By the time the phone rings, there's already trouble. When that manager is called or this department is reached, it's because someone is disappointed, angry or stuck. Illness, broken promises or a real urgency have led to this new conversation even taking place.
So don't start with, "[Name of company] mumble mumble" as if there's a blank slate just waiting to be written on. There's already a lot of writing on that slate. Don't demand to know the record number or begin with doubt and an edge of dismissal. Be on our team.
"It sounds like we've got a situation on our hands..." is a fine way to disarm the person you're about to talk with. He won't have to spend the first six sentences expressing his anger and urgency, because in less than ten words, you've done it for him. Or perhaps, "I'd like to help, if you'll bring me up to speed..."
It's not easy being on the receiving end of a days'-long parade of blame, but no one said it was easy. We asked you to do it because you're good and because it's important, not because it's fun.
ANTICIPATION: Before the product is released, the true fans are buzzing and speculating and waiting in line. The anticipation is self-reinforcing, a placebo effect of desire.
UTILITY: The album is good, the software is useful, the book changes things. It works better than we hoped. Exceeding expectations pays significant dividends.
REMARK: It's purple. Remarkable. Worth talking about. The word spreads. Ten people tell ten people and suddenly, it's abuzz. Not because of PR or hype, but because the remarkability is built right into the product or service itself. And more people enjoy things that are getting buzzed about.
TRIBE: The core group, the true fans, are even more connected than before. The organization has helped them organize, the product creates a culture, commitments are made, conversations persist, a culture is built. To use something that makes us feel as though we belong is magic indeed.
If this sounds like Apple, Bob Dylan, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the Dead, gun collectors or Shake Shack, it's not an accident. It's definitely not an accident.
Bernadette Jiwa's blog keeps getting better and better and you are probably already reading it. She has a new book on the way. You can guess what you should do.
There are authors and actors who only show up when they have something to sell, who hit the road to briefly entertain us, pitch us and then leave. If you love their work, then by all means, buy it! But the frequent blogger is here for another reason. He or she has something to share and is relentlessly showing up to teach and lead and connect.
If you want that to happen more, if you're getting something out of it, buy the book.
[I actually hesitated to write, "should," because it puts books into the same category as classical music and supporting NPR. No one says you "should" buy comic books or go to action films...
Buying books is actually scary for many people, so they make up excuses about not having enough time or money. The reason that books are frightening is that they might make us feel stupid, or we might get a lousy one or we might end up feeling like a failure for not finishing it. This is pretty common, actually.
I think buying books from consistent bloggers is a little different, though. First, you're probably not going to be disappointed with what you get. Second, it's almost always their best work, because it doesn't feel as ephemeral as a blog post to the writer or reader--it's a far more focused and direct shot to your neocortex. And third, most important, because it's a very concrete form of encouragement (not just for the writer! but for the reader too), one that will selfishly make it likely you get more blogging from the very people you'd like to hear from more often as well as reminding you, the reader, that you're worth the effort and investment.
Plus, when you're done reading, it's a generous act to share one.]
At a party the other day, I saw a dead TV monitor. On the screen it said something like, "No signal... check power, cable and source selection..."
It doesn't matter at all how hard the DVD player was trying to put on a show. It is irrelevant how good the show on cable was. If it's not getting through, no one sees it.
All of us own our own media companies now. We each have the ability to speak up, to tell our stories, and if we're good and if we're lucky, to be heard.
Too often, though, there's no signal. You may be pumping noise through your social media outlets, but noise isn't signal. It's merely a distraction. You're talking, but you're not saying anything, at least nothing that's being heard.
You get to choose your story. If the story you've chosen doesn't get through, it's up to you to fix that. Pick a story that reflects your work, sure, but also one that resonates with the receiver.
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