Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pep Talk

My husband and I recently opened our home to an exchange student.  Since August, we have been touring Pierre around.  We've been to Fiesta Texas and the River Walk in San Antonio.  We went to an Aggie football game in College Station.  We explored Houston, and most recently, Washington, D.C.  We  bought Pierre occasional gifts and French cookbooks to welcome him to our family and encouraging him to share culture with us.  We drove him to early morning cross country practice, taught him to play catch, helped him sign up for drivers ed and get a driving permit.  Most recently, we created a huge collection of classic Christmas movies to share.

In recent months, we had behavior issues with Pierre.  After ongoing talks with him, the agency, and even his parents, we knew things would get better.

However, Thanksgiving night, Pierre picked a fight.  I told him to sleep on things.  We could talk the next day.  He continued arguing and told us he wanted to live with another family.  With a shaky voice and tears in my eyes, I called our local agency contact to have Pierre picked up.  I emailed agency headquarters and Pierre's parents, apologizing that things did not go better.

In the past week, we have heard nothing from anyone.  Pierre has deleted us as friends on Facebook.  His parents and the agency have been silent.  My husband and I can't help but feel angry, frustrated, and, more than anything else, used.

I keep trying to spin this experience so it's less personal.  I keep thinking about sunk costs in business, hoping that will make it easier to cope.  Like sunk costs, our experience is in the past.  We can't change our decision to host.  We can't get the money or time we spent back.

Then, I am reminded of volunteering with the homeless, giving out jackets and sandwiches.  I remember the shock of being asked for a different color jacket, or a sandwich with a different kind of lunch meat.  I remember how frustrating it is to give and not be appreciated.  However, I also remember that lack of appreciation by a few is no reason to quit. 

As sad and hurt as we are, it's time to stop looking back.  In life and in business, when challenges come up and things don't go as planned, we must pick up the pieces.  We must refocus our efforts and build ourselves up.  We must recognize we've tried our best, learn what we can, and move on.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Harder We Work, the Luckier We Get

My mom is a huge fan of Aggie athletics.  When I was growing up, one game was often on the radio while several others were being flipped to and from on TV.  One weekend, and I'm sure pretty this has only happened once or twice in history, A&M lost a game.  My mom was devastated.  She lamented the opposing team "always being so lucky!"  My dad didn't empathize for a second.  He said "the harder people work, the luckier they get," and left the room.

Despite agreeing with my mom and being sad about our Aggies, my dad's comment stuck with me.  I have found his words to be relevant and inspiring in sports, but also in business.  As such, I'm a firm believer in staying busy, learning more, and always pushing to accomplish or attend one more thing.

Keeping active increases your personal network.  It exposes you to new opportunities, friends, and business contacts.  It often also provides information you can use to help yourself or others.

In college, I joined my dad at a Kiwanis meeting.  I met the speaker, the marketing director for the local chapter of the American Red Cross, who later provided my first internship.

After college, I got involved with Texas A&M's Association of Former Students.  My new connections led me to a great job at HDR Engineering.

At a recent training session, I facilitated a discussion that encouraged attendees to talk, brainstorm, and make suggestions for each other.  Many people left with great contacts and new ideas that would have been missed out on had they stayed at home.

The stories go on and on, but the positive results are the same.

Make something similar be your experience.

Lady luck is waiting.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Enough is Enough

There are a lot of things I like about marketing.  I like that there are many paths and multiple solutions.  I like that there is opportunity for creativity.  I like that there aren't rules, but best practices and metrics that can help us make sure we're on the right track.

One thing I'm not a huge fan of is invasive advertising.

Don't get me wrong.  As a marketer and business owner, I know properly placed advertising can help communicate and attract prospects.  As a consumer, I like advertising when it helps me make decisions and learn who provides products and services I need.  But in recent years, ads are everywhere, willing and able to annoy and bombard us at every corner.  And there are some places ads just don't belong.  My Kindle is such a place.

A few years ago, my husband bought me my first Kindle.  I had sworn off electronic readers in favor of real books, but quickly saw the appeal of e-readers.  Recently, we started looking at upgrades, finding that new Kindles are cheaper, but include ads.

At one store, a vendor offered me a deep discount if I would only take the Kindle with ads.  I tried to buy it.  I really did.  But in the end, I had to decline.  Ads are everywhere, and I needed to take a stand.  I couldn't let them invade my quiet reading sanctuary time too.  My old Kindle would have to do.

Monday, my husband surprised me with a new Kindle.  The one without the ads.  The one he had to order special, just for this strange quirky marketer he married.  But thanks to his thoughtfulness, my reading haven remains!

Even marketers need an occasional advertising break.