Watch for the Energizer Bunny!

This was one of those news stories that I cheered for: Energizer to launch $68 million Bunny campaign
Click here for the full story: it’s a short one.

In part, it says: “We took a step back and challenged ourselves to think differently about the brand – without any preconceptions, without any assumptions,” said Jeff Ziminski, vice president of U.S. marketing, in a statement. “Energizer has always stood for longevity, endurance and the absolute refusal to quit. It began as a product performance benefit (longevity), but has grown into so much more.”

Step back and reenergize your own brand: can you tell me, in just one or two sentences what your brand stands for?
Better yet, turn it into a mantra for your employees to rally behind.

In contrast, this brand story was printed on the same day, in a different newspaper: Morris the cat coming back as 9Lives mascot

Seems weird to me that you launch an advertising campaign this way: “Del Monte said it decided to bring back Morris to mark a complete reformulation of the 9Lives products. The company said Morris would be the centerpiece of a “broad-based marketing campaign” but did not provide additional details.” Why not provide additional details if you’re marketing something to me ???

Click here for Morris’ story. He obviously will need more help.

“” reformulation of the 9Lives products” versus “Energizer has always stood for ”” Hmm.

I’m betting on the Bunny.

Makahiki

“Aloha Festivals kicks off today.” is one of the headlines of this morning’s paper. This part of the story caught my eye:

“The Aloha Festivals began in 1946. A group of Honolulu old-timers staged a grassroots celebration of the makahiki season, the ancient Hawaiian time of music, dance and feasting when war was not permitted.”

Wouldn’t that be great if the entire world celebrated makahiki: any war would simply cease, replaced by “music, dance and feasting.” Just imagine.

Yet another great thing we in Hawaii have to share with the world.

Customer Service is lost somewhere, please help me find it

Had to get my car serviced this morning, and on the way, I stopped at 1-2-3-4 different places where I encountered 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17 different “customer service people.” Here’s the result of my very informal, random survey: Customer service is aimlessly lost. I sure couldn’t find it, hard as I looked. I baited (gave my service people easy scenarios to excel at), I smiled a lot, and I tried to be very understanding of their dilemmas, with a voice in my head chanting “kill ‘em with kindness, they’ll respond, have faith.” No luck. The “service” I got was either MIA or mired in auto-pilot and mediocrity.

I’m not going to belabor the horror stories: let’s imua and go forward. All you managers out there, help! We’ve got to turn this around! Some quick thoughts to get you started:

1. First of all, hire people who enjoy being service providers. How’s that for a revelation? Yes, I know that we are now “enjoying” the lowest unemployment levels ever, and that means its slim pickings out there, but look at my numbers above again: 2 of my 4 stops were truly over-staffed. You’ve got to hire right, or you’re starting by talking four steps backwards and everything else will just be too hard.

2. If an employee doesn’t demonstrate that they actually like other people, for goodness sake, don’t subject them to your customers! By the way, that means don’t ask them to answer the phone either.

3. Realize that even normally great mea ho‘okipa (service providers filled with ho‘okipa, the hospitality of complete giving) need a break sometimes. Learn to read the signs when their cup doesn’t runneth over anymore and they need a refill.

4. This one is part of your training 101: teach your staff to always deal with people first, and computers/ paper/ other staff second, no matter how backlogged they are. That non-human stuff isn’t going anywhere, whereas that ignored, impatient, and disgruntled customer is a bad word-of-mouth black plague brewing. The longer they wait for attention, the more toxic that plague will be.

5. Even when they are focusing on the customer first, good employees can get flustered and overwhelmed when it’s busy and Murphy’s Law comes to visit. Don’t waste time training fancy new skills like cutting-edge software programs, until the basics are second nature: multi-tasking is an important job skill, keeping cool-headed in a pressure cooker is an important job skill, listening well is an important job skill: these are the ones that are critical to satisfying your customers.

That’s my quick “do” list in contrast to all the “don’ts” I saw this morning. Everyone reading this wears the shoes of the customer: what are the other qualifications and job skills you feel are vital for good service providers?

To end my story, after my car was done I went to Subway to pick up a sandwich for lunch, and my sandwich artist Arie was terrific. It was busy, and he was jamming. Yet he smiled at every customer, talked to them as if they were the most important person in his world, and infected his co-workers on the sandwich line with his enthusiasm and energy. There is hope, and there are great examples everywhere. Thanks Arie for giving me my smile back. The sandwich was great too.

Why Zach wears number 4

Get ready for the rare sports connections to creep back in some of my writing, because it’s football season again—my son’s, high school.

Over the years I’ve always found some kaona (hidden meaning) behind the numbers that appear on my son’s sport jerseys. He wore number 20 his freshman year in football, and since then it’s always been number 4. There’s no story with number 20, freshmen get the left-overs. However, every time he wears number 4 he’s keeping a promise to honor its dignity.

When football season is over all the jerseys get turned in to be cleaned and stored for the following year. However there will always be a few missing. The coach doesn’t ask why, he knows they belong to the seniors who have given their jersey to an underclassman on the team they feel will wear it well and contribute to its legacy. That underclassman will show up with it at football camp the following year and the number is assigned, the torch is passed. Zach got his from another running back, Alika Conley, and every time he puts it on he’s reminded of his promise to Alika, his commitment to his team, and his own determination to excel. This is Zach’s senior year. At the end of this season, he’ll have to decide who he passes it on to. All season long he’ll silently but intentionally help the coaches prepare and train his choice. They won’t talk about it, but they’ll all see it happening. It will become right.

Something like that happened to me at Hualalai. When my boss left, he passed the torch on to me in the shape of a pōhaku ku‘i ‘ai, a rock shaped as a poi pounder that had been found on the land, and that he had gotten from his predecessor. It sat silently on my credenza for the next three years I took his place and made the job my own. I kept it there where I could always see it and reflect on it, and where it would remind me to ho‘ohiki: keep my promise to have every one of my actions be true to Hualalai’s sense of place. When I left, I gave it to the one person I thought would continue the legacy we had worked so hard to perpetuate, and it felt good, it felt right. In those three years, I had worked with her differently than I had before. We’d always worked well together, but in those three years there was much more intention, much more purpose.

How do you work day by day, with intention, to create a legacy worthy of torch-bearing? What is your succession plan? Great leaders serve, and one of the ways we serve well is by torch-bearing.

Here’s another perspective on it that was recently shared in Seth Godin’s blog: take this link. Enjoy and ho‘ohiki: make some promises to yourself. You can be a torchbearer too.