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    Entries in Entrepreneurs (5)


    The Normalization of Profanity

    Profanity has always been used in our society, but in fifty plus years, I’ve not seen the casual acceptance of so many four-letter words in conversation, social media posts, media, and correspondence as exists today.

    Profanity used to be something we’d apologize for; words and phrases that “slipped out” in a mood of exasperation. The overt use of profanity used to be a sign of an unsophisticated class, a rawness, rudeness, or an unwillingness to conform.

    More commonly used by men, women would refrain from openly using profanity. Parents would refrain from profanity in front of their children. Parents used to threaten to wash their kids mouths with soap, if they caught them using profanity. Now they exchange profane remarks with their offspring.

    Profanity was spoken privately, behind-the-scenes among the most visible, prominent, and successful – not publicly used. We certainly would not write something for public consumption with profane words. Well, that world is long gone.

    Profanity is used assertively, loudly, and often today in casual conversation, and most do not apologize for doing so. In fact, a younger generation uses profanity like they’re merely picking another flower in the garden. It’s just another color to add to conversation. I think this practice has weakened our use of language, our discourse, and in an odd way, weakened the impact of profanity itself.

    What used to be shocking and an extreme expression of feelings and would jolt us all to attention is now more routine. For me, hearing profanity out loud still makes me wince, and when the words come out of my mouth, it makes me wish I could pull them back.

    Not long ago I listened to a live speech by a prominent author laced with profanity, and my appreciation of him sank. I wondered why this was necessary, and why a person with such a wonderful platform would pollute his message with so many four-letter words. Despite my impression, the response to his talk among my colleagues was “He’s amazing!” Somehow his foul language seemed to make him more real and relatable.

    So, this is where we are. We often relate to the profane, much more than the profound. We’ve taken language that used to be off-putting and made it the norm. I’m convinced this doesn’t serve us well, and it’s something that I won’t be embracing. I know this is against the tide of our society, but I believe the use of profanity should be rare and not routine. Call me a square and out of step with the times, but that’s my position. Like Clark Gable’s character, Rhett Butler shockingly said in the 1939 classic, Gone with the Wind, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”


    The Pull of Commerce

    In the end, it’s all buying and selling. Why else would so people eagerly camp out all night to buy things on what we now commonly call, Black Friday? Why is shopping for sales such a big part of our lives? Why do we fondly remember old advertisements and commercials? It’s because the exchange of money for goods and services is fundamental to our existence. It has happened for centuries and generations. You have done it all of your life – just like millions of others. Think about that when you’re wondering how you’re going to sell your products or services, or grow your company.

    The average person walks around, wondering and thinking about what it is that they need to buy. In fact, many cannot wait until there is new money available to buy something. They have paychecks planned weeks ahead. They have detailed lists – all thought out and planned. Selling to these people should be as natural as the daily sunrise. Then why do so many entrepreneurs and salespeople dread conversations with new prospects? It’s because they often anticipate rejection and do not realize that they're looking for a certain person -- and should only be looking for that person.

    Of course, most of the people who see the many ads these days for holiday sales reject them. They won’t go into the store, order online, or patronize the business. But as entrepreneurs we’re not trying to get them all, where just trying to get enough. Your customers will always be a subset of your selling universe, and trying to do a deal with everyone is unrealistic. But there are some potential buyers who are so enthusiatic about what you have to offer that the contrast can be startling.

    Remember, when you offer your products and services and plan your promotions you’re not engaged in something that should be an uphill battle, you’re just looking for those enthusiastic buyers who feel the pull of commerce -- and resonate with what you offer. There are stampedes of those buyers out there, for you. You just have to let them know that you have something special for them.

    Let Black Friday serve as your inspiration all year long.



    I recommend many tactics when I consult with businesses and organizations to help them improve. I can usually spot many things a company needs to do, right away, whether they accept it or not. Sometimes this involves some operational shift or change in focus. It might mean developing sharper marketing positioning, messaging, and branding. But one thing I struggle to explain often, and work to get entrepreneurs to understand, is the importance of inspiration. It seems that those who get it don’t need the explanation and those that don’t have it, need it, but it’s so elusive to their way of thinking, they’ll never understand how important it is, much less, get inspired.

    Perhaps it’s because inspiration is such an intangible quality that only those experience it, have it, and can really feel it. But companies that do not have inspiration running through their veins simply don’t have a feel for it or even when it’s missing. They can’t see what isn’t there. In my view these organizations are doomed to be mediocre, if they survive.

    Inspiration is one of those intangibles that many people – customers, employees, strategic partners – lean toward, even when the facts and figures of the business don’t add up. We all want to be in environments that make us feel better, make us feel alive, and make us want to come back. An entrepreneur, a group of colleagues and an environment that inspires will lead to successes even when it seems quantitatively and strategically the organization can’t succeed. Energized by inspiration they find their way.

    If you’re in search of the secret recipe that companies like Apple, Starbucks, Virgin, and so many others have in place that seems to create such incredible success, spend less time looking at the operational moves and more at the tone of the people who led these companies. Every one of them was/is an inspirational figure. If you want greater success, you’d better become one too.



    Surprise! Human Interaction Matters.

    For more than a decade we have been fixed on moving everything online. You’re reading this online and probably do many others tasks that way such as shopping, banking, bill paying, inviting, and celebrating. You probably get a host of email newsletters in your inbox – maybe even mine. (If you don’t subscribe to my weekly newsletter, Flourish! please make sure you do.) And you’re probably a regular on Facebook, and a host of other social media sites and applications. But guess what? Many marketers are finding audiences no longer delighted by the convenience of privately communicating via computer and instead craving that uncool leftover from a distance past – people to help, serve, and answer questions.

    Here in New York,  LaGuardia Airport, has unveiled an avatar – a life size, computer generated projected female image to answer questions about baggage claim and other mundane queries from passengers, while IBM, Capital One, and other big name marketers are investing in people to answer more questions. In my own work, servicing, coaching, and consulting entrepreneurs I’ve found telephones are being answered again, with business-builders longing for the comfort of someone to supply answers in this complex marketing climate. I’ll bet others are finding the same; I mean this simple truth; online works best when it is coupled with a capable, well-trained, human voice at the ready. If you’re waiting for the day that we’ll do everything by computer and there will be no more paper or people, I’ve heard that for decades and now I don’t believe it. Yes, we’re all thinking differently, but we’re only human.


    Entrepreneurs: Pleased to Be Called “Crazy.”

    I recently read a quote made by Jeff Bezos, founder of He said, “To be an entrepreneur, you must be willing to be misunderstood for a long time.” The quote was particularly relevant this week as droves of consumers, and news analysts either condemned or applauded, the fast-food restaurant chain, Chick-fil-A, after company president, Dan T. Cathy shared his views on same-sex marriage. Cathy’s father started the business and he has worked for the company since he was 9 years old. Although not the founder, he is a bonafide entrepreneur who has presided over incredible growth for the profitable company. Like the late Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Ted Turner, Donald Trump, Ross Perot, Oprah Winfrey, and many others, the majority doesn’t always understand or agree with these outspoken and often controversial entrepreneurs. In my own career I’ve often found myself on the opposite side of the majority on many issues. Whether you are for or against, this or that, doesn’t really matter. Here’s the point: When you hear an entrepreneur speak, you’re hearing someone who is not typically going to express the common view about anything. We succeed because we’re willing to work outside of norms accepted by the masses. Entrepreneurs are not typical and not bound by what’s politically correct, or broad consensus. It is the entrepreneur’s ability to think this way that enables us able to endure when everyone else would say, “give up.” We’re used to unconventional positions. So when you hear the world criticizing what an entrepreneur says or does don’t be surprised. We’re not supposed to think like everyone else. That’s just the way it is.