Archives For business lessons

Fearmonger

MH3 —  January 19, 2014

This morning, while taking my son to his freestyle skiing competition, I drove past one of my former rivals from my high school football days.

Predictably, he groaned as I began to tell him about every game we played against this school. Not again, he begged, and I begrudgingly retreated into silence. But silence can often prove to be a blessing, as it allowed me to think about my worst game against this rival.

It was the year I finally won the starting QB position. We travelled to this school for a season opener that we should have won. Instead I let the team down, played a tentative game, messed up my play calls, and cost us a victory.

Why? I was afraid. Panicked I would screw up. Frightened to lose my role. In the end, my fear-induced ineptitude swiftly cost me my QB job. This was my first experience realizing that if you think about something too much, it will come true.

There is no greater enemy in the arena or the boardroom than fear. Nothing frustrates me more than when I hear one of my employees is afraid of screwing up or even worse, afraid of me. I once had a client tell me I scared them.

Creating an environment devoid of fear has been a relentless objective of mine for several years. The only thing I want people to be concerned about is not trying. Not giving their all. Mistakes will happen. Initiatives may fail. Pitches may be lost. But trying and giving it our all is the true victory. Not trying is failure. I think I am most upset with people when they won’t try. The effort is as important as the result.

It’s a lesson we need to apply away from work as well. If you have kids who play sports, you have no doubt been a part of some great seasons and some crummy seasons. Odds are high that during the crummy seasons, your child and her teammates competed in a culture of fear. Usually created by a well-meaning coach who thinks she is installing a system, but doesn’t realize she’s installing a Pavlovian condition.

Maybe she is as afraid of losing as I was? Maybe she too had the same experience when she was 15? Maybe she too will drive past an arena from her youth, where fear got the better of her one game, and realize that fear doesn’t breed success.

Boarding the WestJet Bandwagon

MH3 —  December 10, 2013

You know what I love best about the WestJet Christmas promo video that was soaring to 4 million YouTube views when I started writing this tonight?

Not the fact that the airline’s project lead for this campaign is a former employee of mine.

Not the fact that I was secretly (?) tipped off by a WestJetter the week before it came out. No, not by my ex-Trojanite!

Not the fact that I probably wasn’t being tipped off, but in fact being used as an influencer to hopefully spread the word.

Not the fact that I cry much too regularly at Christmastime, a condition I blame on Jimmy Stewart and his performance in my fave flick of all time, It’s a Wonderful Life.

No. The thing I love best is that this video was done by a company, WestJet, that treats its customers like it’s Christmas 365 days a year.
This has long been their differentiator and it’s entirely genuine. Hence, when you see this video (and if you haven’t, stop reading my drivel, grab a box of tissue, find a quiet place, dial up Google, and get ready to smile), you believe it to be genuine. Even though, in reality, it’s a stunt. A marketing activity. A promotion. Scripted. Contrived. Amplified. What could be more horrific?! Marketing!

Doesn’t matter. It’s a beautiful piece of marketing by a company that walks their talk.

So kudos to WestJet. Not just for the video, but for a little lesson for all of us in marketing.

Imagine if we all treated our clients like everyday was a holiday?

Cover Boy

MH3 —  October 18, 2012

I was a bit of a lunatic at last Saturday’s Varsity Blues (University of Toronto) football game.

Lost my cool. Was a hothead. Violated the code. Insulted the fraternity of football coaches. Compared U of T’s coach to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Neither would be flattered. I am sure my outburst will cost me a piece of business some day. Maybe with Canada’s largest campus or with our largest city.

You see, I was supporting my boy. I use that expression to describe a former player of mine. Not in reference to one of my offspring. But if you have coached long enough, you know your players become like a second family to you.

My boy in this case is #9 Simon Nassar, the U of T backup QB. And to paraphrase his coach, “the most popular guy on the team.” Yes, Simon is/was the reason for my lunacy. Continue Reading “Cover Boy”…

Tour de Montréal

MH3 —  February 8, 2012

It’s a bit of an oxymoron, but lunching with Andy Nulman is a gas. If you don’t know Andy Nulman, he is the über-charismatic president of the Just for Laughs Festival. It’s his second stint with JFL, the first starting after he was fired as a journalist at 23 and then in 15 meteoric years rose to CEO of JFL. Then left to start Airborne Entertainment, sold it for $110 million, then bought it back for way less, and then returned to JFL in 2010. Wow… And what have YOU done in the last 20 years?
Last week, I jammed a whirlwind dose of Montréal into a 27-hour window. It’s amazing to me that despite the fact I go to the village formerly known as Hochelaga quite often, it never feels often enough. That’s good news for Porter, as I need to go back again soon. What I have realized is that it’s more than the charm of the city and the lure of its events that keeps me coming, but rather it’s the people that provide its spark. Continue Reading “Tour de Montréal”…