Managing to a Metric?
or gathering information?
On a recent trip to Iceland (before the pandemic) I visited one of the 25 wonders of the World - the Blue Lagoon (BG). It was a glorious experience, one that will stay with me for a long time.
I met a friend from San Francisco there. She called saying she got a cheap flight - wondering if I might join her on the trip to split costs. I googled 'cheap flights' and found one too. She suggested, "lets' think about it, let's talk about it in a few days and see if it's a good idea." I responded, "we have cheap flights now, should we just book it?" A few weeks later we found ourselves in the midst of an unimaginable experience. Our first stop - the Blue Lagoon. We arrived early - at 9:00 a.m. and had the full experience at the Blue Lagoon including hiking the trails. We didn't leave until late that evening.
A travel book I found at a resale store, one we started referring to as the "guideless guidebook" suggested the Blue Lagoon was worth a few hours stay. I guess it depends on who you are, but I could've easily spent a few days there. I can see myself hopping on a plane, staying a couple of days at the resort, spending time to relax and restore, and then catching the Northern Lights in the winter time.
The Lagoon itself is a marvel. The average temperature of the water is around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, there's a swim up bar stocked with skyr drinks, soft drinks, beer, wine and champagne. An indulgent, in-water massage is a must.
A kiosk inviting feedback was situated near the Blue Lagoon store. I was eager to share information. Unfortunately the kiosk only captured an email address so you could be contacted later. I encouraged my friend to sign up too as we were gushing over the experience. We had so much feedback we actually took notes so we wouldn't forget.
The survey arrived a week later, starting with a disclaimer by a market research firm stating that they were capturing information for the Blue Lagoon. The questions were all quantitative 'on a scale of 1 to 10' rate X. There was no opportunity to share insights. The lack of interest dampened the experience a little and made me sorry I took the time to share my email. I texted my friend, a neuroscientist with a demanding job and told her not to waste her time with this.
Still aglow from the experience we texted back and forth about our disappointment in the ability to provide feedback.
What would they have learned if they asked?
We loved it. BG suggests you put hair cream in your hair because the silica and sulfur will be really drying. True. We couldn't get enough of the conditioner. We thought it might be nice to have more of it positioned near the lagoon.
The use of digital technology was inspired. A bracelet likely embedded with an RFID chip was used to open and close lockers that stored your clothes. In addition the bracelet captured payment information for anything you purchased -- except for meals in the restaurant or purchases at the store. We would've liked that to be added too minimizing the need to go to the locker to get payment.
The meal was exquisite. The. Best. Cod. I've. Ever. Eaten. The guideless guidebook said it wasn't worth the money. The prix fixe was $65 US - about what you would spend in any large city. The portions were more than generous and we ate every bite. My friend had lamb, where two cuts of meat were provided the shanks and the flank cut. It was divine. We gladly paid the price. There were no refills on coffee. We would've liked that but understand why there wasn't - this coffee was not from a percolator.
The massage is not to be missed. My masseuse, Hans, suggested as I lay on the float preparing for the service "the more relaxed you will be, the more stable you will be." We laughingly agreed that statement is a paradigm for life.
Why weren't we asked for any feedback even though significant hard dollar investment had been made to capture feedback?
I have a few guesses. One is quantitative information is much easier to summarize and present. 70% of those who attended said it was their first time to Iceland . . . " Quantitative information is helpful. However, I've seen it reduced to a 'check a box' mentality i.e. we've done that and met our market research requirement. Reports that are no longer read get passed around. This is an unfortunate perspective.
There's more risk in reading the prose I provided, more analysis needs to occur, decisions might be made, individual insights will occur, there may be disagreements -- and there's a chance people could be wrong. That's the art, science, beauty and fun of soliciting qualitative feedback.
Taking a risk creates the opportunity for greatness to occur. Not doing so allows industry disruptors to emerge; leaving leaders to wonder what happened, scrambling to keep up.
#travel #dining #exploring #adventure #luxury #finedining
Chef, Should You Write a Book?
The answer is 'maybe'. One advantage restaurants and Chefs have is a built in audience. If you choose to write a book you can market it online or at your restaurant. You'll have the ability to connect more deeply with your patrons. It could be additional swag in your online store. It might also serve as a tool used to attract potential investors demonstrating that you have a marketable process and a sound business methodology. A book will capture your history at a point and time. It may set the stage for more stories and future books to come. Lastly, consider writing a book if you think it would be fun. There's great art in cook books and telling the stories of restaurants and the hospitality businesses. Don't write a book if you think it will be a big revenue producer because it likely will not be. A published book will document your history and enhance your brand.
If you choose to publish a book there's never been an easier time to get your message to market for relatively little cost. Gone are the days where someone with a message had to pitch to a publisher, hoping to get selected.
What are the advantages to being accepted by a publisher? There's a cred factor. Publishers endorse your work and also have a access and audience reach. Your book will be found a public library which is really great.
If you choose to self-publish there are many avenues to choose from. Your book can be carried on Amazon.com creating a broad reach. While you won't boast the prestige of being promoted by a traditional publisher, if there's money to be made, you will keep more of it.
Some self-publishing houses are quite generous to the authors and offer several services of traditional publishing houses. Independent Publisher's Group is one example, their business model contends they make money when you make money.
What should you budget in time and money for your book? I know it's frustrating to always say 'it depends' but if you're willing to do the heavy lifting yourself with copy, layout and photos a budget of less than $500 is fair. If you want to save time, by relying on pros to create a showpiece to record your history and use in promotions for years to come, $10,000 to $15,000 is a great place to start. For turnaround time estimate three months on the low end and be aware of scope creep by drafting a book that will take a year or longer to produce.
If you'd like to explore creating a book and can work within the ranges quoted above:
If being a book author is right for you, after you're holding the finished product in your hand or admiring it on the device of your choice, then the need to promote comes in. Use all the social media channels you are using today to advance the sales of your book.
Should you write a book? Don't ask me. I'm biased. I'm a writer and can't get enough of books, especially industry and culinary books. If it suits your brand and you think it would be fun, definitely take the time to capture your history and share it with the world.
Volunteering Opens Up Worlds
When employees are not satisfied in their careers for whatever reason, I encourage them to volunteer. No job will allow every employee to explore every talent and every skill they have. Non-profits are often hungry for talent and enthusiastic, committed volunteers.
Volunteering has always been part of my professional development plan. With volunteering, there is no limit to what anyone can do or how they can contribute. Personally, I've served on Boards, raised funds, created agency reviews, cooked, served drinks, worked phone banks (when there were phone banks), brought my dog and my toddler nephew for visits at senior centers, organized, funded and attended mission trips, have written marketing pieces and listened to people's stories as they've endured times of trauma. When you're looking to fill a skill gap volunteering opens a lot of doors. You'll also meet like-minded people who are passionate about the causes they serve.
Most recently, a neighbor asked me to volunteer at Hostel International USA. She said, "you have the personality for it." She wanted me to take travelers to see local sites. She brought me to a party, introduced me to a few people and I was soon on the roster of tour guides. Saying "yes" to that opportunity led me to an opportunity that was even perfect for me, the HI USA Explore the World Travel Scholarship Committee. I enjoy giving tours but being part of the Travel Scholarship Committee, providing access to young people to see the world, makes my heart sing out loud.
This new prospect allowed me to learn to function better in a multi-cultural, multi-generational team. Learning from many viewpoints is critical when working in matixed teams. I learned a new process for subjective decision making. Objective decision making, based sheerly on facts is easy. It's so easy; it will soon be outsourced with Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. Mastering the art of subjectivity, or attempting to influence more altruistic decisions in a subjective process is what will make the workforce of the future valuable.
So how can a subjective process be more equitable? By recognizing the subjectivity. One hundred ten applicants with hopes and dreams will pull some of the committee member's heartstrings for sure. Which 10 of the one hundred and ten applicants were the right ones? To come to a more conclusive consensus, the committee evaluated a group of anonymous applicants, identified only by a number, and voted for their top ten. The committee member was assigned a partner to review the same group of applicants select their top ten from the same group of applicants. The partners discussed where there were variances and made our cases for our selections. As a team, we reviewed all those selected. Ultimately, the staff took all of the recommendations into consideration and then selected the final ten — no easy feat. Of course, we wanted to say yes to ALL of them. There, were, of course, some objective criteria that had to be met i.e. income requirements, geographic constraints and the application had to be complete.
We just celebrated the ten that were selected this year. My learning continued as I became a better Instagram user by following an awardee on her trip to Uganda where she went to help educate children with hearing impairments. I saw people grab opportunity to enhance their careers and business dreams. A young woman who owns and operates an organic farm in Illinois went to Italy to learn more about European agriculture.
If you, your employees or your team are looking for ways to enhance skill, I encourage you strongly to consider volunteering. Working with people who are not being paid is a good way to test influence, leadership and organizational skills.
I am SO EXCITED and cannot wait to try this new shopping experience! I was walking past one of the new stores on Franklin Street in Chicago not really sure what it was. I know you can pick up your items from Amazon (why would I want to do that? When anything I buy is delivered in two days free to my door?). Anyway, I saw my favorite Farmers Fridge Salad in the window. Farmer's Fridge prepares salads fresh daily, traditionally sells them through a vending machine (there are not enough vending machines around for me). These salads are an impressively delicious, healthy grab and go item, made with in-season ingredients. There's a spot in the vending machine for the consumer to recycle their salad jar. Whoah selling Farmers Fridge Salads is a game changer! What is THIS new Amazon concept all about?
I asked my much hipper friend who was sure to know what the 411, was to fill me in. He explained that it's a new store concept where you don't have to wait in line and your Amazon account is charged directly to your app. Waiting for a conference call that never came (frustrated!) I downloaded the Amazon Go app. As a writer, I was critiquing the communication. It was very clear. An animated infographic popped up guiding the user through the process. Even if a user couldn't read the words in English, the images were clear. Any image could be paused and replayed. I was kinda glad there was no music in the background which is so popular now.
My only frustration is the store is only open during regular business hours Monday through Friday. I wonder why that is? It can't take much overhead to run the store. One perhaps two employees need to be present. Eventually no employee will likely be required to be present at all. I'm sure there's a risk factor but that can't be too great either. Digital tracking and immediate notification should minimize the risk of theft and personal harm.
As some Chicagoans lament the demise of Sears, I'm celebrating these new concepts maximizing all the technological tools we have available to create a better quality of life for all or at least for some at the start. Sure, jobs will be lost, but jobs will be created. It's up to us to keep reinventing and grabbing the opportunities in front us. Sears helped the world grasp the concept of credit which was incredibly futuristic thinking in it's day. . At one time, not so long ago, it was humiliating to have any sort of debt at all. Sears convinced people by opening up a store credit card that it was "ok" to use credit to get the big ticket item of appliances. It takes a while for social and behavioral change.
Sears lost out when they stopped listening to the marketplace and transforming to utilize available technology and thinking about future potential versus focusing on hanging onto existing profits which ultimately dissolved. .
Is Amazon Go concept here to stay? Will it be used for other shopping experiences? Restaurants? Convenience stores? I hope so.
Driving Demerit Points
I often suggest volunteering as a way to meet people, share your skills and learn new things. I volunteer at HI USA. I take travelers out on tours and also help with their travel scholarship fund. It's a lot of fun and I meet great people and of course, learn a lot.
Today a man from Toronto was telling me how shocked he was to see drivers texting and driving in Chicago. He said in Toronto the driver would get hit with a hefty fine and also receive points.
Not really understanding what 'points' were, I looked them up. Seems the sage Canada doesn't simply suggest that drivers don't engage in extremely dangerous behaviors they sanction the drivers that do. Drivers receive demerit points that will result in even greater fines and driving restrictions based on repeat occurrences. Seems like a really smart and effective idea to me.
One of the most valuable benefits of travel is to learn how other people live. Travel is an extremely effective way of broadening a person's world view, It's been broadening to see my city through new eyes as well. I share the gift of travel every chance I get. #travel #volunteering
The Power of Presence
I've got the Amazon Prime 36 hour sale on my calendar. I buy from Amazon all the time, might as well get the deals. Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com have transformed how we shop. Accessible processes and affordable prices have closed the expense gap for many, created jobs and fostered small businesses, globally. Amazon has brought a lot of goodness to the world on a very large scale.
This past lazy Sunday afternoon, however, I had a different shopping experience. I decided to head over to Macy's on State Street. An afternoon at Macy's is not a task, it's an event, one to prepare for and savor. I carved out a good part of my day so I wouldn't be rushed. I wore a summer dress, strappy sandals and a little makeup. I bet my doorman thought I had a date - and I did.
A native Chicagoan, I remember when Macy's was Marshall Field's. Luckily to the relief of Chicagoans citywide, Macy's has respectfully kept the essence of Marshall Fields. They maintained the intangible "good will" found on the balance sheet that they likely paid for. Smart business. We all have a Marshall Field's story, whether it's coming to see the Holiday Windows, having lunch in the Walnut Room, being assisted by a personal shopper, buying an item you still have and treasure or meeting under the ornate clock at the corners of Washington & State.
I was going for shoes but Macy's is not a one stop shop. I started in the hat department. While I live in the Millennial my soul is in the 40s. I love hats. I played, trying on all of the most outrageous summer hats with feathers and flowers. A man walking by with his family smiled at me kindly . . . who doesn't love hats? As I left, I had every good intention of going to the shoe department. I was seduced by the dresses, long elegant evening gowns. Many I knew were perfect for me. The same floor houses business attire so I went there - hey there might be a deal? While there, I snapped photos of the intricate mosaic-designed ceiling.
I dawdled at the lingerie department remembering what a treat nice lingerie is and then felt myself drawn to the wedding dresses. Still no shoes, I'm getting there, I'm getting there. The voice inside my head said "don't go, this is silly, you are not going to buy a dress, you'll waste the staff's time." My heart whispered "I bet there are some really pretty dresses inspired by Meghan the Duchess of Sussex' recent wedding. Don't you just want to see?" I did. Christopher caught my eye and invited me in. When I told him I wasn't in the market but just wanted to admire the styles, he then insisted I step in. We had a lovely chat and were later joined by Jessica. We reminisced about movies from the 80s, styles and the future of retail.
I forced myself to break away and enjoy the shoe department.(Sarcasm :-) I struck up a conversation with a lady and her husband as we tried on shoes, and compared and contrasted the styles. One of the great things about the store the size of Macy's (8 floors!) is the massive amount of inventory. You're very likely to find your size and when the season changes, even get a good deal. They need to move the inventory to make room for the new items and if you play it right, (signing up for the text message deals!) you'll walk out with armloads of shopping bags!
Mission accomplished, I couldn't leave just yet - there's the furniture department! Visiting the furniture department is a stand alone experience. The creative staging is inspiring. As I disembarked the 8th floor escalator, I was greeted by Kewsi (pronounced Kwazi) who stopped, introduced himself, asked my name and shook my hand. He reminded me of my Dad, an Eastern European Immigrant, who worked in a steel factory but on the weekends was never without a tie. My Dad would often say 'there are two things you can control in life, how you speak and how you dress."
The subtle impact of thoughtful presence and presentation are worth investing in. (My Dad said so) I look forward to my next indulgent Sunday afternoon at Macy's. They've nurtured and sustained the soul of Chicago. I'm grateful.