Do you Teach?

So many of us do. School was just the beginning.

We teach at home, we teach at work, we even teach at play.

We discover that often, the best way to learn is to teach what we’ve learned to someone else.

Yes, teaching is a skill the successful will master.

Teaching is a skill those who serve will master.

Imagine learning to teach within the framework of the values of Aloha.

I am so very pleased to offer you that opportunity today!

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designed for our Ho‘ohana Community by Jesse Petersen,

and take a look…

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Great Mantra: Make it Easy, Make it Hard

Quick review:

We’ve been talking about banishing mediocrity (because it is THE biggest sin committed in business) and about creating energy instead (because energy generates to Ho‘ohana power). Energy is the greatest resource managers (who both manage AND lead) have at their disposal.

No energy, no action. No action, no business life to speak of.

And in my view, business, whether the business of work, or the business sensibility of life, is a great playground to Ho‘ohana within.

Let’s dig into this a bit more. I’ll share one of my favorite mantras with you from an Alaka‘i leadership perspective today: Make it easy, and make it hard.

Bonzai Wannabe

Make it easy for your Customers

Here’s a quote for the day:

“I’m so tired of watching us lose our customers. Just because we work for the government doesn’t mean we shouldn’t run the operation like a business.”
— Joan Capinia

You’ll never guess where Joan works. Reinvention can happen where you least expect it. Came from this older article about the US Postal Service, but it’s still relevant today (and hope the mindset stuck with the USPS).

The reputation that government and much of the public sector is saddled with has to with something that is an even bigger sin than mediocrity, for it equates to chronic mediocrity which is now regulated and institutionalized: It’s Bureaucracy.

Rules. Antiquated, or just plain stupid rules.

Red tape. Loop holes. Both are negatives: Loop holes are normally thought of as idiotic, as cheating, or as the tacit approval of stupid rules. Both red tape and loop holes have to do with jumping through hoops versus acting like a dignified professional (or an honored customer.)

Inconvenience no one seems to care about, saying/thinking “Just put up and shut up and deal with it; that’s the way it is.” can be a sneaky part of bureaucracy too.

Perception, reality and your reputation

Yeah, I’m starting to squirm uncomfortably and get irritated thinking about this too. Every business needs to figure out how to make it easier for their customers, and how to make processes streamlined and just plain common sense (and in business it’s all a buying process when you think about it).

Though the private sector can be just as bad, the public sector is a very easy target with this; think about the last time you might have visited a City & County office of any kind on any island. Personally we all feel for those affected by the current furlough discussions; we empathize with them as human beings in similar tough spots. However we all have heard (or said) the whispers between friends along the theme of “Could be a real good thing” maybe now they’ll be forced to improve and strip away all the red tape. I’ve never been happy paying taxes to support such thick-as-thieves bureaucracy.”

Perception is reality, and reputation is about that combination of what your customer experiences, and what they think they experience, especially if they feel they have been greatly inconvenienced, taken for granted, or abused or wronged in some way.

Great Alaka‘i leadership creates visionary pictures of how the future will be easier for the customer, an easy which delivers great experiences (and for both internal and external customers.)

Make it hard for your Business Partners

By ‘business partners’ I mean your employees, staff, co-working peers and your vendor partners; anyone and everyone who is responsible for delighting the customers who create cash flow. Hard ups the game, and fires up the energy.

Hopefully there isn’t anything which is unreasonably hard for anyone, but if push comes to shove, the hard stuff should get taken care of by those associated with the business, not the customer.

Remember this? Fulfill the biggest need:

There are two things business owners are focused on right now, and they go together:

a) Boosting cash flow quickly

b) Making customers deliriously happy

Said another way, cash is King and a paying customer’s loyalty is Queen.

We talked about it before in terms of creating job worth (Job-hunting? Don’t apply and fill, create and pitch) as the advice given to job-seekers: Position yourself to fulfill the biggest need of the employer.

Same goes for this discussion: Those associated with the workings of a business ”“ any business, no exceptions —must position themselves to fulfill the biggest need of the customer.

And customers want you to dazzle them, and exceed their expectations. Today, they expect you to Lead the Slow Charge, and they are happier when they do not have to share your limited attentions with other customers!

What that means, is that of course it will always be harder for you! Hard is a good thing in this context, for it is not normal —and we had said that excellence is not normal. (Review the section called “2. Avoid the Middle and Work on the Edges” within our last talk story here: 3 Ways Managers Create Energetic Workplaces).

Bring ‘hard’ into your Language of Intention

What Alaka‘i leaders will do, is reinvent the internal vocabulary of what ‘hard’ for your business partners means. In this mantra, “Make it easy, make it hard,” hard is pure excellence.

However we use the word ‘hard’ instead of excellent because we want that association with energetic effort too: Hard means with vigor, with strength, and with force to be reckoned with. Hard resists cracking under pressure because it is sure, it is intently confident. It is virtually flawless and exceptional.

In work cultures managed and led with Aloha by Alaka‘i managers, hard is about constantly learning to improve so everyone can live better, work better, be better. Hard has good kaona: Small word, big meaning.

Get hard to be about an exciting challenge, one which requires —what? That’s right: Increased energies. Mediocrity-banishing energies.

Get hard to mean rock-solid goodness —no stupid rules, no red tape, no loop holes, no basic standards, just extraordinary ones (we talked about that last time too; it was the 3rd way that managers create energetic workplaces.)

On Thursday we’ll get into the management side of the “Make it easy, make it hard” leadership initiative. Hope to see you back for, What the heck do you mean by ‘Achievable?’

Let’s talk story.
Any thoughts to share?

Photo credit: Bonzai Wannabe by Rosa Say.

For those who prefer them, here are the Talking Story copies of the links embedded in this posting:


~ Originally published on Say “Alaka‘i”
June 2009 ~
Make it Easy, Make it Hard


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Competing Strengths in The Battle of the Learner and Over-Achiever

I have posted over at JJL today with an early wrap-up of the month of June.

You will recall our learning theme there has been connected to the mid-year goal check that many of us will do when July arrives:

Has our mid-year check given you more butterflies?

Has it given you more stress, or anxiety about your goals?

Or has it helped to know that you aren’t alone, and the best laid plans do go awry” we can simply make a new agreement with ourselves and move on, move better.


Or maybe you’ve been one who has read different conversations here, and
thought to yourself, “This is so cool, I think I’ve gotten a lot more
done than I first thought!” (And by the way, if you haven’t tried it
yet, that is precisely the magic of Rapid Fire Learning.)


If any of this sounds familiar, you’re probably up in arms, deep in the throes of the Battle of the Learner and Over-Achiever. At ease! (Please?) Pull up a chair, and let’s take a break.

The "chair" we pull up has to do with a sandbox…

Comfortable
From Joyful Jubilant Learning:
The Battle of the Learner and Over-Achiever

Oh come on, it’s Sunday. You can play too. Click on over.

Even if you aren’t reading this until Monday, or Tuesday, July isn’t until Wednesday, so get a jump on it! Two tips there to help you win your own battle, even if slightly different than the one I talk about. Always great to feel you’re ahead of the game, right?

Walking my Talk: A Letter to my Legislators

In the past, I have urged you to be brave, and get involved in your community, both online and offline. Then a couple of days ago I posted a tweet on Twitter, after I had read this in our local paper: Hawaii lawmakers send governor bills to tax Internet transactions

TwitterLeg

If you are a Hawai‘i resident, you can get this info here:

If you are in another state or country, Google/search for it: Pretty easy to find.

Briefly, there are two bills our Hawai‘i legislature has passed and I am hoping our governor will veto: From a summary by the Honolulu Advertiser Government Writer Derrick DePledge:

INTERNET TAXES

State lawmakers have sent two bills to Gov. Linda Lingle that could lead to greater tax collection on Internet sales.

Streamlined Sales Tax Project (SB1678 SD3 HD1 CD1) —
Allows Hawai'i to join 23 other states to simplify tax laws and
encourage retailers to collect and pay state sales and use taxes.
Requires federal legislation.

Internet general-excise tax (HB1405 HD2 SD2 CD1) —
Imposes the state's 4 percent general-excise tax on Mainland retailers
that establish an economic nexus in Hawai'i through local Web sites.

The article ends with:

"Several local Web entrepreneurs have also urged Lingle to veto the
bill, arguing it would handicap the growth of Hawai'i's online business
and media industry.

Local Web sites can become affiliates of
retailers like Amazon.com or sign up with brokers such as LinkShare,
which connect local bloggers and publishers with advertisers. Local Web
sites receive commissions when customers follow links to Mainland
retailers and buy products or fill out surveys and become future leads.

Dean
Takamine, president of Synertech Media, an online marketing firm in
Honolulu, said that if the bill becomes law, many Mainland retailers
will drop affiliate marketing in the Islands.

"Basically, what they'll do is they'll just kick off all Hawai'i advertising affiliates," he predicted."

Well, his prediction has come true.

Is this constitutional?

I have a personal interest in these bills as an independent businesswoman who leverages the internet within my own business (Ho‘ohana Publishing ring any bells?). I received a letter from Amazon.com this morning stating my account will be canceled with them on July 1st. They consider these laws an "unconstitutional tax collection scheme."

What that means to you, as part of my Ho‘ohana Community, is that you will no longer be able to buy Managing with Aloha from Amazon.com, AND I will no longer be able to offer you my other recommendations in the ease of the SLC Store and the JJL Store. It seems  unlikely that I will have the option of opting out of their affiliate program so I can keep the aStore convenience of supporting books sold by others in our community – and in other states (i.e. even if strictly as a non-commissioned storefront). Amazon.com writes that as of July 1st,

"…we will have to terminate the participation of all Hawaii residents in
the Amazon Associates program on or before that day [the Hawaii law takes effect]. After the
termination day, we will no longer pay any referral fees for customers
referred to Amazon.com or Endless.com nor will we accept new
applications for the Associates program from Hawaii residents."

Walking my Talk

Will I comply with the law? Yes, I am a law-abiding Hawai‘i citizen. However I am very disappointed. The constitutional question aside, I don’t think that either the Streamlined Sales Tax Project (Bill SB1678) or the Internet General-Excise Tax (Bill HB1405) make much sense, economic or otherwise.

This is one of those times however, that simply being “disappointed” doesn’t cut it.

There are other Hawai‘i websites which have composed form letters you can copy and send to the governor, but I doubt this will help for two reasons:

  1. Form letters largely are ignored (when did you last read or respond to one?). You need to write a personal one to better your chances, and even then you have to hope they will read it.
  2. We are a Democratic majority State with a Republican Governor, and should she veto these bills, it is highly likely both the House and Senate will move to override. (Tell me again how our government two-party system is not broken?)

When laws affect you, think about your own personal circle of influence. Who do you know, and how can you get heard?

This is the letter I sent via email to my House Representative, my district Senator, the Speaker of the House (and yes, in the spirit of full disclosure, Speaker Calvin Say is my brother-in-law: I am married to his younger brother), Senate majority leader Colleen Hanabusa and Governor Linda Lingle. I will be printing them and mailing paper copies as well, and thanks to the power of citizen publishing on the internet, I hereby publish it on Talking Story with links inserted in the hope that SEO-savvy Google Alerts work better than flooded inboxes.

I hope they don’t move to tax my blogs next….

12:45pm Update after a bit of Twitter talk-story:
To be clear, this is not about a loss of affiliate advertising revenue for me. You will notice that my websites are all advertising free, with the exception of the Amazon.com aStore as a convenience and in support of the other authors in our Ho‘ohana Community. I usually don’t make enough referral income to even cover my monthly internet access bill, and this is how my affiliate income, though modest, is used: The JJL Literacy Project.

My concern with losing the partnership of Amazon.com and other internet retailers, is about the loss of the storefronts, for we are already at a significant distribution disadvantage in Hawai‘i, and our options for promoting Made in Hawai‘i products are severely limited.

Think about this as a Hawai‘i consumer: How many times have you wanted to make a purchase over the internet for something not available here in the islands, only to get to your cart check-out and get the message that, “We are so sorry, we cannot ship to Hawai‘i.”

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