Swagger

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I pass this billboard every day on my way home. The first time I saw it, I reacted with a start. That’s gutsy, I thought. Arrogant, even. Does Peerless think it’s THAT good? Wow.

I had plans of blogging about this right away, but one thing led to another and I put it off for a while. Turns out, that wasn’t all bad. It gave me a chance to ponder the campaign and how I felt about it.

Although my first reaction tended toward negative, is wasn’t quite negative. Part of me thought that a business needs to possess that kind of swagger to sell itself well. After all, if it doesn’t believe in itself, how can it expect others to believe?

Then I found the campaign online and realized that the person on the billboard was a realtor. (The text on the bottom of the image above either wasn’t on the actual sign or wasn’t readable. I hadn’t noticed it driving by.) That made this sign make WAY more sense. Digging deeper, I realized it was part of a campaign featuring local businesspeople, tying them into the dry cleaner through clever slogans. Ah, clarity.

Then again, if I had to work that hard to “get” it, was it really successful?

In the end, I think it was–not because the message was so clever or the campaign so well thought. It was successful because it captured my attention for days. I remained engaged with that sign for days, maybe even a couple of weeks. Peerless Cleaners captured a portion of my mental real estate and stayed top of mind as I pondered and explored.

What say you? How do you feel about the sign itself? And do you think its swagger got the job done?

Keynotes

mos cardAs you might expect, my recent job change brought a few surprises with it. Realizing how challenging it is to be new at everything. Opening my closet door to find to find a stockpile of clothing that no longer seems appropriate. Being able to have lunch with my mother during the workday for the first time ever. Struggling to find a new writing routine. Something that surprised even my surprised self, however, was the attention generated by the announcement of my new venture.

My new company announced my arrival with a press release–pretty standard fare. In my previous position, I had even written several of those for others. The part that surprised me was the way others viewed the PR as a marketing opportunity. My grad school alma mater tweeted it to tie the success of an alumna to its own value. A local auto dealership sent me a letter outlining the advertising opportunities it offers. The Jehovah’s Witnesses sent me several tracts and a handwritten note that tried desperately to explain a nebulous connection between them and my new job. I found this all very fascinating.

I did, however, find one missive to be very well executed. I received a tasteful, well-written note from an upscale restaurant offering nothing more than congratulations–and a $25 credit with no strings attached. Brilliant. No gimmick, no expectation. The restaurant gave something to me; it didn’t expect something of me. Now, $25 won’t go far at that particular restaurant, but the gesture does make me inclined to pay it a visit.

What a terrific illustration of the potency in valuing people, of being willing to give in good faith in order to build a relationship, of giving people reasons to want to come to you, not to have to.

There’s a lesson in everything, even one little note.

P.S. Click on the photo above and read the card if you have a chance. What it said made all the difference. Words do matter.

More camp notes

jakeididitA couple of weeks ago, I made a return trip to Minnesota to pick up my son from wrestling camp. He made it through 28 days of hard, hard work in a boot camp style atmosphere that improved not only his wrestling skills, but also his dedication, discipline, and sense of responsibility. He came home physically exhausted but knowing he has the will to see any goal through to the end.

How did that happen?! After all, the kid is only fourteen.

The founder of the camp, J Robinson, took a few minutes to talk to the parents after the last practice. Much like when I deposited my teenaged wrestler into his charge four weeks earlier, the words he spoke have stuck with me since.

As J explained the kids’ daily activities, he emphasized that not one had been included thoughtlessly. Each activity, and its placement along the camp timeline, had been chosen intentionally in order to accomplish a specific outcome. All the campers, for example, had to do stadiums (running up and down the stadium steps) at 6:30am for the first three days of camp. They had to do them over and over and over, until there was not a single kid who wasn’t sore the next day. The goal, said J, was that when the alarm went off the next morning, each kid had to make a decision. He had to decide whether to get up and do the next drill, even though it didn’t feel good.

To reach a goal, you can’t be bound by how you feel, J said. You should only be bound by what you want.

Whoa. I’ve been thinking ever since about how many times I haven’t done something that would push me toward the achievement of a goal–simply because of how I felt. How many times I skipped my daily run because I didn’t want to go out in the heat or the cold, because I was tired, or because it was inconvenient. How many times I decided at the last minute not to attend an event that would have strengthened a friendship or furthered an interest because I was too comfortable where I was. How many times I didn’t speak up because I thought I might get embarrassed. I postponed the achievement of my goals–whether they revolved around fitness level, a relationship, my career, or personal fulfillment–because I was bound by how I felt.

I watched my son do something harder than I’ve ever done, and he did it successfully. He got past himself. He set a goal, and he did it.

Don’t be bound by how you feel. Be bound only by what you want. Powerful stuff.