Punishing Loyalty: Rewarding First-Time Customers

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Let’s face it: Nothing says “We value our longtime customers” like making a discount available only to first-time customers. .

Let’s call it the First-Time Flyer approach: instead of encouraging loyalty among customers by rewarding them for it, the First-Time Flyer approach seeks to reward new customers for abandoning one of their competitors.

The mindset which focuses on gaining new customers by imposing costs on long-established ones is widespread.

You call an internet service provider to arrange web access in your new home or apartment. It’s explained to you that as a first-time customer you are eligible for a special discounted rate, one not available to those chumps who have been customers for as long as there’s been an Internet.

The next time you visit your local grocery store, consider the “15 items or less” sign above the check-out. Set aside that it should read “15 items or fewer“: the mindset encapsulated in such signs is crystal clear: “We aim to reward those the most who are profiting us the least”.

Imagine shopping at a grocery store where such signs are replaced with ones which read “Customers Shopping With Us For Three Years Or More”. I’d wager that such a sign would encourage first-time customers to become longtime customers. (I’d also wager that the novelty of such a rewards program would prompt some customers to take pictures of such signs and share them on social media.

Then you’re really in business.

Return to daviDDeeble.com or watch my most-recent performance at the Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach.

Adding Value

VALUEYou go to a comedy club to see some comedians you’ve never heard of and who ends up doing a set but Jerry Seinfeld. Seinfeld benefits only little from the set – maybe he’s not getting paid and the short time he spends onstage helps only little to hone his set – but the value he ads to the show and your experience is incalculable.

In the same way, things have tremendous to your clients and others that cost you virtually nothing. A $5 bill left on the nightstand has a lot more value to the woman who cleans your hotel room than what it costs you.

How many ways can you add similar value to your product or service on behalf of your clients?

Return to daviDDeeble.com or watch me tell jokes about my wife.

In Praise Of Checklists

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Work out your principles during moments of calm so you can refer to them quickly during times of panic. .

I keep a checklist for everything I require for a full show, which covers everything from plastic grocery bags to a marshmallow. Because I know my checklist is comprehensive – created as it was during a period of reflection – it frees my mind to focus on more important things before the show like the specific needs of my client.

Consider the amateur actor who invests so much time “identifying with the character” and “investing emotionally” in the script only to walk onstage only to realize that he hasn’t memorized his lines.

Recently I got to thinking about Gene Krantz, the legendary vest-clad flight director of NASA’s Apollo space program. What a high-pressure job I thought. Imagine being the sole person responsible for green lighting a launch of human beings into space.

But then I got to thinking: Wait a minute: this guy has numerous others in charge of every conceivable aspect of the mission. Responsibility is broken down into incredible detail. Krantz’ job was basically ensuring that the vote is unanimous. He’s just a straw counter!

There’s the guy in charge of the rocket’s hydraulics. The mainframe computer. Even the lowly flight surgeon is on hand to monitor the astronauts’ heart rate. What does that leave for Krantz? Nothing other than the awesome responsibility of saying “You’re go for launch, Apollo”. Put me in a vest and I could do that job.

“Ah!” I hear you say. “But what about when something goes wrong like on Apollo 13?” Are you kidding me? That’s the easiest press conference in the world: you simply gesture to the guy in charge of that aspect of the mission that went to pot and say “Look – he said we were good to go. Now you’ll excuse me – I’m going to get quietly hammered.”

Return to daviddeeble.com or learn about my laugh-out-loud corporate presentation Winning With A Bad Hand.

The Folly Of The Prenuptial Approach

There’s a third way.

Benjamin Franklin famously said that “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail”. It’s worth considering, though, the extent to which people don’t succeed not because they fail to prepare but because they prepare to fail.

Among the unpleasantries of being very wealthy, for example, is the perceived necessity of preparing for marriage and divorce at the same time. It’s difficult to imagine focusing on two different things at once, let alone two diametrically-opposed objectives. I’m no financial advisor so I won’t dispute that a prenup may be a fantastic idea for protecting one’s wealth. It’s hard to argue, though, that it’s similarly effective for a fantastic marriage.

Too often we apply this prenuptial approach to achieving our objectives. Simply stated, much of success depends on where your focus is. A pilot tasked with making an emergency landing focuses not on avoiding bodies of water, power lines and other planes but on just one thing: where they aim to land.

Your hands tend to go where your eyes go and your eyes tend to go where your focus is. Keep that in mind the next time you find yourself starring at men and women working along the shoulder of the highway as you drive past.

Did you know that one of the easiest tricks to perform with a shotgun is to shoot out a candle under the darkness of night? The reason is simple: there’s nothing else to see. (This, incidentally, is why it’s so much harder to stay in your lane when driving past highway workers at night: the klieg lights they work under make it very difficult to keep your focus where it should be: on your lane).

The focus necessary to accomplish difficult things is fostered when the stakes are high: when catching a falling baby one generally doesn’t worry about “style points”. Instead, every physiological fiber in your body blocks out that which does not further the task of catching that damn kid. (Keep this in mind when telling a joke).

Basketball (and sport generally) provides numerous examples of how excellence is fostered when your back is to the wall. How many times have you seen someone get off a quick, game-winning 3-pointer while double-teamed? Conversely, it’s the wide-open player who has “time to think about it” who tends to throw up the cover-your-eyes-awful shot that clangs off the side of the backboard.

It’s difficult to imagine applying such a laser-like focus even on something as important as one’s career, and for that we should be grateful: such people are called workaholics. But from time to time it’s worthwhile to consider the extent to which one is assuming a defensive posture, such as taking on a mountain of debt in acquiring an expensive “back-up plan” in the form of a college degree.

When Frank Costanza’s blood pressure was in danger of going up he’d shout “Serenity now!”. When you possess the self-awareness to realize that you’re focused on avoiding failure rather than achieving your objective, step back and consider creating your own mantra to bring back your focus. Mine is “Eyes on the prize”.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Return to daviDDeeble.com or learn how a head injury which cost me the coordination in my right arm instigated my journey from conventional- to comedy juggler.

The Price Of Therapeutic Culture

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The only people who don’t experience a degree of stress on a more-or-less constant basis are babies: no meals to prepare, no bills to pay and they nap whenever they like. They don’t even have to read or wipe their butts: it’s all done for them. Babies are basically VIPs  on a junket in the Caribbean.

So it makes sense that we never tell them “You’ve been under a lot of stress,” or YBUALOS. But why do we feel compelled to tell our fellow adults that they’ve been under a lot of stress? Adults have deadlines to meet, cranky spouses to finesse, demanding bosses and crying babies to deal with. Of course they’ve been under a lot of stress lately. You might as well tell them they’ve been living on dry land a lot lately.

When someone tells you you’ve been under a lot of stress lately you can be sure of one thing: you’ve come up short either professionally or personally. YBUALOS is the English language’s go-to palliative, not meant to point out a redundant fact so much as to soothe a bruised ego or a guilty conscience.

You’ve been under a lot of stress lately is a product of soft America’s therapeutic culture. Imagine the embodiment of results-oriented hard America – a soldier – disobeying an order and then being informed by the officer who issued it “You’ve been under a lot of stress lately”.

Don’t get me wrong: when you fall short in life – as we all do from time to time –  I don’t advocate you don a hair shirt and crawl into a hole. But recognize YBUALOS for what it is: an attempt to rationalize failure rather than to recognize it.

Recognizing that you’ve failed is an essential step to achieving success. Absent that, you’ll have to wait until you’re stress-free to try again.

When might that be?

Return to daviDDeeble.com or learn how a head injury that cost me the coordination in my arm turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me professionally.

Looks Fast, Flies Fast: Motivate Yourself With The Halo Effect

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In the world of aeronautical engineering it’s sometimes said that “If it looks fast, it flies fast”. I know what you’re thinking: “That’s great, Dave. How can this information help me?”

Consider: when it comes to running shoes, my approach has always been to find the best-looking shoes that more-or-less fit. My much more practical running buddy seeks the best-fitting shoes with relative indifference toward how they look. So I wasn’t surprised when he showed up one day wearing clunky, gray things with burgundy trim which looked like something an orthopedic doctor would prescribe.

“I’m not crazy about the look” he shrugged, “but they fit”.

There’s much to be said for my friend’s approach. Running shoes that fit properly, needless to say, are more important than ones that say “I run marathons in under three hours”. But when it comes to motivating ourselves to get our the door each day and actually run, which one of us do you suspect was more likely to be spurred into doing so by merely glancing at our respective shoes in the corner of the room? To ask the question is to answer it.

Another example from the world of fitness: for the longest time I had trouble hydrating sufficiently. “What’s so hard about drinking enough water?” I’d ask myself. No matter how often I reminded myself to drink water throughout the day I’d invariably fail. Then I bought a beautiful, translucent green water bottle. When the sun hits it just right you feel like drinking from it just for the joy of it. Result? I’m one of the best-hydrated people you know.

My love of running is equalled by my aversion to strength training so I’ve started using various 7-minute workout apps to help me get motivated. Too many people are purists when it comes to motivation. Either I motivate myself or I don’t they think, there are no shortcuts.

But there are shortcuts. And very often they’re the only thing separating those who get work done and those who don’t.

Return to daviDDeeble.com or watch me perform the Flaming Marshmallow Balance on the Late Late Show with James Corden.

Avoid Failure By Targeting Success

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 11.40.11 AMAmong a sharpshooter’s bag of tricks, shooting out a candle’s flame under the darkness of night is one of the easiest. Why? The answer is simple: because there’s nothing else to see but the target.

Imagine the following experiment: two sharpshooters of identical ability – let’s call them Sallie and Sid – are given the task above. Standing directly to one side of the candle, however, and hidden in the darkness, stands an individual. Here is the variable: Sid is informed of the individual’s presence while Sallie is not.

Which shooter do you expect will have more success in accomplishing the objective? My money is on Sallie. Why? The reason is simple: Sid can’t help but balance the objective of shooting out the candle with his strong desire to not kill the individual. Sallie, meanwhile, is free to focus on the only thing she sees: the flame.

But if Sid focuses exclusively on the target, you say, then he doesn’t have to worry about killing the individual. And this, friends, is precisely my point. True, Sid probably can’t help himself. Simply knowing that an individual stands near the target is all that is required to keep him from focusing exclusively on the target. And Sid’s performance is further compromised because of the nature of the distraction: missing the target could mean catastrophe. All of these facts reinforce the why Sallie, facing the identical task, will be more likely to succeed.

When it comes to accomplishing goals, there always seems to be someone standing next to the flame. And if there isn’t, we’ll look for someone or something regardless. It’s our natural inclination is to divide our attention between that which we’re trying to avoid and that which we’re trying to accomplish. But if you want to maximize your chances of success, focus as much as possible on your objective and forget the consequences of failure.

Take a moment to ask yourself what’s standing next to your candle. If you’re like most people, it’s fear of failure that’s distracting you from taking square aim at your goal. If that’s the case, think of it this way: in firing away you may miss your target, but in doing so deliver a lethal bullet to that which is holding you back.

And what do you? Lock, load and take aim again, this time with more focus and less fear.

Return to daviDDeeble.com or watch me read how a head injury initiated my journey from conventional- to comedy juggler.

 

The Futility of Envy

green eye textLast night I lay in bed with the mellow satisfaction one enjoys at the end of a particularly good day. Then, shortly before calling it a night, I checked-in on Instagram and suddenly found myself feeling jealous toward of a couple of my colleagues.

Instantly my mood had changed from mellow satisfaction to painful dissatisfaction. It was then that I reminded myself of words I had read many years ago by George Will and which have stayed with me ever since: Envy is only one of the seven deadly sins which does not provide the sinner even temporary pleasure.

In the annals of products promising quick relief, few will serve you better than these words have for me over the years. Implicit in shame is the possibility of a new beginning through forgiveness and making amends. Lust has its tantalizing appeal and righteous anger can be exhilarating. Envy, on the other hand, is the emotional equivalent to drinking Drain-O: nothing good comes from it.

When feeling envy, I remind myself of George Will’s words and then of how life is like a movie: it is comprised of countless “frames”: in one frame we’re winning the lottery; in another we’re stubbing our toe. And while it’s tempting to compare our own movie to someone else’s, it’s absolute folly to compare an individual frame to someone else’s, particularly if that frame is an outlier.

Besides, everyone’s “movie” eventually comes to an end. And like movies, the wise admire those lives which tell the best story while fools admire the biggest box-office hits.

Return to daviDDeeble.com or see how a head injury started my journey from a conventional- to comedic juggler.

“The Courage To Start”: It’s Time We Stopped Celebrating The Mundane

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Watching someone en route to victory at a big-city marathon, you’re liable to hear a tv commentator say “He makes it look so easy”. In fact, it shouldn’t be surprising that the winner makes it look easy. What would be surprising is the guy finishing last making it look easy. Surprising would be a marathon won by someone struggling to maintain form while out-classing other runners exhibiting elegant form and efficient biomechanics.

America is a much softer place than a generation ago. In becoming softer, we’ve gone from lionizing marathon winners to lionizing marathon finishers to where we are today: lionizing those who have the “courage” to start.

Instead of celebrating remarkable athleticism, we reserve our highest praise for the ordinary athlete who shows remarkable effort: he with the tortured expression who stumbles across the finishing line hours after the winners’ press conference – preferably long after the course has been closed.

Don’t get me wrong: I, too, admire mediocre athletes (like me) who demonstrate good, old-fashioned grit. I’ve come to admire consistency even more than grit – particularly among ordinary athletes who have less at stake than their elite counterparts. During the decade or so I lived in Boulder, Colorado, though, I was impressed almost exclusively by the sight of elite runners, most often Kenyan, gliding along the Boulder’s trails with seeming little effort. These days I get pumped when driving past the ubiquitous “weekend warriors” jogging on the sidewalk in the morning chill.

But admiration for ordinary people doing difficult things is quite different from the characteristically Baby Boomer tendency to treat the mundane as remarkable. Committing to a fitness regime isn’t admirable: actually lacing up your trainers day in and day out and heading out the door is.

Return to daviDDeeble.com or see how my journey from conventional- to comedic juggler began with a head injury.

Misdirection: How Magic Can Help You Manage Your Kids

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Recently a man opened up to me. “My 5-year old daughter is preoccupied with my iPhone. She’s constantly nagging me to watch it or play with it. She’ll reach into my pocket and just pilfer it and if I say ‘No’ she has a fit”.

I felt for this man. There was an unmistakable air of desperation in his words.

Children are relentless. They understand that when it comes to getting what they want, that after enough “No’s” they’ll eventually get to “Yes”. And while the technique I’m about to share with you is very effective for getting them to focus on a more worthwhile use of their time, it’s not nearly as effective at getting them to put down the “device” once they’ve started. Electronic entertainment, like so many things our impulses tell us take in, is like toothpaste: once it’s out of the tube it’s very, very difficult to get it back in. Remember that the next time your kid demands to watch Frozen for the thousandth time.

Let’s get to it, then. When I was a kid I was heavily into magic. When learning the secret to a new trick, I would often grow incredulous at its simplicity: “How can this possibly fool anybody?” I’d say. (This is the source of magicians’ self-loathing when around jugglers, but that’s another story). But I learned to take that leap of faith and perform the trick as instructed and I’ll be damned if it didn’t work as advertised.

One of the first thing you learn as a magician is the ability to direct – or misdirect – people’s attention. Get them to focus on something you want to focus on and away from that which you want them to ignore. I have relied on this technique of misdirection throughout my career as a parent – and to great effect. For example, when my 3-year old daughter is whining that she can’t watch the iPad, I muse aloud “I wonder what’s taller, a giraffe or an elephant?” and instantly she is engaged with the question instead of the next episode of Little Einsteins.

Is it really that easy? Of course not. Not always, anyway. Often a follow-up question is required: Which is the one with the long neck again, the giraffe or the elephant? Children are always intrigued by evidence that they are smarter than the grown-ups around them: it confirms their suspicions. Use this knowledge! (Note also the binary nature of the questions: the answers are either this or that. Keep it simple! It’s one of the keys to engagement).

Naturally this example won’t suffice for all kids in all situations. (If it did you wouldn’t be learning it from me – it would be common knowledge!) The point is that, just as fantastic magic tricks can be disappointingly simple to perform successfully, so to is redirecting your kids’ attention. You don’t have to be clever, you have to be engaging.

I can hear you say “But Dave, I don’t have time to be having a Socratic dialogue with my kids all day. I need to get work done”. Fair enough. But before you suture a wound you must first stop the bleeding and that requires misdirection or, in common parlance, changing the subject.

Try this: place two chairs a few feet apart, throw a blanket over them and say “That’s my cave” then walk away. Too many parents make a great show of observing their children to see how they react. In my experience, children become self-conscious when it’s obvious you want to see how they respond. Instead, do what I do: go back into the kitchen and if necessary, talk to the kid through the wall.

Finally, remember that there’s an endless supply of things that fascinate children: utilize this knowledge. Clap your hands and ask if it’s loud or quiet. Then snap your fingers and ask the same question.

Then do what I do with my 3-year old daughter: send the kid off to make you a cup of coffee. How will she do that? Let her figure it out while you get some work done.

Return to daviDDeeble.com or watch me read news stories I made up.