talk to a human in person.  It’s become weird.  To ease the strain I’ve created in the relationships with my delivery people, I keep CNN on in the background all day.  I know he’s not really there, but in my mind Wolf Blitzer is in the office next door.  It’s nice.

Get Dressed

No.  I do not work in my pajamas.  I may work in leggings and a hoodie, but I do get dressed.  Every Day.  I throw my hair in a bun and rarely wear make up on work days (keeping it real here), but I wear actual clothes.  I think waking up and walking into a home office is a slippery slope.  One day you’re working from home, the next thing you know you’re that person on your street that no one has ever seen leave the house.  Clothes make you feel human.  Even if your kid tells you that you dress like a gym teacher.

I had a friend who worked from home and would put on a suit when she had an important conference call.  It made her feel more prepared and professional.  I do not do that.  All I can say is thank God most of my meetings are not video calls.

All in all, not too bad.  Right?  And trust me, I am NOT complaining.  I mean, my morning commute is about 10 seconds.  I only have to wear heels when I’m visiting a client or prospect out of the office (after 14 years of working in an actual office wearing very high heels, my feet are grateful for this benefit).  I’m not dealing with the office drama that exists in every office in every company.  My break room is my kitchen or Starbucks, so no drama there.

But I do have one complaint.  The ‘cookies in the break room’ email.  For some reason cookies don’t magically appear in my kitchen when there are cookies, cannolis, bagels, etc. in the break room.  I’m looking at you, Francine.

I’m Late! I’m Late!

By | Be Clear, Be Genuine, Be Honest, Motivate Others

I’m Late, I’m Late, for a Very Important Date

Cute for Rabbits, Not for People

 

Punctuality is the characteristic of being able to complete a required task or fulfill an obligation before or at a previously designated time. “Punctual” is often used synonymously with “on time”.

Punctuality can be the difference between coming across as a disorganized, disrespectful, self-absorbed moron (can you tell my position on this) or someone who has their sh*t together.

What people think about you when you show up on time:

This person respects me, my time, themselves and their time; and I appreciate that. I will not have to waste my dagger eyes on them today.

This is person is reliable. They must have one of those fancy cellular telephones that tells them what time it is.

He/she is accountable for their actions, which makes me think they can handle responsibilities. Make them the CEO!

I can tell that this person is disciplined; they must exercise self-control over other aspects of their life. I bet they don’t do crazy things like lie about where they are and then post themselves at a different place on social media. #dumbass

He/she would set a good example for the other people on my team. (Or could replace that person who is always late.)

What people think about you when you show up late (like always late – not every once in a while “life happens” late. I mean serial lateness):

How rude! This person is wasting my time. They suck. They are self-absorbed and have no regard for others. I want to punch this person.

Now my schedule is thrown into total chaos. This is stressing me out, because I don’t know when I can eat. Do I have time to pee?  And I can never figure out why these people come running in all out of breath and frantic. I mean if they were rushing, wouldn’t they be on time?

I wonder what kind of reputation this person has. Probably not good. Just writing this BLOG is getting me all worked up. I need to get my Sharpie as I am crossing “friends” off my list as we speak.

This person can’t figure out how long it takes to get somewhere, and that is dumb.  I’m pretty sure there is an app for that. (That was sarcasm.) This person’s life is totally unmanageable.

Did they think no one would notice or care that they were late? This person must lack self-respect. They probably post absurd things on social media. #getalife

Don’t be late. Just don’t do it. Leave extra early and spend 20 minutes sitting in your car catching up on Telltale Ten posts. It’s a win-win.

Minus May Recap

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Motivate Others

Trying to accomplish a goal? Your failure or success could come down to one important factor — accountability.

At SoapBox, goal setting is not just a part of individual performance reviews, but also a part of SoapBox team building.  And when you can pitch to the group with a cool name like Minus May, it seems fun. Setting personal goals within a team environment helps to:

  • Create a supportive work environment
  • Build a culture that values self-improvement
  • Provide accountability
  • Encourage non-work related conversation and check-ins
  • Increase the likelihood of achieving the goal (although based on the results we failed at this miserably)

It also puts people on blast knowing they have to publicly admit if they break their pledge (on this very public forum followed by dozens of readers called Telltale Ten) – it can make the difference between saying f**k it, or following through.

At the beginning of last month, we challenged the staff to come up with one thing that they would like to eliminate in order to improve their lives. We proposed the opposite of a “to do“ list that people generally default to when they want to accomplish something.

Spoiler: no one had a perfect Minus May. Some came close, a few made some slight progress. One forgot what was happening and one doesn’t understand A,B,C grading systems. You can read everyone’s recap below.

Nicole, Sales and Marketing Administrative Assistant
Goal: To save money
Minus: Her daily trips to Starbucks

Grade: A- 

While I have eliminated Starbucks before, the difference this time was the temptation factor that would still linger when I would make a Starbucks run for someone else. You either love Starbucks or you hate it…at least for most people I know. I breathe Starbucks, have more cups than needed, and always seem to make friends with a barista in various locations. The challenge itself wasn’t hard, I saved about $3.95 a day. Sometimes I would have more than one Starbucks a day, so I saved between $150 and $200 bucks for the entire month. I had moments of withdrawal, one moment where I went and did a Starbucks run for a few others, ordered one for myself and drank it there before coming back to the office. That was about it. I did notice cutting all the sugar from my coffee has slimmed me down, so I can’t complain at all. Now that I am able to have it again, I will slowly start to indulge in it. I don’t see myself going overboard because I like the idea of having a flatter stomach. Supplementing Starbucks for other brands or energy drinks will never become a full-time habit, I am committed to Starbucks forever!!

Melissa, Recruitment Specialist
Goal: To have a more positive outlook
Minus: Complaining

Grade: B-

For Minus May my goal was to stop complaining. I realized recently that I have a habit of holding on to negative thoughts, which sometimes can cloud my outlook on life. While I did not have a perfect Minus May, overall I am proud of myself for the progress that I made. Several times I was able to catch myself before I started to complain, and I was able to refocus my thoughts to look at the bright side of a situation. Even though Minus May is now over, I plan to continue to stop negative thoughts in their tracks and turn them around before they take over my mood.

Kevin, Online Panel Support
Goal: To reduce his cholesterol
Minus: Eating fast food

Grade: B

I avoided fast food, but then bought more processed food from the store. I learned that restaurant vegetarian options can’t compete with their steaks. If I was going to try it again I would limit myself to fewer cheat days.

Cynthia, Manager of Community Experience
Goal: To live a longer, healthier life
Minus: Smoking cigarettes

Grade: F

I would give myself an F, since I did take a puff from a cigarette twice during the last week of the month. The challenge was to give it up, and I did not give it up completely. During the month of May, I had several stressful personal issues come up, as well as additional work stress which made me crave cigarettes. Typically, I smoke more when I am stressed. Before Minus May I was smoking about half a pack a day and to go from that to two puffs in the last 31 days is pretty good in my book. I think I did better than expected. I did snack more, but I was prepared for that. Overall, I am extremely happy with the results and will continue my Minus May pledge into June.

Note from Jax to Cynthia (let’s see if she reads the BLOG): I am proud of you and the standards you have set. I am also proud you took way less puffs of cancer. If you keep it up for June, I will match the money you saved. Extra incentive when those two puffs seem so tempting.

Adolfo, Senior Project Manager
Goal: To save money
Minus: Drinking alcohol

Grade: C

To be honest, I forgot and didn’t really try. I did, however, limit my alcohol consumption, which helped with the goal of saving money. If I were to try it again, I would actually try next time. But I would hope there would be some sort of support system/reminders. I truly forgot we were doing this for May.

Kalean, Bids and Feasibility Associate
Goal: To be more productive at work
Minus: Hitting the snooze button

Grade: F

LOL, I did so horribly. My plan was to ease myself into this challenge. Normally I hit snooze around four times in the morning and my plan was lower that amount by one each day until my body was conditioned to waking up after the first alarm. I was able to take a longer a shower and didn’t feel rushed the first day, but the next morning I went right back to my habits and snoozed until I absolutely HAD to get up. I kind of found a new way to circumvent not being so rushed in the morning though. Now that I have colored hair I need to take more care of it than I used to so I started to shower at night so I’d have more time to focus on it being maintained properly. As a result, my mornings became less hectic and I came to work five to ten minutes earlier than normal each day this week. In essence, my laziness and apathy towards waking in up the morning couldn’t be fixed, but my vanity is what really helped my production at work.

Michaela, Bids and Feasibility Associate
Goal: Saving time and money
Minus: Shopping and buying unnecessary things

Grade: B

I was really determined to stick with my Minus May resolution – and it worked! I was able to hold on to more of my paycheck by not spending money and appreciating the things I already own. I had a couple of “splurges” here and there due to my vacation at the end of May, but all in all I give myself a solid B. I’d like to make this a long-term habit for the future and I think Minus May was a good practice run to test my determination!

Adriana, Director of Marketing
Goal: To lose weight
Minus: Snacking at night

Grade: C

I went into the month of May with the best intentions, to stop snacking at night for SoapBox’s Minus May challenge. I thought it would be easy. I pictured a thinner, happier me going into June and a bed with no crumbs in it. Turns out it was harder than I thought. Old habits are hard to break, especially habits involving delicious, salty snacks. (That’s my weakness.) I broke down more than once. Ok, like six times. But on the plus side, I ended up snacking less than I would have if I hadn’t made my Minus May pledge. Next time I set a similar goal for myself I will do a little more prep work, by planning out what I’m going to eat for the whole day, so I’m not starving at ten p.m. Pursuing a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong journey, and even though I didn’t have a perfect month, I may be a step or two closer to meeting my long term goal.

Myself, Lunatic, COO, Mom Blogger
Goal: Sleep a minimum of eight hours per night
Minus: Cell phone after eleven p.m.

Grade: B

I did stay committed to sleeping eight hours a night for the most part. I think all but a few nights, I got that eight hours. Sometimes even more. But, it was not really a result of keeping my minus commitment. Most weekend nights for example, I was up way past eleven. But I also was super aware of the eight-hour goal, so I would make up for it by sleeping in.

If I were going to try this again with the “off the phone by eleven” as the driver for eight hours of sleep, I would not watch any binge-worthy Amazon, Netflix or Showtime shows that lead to “just one more” or “just the first 15 minutes of the next one”. There were a few weeknights where I just couldn’t resist that “next episode” button and couldn’t just sleep in to make up for it seeing as I have a job here at SoapBox. Or maybe I could just start watching earlier…I usually watch only one hour per day starting at ten. Perhaps I should eliminate family dinners and watch more binge-worthy shows instead. That could work…

Gamers Under the Microscope

By | Create Value, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

You’ve heard of student exchange programs, but what about a blogger exchange? Turns out the Market Research industry is full of interesting people with interesting things to say…

My friends at Research For Good not only write a bookmark-worthy blog, they also make a donation for every survey completed to end global hunger. So definitely check them out.

This piece by Ashley McAllister looks at the “Gamer” audience and how people who meet the technical definition of a “Gamer” (one who plays video games) are still reluctant to self-identify as a “Gamer.” As researchers, our job is to connect with (and understand) all types of audiences, and this is a great explanation of the cultural reasons why people are hesitant to claim themselves to be part of a group.

Gamers Under the Microscope

By Ashley McAllister

The definition of a gamer is something that has long been under the proverbial microscope. It’s a label that carries a bit of stigma so we asked a few colleagues what sort of persona comes to mind when they hear the word “Gamers”. Most of them said the same thing (nerd). The comments we received were not an anomaly, here are two articles which talk about the gamer stereotype.

Both of the articles above examine the way that the traditional idea of a gamer is one of the past. Case in point, in a recent study completed by Pew Research they found that around half of America play video games, but only 10% identify as a gamer. So why is there still such a big drop off of people who openly identify as gamers?

A study printed in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication suggests that today’s reluctance to identify as a gamer is down to game players feeling they still don’t meet the cultural and social predeterminations that have been sets. These include:

  • Playing certain types of games/owning a certain console
  • Spending certain amount of hours playing a week
  • Socialising about your gaming hobby

As Market Researchers we need to understand who our gamers are to be sure we don’t isolate all those who play games. For us, our definition of a gamer evolves as the industry grows – or as JCMC’s study puts it: “[the] gamer identity is for a significant part dependent on how being a gamer is socially constructed in a cultural context.”

So who is today’s gamer? We’re here to help you find out.

In our ALL NEW Gamers info sheet we’ve highlighted some statistics from our sample looking at who is really playing Console/PC/Handheld games.

This article was originally posted on the Research For Good blog.

Lessons From a Lunatic

By | Be Genuine, Be Honest, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

Why Your Office Should Be a Pet-Free Zone

It’s Toss it Back Tuesday — which just happens to fall on Teacher Appreciation Day. There’s a reason why we have Teacher Appreciation Day, and not Teacher’s Pet Appreciation Day. I wrote a blog last year about why teacher’s pets make me insane. As a business leader, I need honesty and authentic responses from my team. And like any good teacher, I know some lessons are worth recapping. Also, I needed an excuse to share my fifth grade report card with you. Ever wonder what type of student I was? It’s not always the “good” kids who succeed. Sometimes it’s the ones with bad handwriting who need to “work on self-control”.

Save Your Apple — No Teacher’s Pets Here

What I love: positive people. What I hate: insincere people. If you agree with everything I say, eventually I’m going to catch on that you’re telling me what I want to hear instead of what you really think. Your ideas and opinions have value, but not if you don’t share them. Saying yes to everything just makes you a robot. I prefer to work with humans. Until robots are better than humans – maybe then I will like them as much as humans.

I need people around me to push back. I need input. I am not always right. In fact, I love to be wrong as that means someone either 1) came up with a great idea or 2) saved me from a bad idea. If I knew all the answers, I wouldn’t be working at a Market Research Company (I can think of about 5 people who just read this and gasped – get over it. It is true).

Be a disruptor. If you are in first grade, this may not be the best advice. As a matter of fact, when I went to my daughter’s first grade open house, her teachers told me she was a lovely, smart girl. The teacher said she had no doubt Antonella would be President one day. As I was smiling with pride, the teacher quickly added “But she is not the President of my first grade class and we need to work on it.” I then smiled bigger.

Advice of the day: Say what you really think. Even if you think it may not be well received. I challenge you to do so. The people I admire most know how to disagree without being an annoying ass. I get so jazzed when someone pushes back, states their position and makes a compelling case for me to change – that is what makes a good day.
So as long as you are not in elementary school – go for it. Disrupt, disagree, drive change.

Minus May

By | Be Clear, Be Honest, Be Reasonable, Motivate Others

A Month of Not to Do’s

Less is More. I am not sure if I love or hate clichés. I guess it depends on the cliché. “Less is more” is a phrase from the Robert Browning poem “Andrea del Sarto, also called ‘The Faultless Painter'” published in 1855. Sort of ironic given the length of the poem itself.

There are lots of articles out there about how to minimize. Everything from clutter (check out The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up ) to your work week (4-Hour Workweek anyone?).

It’s no secret I like clever (some say corny) names, team-building activities, self-reflection and personal improvement. So, we have May, Minus May at SoapBox.  I challenged my staff to identify one thing in their lives they can commit to eliminating with the intent of improving their overall life. Together, we made a commitment to simplify our lives, with the hope that a small change can lead to big results, or at least send us in the right direction.

As an entrepreneur, I find one of the main traps startups run into, is setting goals that are unattainable or too general instead of chunking things down. The staff was asked to identify a goal, and then pick one thing to eliminate from their lives to help them get there. I love seeing these!

Nicole, Sales and Marketing Administrative Assistant
Goal: To save money
Minus: Her daily trips to Starbucks

Melissa, Recruitment Specialist
Goal: To have a more positive outlook
Minus: Complaining

Kevin, Online Panel Support
Goal: To reduce his cholesterol
Minus: Eating fast food

Cynthia, Manager of Community Experience
Goal: To live a longer, healthier life
Minus: Smoking cigarettes

Adolfo, Senior Project Manager
Goal: To save money
Minus: Drinking alcohol

Kalean, Bids and Feasibility Associate
Goal: To be more productive at work
Minus: Hitting the snooze button

Michaela, Bids and Feasibility Associate
Goal: Saving time and money
Minus: Shopping and buying necessary things

Adriana, Director of Marketing
Goal: To lose weight
Minus: Snacking at night

Myself, Lunatic, COO, Mom Blogger
Goal: Sleep a minimum of 8 hours per night
Minus: Cellphone after 11 PM

What are you willing to give up to gain?
Want to join in? Tweet me @jax_rosales #minusmay, and tell us what you will be giving up. Next month, we’ll share everyone’s experiences and results.

Lessons From a Ten Year Old

By | Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

Don’t Raise Your Kid to Be an A$$

About two months ago my ten-year-old daughter was waiting on pins and needles to find out if she made pre-team at gymnastics. She wanted it so badly and was totally obsessed. We had no clue how she would fit it in with her other activities, but she was certain this was THE most important thing…like ever.

Finally, the news came. It turned out to be the best news ever. Well, from my perspective, not hers. She didn’t make the team. She was going to miss practice the day the coach was giving out the news and had to ask in advance. She wanted us to ask for her. There was no way we were going to do that. She timidly approached her coach (who is a total hard ass) and squeaked out, “Did I make it?” Her coach said no, and then proceeded to tell her what she needed to work on.

When she got home that night, she disappeared upstairs. My husband and I decided to go up and talk to her. We started to feel badly we made her go to the coach on her own, and started to second guess whether we were too strict with her. We walked up the stairs expecting to find her crying or otherwise sadly engrossed in some YouTube video. When we got up the stairs, we found her in the gym – practicing her strength and the skills her coach told her she needed to work on.

It was at that moment, I knew that her failure was absolutely the best thing that could have happened.

She then asked us to start taking her to more classes. She started taking two tumbling classes a week, an intermediate girls class and going to open gym for two hours on the weekends. She was incessantly handstanding all over the place. She did all the strength and core work at home. She would leave for school at 8 am and some days not get home until 8:30 pm. At that moment of failure she had a choice; quit, settle to just take classes, or work her a** off at something she was not naturally good at.

The week after she didn’t make team, I was at a business dinner and shared how happy I was she didn’t make the team. Another mother at the table looked at me like I was the worst mother ever – I didn’t care. She was seemingly appalled by my celebratory reaction to Antonella’s failure. Kids need to learn that they don’t get everything they want. Life is full of disappointments. You have to work (hard) for things you want and even when you do, you may not get them. They also need to learn that without failure, you don’t succeed.

Fast forward to last Monday night. Ella was working late after tumbling class on her back handspring and some other skills. We were the last to leave the gym around 8:45 pm. Late night for a 5th grader. She got home from gymnastics the next day and I happened to meet her in the garage as she got home – ready with my usual mom prodding about school, her friends, practice etc. She smiled coyly and looked down at the ground. She then told me Coach Brooke asked her to stay after. That’s when the coach told her she made pre-team. She had no idea. I had no idea. Her hard work had paid off. Her coach took notice. Antonella had EARNED her spot. It wasn’t given to her. Her coach followed up the good news with, “I only want kids who work hard. If you stop working hard, you will be removed from pre- team. If you keep working hard, you may actually make it from pre-team to team. Your work is just starting.”

In life we fail, in order to succeed, to keep working harder. Many adults haven’t figured this out yet. I am so inspired by Antonella. She makes me proud. I may also succeed at one of my life goals which is to not raise an a$$hole.

Amy Poehler — Improv Comic or Sales Guru? Part 2

By | Be Genuine, Be Reasonable, Inspire Ideas, Motivate Others
If you read last week’s BLOG, you are probably just as disappointed as me to hear that Amy did not reach out to me and tell me how brilliant she thought the BLOG was. That probably would have made an awesome BLOG for this week, but since she didn’t, here is Part 2 as promised. Blame Amy.
 

The Not-So-Obvious Characteristics a Sales Person Should Have Part 2

Sales people need to have the answers.
 
Yes, and…when they don’t have the answers, it is ok to be the “one” who knows how to get the answers. Often sales people are too afraid to not answer a question or say I don’t know. This is super dangerous. Some of the most successful sales people achieve success because they know how to connect prospects with the right people to get the answers. Don’t try to be a know-it-all. Just try to be a know-where-to-get-the-info-all.
 
Sales people need to know how to answer questions.
 
Yes, and…they also need to be curious. Genuine curiosity can often uncover clients’ needs sales people may not even be aware of. Asking “why” or “how does that impact you” or “what have you tried before”. Asking probing or follow-up questions in lieu of just accepting a response at face value can be the differentiator between you and your competitor.
 
Sales people need to close the deal.
 
Yes, and…they also need to admit when they are not the right fit. Staying focused on closing the deal may lead to overselling, undelivering and ultimately winning a one-time customer. Instead, if you are not a fit, admit it, offer an alternative solution and remind the prospect what you are a good fit for and what types of problems you can help them solve. A prospect is more likely to come back next time around as opposed to buying an un-needed product or service a second time.
 
Sales people need to keep the client happy.
 
Yes, and…they need to be willing to push back when the client has unrealistic expectations. Scope creep, intentional or unintentional can kill a relationship. Be honest with your client about what they are asking. Don’t just agree to everything and assume you have to say yes. Sometimes, clients are asking for things they may not even need which gives you the opportunity to come up with a solution that works for the client and your own company.
 
Sales people need to know their numbers.
 
Yes, and…well they need to know their numbers. What is the goal, how many calls, to get how many proposals to close how many deals in how much time? What is the average deal size? How long is it taking you?
 
Sales people need to be confident.
 
Yes, and … they need to trust the knowledge they have already gained but they also need to be coachable. They need to be able to take advice from senior management, and have the flexibility to change their styles or adopt new selling techniques if their industry demands it.
 
Click here to read the rest of the not-so-obvious characteristics. If you have any of your own to share, tweet me @jax_rosales