Defining Moments

Do you remember the last time you made a decision that took your life onto a new path? How did you feel and what led you to that moment?

Tess Vigeland, former radio show host and author of Leap: Leaving a Job with No Plan B to Find the Career and Life You Really Want had such a moment prior to leaving her "dream job."

Tess explains how she had been unhappy for a while but her job was still something she had worked hard to get and a "dream job." Once she finally took control of her weight and became more self-confident, she then had the courage to resign, something she knew was the right thing to do but had feared.

I've had those moments too. I've voluntarily left jobs that were making me miserable, both with and without a Plan B and both were definitely defining moments. It was me making a stand for what I believed in and what I would not be part of. And yes, both Tess and I had many moments of concern, even knowing we had done the right thing.

To write her book, Tess interviewed many other people who chose to quit without a Plan B. I just read her interview with Margie Weinstein, a woman who left a high-profile job at the Whitney Museum.

Margie explains how she originally forced herself to look for work 10 to 5 daily. A friend made her realize that instead, she should put in some time in the morning and take the opportunity in the afternoon to read, visit museums, or just do the things she wouldn't have time to once back at work.

I needed to read that but unfortunately had not applied it the last time I looked for work. I remember complaining to family and friends that for someone out of work, I had so little time. Yes, I read, wrote, worked on my side hustles, and looked for work, but it was up to me to set my hours. "Working" all hours did not bring the next opportunity sooner, nor did it mean I was being more productive. It was just me overcompensating for not having a day job and not taking advantage of the free time I had.

So defining moments, like other important moments in our life, often tiptoe quietly past us and can easily be missed if we're not paying attention. Opportunity rarely announces itself. It is up to us to be open, aware, and to connect the dots for ourselves.

It is up to us to recognize the "defining" aspect of the moment and to readjust our paths accordingly.

So when was your last defining moment?

True Customer Focus

Have you ever worked for a company that did not claim to be customer focused? Probably not since everyone has a customer of some type or other and needs to keep them happy to stay in business.

Jeanne Bliss, in her book Chief Customer Officer 2.0, explains what this truly means. 

In her five competency model, not only is there someone whose job it is to ensure that customers have a great experience, but everyone in the company and every function is also responsible for ensuring this. 

As she explains, if leadership is not aligned and if they do not work cross-functionally, breaking down silos as they go along, this effort is doomed to fail. And systems and resources need to be devoted to CX (customer experience) so that everyone can see what's working and what's not, and so that problems can be fixed before customers are lost.

Jeanne also points out how important consistent and reliable customer experiences are. It's not enough to give them a memorable experience occasionally; if they cannot rely on this, they may not come back and they definitely won't tell others about it, either in person or via social media. She shares two amazing stats: 
  • 92% of people worldwide trust friend and family recommendations better than any advertising and 
  • you can improve revenue 300% by reducing negative word of mouth rather than promoting positive buzz.
One point of Jeanne's that I really liked was that to deserve this growth, your underlying focus needs to be to improve your customers' lives or business. If this is what is at the heart of your business/service and what drives all your decisions, you will grow and deserve to do so.

We've all had experiences with companies that think they're offering a value they're not, so be sure to get actual customer input. This is where having systems set up, both to gather multiple streams of customer feedback and to measure what's working and what's not, are vital.

Have you worked for a truly customer-focused company? What did they do differently?

Slack Helps with Transitions

Laura Vanderkam in her book I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time recommends building in what she calls "slack" into your schedule. 

Instead of running from meeting to meeting or filling your schedule up to its max, build in some downtime. As she reminds us, our bodies are human and cannot go on indefinitely. Either we take intentional breaks or we will end up taking unintentional breaks. 

She calls the unintentional breaks "getting lost in transition." These are the wasted moments when something takes you so much longer than anticipated or you end up wasting half an hour on Facebook. This is our body taking over and forcing us to slow down since we have not heeded the call of nature. 

Interesting concept that made me think. We all blame ourselves on zoning out, taking too long, and/or getting lost in the new wild world of social media. But what if it's our fault, but not in the way we think? Yes, we're doing it to ourselves—by not building slack into our schedules, not because we're undisciplined. 

When I had an office job, I would try and build in slack between meetings. Now that I'm working from home, I have not, nor do I take lunch breaks, and now recognize that some of my "inefficiency" is my body's forced downtime. Going forward, I'm going to be more mindful and take conscious breaks. Can't hurt and can definitely help.

How about you? Do you need to give yourself some slack?