There’s a Better Lesson to Learn about Shopdropping

Caught this New York Times article by Ian Urbina via Rob May of Business Pundit:

Anarchists in the Aisles? Stores Provide a Stage

This is the season of frenetic shopping, but for a devious few people it’s also the season of spirited shopdropping.

Otherwise known as reverse shoplifting, shopdropping involves surreptitiously putting things in stores, rather than illegally taking them out, and the motivations vary.

Anti-consumerist artists slip replica products packaged with political messages onto shelves while religious proselytizers insert pamphlets between the pages of gay-and-lesbian readings at book stores.

Self-published authors sneak their works into the “new releases” section, while personal trainers put their business cards into weight-loss books, and aspiring professional photographers make homemade cards — their Web site address included, of course — and covertly plant them into stationery-store racks.

“Everyone else is pushing their product, so why shouldn’t we?” said Jeff Eyrich, a producer for several independent bands, who puts stacks of his bands’ CDs — marked “free” — on music racks at Starbucks whenever the cashiers look away.

I had heard of this practice a while ago, but had no idea a word was coined for it, or that it had blown up into such widespread international practice.

As an author always looking for better distribution, and as an ex-retailer who knows how hard it is to keep inventories straight and visual merchandising accurate and pleasing, I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand it is deviously clever, but it also smacks of "all gain without the pain" cheating, and in my aloha dictionary ‘deviously’ and ‘cheating’ are not admirable words; they line up with vandalism.

Okay, thinking further, no mixed feelings.

Shopdropping is like stealthily moving into someone’s house while you know they are away on vacation, and using the stuff they had worked for and earned and then leaving your mess behind for them to clean up after you. Even this artist-turned-con-artist admits to the deception, and I wince at how he has enrolled others into feeling it is nothing more than a game: Video Clip.

I want to highlight Rob here, for his thoughts on the lesson learned:

Rob writes,

Sounds like a business opportunity to me. Stores should set aside a few shelves that they can auction off weekly to the highest bidder. It would give them a way to test market new products that they may want to carry, without the accompanying risk of carrying the inventory.

Let’s promote learning a better way to share your messages, with more honesty and integrity instead.

Reality Check: Is your track record actually bad enough to create a new business?

According to the CBS Evening News, that’s what the airlines have done for at least half a dozen companies which now exist to offer door-to-door luggage service:

Baggage Quest founder Dave Williams says two years ago when he started the business, he shipped 2,000 bags. This year, he’ll ship 25,000.

“In my opinion, the airlines are understaffed and overwhelmed with the work right now,” Williams said.

I can relate. I do a lot of traveling, and like many other road warriors I know, I have an iron-clad rule for myself: If something doesn’t fit in my carry-ons, it doesn’t come with me. Female vanity has gone out the window — I will wear it twice, or figure out how to get everything to match just one pair of shoes!

Checking luggage is a) time consuming and b) way too risky.

If I shop on a trip and add to my load, I will often ship my excess back home instead of checking my bag: I trust UPS, Fedex and those fantastic Flat Rate boxes offered by the good old Post Office way more than the airlines — when I’m supposedly on the same plane!

On my last trip to speak on Kauai I had to take the risk because of some last-minute travel adjustments (long story) and guess what? Yep, bag got lost. I eventually got it back three days later (with everything still in it!) but the airline admitted they were completely mystified as to where it has gone to and traveled back from, it just showed up again (amazing what employees will honestly admit to you when you are nice to them).

Seems like a good thing to talk story about in your own business: Are there any ways that your customers have to compensate for the way you operate?

Ma‘alahi = December Bliss!

Aloha. Say Leadership Coaching is now on annual hiatus and our see-the-whole-family travel is done: We’ve arrived back on the Big Island of Hawai‘i to have a simple Christmas together at home.
This is bliss.

We’ve decided to have a simple Christmas this year in the spirit of ma‘alahi, contentment within simplicity and ease, or to use an English expression, happily living a holiday where “less is more.” My children are now young adults, still in college and without children of their own (I can wait!) and so for our Christmas we’ve cut way back on the gift-giving this year, trading wrapped boxes of more ‘stuff’ for Faith, Family and Friendship experiences instead ”“ quite wonderful! Turns out that the paring back to just what we feel are the essentials of the holiday was gratefully welcomed by everyone.

And there’s a 4th “F” within our list of essentials:) —In our house, Food is always a big part of the equation too, a family bonding experience uniquely its own!

My wish is that you completely enjoy your Christmases dear readers;

Have Faith —Believe in the spirit of giving, for it lives in your aloha.

Love your Family —None of us were meant to live alone, and family is who you love, something not necessarily determined by birth alone.

Call your Friends —Wish them the blessings of the season, and let them know how much they mean to you.

And eat well! —Be nourished by those comfort Foods of your own holiday traditions.

I shall return for more talking story after the New Year arrives. Thank you so much for reading, and for being such a special gift to me as our Ho‘ohana Community.
Much aloha, ~Rosa

Stress-busting for December: Project Sweet Closure

Are you feeling stressed at work right now?

Think it has something to do with the holidays? Suspect it may be something else?

This is a cross-posting of an article I have written for Managing with Aloha Coaching that offers a way to get yourself some stress relief. It asks that you give yourself the gift of a 45-minute exercise, one that can make a big difference with the pressure you might be feeling. Check it out.

Give yourself an early Christmas gift:
Project: Sweet Closure 2007

It’s interesting to me how many of my workplace conversations in the past week are falling into two different outlooks;

  • One, that we are now less than 10 days from Christmas (and how exactly did that happen?!?) and
  • Second, let’s get this year over with; I want and need that fresh start in 2008.

Both are connected in a way; they deal with that stress we all feel at varying degrees during December in our workplaces, whether we blame them on the holidays or on that unavoidable (and predictable) march of time, a march that happens with or without us.

So what can we do? Get smart, and get with it.

How do we get with it? One way is to be more cognizant of our Starts and Stops.

I offer you the same coaching that I give all my clients during December: If you are feeling stressed right now, hold off on those New Year Resolutions —workplace translation: “Strategic Objectives for 2008”— until you get your sweet closure to 2007.

If you don’t finish those things needing good finishes first, they do haunt you; seldom will they just go away. Even if you miraculously get excused from them by your boss, they remain. They may remain in your boss’s memory as work not done, they may still be affecting others on your work team, but worse, they can remain in your subconscious. New goal setting with people is a mainstay of my business and my past experience as a manager, and believe me, whether you may be aware of it or not, not finishing those things can befuddle your judgment when you get that fresh start you are craving for January 1st. You end up with carry-over baggage, and not a fresh start at all, but a fresh set of new blinders.

Reality check: The year IS almost over. What can you possibly do now?

You may be unlikely to finish everything, but chances are you can get to closure with a few tasks and a project or two. The trick is to get them back on your radar and out of your subconscious so you can swiftly and decisively deal with them. Working on the right things can dramatically decrease the stress and any unsettled feelings you are experiencing.

Project: Sweet Closure 2007

Turn off the Christmas music and focus for the next 45 minutes to an hour on this exercise:

Make a list ”“ what haven’t you finished that you would love to finish before January comes calling? This is a stream of consciousness exercise in which you are pulling weights out of your mind, soul and spirit; count on your brain to do its magic for you, and do not go scrolling through your calendar, lists, inbox, or filing cabinets.

Look over that list and decide which you would LOVE to finish if you can. Chances are that whatever you have first written down are your prime candidates for the sweet closure you need. Another indication is any aha! moments that came to you connected with step 1 when you did your mind sweep.

Now focus on those 1, 2, or 3 most important things you decided on, by pulling out your calendar (hopefully up to date from your Weekly Review) and setting a few non-negotiable appointments with yourself. Non-negotiable means that they will be held sacred, and you will keep those appointments: No procrastination, no excuses or distractions will sway you. (Read between the lines here folks ”“ you know what is realistic; don’t sabotage your own efforts.)

Get them done.

5. Bonus Points: Don’t go it alone. Share this exercise with your team, and buddy up on some projects. Everyone is probably feeling the same stress you are. Adopt a mantra: Plan in plan, make “Project: Sweet Closure 2007” the subject of your daily huddles (D15M) through yearend: For the BEST 15 minutes in the workday, Huddle.

It has been fairly quiet here in Rosa’s Blog Land over these last few days because I am presently doing this with my own business and with my executive coaching customers. Because they have agreed to hold themselves accountable to their coaching, most of my clients are amazed at what they are getting done this week, a week many of us normally write off at work as being pretty useless. Fact of the matter is this: Nearly everyone in the world we work with is leaving us alone right now as they do their own scrambling, and we do have open windows in our calendars ”“ the trick is to be proactive and use them.

I have one determined exec in particular who got a remarkable start with this, and he is now on a second round with the exercise. In step 3 above, he picked tasks he felt the key members of his work team would most appreciate if he finished them, one task for each person. He fully realizes how much his work affects everyone else, and he figures that his sweet closure for their sake will be the best gift he can give them for Christmas.

Now that’s a great boss.

Another quick tip: Don’t go overboard! FINISH what is pending, do NOT get ambitious and create new sub-projects along the way. Capture your thoughts by just writing them down, and we’ll revisit your list in January.

Additional Reading (after you do the exercise!)


If you are just now joining us, Welcome! You can jump in instantly with very little catching up! Start your reading + doing right here: This exercise is representative of the tools I offer you on Managing with Aloha Coaching. You will find both RSS and email subscription options here).

If you do not yet have a copy of Managing with Aloha, you can BUY ONE HERE! We have just sent a few more cases to to stock them up for the holidays :)