Posts Tagged business grump

Let’s build a crumbling mess

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles from

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles from

You actually wanted to create a solid business but what happened next didn’t turn out that way. In the beginning you will take care to make it look good and it will hold together for a few years, but most assuredly it will crumble. The ‘business’ fulfills a need, a void, and as such it has merit in the marketplace so let’s build it, time is of the essence!

It will provide shelter, seem warm and inviting, but then some cracks will appear, soon we will then fill these gaping holes with false hope, ask for some asisstance from the cavalry… But alas none will come. Soothsayers, mystics and others with potions and wisdom seemingly produced by ‘slight of hand’, will offer ways forward, but no such road will be travelled.

There, as the last vestige of hope is held aloft I will concede, that the real hope, the real failure, the real demise was visible, right there in the beginning, the mystics and others were right.

If only we knew then what we know now… We would not have dragged so many others into this screaming heap of maudlin mayhem, mind you we did a great job of ‘dressing it  up’. At its peak it looked like a princesses castle, bright and shining in any light. The challenge was what to do when the lights went out…

Alas no, there was no escaping the ego driven, maniacal ‘team’ building a tempestuous empire, despite protests from more knowing folks. No, it was all our doing, we created it, we ordered it to be fashioned into the shape it was… Underneath we fuly knew it’s demise was certain.

Sure we could have stopped, but the time seemed right. Sure we could have done things differently, but it weemed as if we had little in the way of suitable resources. Sure we blamed others, but ultimately it was us who selected them on their merits, qualifications and that all so imporant rapport we had with them, they were so like us it wasn’t funny.

Now as we look back and consider what could have been, indeed what should have been, some of us are filled with a sense of dread, a sense of “what if we had just done things differently…” No, there was no way to change the past, it is what it is, a crumbling mess, a shadow of its percieved former glory.

We now understand what numerous wise people had said about having a good foundation to build on. We also understand that in one persons life things will change, and if luck is on the side of the person with a solid vision then an amazing legacy can be left. A legacy that provides the guidelines on which people can chisel away at the notion and vision of utopia, a legacy where people of strong means can guide those not so fortunate. A legacy where financial profits are not the only hallmark of a growing organisation.

Perhaps we am now reflecting on those around us who built stone houses while others made theirs from straw, or are we simply sensing that what we did build, although we used stone, had mud instead of mortar to join it and therin lies the problem.

One thing is for sure there are many things that made the crumbling mess, it started with a smallgroup of us and then became an extension of us, the team were a bunch of people who knew when to say yes and although they could have said no for all the right reasons, they failed to do so.

More things come to mind about how this disintegrating behemoth so stunningly limped, then stumbled into ruinous oblivion. Seeminingly the more that was added on, the more the rot set in, in the foundations and framework. like termites so busily doing what they do so well, so efficiently, but over time the hollow remains can no longer support the once ‘glorious facade’.

It’s simple to say it should have been an easy ride, serve the customers, make a profit to sustain us in quiet times and build from. Work with more of the ‘right people’, plan well and above all listen to your heart and temper it with reasoned debate… but no, that didn’t happen.

What did happen causes heartache and pain. So many gave so much for so little, clearly the crumbling mess was more than just physical materials, it in fact ended up creating huge emotional burdens far more invasive than we can imagine. This can not be apologised for, we can not know how deep the viens of pain run, nor how much can be attributed to the physical ‘crumbling mess’, or the lack of human compassion the driven team possessed.

It’s all over now, the sordid details and their oh so high level of importance at the time, the losses, the pain and anguish. Finished, complete, time to move on. Time to learn and start a fresh, time to let others explore, build and ‘run riot’ in the marketplace. It’s also time to believe that others will learn from the details of this crumbling mess. A time to hope that they have the desire to create a positive legacy rather than the afore mentioned disasterous, deluded crumbling mess.



Steve Gray


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Don’t do it! – How not to be part of a trade show

A recent trade show, lots of activity and displays for all sorts of interesting suppliers, generally a good time was had, however one thing which struck me was the appalling use of mobile phones by those who’s stalls were not doing a brisk trade.

There were staff sitting and standing about texting or chatting on their phones, some CLEARLY bored out of their brains.

Dear Boss… Tell them not to do it please!

I was embarrassed for them and I was a spectator.

If you take a stall at a trade show, you are on show, the business is on show… Therefore make sure you do the right thing and present professionally and do it well.

Firstly, these people may have had no idea what to do when they got to the show, they may have been told to “Turn up and chat to people.”

Secondly, if you feel you must text or email people use a lap top or an i pad so you look like you are doing business, or don’t do it at all.

I fully appreciate it can be a hard task to be at a trade show and be attentive all day long, it really is a draining experience.

May I suggest.

These people need to have something to do,

  • Set the situation up so they have appointments with people before the event, book some prospects to drop in and see what’s going on.
  • Make it clear about the things they can and can not do while on the stand texting for more than 30 secs is a no no!
  • Ensure you use a friendly branding expert to have creative ways to work with the people walking by the stand. It may be a giveaway you actively hand to the people, get the chance to chat to them and find out more, qualify them to see if they are a fit to what you have on offer, if they are then get their details and reward them with a better handout, this time with solid “remember us” branding on it.
  • Perhaps involve the people in a survey.
  • Consider other novel approaches to create interest. A juggler, a celebrity… make it so the people walking by want to stop, engage them, qualify and go form there.
  • Just because a person is not a prospect now, does not mean they can’t change if they move companies or start a different business later on.

Simply put, having people just sitting or standing about mindlessly not engaged in “working the crowd” are a liability, not an asset. perceptions and image are often paramount to ensuring your business puts it’s best foot forward.

Oh and to finish, “To the man who was so rude as to ignore myself and my friend by looking straight past us once he had figured out we were of no use to him, think again. The scan tag telling you my line of business is only one of my business activities so you gave me a BAD impression of your business, so the very important question I wanted to ask you will wait for the next celebrity speaking bureau chief I meet.”

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Congratulations on the job, what next…

You have selected an employee for a new position in  your organisation. Congratulations! All good yeah.. now sit back and watch as it all turns to mud…

Sorry I think in that last line I was being a little bit cynical… Clearly things won’t turn to mud in all organisations, but in quite a few I think it will and here’s why.

– Poor induction program.

– Lousy training.

– High expectations.

– Tricky probation period guidelines.

Yet these things can clearly be overcome. Firstly however you have to objectively measure the four things which could fail.

  1. Induction program – How do people learn about the nitty gritty’s in your organisation, the policies, procedures, OHS, who’s who and what about the culture of the organisation? Has anyone looked at the existing “program.” for a while? Is it relevant, suitable, useful…
  2. Lousy training – Tough, though I know your training people are possibly doing what they can, given tough challenges or are just not that suited to training new employees, they might have a stronger focus on I.T. or a some Leadership program, they can be spread thin. After all did anyone tell the Training area to prepare something for the new recruit?
  3. High Expectations – The HR dept say this person is a great fit for the organisation on SO MANY levels, yet no one in the dept they are going into knows anything about them except some here-say rumor… Truth is the person is a bit average in the start up phase and people in the dept are “non plussed” with the new recruit, some people just need time to shine and figure out where everything is and how things happen. How were the skills the person had in a  previous position “Mapped” across to this new role. What if they had used a much older piece of software in the past and the version or type you have is VERY different to what they are used to…
  4. Probation period guidelines – Start and in three months we will assess how you have gone. Assess what and how? Is anyone in your organisation clearly responsible for figuring out what and how to assess, are they qualified to do so to some regulatory standard?

All of these aspects can be challenging to negotiate, and like many people in businesses, they realise they need the new staff member too late and before long everyone is too busy to address any of the above.

Time to take stock and get ready for the new recruit. Now I have created a bunch of points to ponder, in the next few articles lets take each one and develop it further.

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Is your business happy?

Yes it’s a serious question, is your business happy, when you get there at the start of the day are you happy about being there? Are the staff happy too…

If not what’s missing?

– Great projects to work on.

– Great clients.

– Great workspace…

One way or another things may not be quite what you want to make the business a happy place to be. Insert a happiness officer and invite them to find out how things could be happier in the workplace.

Perhaps start with the list above and see if things evolve from there.

Take Action!

Get the happiness officer and perhaps a few others to figure out some ways to break the “sad” cycle.. and get happy.

  • Try a google search of ideas for a happy workplace, make a list of a few you can implement now (at low cost).
  • Ask how to make meetings fun, then have one just for the hell of it and see if you can get people to laugh (for all the RIGHT reasons…)
  • Have a fun morning tea (no need to get elaborate just yet just have fun).


  • Having fun at someones expense is only short term and useless, one’s pain is NOT another’s gain.
  • Keep it cheap and “cheerful”, quick and easy… Organisation should take the shortest time possible to keep it hassle free.
  • Try moving the job about so the whole team can be the happiness person.
  • Jokes sent via email is not really a bonding option, it’s more localised but funny quotes might be a different option, sparking debate perhaps.
  • Give out laughter awards, simple and easy a great way to keep the team engaged in the whole idea and boost morale!
  • Push for creative and innovative options, you might just find some great ways to lighten the mood at work and keep things pumped and effective.

That’s it for now, let us know what sorts of things you come up with in our comments…

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Bitter, grumpy annoyed… get over it!

I have been on about good customer service for years now, and while I recognise it can take a lot to make it happen, it’s a thing, which needs to happen.

In my more recent travels I have noticed bitter, grumpy and annoyed people operating businesses. It’s one thing to have grumpy staff, but quite another to see the operator of the business in this “state”. Seriously if you want to be in business and be a grouch stay out of site of the customers…

I guess it’s in part due to the Global Financial Crisis or at least compounded by it, to the point where people are wondering about where the next customer and cash is going to come from. Okay so you may not be able to do much about that, (especially if you have spent all your marketing budget already!) So you have to sit and wait… BUT if that can’t change, what about you?

To alter being a “grump” you may have to take a stance and force yourself to be happy. try a few of these.

  • Write a sign for yourself “Be Happy!” and put it where it can be seen by you and not the customer, make a bunch of them, put them up and act on them.
  • Make a list of things that make you happy and each day “do” something on that list somehow… and DON”T give me the line of “Oh I don’t have time…”
  • Get or make a CD of a bunch of funny things, jokes etc by comedians you really like and laugh at even though you have heard them a zillion times, play it on the way to the office, and LAUGH heartily!
  • Look up, yes it’s that simple, look up and try to not feel good, hard to do eh? Note how glum people tend to look down a lot, makes sense right…
  • Tell  your staff to tell you to smarten up… Go on I dare you to.
  • Make a list of the things getting you down, now write a bunch of ways to fix them, then act on it… go on do that now! Keep adding to the solutions list.
  • Take a five minute stroll, go out of the office or store, walk briskly and get the blood pumping.
  • De stress, mediate or do whatever thing helps you to de stress (without hurting others or things…)
  • Get an unreasonable friend, one who can hold you to your promises, and chat to them about ways to work around your challenges, share a few jokes etc.
  • Kick a footy, It won’t de stress everyone, but It might work for you, heck even going to a sports shop and buying one might break your routine enough, no cash? Borrow one off a kid in your street… hey imagine going door to do and asking “Does your kid have a footy I can borrow for an hour?” Heck that kid has probably been looking for a kick to kick friend for ages.
  • Go to an Art Gallery or five for a few minutes, I used to do this when driving around in a van all over the city, I would drop in to see contemporary art, (no cost!) and I knew where heaps of them where so I could get to one fast for a break in routine. Oh and turn your mobile off for the few minutes you are there. 😉 Seeing other people’s “views” on and about the “human condition” can be useful.
  • Put a picture of yourself up on the fridge at home and yell at yourself… Did you like that? Now think about the last time you yelled at someone, did that feel good? Perhaps for you, how about them? Get the point, it’s not good.
So make yourself a “grump free zone” and get out amongst the customers with a happy disposition and see if that impacts well on sales or even just staff morale.

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