“I have a bad memory” – I refuse to ever say that again

“I have a bad memory” – I refuse to ever say that again

It happened again in embarrassing fashion. I was in a social situation on Sunday with someone I had met several times. It was just him and me and our kids, so lots of interaction. We had run into one another accidentally but were now off on an adventure together with our boys kayaking at Stone Mountain. The only problem was, I couldn’t remember this guy’s name! It was terrible! So what did I do? I did the only thing I could do, the unthinkable. I asked him his name for probably the fourth time and made sure I remembered it this time. It was awful. It was embarrassing. I am going to make sure that never happens again. Here’s how.

I have had a sneaking suspicion for some time now that I am under utilizing my brain (insert snarky joke here) and my memory in particular. I know there are ways to improve mental cognition and ways to dramatically improve memory, but I have never taken the time to learn them and use them properly. That ended today.

I am publically announcing my goal to take my memory seriously. I want to be able to do the following within the next two months:

  • Remember all names and faces of people I meet. ALL OF THEM! I want to be able to memorize the name of every person at a 48in48 event. That should be about 100 – 150 names. I want to do this so that people will know that I care about them and that they matter to me when I meet them.
  • Be able to memorize the order of a deck of cards. I know, it’s dumb, but I want to prove to myself that I can do it, so I’m going to give it a shot.

I’m committing to this publically so that I can be accountable. I want to be able to do this by the end of October or sooner.

In light of this new goal, I started listening to the audio book Quantum Memory by Dominic O’Brien this morning. While the book is a little hooky in the beginning, after listening to it for 30 minutes and going through one exercise, I was able to remember a list of 10 completely unrelated items in order and repeat them back both forwards and backward. In fact, here is the list (from memory).

  • Wallet
  • Snake
  • Screwdriver
  • Peach
  • Drum
  • Book
  • Piano
  • Goat
  • Mirror
  • Tank

That was the list I learned from the book at 7am this morning, and I was easily able to recall it now at 10:36am. So far, I’m impressed with this book. On to the next adventure!

The importance of being known

The importance of being known

When I was in college, I didn’t know my professors. I was the kid that would sit in the back of the class, half listen to the lectures (because I preferred to read the material) and then leave without speaking to the professor after class. At the time this seemed like a great strategy for flying under the radar. What I realize now is that, while it was a great way to fly under the radar, it also held me back from achieving at my highest level.

If I had been known by my professors, I would have worked harder. This was always true in school before that, every teacher that knew me got my best work, as opposed to the teachers that barely knew my name.

Being known gives us a sense of responsibility and accountability that we would not otherwise have. It doesn’t just apply to being known by people in leadership over us but also applies to peer relationships where accountability and responsibility are needed. When I’m working toward something that I want to be held accountable to, I tell people about it, so I am more motivated to get it done. Sometimes I will even blog about what I’m working on as motivation to perform at a high level.

The more we are known by one another, the more we share our hopes and dreams and even our struggles, the more we will be motivated to work hard, to perform, to achieve. When we are known we are not just another face in the crowd, we become something more, we are a community and we are better for it.

My 7 year old thinks Walmart is mean. Impressions are hard to shake.

My 7 year old thinks Walmart is mean. Impressions are hard to shake.

Over a year ago my seven-year-old daughter (who was six then) went with her granny to Walmart to buy towels. The towels were marked on sale, so they picked up four or five. At checkout, the clerk determined those towels were not on sale and refused to give the sale price. Granny is not one to be taken advantage of, so she left there after expressing her unhappiness for how she was treated and went to Target to buy towels instead.

Fast forward to last week. I took my seven-year-old to get something at Walmart. As we were walking through the store, she said, “daddy, Walmart is mean.” I asked her why and she recounted the entire story of the towels. I would bet that years from now she will find that she prefers Target over Walmart and this experience will be a part of that subconscious decision.

Impressions like that are hard to shake and one employee on one bad day can make an impression that can shape someone’s perception of your company for a lifetime. This was a great reminder for me to always be aware of the impression that I’m making and it’s potential long term effects. It also reminded me that when someone does have a bad impression, I have to work extra hard to overcome that and win them over.

The Power of a Predetermined Decision

The Power of a Predetermined Decision

Have you ever had a door to door salesperson pop up at your door at just the wrong moment? And, worse than that, the person pops up offering something that you may actually need, but haven’t considered recently. Those door to door sales people are tricky, they usually are offering something I know I need, something I haven’t thought about in depth, and then they go for gold with the, “we will have a team on your street tomorrow, would you like us to schedule a free estimate for you?” Brilliant! To which I reply, no thanks, I don’t say yes to door to door sales people.

It’s nothing personal. They probably made a great pitch. And, I may actually need their service. But, I predetermined my decision a long time ago that I will not say yes to a door to door salesperson because if I do, I’m likely to get sold without really thinking through things. Instead, I ask them for their information and assure them that I will reach out if I’m interested. No amount of pressuring me will change anything because the decision was already made, years ago.

The power of making a predetermined decision is that you don’t have to decide in the moment. Deciding in the moment can be dangerous because you don’t have all of the information or may not have considered all of the angles. Deciding ahead of time allows you to do that, and helps you make better decisions.

The same thing applies with getting up in the morning. Your morning self can’t be trusted to decide what time to get up because your morning self values more sleep over all other things. But, if you predetermine your morning routine the night before, you will make a better decision overall.

Do you have any decisions that you have predetermined? If so, please share, I would love to know.

How I became a raving fan of a septic tank company

Having your septic tank pumped is a miserable experience. You know you need to do it, but then you don’t want to do it because you don’t know who to trust. A quick google search for septic tank companies yields a lot of results, but choosing a septic tank company is like choosing a car mechanic, there is no way to be sure they are shooting straight with you.

The last time I had a septic tank company come out to my house I was quoted a price around $150. Then, once they were here, the cost kept going up. My tank was larger than they quoted for. There was more to pump (nice mental image, huh) than they had quoted for. Oh, and my baffle valve (I’m still not sure that’s a real thing) needs to be replaced immediately. About $4,000 later and with only a few hours of work we were all set and I was on a payment plan.

So, this time, when I needed my septic tank pumped I started the process skeptically. Who could I trust? How do I find them? Of course, I went online and read reviews and looked at prices. Most septic tank companies were offering pumping services starting at $150, but I’m no fool and didn’t believe that price this time.

One company stood out and had a ton of great reviews. I checked out their website, which validated that I wasn’t afraid to call them, and so I did. They didn’t answer, so I left a voicemail, but I got a call back 15 minutes later.

The call was short. The sales pitch was short, but it was perfect. The call went something like this:

Me: I need to get my septic tank pumped.
Pumpco: What part of town are you in?
Me: Lilburn
Pumpco: We serve Lilburn, no problem.
Me: How much will it cost?
Pumpco: $300, no tricks, no gimmicks, that’s the flat rate. And, if you need repairs, we’ll shoot straight with you but won’t pressure you.
Me: Sold, when can you come out!

I called on a Monday; they said they could come out Tuesday. I was only available in the morning, so they said they could make that work and would be there at 8am. Of course, I assumed that 8am really meant 10am like most services that come to your house, but the Pumpco truck was at my house at 7:50am! They were early!

They did what they came to do, told me everything looked great, charged me $300 as promised and were done by 8:30am. The entire experience from finding their reviews online, to checking out their website, to talking with their owner, to having them show up early, to finishing the job quickly and with a great attitude was impressive. So impressive that I’m now blogging about it! So impressive that I had a call with my team just to tell them about the experience and how I want to make sure our clients have the same type of experience. So impressive that I am driven to impress my clients in this same way.

People love a straight shooter and great customer service. I hope I can model that in my business, nonprofit and life.

If you want to produce something creative, produce a lot!

If you want to produce something creative, produce a lot!

In his book, Originals, Adam Grant talks about how most original works are produced within the context of producing a large volume of material. This is because when you are producing a large volume of work, you have to reach further and further away from what is conventional to produce new work since you have already produced all the conventional stuff anyway.

I think sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that if we want to be creative, we will create one, super creative thing. But the problem with that is that all of our first ideas, and usually even our tenth ideas, are still super ordinary. It’s only through pushing yourself to create more and more that you will be pushed to get truly creative, and that is when your best work will happen!