Disclaimer: this post should be written by a blogger named “BitterB” but I am going to attempt my best to put a positive twist on an irritating real life scenario.
Has someone ever asked you to extend a certain courtesy and then when it’s their time to do the same they drop the ball? A classic example of this is someone asking you to be on time and then they arrive late. This is undoubtedly frustrating and it is often hard to give people the benefit of the doubt or overlook the behavior in these scenarios. So instead of giving my usual advice to those upset by the culprit, I’ve decided to make an appeal to everyone. Be self aware! Either gain some more self awareness or start at the bottom up, but be mindful or what YOU are doing and not just everyone else. If you’ve asked someone to act swiftly for a deadline you need, then do the same for them should they need that courtesy as well. At the very least use your self awareness to pick up on if you are slacking off and then explain to the other party why this is happening. A little self deprecation never hurts at times when you’ve blatantly messed up. Instead of glossing over the fact that you’re a half hour late to a meeting you’ve asked everyone to be on time to- let them know that your 2pm doughnut craving has really taken precedent over developing this month’s budget. Let others know that YOU know what you’re doing. No one is perfect or expected to be, but at least acknowledge it when appropriate. It’s better to call yourself out on the trouble you’re causing then to be put in the hypocrite box by others. If you are lagging on starting or completing a job for someone who has more then accommodated you- let them know what is going on! 50 shades of grey might be a fun color for off color activities but when it comes to serious scenarios black and white are the only fair sides to stay on. The only way we can do right by others when we are in the wrong is to be aware of ,our actions and our mistakes and then address them accordingly.
Have you ever found yourself utterly frustrated when trying to communicate a message to someone? You’ve tried making your point 3 different ways and are now considering whether or not you need to pull out a dry erase board and draw out your explanation like a football coach. We’ve probably all been here; and sometimes our message isn’t even that important but the fact that the other party fails to comprehend us drives us harder to want to prove our point. What’s the answer? Just say “okay”. Accept that the other party is not going to understand or agree with you. Sometimes we have to surrender our point and while it may feel that we have “lost” in other ways we have actually won. First off at the point of “okay” we have actively decided to maintain our sanity. I am not going to continue to rant and rave to a person who doesn’t care to hear me out. I am going to put my energy toward other people or productive activities where my input makes a difference. “You still don’t understand? Okay, let’s drop it.” What else does “okay” do? Well to some degree you’ve decided to agree with your opponent. If they find your message unclear or incorrect and you say “okay” then you are aligning with them. When people feel that you are on their side it is more likely that in the future they will agree with you. Saying “okay” might mean to the receiver that you acknowledge your message is not correct or clear. Then they feel they have “won” and you are now on the same team. Next time you approach your teammate it is possible that he will agree with you based solely on the fact that you tried to establish yourselves as being on the same page. Agree to agree and put your valuable energy into more positive places.
So today is the 2.5 year birthday of my baby RUBR- yes I’m someone who is very in tune with dates and anniversaries. I like to look back on the last period of time to see where I was, where I am and where I’m looking to be. In that process I’ll often think of the important lessons I’ve learned and so on this special day I’d like to explain the importance of understanding why it’s not you, but them.
No this isn’t a lesson in modern day dating- but you might be able to apply some of these principles to any relationship. This lesson I’ve come to learn from running a business and dealing with people in the marketplace. My last blog (eons ago) entitled “The Power of Prompt” stressed the importance of acting efficiently. Since that post I’ve learned that no matter how swiftly I may act, everyone else will remain on their own clock for better or worse. In running a product business during preparation for holiday, I’ve seen the extreme of worse when I need more inventory or supplies and must rely on someone else to help me. No matter how efficiently I may execute tasks, my actions will not influence a manufacturer or supplier to do the same. When I unexpectedly run out of inventory, there are times when my frantic emails are not met with the instant gratification I expect. When the manufacturer fails to respond within 3 hours I have found myself writing consecutive emails – 5 minutes apart- with subjects such as “Please help,” “Urgent problem,” or “In need of great help.” My manufacturer probably scratches his head looking at these titles thinking that I am pinned under a truck or tied up in a basement and he is my only savior despite being more than half way across the world. He will eventually answer and say “yes we have began to work on making the new inventory and please do not worry.” When I saw the phrase “please do not worry,” I realized that I need to do something to stop my worrying. Why am I worrying? Because this man is not responding to me in a reasonable (according to my preference) time frame. So it is his actions that cause my worry- it’s not me, it is them. So what’s the answer? I need to adjust my behavior to meet theirs. I cannot expect people to act with efficiency; I can only expect them to function within the confines of their own comfort and then work with them in a way to promote efficiency. It is basically a lesson in ignoring your own behaviors and adjusting to everyone else’s. If you need something by x date- ask to receive it by x-3 days prior. Pressing your own deadlines to the last minute while relying on someone else to help you meet them begs for mistakes to happen. If you have a friend who’s notoriously late, tell them an occasion begins a half hour early if you want them to arrive on time. You can have everything you want (or at least minimize mental strife like my obsessive emails) if you focus on working strategically with them.
Being that yesterday was father’s day I took some time to reflect back on all the wisdom that my father has bestowed upon me. Among his many talents he is probably the most efficient person I know. In watching him run a successful business for 30+ years I’ve come to understand that client’s love him for is his prompt approach to work. He returns calls and emails in the same day they’re received. He meets deadlines but usually finishes ahead of schedule. When RUBR was born I applied the same prompt approach to all of my customer interactions and dealings with vendors, manufacturers etc. It truly makes a difference- why? Because when people ask a question and are responded to within a small window of time they feel important. When a customer feels that his concern is high priority the relationship flourishes. Have you ever been dissatisfied with a product yet received such great customer service that you buy more from that same brand? I try to respond back to most calls-emails within 2 or so hours and for the most part people’s initial reactions to my quick response is “wow” or “thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly.” People truly appreciate the respect that a prompt response yields; that feeling can make all the difference in having loyal customers versus one hit wonders. Not only that but through the prompt approach you also create an image of professionalism and belief in your product/service. So I’d not only like to thank my father for just generally being an incredible person but for his invaluable lesson on the power of prompt.
I haven’t written in who knows how long and it’s all RUBR’s fault. Two years ago today I sat feverishly brainstorming for a catchy product name. I had just received a test sample batch of 200 watches and now it was “time”(pun FULLY intended) to figure out what to call them. That day, May 15 2011, the name “RUBR” was born. From that point forward I’ve been on the craziest and most wonderful journey that was never a part of the life plan I had so carefully mapped out for myself.
Years before, I had a very clear picture as to what I would do with my life. I had fully intended on becoming a lawyer in high school. When I got to college I worked in the mortgage industry for a year and then realized I wanted to be in the business world; at that point I became a marketing major. Quite unexpectedly I switched to accounting with a fair amount of persuasion from my adorable mom and graduated from college with an accounting degree and an offer from Pricewaterhouse Coopers. I declined the offer to join the firm and instead went to work in our family business which is a mixed accounting and law practice. I knew upon graduating that accounting was not for me but I knew I enjoyed working with my dad so it was the best option at the time.
At this point in life I was feeling pretty frustrated with the fact that I was not working at my dream job or doing anything remotely in line with what I had imagined for myself. I discovered how coaching could help me redefine what I wanted to do with my life and ultimately ended up getting licensed as a coach to help college kids better understand where their fit was in the job world or just get organized on a general level. So I worked in that for a little over a year where I started this blog- PositivB- which I loved writing but completely neglected once RUBR came along.
I truthfully never imaged RUBR would become something. When I took in the test import it wasn’t such an expensive investment and I had honestly planned to sell the batch and then use the profits to go on an extravagant trip or buy myself an expensive bag ( yes I just admitted that). However after I sold off the batch I didn’t want to just blow the money, I wanted to really make a go of RUBR- again I never thought that would be the case. I was walking around selling the watches out of my bag like an unassuming peddler at restaurants, bars and nightclubs. My friends were my models and sales reps. My friend Allie would wear two watches on one arm to attract attention in the city. My friend Arielle along with her mom and grandmother would bring over customers to my table at different shopping events I participated in. Michele and Tiffani sold a ton of watches throughout the Forest Hills Schools. Erin, though in DC, made sure to spread the word about RUBR and wrote so many encouraging facebook posts that directed people to my website. I’ll never forget one night when I had decided to wear one of my old favorite watches to Abe and Arthur and not a RUBR (which I wore pretty religiously). I was given the third degree by a guy I was talking to for not wearing one of my own watches. Thank goodness my friend Lin was wearing a RUBR as she so faithfully does- and once he saw it on her wrist I made a few sales to him in the bar that night. My mom stopped wearing all her watches and put on mine where she proceeded to sell a watch to almost every employee in Saks where she went to lunch. My sister Allison along with a family friend, Alicia, both worked at NBC and organized an informal watch party during working hours in their office. My other sister Lindsey gave up many of her summer weekends to sit in 90+ degree weather in NYC working flea markets with me. Finally, my father, truly practical and perhaps the toughest party to convince of this new project, was fairly skeptical for sometime until we were sitting at a restaurant where I strategically put on an orange watch and proceeded to tell him that by the end of dinner I would have sold the woman at the table next to us one of my watches; about 20 minutes later she asked me about the watch and ended up buying 3 from me which of course I had in my usual luggage size handbag. From that point forward he always nudged his clients to take a look at my watches after their business meetings; my watches are warehoused in his office so clients can now both receive financial, legal and fashion services. I couldn’t have asked for more supportive family or friends in this venture and it has made all the difference for RUBR’s success.
From flea markets (which I still go to on occasion because it’s the best way to test run a new product) I built an e-commerce site and started to think larger. I hired an incredible PR firm- Blink PR which placed the watches in fantastic publications, my favorite of which was Vogue in April 2012 with their 100 best summer accessories for under 100 dollars. I thought that would be the pinnacle of excitement until this March where the watches appeared on a Jill Martin segment on the Today show. I’ve been able to work in so many sectors of the market from my own e-commerce site to flash sale sites to retail stores to fundraisers. I’ve learned a tremendous amount of about business and how critical customer service is to the success of a business. I am glued to my phone all the times because I handle 99.99 percent of customer interactions and usually respond to customer emails within 15 minutes and at the most 24 hours. I have some really great insights on the power of prompt replies but I’ll save that for another blog. The point here is that I do pretty much everything for RUBR; at the end of the day I have a real issue letting go and assigning tasks to other people. As crazy as it sounds I’d rather stay up till 4am doing watch work than assigning it to someone else because I want everything to be as perfect as possible- this is my baby (for now). I’m working on giving responsibility away- but again I’ll save that for another blog post.
The point is that all the planning I did when I was younger was really for nothing and I couldn’t be happier about that. Strange enough, when I was about 10 I had visited a client with my dad who was in the plastics industry. His office had so many fun gadgets I just loved it there. For a while after that I went around telling people that I was going to work in the plastics industry when I grew up. Did I purposefully plan to use silicone as the material for my watches? No- but it does make for a cute coincidence. My newest venture with the watches is in the events industry where I’ve revamped my original 2 interchangeable watches into a bar/bat mitzvah activity (BUILD – A – WATCH). I never thought that I’d be hanging out at bar and bat mitzvahs this spring helping guests create custom watches but that’s really the crux of it all- I never knew and I can’t plan on knowing anything that will happen in the future. The only thing I can hold myself to at this point is being on time.
With all the talk of Jeremy Lin, I can’t help but think about sports when it comes today’s post. No, I’m not discussing the failures or successes of the Knicks, but the idea of the individual and the team. Did you ever hear someone say that he became successful or built an empire all by himself? Well it’s simply a lie. No matter how much we THINK we do on our own, our actions, mentally and approach to anything is a true product of our environment. Environment = people who surround us. Family, friends, colleagues, people we love or hate, all influence us. Let’s say you have a friend who run’s a business horribly, chances are you’ll make an effort to run your business in the opposite way. If you come from a successful family, you are more likely to want to follow in those footsteps. If your friends are lazy you may also feel a lack of motivation as group mentality is a strong force. Either way, who and what you surround yourself with impacts your life- whether you want it to or not. So pick a good team and the benefits will be realized.
Todays post is inspired by the highly unusual and fabulous weather the NY area is experiencing today. 60 degrees for February 22nd in New York is extremely unexpected. Little changes or surprises can really have a big impact. I know that my mood is definitely elevated with the rising temperature; just as it is when positive unexpected things occur. Something unexpected doesn’t necessarily have to be a surprise. You can do any number of little things that are out of the ordinary to spice up your day or routine. When things are predictable we often feel less vivacious, a little something unexpected is just what the doctor ordered to fix that.