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Most Ads Suck Book Excerpt – Chapter 1

Here is Chapter One of my new book MOST ADS SUCK (But Yours Won’t). You can pre-order the book here.

(If you didn’t read the Foreword already, you can find it here.)

(Cover Art not final)

Chapter 1 – Most Ads Suck

“Every customer is the right customer. What you’re looking for is the right moment.” – Roy H. Williams

You’re in a room with friends, a plate of nachos in your hands. It’s the first Sunday in February. It’s a Super Bowl Party. Everyone is glued to the TV. Groans and high-fives and laughter fill the air. Some of your friends are second-guessing every move, every decision they see on the screen. Everyone is cheering for their favorite, even making excuses when it doesn’t go so well.

Then the game comes back on and you head to the bathroom and back to the kitchen to refill your nacho plate.

Once a year you watch the ads. One night out of three hundred and sixty-five you don’t fast forward or change the channel or—in many cases even care about the actual programming, just the ads in between.

You remember the good ones from years past. You remember how a few years ago the Budweiser Armed Forces in Airport commercial made you feel when everyone started clapping slowly, then faster until the whole airport was standing and applauding the soldiers walking through. You remember the kid looking you in the eyes and telling you he wanted to work in middle management even though you can’t recall which employment service did that ad and which one had the monkeys in the office.

You also remember groaning at some of the really bad ones, wondering how in the world that ad got approved for production, let alone a multi-million-dollar TV slot. You wish your own business was like one of these big companies with millions of dollars to waste on advertising knowing that in two weeks no one would remember and you would still have tens of millions to spend on the boring, crap ads everyone runs the rest of the year.

Why is that? Why, you wonder, do all these companies spend so much time, money and creativity on their Super Bowl ads only to run them once a year and leave you with the same tired sales-pitchy stuff the rest of the year? While you’re at it, you wonder why so many companies spend so much time, money and creativity only to miss the mark by a wide margin. Puppymonkeybaby? Really, Mountain Dew? That’s the best you could come up with?

Your friends tell you they’ve switched to satellite radio. Too many ads on regular radio, they say. Other friends tell you the greatest invention is the DVR or Netflix or Hulu. Don’t have to suffer through so many ads, they say. They do have a point. You seem to recall some study about how you are bombarded with over 5,000 advertising messages a day. You’re not sure if that number is right, but you do know that everywhere you turn there is another promotional message staring at you. Heck, every sub-segment of the Super Bowl was “brought to you by …” some auto/food/beer/insurance/drug company.

Maybe there are too many ads.

But there you are on the first Sunday in February, ignoring the brought-to-you-by announcements and even the game itself, and instead comparing notes with your friends on which ads were the funniest, the most moving, the most memorable.

Suddenly it dawns on you. The real problem with advertising isn’t that there are too many ads. The real problem is that most ads suck. If they were more creative or funny like the ones you saw tonight, you’d pay attention. If they were entertaining, you wouldn’t be switching channels. If they touched your heart, you might actually take action.

You think you’ve figured it out. You think you’ve figured out what famed retailer John Wanamaker couldn’t when he famously said, “Half of my ad budget is wasted. The problem is I don’t know which half.” It’s the half with the lousy, looks-like-everyone-else, boring, stupid ads.

You want to shout it from the rooftop. You’ve solved the advertising equation. The first half, at least.

You start thinking how fun it would be to meet with the advertising executives of every major company out there and tell them to quit spending all their money on Super Bowl ads and instead spend that money to make the rest of their ads better.

Then you wonder. “Wait, do I have it all wrong? Is it really that simple? That these multi-billion-dollar companies with their multi-million-dollar advertising budgets and their multi-million-dollar advertising firms with all their fancy metrics just don’t get it?”

Yes, you do have it right. Yes, you instinctively understand what many ad agencies and major national corporations don’t. You get it because you’re the consumer. You know what works on you and what doesn’t. You know what gets you to tune in and tune out.

You’re also smart enough to realize that some ads just aren’t speaking to you. You still appreciate clever writing, creative copy, and smart messages. If they’re entertaining enough, you’ll tolerate ads written for someone other than you. But your internal filter shuts everything down as soon as it looks, sounds, or smells like the plethora of phony, deceiving, too-good-to-be-true ads out there.

You’re about to start making a list of the worst offenders, the ones whose offices you’ll visit first to tell them about your new revelation, when it dawns on you. You know what they shouldn’t be doing. But if they ask you how to make their ads more interesting and memorable and effective, you don’t know where to start.

Hmmm …

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Thank you for those who have already supported the campaign to get this book printed. There are some amazing perks available for those of you who wish to contribute including one perk where I will create two ads for you (no matter what platform you are using). 

Most Ads Suck Book Excerpt – Foreword

I promised you some excerpts from my new book MOST ADS SUCK (But Yours Won’t). Like all good books, the best place to start is the beginning. Here is the Foreword …

(Cover Art Not Final)

Foreword

Who will use this book? Anyone who writes content to persuade including web content, ad copy, magazine articles, emails and newsletters, and even speeches. If you write to persuade, you’ll find this book relevant and useful. If you write to connect, you’ll find this book relevant and useful. If you write to spark change, you’ll find this book relevant and useful.

The character who leads you through this book is you. You’re like me in your curiosity and desire to learn—that’s why you’re reading this book in the first place. You lead yourself through the first eight chapters discovering new ideas and revelations as you go. I will take over in Chapter 9 to show you by example how the principles you learn in this book apply to all different types of businesses, including yours.

You will still need to bring a few tools to the table to make this book work best for you. Most importantly, you have to know your Core Values. For the purpose of this book, you will have the values of Freedom, Curiosity, Diligence, and Education. You will use your own Curiosity to explore the concepts of how to make your advertising more effective. You will use Diligence to do the research you need to give yourself the tools (Education) to write your own content in your own words. That will give you the Freedom to succeed in your business without being led blindly down fruitless paths to more boring, useless, ineffective advertising. My own Core Values are Having Fun, Helping Others, Education, and Nostalgia. See if you can spot them throughout this book.

I first presented this information at the Jackson Retail Success Academy™ back in 2011. Fourteen frying pans later, it is an audience favorite because the applications are endless. You will find yourself using the principles in this book for far more than advertising. You’ll see the influence of this book in all of your writings, presentations, sales calls, and trainings. In fact, I have a ten-minute TED-style talk centered around how Chapter 4 applies to all levels of communication. (I’m still waiting on a true TED or TEDx event to call.)

I want you to share this book. I expect you to dog-ear some pages, underline some passages, write your own notes in the margins. I also expect you to pass this book along to your friends in a similar position as you (or preferably, buy them a copy of their own). I expect you to take exceptions to different principles based on your own experiences. That’s why I call them principles instead of rules. (And also because you’re the kind of person who hates the word “rules” and would immediately try to find ways to break them.)

I especially expect or even encourage you to find fault with many of the sample ads in the back of the book. That’s okay. As Roy H. Williams taught me many years ago, an advertisement is like a magnet. Its ability to attract is in exact proportion to its ability to repel. If you feel any emotion at all towards the ad samples, I will have done my job. If you really don’t like them, I challenge you to write better ones. Send them to me. I would love to read them.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS You can pre-order a copy of this book by supporting my Indiegogo.com Campaign. (The more pre-orders and support I get, the faster this book gets into your hands.) Stay tuned for Chapter 1 tomorrow …

Using My Super Powers

My boys and I saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 earlier this evening. We are Marvel Studios junkies. Even the bad ones were good enough for us. I’ve always been fascinated by super heroes, especially their powers and how they use them. I am firm believer that we all have super powers within us. Maybe not the ability to fly or super-human strength or making fire shoot from our eyes. But we have talents that, when harnessed properly, become amazing powers.

I have learned that one of my powers is the ability to take complex subjects and make them understandable.

Independent retailers have to master a number of skills to be successful.

  • You have to be good with your Products – knowing your products inside and out, knowing how to relate to customers, knowing which products to sell and how to sell them.
  • You have to be good at Marketing & Advertising – knowing how to get the word out to people that you are the place to shop.
  • You have to be good at Financials – knowing how to manage your cash flow, maintaining profit margin, keeping expenses in alignment with sales.
  • If you’re a large enough store you have to be good with People – knowing how to hire, train, and manage a quality team.

Those are the main legs of the retail business – Products, Marketing, Financials, and People.

I used to say I was good at three, just don’t ask me about Financials. Then the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) asked me to do something unthinkable. They asked me to write a book about the financials of a toy store called “Financials Made Easy.”

They said if anyone could do it, I could. I told them if they changed the title to “Financials You Can Understand” (because no one could make it “easy”) then I was their guy.

In four months I learned and understood more about Financials than I ever thought possible. The book is one of my favorite writing projects because I had to take a topic I barely understood myself and translate it into the language of non-accountants everywhere. (My accountant friends who helped proof-read the book for errors were amazed as much as I was at how well it turned out.)

The book is proprietary property of ASTRA. You have to join ASTRA to get a copy. But the knowledge I gained in the process helped me tremendously at Toy House and also in my teachings through Jackson Retail Success Academy™ and PhilsForum. Later that year I did my first workshop on the topic. One of the attendees said her accountant had been trying to teach her this stuff for years, but this was the first time it finally made sense.

I have now presented several times on the topics of Retail Math, my least favorite and least experienced topic. I’ll be doing both a beginner and an expert breakout session on elements of the book at the upcoming ASTRA Academy in June.

I tell you this because I want you to understand the reasoning behind writing the book Most Ads Suck. Unlike Financials, I love Marketing & Advertising. I took over that element of Toy House in 1995 and began experimenting, trying different things to see what worked. I began studying advertising and reading different authors who spoke on advertising.

My radio sales rep Linda McDougall gave me Roy H. Williams’ first book The Wizard of Ads. I was hooked immediately. I ordered the other two books in his trilogy the very next day. I also became a huge fan of Seth Godin and joined his now defunct website triiibes based on his book Tribes where I met people as passionate about marketing and advertising as I was. I started using stuff I learned from Roy and Seth and Malcolm Gladwell and Gary Vaynerchuk and Daniel H. Pink and Guy Kawasaki and others.

Not everything I learned worked for me. I had to mix and distill and tweak and measure and test. But when it did work, it was magical.

I wrote this ad in a few minutes one Sunday afternoon in July 2008 …

I couldn’t believe it. They were taking customers into the men’s bathroom. Yes, my staff was taking men and women, young and old, into our men’s bathroom. And they were coming out laughing, smiling, oh yeah, and buying, too. I guess when you have a product this good, you just have to show it off however… and wherever… you can. The men’s bathroom… Gotta love it!  Toy House in downtown Jackson. We’re here to make you smile.

I didn’t ever think about not running it. It told a story. It made you laugh (emotion). It grabbed your interest. Yeah, it mentioned the men’s bathroom, but not in a bad or seedy way. Yeah, it never mentioned the product (if you remember the previous blog, you know that feelings are more important than facts.) Yeah, it went viral big time.

The ad ran in August 2008. Two times a day, Monday through Friday, for four weeks. That’s it.

The first day it aired, the DJ started talking about it live on air, wondering what was going on in our men’s bathroom. The second day, all the DJ’s on all the related stations were talking about it – including one of the stations that wasn’t even running the ad! By day three even the local TV talk show host was speculating on that ad. All fall my staff and I would get asked at the grocery store or the gas station about what was going on in the men’s bathroom. In March 2009 one customer stopped in and asked me because, “All we talked about at the adult table at Christmas Dinner was was going on in your men’s bathroom.” And she lived two hours away!

When people are talking about your ads weeks and months after they aired, you made memorable ads. When people are asking you about your ads even when you’re not in your store, your business is at the top of their minds. When people talk to their friends and family about your ads, you know you made an impact.

That ad wasn’t a lucky accident. It was years of study and testing. It was years of trial and error. It was millions of dollars spent learning what moves the needle and what doesn’t.

The book Most Ads Suck (But Yours Won’t) is me using my super powers to take something as complex and nuanced as Advertising, that I have spent twenty years studying and actively doing, and make it understandable. This is me at my best helping you become your best. I am asking for your support to help launch this book.

My super power is to make it understandable. I’m counting on your super power to make it happen now.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS The principles in this book don’t just work for radio ads. The principles apply to billboards, print ads, television, direct mail, email, social media, pitches to investors, political speeches, and anywhere else where you need to persuade someone. If you haven’t yet pre-ordered the book through my Indiegogo campaign, there are plenty of links above.

The Heart Opens the Wallet

You bought your first car because you fell in love with it. You bought your first house because you fell in love with it. You married your spouse because you loved that person. Every major purchase in your life was ultimately decided by your heart. Facts and data play a role, but the heart opens the wallet.

So why do we fill our advertising with tons of facts and data?

Probably because you were told the best way to make the sale is to hammer home all the features and benefits. Yeah, I read that book, too. Yet features and benefits are for people in an analyzing mode. As long as they stay in analyzing mode, they won’t ever make the purchase. You want them in a buying mode. You have to speak to the heart to get them beyond analysis.

Maya Angelou said it best, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Your job as a salesperson is to get people to feel good about the product. Your job as an advertiser is to get people to feel good about a company. Your job as a small business person is to make people feel good. Period. Break it down like that and it simplifies your job.

I ran this ad as my sole radio ad for the 2005 Christmas season …

“He left Detroit 9am Christmas Eve. Some store somewhere had to have the one item his sweet little six-year-old wanted. Six cities, seven stores later he stood travel-weary across the counter from me. ‘I suppose you don’t have any Simon games either.’ As I handed over the last of my Simon games, he smiled and said, ‘God bless you!’ Believe me, He already has. Merry Christmas from the Toy House in downtown Jackson. We’re here to make you smile.”

It was a feel-good ad. It didn’t talk about our many services. It didn’t talk about our huge selection (heck, the Simon game wasn’t even on the market that season.) It didn’t give our extended holiday hours or our address, phone or website. It didn’t even mention the store until the very end.

But it worked.

We ran that ad in 2005 and had the busiest Christmas season ever! We ran it again in 2007 and surpassed 2005 by a wide margin.

Why did that ad work so well? It spoke to the heart. It made you feel good. It hit on four of the six principles in my new book Most Ads Suck (But Yours Won’t).

  1. Don’t look or sound like any other ad
  2. Tell a Story
  3. Speak to the Heart
  4. Speak to Your Tribe

You don’t hear radio ads like that. The opening line of most ads turns you off. The opening line here gets your interest. The story draws you in. The ending makes you feel good. The ad was also about Nostalgia, one of my Core Values. It spoke directly to the people who share my values-people who also are nostalgic. Did people remember the ad? Oh yes! Not the details, just the feelings. Just like Maya Angelou said they would.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS You can pre-order the book MOST ADS SUCK by clicking the link. You can even get me to write a couple ads for your business (check out the perks for supporting the campaign.) Just ask yourself if your “best Christmas season ever” is worth the investment.

PPS That ad is based on a true story that happened to me back in 1980. It was one hour from closing time when this man approached my counter displaying all the hand-held electronic games. Only one minute earlier my mom had laid a Simon game at my feet from a canceled layaway and said, “See if you can sell this before we close.” Talk about timing! Besides saying, “God bless you!” over and over and over, this large, travel-weary gentleman hugged me right across the counter. Tears were flowing for both of us as he shared his story. I’ll never forget that man or that story (a story that hasn’t been embellished once in the last 37 years because it doesn’t need it.) You have a similar story that, once you tell it, that story will get people to fall in love with you all over again.

This Book Will Change Lives

Click-bait, right? Not at all. My new book, Most Ads Suck, will change lives for the better. Here’s how …

Before we go further, if you accept the premise that most ads do in fact suck, then you will accept the premise that most independent business owners will have sucky ads. You good with that?

First, most indie business owners have no training for creating killer content.

Second, they have no budget for buying a big ad agency with a top-notch creative team.

Third, they are usually at the whim of an advertising sales person who also has no training in creating killer content. At best he or she has a clever team that can create a clever version of the same template they are running for every other client.

Just imagine what happens if one indie business owner gets a hold of this book and learns how to tell stories that speak to the heart of his tribe*. Just imagine what happens if one indie business owner starts creating content that gets noticed and remembered. Just imagine what happens if one indie business owner grows her business into a powerhouse.

That’s food on the table for his family. That’s better pay for her employees (indie businesses are notorious for paying more than big chains). That’s more taxes for his community (indie businesses are notorious for being stuck paying higher taxes than chains). That’s more support for other indie businesses.

Multiply that x 1000 (the number of books available in the first print run) and your pre-order of this book will change lives. I call it Trickle Up Economics.

You aren’t donating to me when you go to Indiegogo.com – you get a book, a t-shirt, a webinar, even a couple of ads written for you in return for your support. The support you give to this campaign is support to every indie business owner out there currently at the mercy of untrained creative teams from untrained advertising salespeople. You are helping launch a resource that will change their lives (and yours) forever.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS *Telling Stories, Speaking to the Heart and Speaking to Your Tribe are three of the six principles outlined and explained in the book. Since all boats rise with the tide, when you help me help them, you help me help you (which helps them and you, too.) Please support this campaign.

The Power of Storytelling

“Phil, the Marshall Community still talks about your presentation on advertising.” That’s the message I received late last night from Scott Fleming, the head of Marshall Area Economic Development Authority. Scott hired me to do the presentation based on my new book Most Ads Suck. I did the presentation a week ago and he is still receiving positive feedback. He’s going to help me promote this presentation to other groups like his.

Phil presenting for Marshall Area Economic Development Authority

One of my favorite parts about doing this presentation is the stories I get to tell. I told the story of a jeweler in rural Washington. I told the story of a couple of my trips to Wizard Academy. I told the story of the copywriter and the frying pans. I told the story of how I made Sheila cry on her birthday (Shelia and I laughed about that story last night at a high school band concert her daughter and my son were in.) I told the story of my first Christmas Eve working at Toy House at the age of fourteen and how I should have known then that I was destined to make people happy. I told the story of my boys plummeting to certain death in the fastest, ugliest sled ever created. I told the story of how customers used to approach me at the grocery store to ask what was going on in the men’s bathroom at Toy House.

Not only do stories make presentations more powerful and memorable, stories do the same for your advertising and your business. In fact, one of the six principles outlined in my book and on stage is Tell a Story. Stories fire up the brain differently than simple facts and figures.

Here is what other people are saying about stories …

Jonathan Gottschall, author of The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt tells you, “Stories powerfully hook and hold human attention because, at a brain level, whatever is happening in a story is happening to us and not just them.” (10-16-2013, www.fastcocreate.com)

Rachel Gillett says, “When we read a story, not only do the language parts of our brains light up, but any other part of the brain that we would use if we were actually experiencing what we’re reading about becomes activated as well.” (6-4-2014 www.fastcompany.com)

Pamela B. Rutledge, Ph.D., M.B.A. writing for Positively Media, “Stories are how we are wired. Stores take place in the imagination. To the human brain, imagined experiences are processed the same as real experiences. Stories create genuine emotions, presence (the sense of being somewhere), and behavioral responses.” (1-16-2011 www.psychologytoday.com)

Catrinel Bartolomeu says, “Unlike statistics, stories trigger emotions—actual physical and chemical changes in our body.” (11-10-16 www.contently.com)

Yes, stories change you physically and chemically. Stories happen in your brain as if you were in the story yourself. Stories are more powerful than data.

Start telling stories in your advertising and you will start seeing a different, better result.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Please help me get this book printed. Go to the Indiegogo Campaign and make a donation today. Not only will you get an autographed copy of the book, if you make a large enough donation you can get a live webinar, or even a half-day workshop at your place for you and your fellow business owners.

PPS Here is the meta of all metas. One of the companies featured in the Samples chapter of the book is a company that tells your story for you in the form of a magazine for you to use to advertise your business. In other words, a story about telling stories for advertising features advertising stories about a company that writes stories for advertising. That will make your head spin!

Help Get This Book Launched!

Back on April 3, 2015 I wrote a blog about an idea that had been swimming around my brain for my next book. It was going to be about how to write more creative and interesting advertising copy. I was already presenting on the topic. My Making Your Ads More Effective presentation was a smashing success. It was time to put the ideas together.

I asked for companies to submit their information to me to use for writing samples of ad copy for them. Several companies sent me their info. Unfortunately, my life got a little crazy and I never got around to writing that book.

I am glad I waited.

On March 1st this year I finally started putting words together. New ideas were flowing. New revelations were popping up left and right. I started out with the four rules I had been teaching in my presentation. Then I realized “rules” wasn’t the right word. I know you. If I tell you there is a rule, you’re the first person to try to break it. So now I call them principles. (You’ll still try to break them. Now you just won’t feel so bad about it, or good, for that matter.)

As I wrote, I realized there were six principles, not four. Six principles and two revelations. The biggest of those revelations is that Most Ads Suck.

You know what I mean. We spend one day a year watching ads – that first Sunday in February when the Super Bowl is played. The other 364 days of the year we do what we can to avoid ads. Hulu and Netflix? Check. DVR set to record? Check. Satellite Radio? Check. Aux cord for Spotify? Check. Digital Ad Blocker? Check.

One day a year the ads are palpable. One day a year the ads are worth watching. One day a year we tune in. The rest of the time we tune out.

As all good books do, this one took on a life of its own. I needed a guide to get through these two revelations and six principles. I found the perfect guide. You. The book starts with You at a Super Bowl Party. From a simple revelation at the party, you go on to teach the world how to create better, more memorable, more compelling, more effective advertising. You teach the world how to write content that isn’t boring. You bring to light the principles that show how small businesses like yours don’t need fancy Madison Avenue ad agencies to grow your brand.

The book is written. It is in the editing stage. Next comes layout and design, cover design (the picture above is a temporary representation), formatting for print and digital, and printing. Those things cost money. I need your help to cover those expenses, plus some marketing expenses. I launched an Indiegogo Campaign for the book yesterday. It goes until the end of May. Please follow the link, make a donation, and share this with your fellow business owners, your local economic development professionals, your chamber director, your DDA director, your local ad salespeople, and anyone you know who is or works with small businesses.

I’ll be posting excerpts of the book over the next few weeks. Please help by making a donation.

Thanks!

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS When you go to the Indiegogo site, you’ll see the perks you get for donating. The simplest one is that you’ll get a signed copy of the book mailed to you the day I bring them home from the printer. The coolest one is that you could hire me for a half-day workshop on the topic of your choice for a fraction of the cost of doing it outside this campaign. Thank you for your donations!

Not Just for Retailers

I was having a conversation this morning when the light bulb went on. I was asked by someone considering enrolling in the SPOTLIGHT ON MANAGERIAL SUCCESS workshop this Wednesday (it is not too late to sign up) whether he would learn anything useful since he “wasn’t a retail store manager.”

The answer is a resounding YES!

In fact, most of what I teach has implications far beyond just the retail landscape. I have followers from all over the world in all types of industries.

If you are in any position where you have to hire people, you need to read my book Hiring and the Potter’s Wheel: Turning Your Staff Into a Work of Art.

If you are in any position where you write copy to persuade people to buy or use your products or services, you can learn from my articles on marketing (and my new book coming out later this spring). 

If you are in any position to teach and lead your staff you would benefit not only from the Spotlight class, but also from the Free Resources on Team Building and Staff Meetings Everyone Wants to Attend.

I know where the confusion began.

The SPOTLIGHT ON MANAGERIAL SUCCESS workshop is being offered through the Jackson Retail Success Academy™. While JRSA™ is mostly geared for retailers, we have had many graduates from other industries. Other than the inventory management segment, most of what I teach there applies to all types of businesses. I run all local classes through JRSA™ because of my partnership with Spring Arbor University and their Hosmer Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. They provide a fantastic venue for hosting events like these and have been a wonderful partner.

You don’t have to be a retailer to take any of the classes or workshops I offer. You only have to be open-minded and ready to learn.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS I am already working on a date for the next SPOTLIGHT workshop. This will be an advanced degree in Advertising and Marketing in four fast-paced hours for anyone who has a business to promote. Stay tuned for details.

Is Collaboration Really the Problem?

I read an article that caught my eye in Inc. Magazine with the title “Collaboration Creates Mediocrity, Not Excellence, According to Science”. You read that title and you will believe that grand studies have now been done to prove that collaboration is a bad thing. Then you read the article and find out there is no science. There really isn’t even a good definition of “collaboration”.

Image result for inc magazine

Here is how the article defines collaboration…

“1) plenty of ad-hoc meetings and 2) open-plan offices that increase the likelihood that that such meetings take place.”

Really? That’s what passes for collaboration in corporate America? Floor plans that are conducive to more meetings?

I read the article, especially the “science” part of it and instead of seeing a problem with collaboration I saw a serious lack of good management. Here is what the science part had to say…

The problem is that rather than seeing a top performer as a role models, mediocre employees tend to see them as threats, either to their own position in the company or to their own feelings of self-worth.

Rather than improving their own performance, mediocre employees socially isolate top performers, spread nasty rumors about them, and either sabotage, or attempt to steal credit for, the top performers’ work. As the study put it: “Cooperative contexts proved socially disadvantageous for high performers.”

A good manager would have nipped that in the bud a long time ago. A good manager would have found ways to keep top performers at their peak while raising the level of mediocre employees. A good manager would have found ways to utilize the individual strengths of everyone on the team so that everyone felt like a valued contributor. A good manager would have created a team where everyone was working toward the success of the collective rather than individual success (while celebrating the individual accomplishments along the way).

I read that article (and the subsequent link to the study that used hair salons?? as their subject material) and came to a different conclusion.

Open floor plans do not lead to great collaboration. Then again neither do closed floor plans. And collaboration by itself without strong management and solid team building doesn’t work either. None of those address the true issue.

Collaboration works incredibly well. But only when you have the right manager in place, someone trained to build teamwork and communication and trust. 

How do I know? I’ve worked for managers like that. I’ve led teams of high productivity and high levels of collaboration. It all comes down to the skills of the manager.

That’s why I’m offering the SPOTLIGHT ON MANAGERIAL SUCCESS workshop next Wednesday, April 26th.  You’ll learn how to lead your team to their peak performance. You’ll learn how to create a culture that has everyone working on the same page for the same goals. You’ll learn how to motivate your team to do their best. You’ll learn how to set up training programs that turn everyone into top performers. You’ll learn all that in one incredibly fun day.

The class is limited to the first 18 people to sign up. Follow this link to sign up today.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Do you wish you could attend but can’t make the trip to Jackson? Contact me and we’ll figure out a plan to bring this workshop to you.

The Team, The Team, The Team

If you know me well, you know I’m a Wolverine. Been one since the day my grandfather took me to The Big House at seven years old. It was the only university I applied to attend. If you know the University of Michigan and follow their football team, you’ve heard the immortal words of the late, great football coach Bo Schembechler, “The Team, The Team, The Team,”

Heck, if you’re a sports fan of any team, whether it is women’s gymnastics or men’s lacrosse or anywhere in between, you understand the power of teamwork and cooperation and working together as one unit. Ask any coach in America and they’ll take amazing teamwork over individual stardom every day.

Image result for bo schembechler the team

Why is teamwork that is so important on the playing field so neglected in the workplace?

I used to work on a team for the Los Angeles Unified School District. There were five of us on the team and each week we worked with inner-city LA teenagers at the Clear Creek Outdoor Education Facility in the Angeles National Forest north of the city. We did team building exercises with these kids. We taught them about nature and an outdoors they rarely experienced back home. We had bears foraging our dumpster, snakes slithering under our cabins, and coyotes howling at the moon.

And we had a Team.

At our staff meeting before each group arrived, we discussed who would lead each activity. That was the only person assigned any task. It was naturally assumed that the other four people would do everything else to support the activity and make sure the entire event was successful.

Now, on some teams, this might be a recipe for disaster. If something doesn’t get done, there would be plenty of people to step up and say, “Not my job.” The NMJ’s are killers to productivity and morale.

On our team, because we were hyper-focused on the experience we offered these adolescents, that was never the case. If one of us saw a job undone, we did it. Period. Everything was our job. There was never any resentment because we all had each other’s back and we all had the overall success of our guests as our goal. It was the most amazing work experience of my life, one I still think about to this day.

What made the difference?

When we weren’t leading team building exercises with the kids we were doing team building exercises with each other. We were all experienced at leading these exercises so we spent the summer creating new exercises to try with the kids. We tried them out with each other first. Our leader, Dana (he was a top-level college wrestler in the ’80’s, would love to find him again but I can’t remember his last name), worked with us all the time on communication, cooperation, problem-solving and trust – the core elements of any team building.

It made a difference for us. More importantly, it made a difference for our students (customers, clients, guests…).

This is why I am leading the all-day workshop SPOTLIGHT ON MANAGERIAL SUCCESS here in Jackson on April 26th. I want to teach you Team Building skills so that you can build your team to this level.

If you manage three or more people, you have a team. That team needs a foundation in teamwork that you can bring to the table through what you train and how you train. This workshop will show you how to do it the right way.

Space is limited. Sign up today!

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Our team disbanded when the LA Unified school teachers went on strike in October 1992. When we headed down the mountain after our last group, we didn’t know it would be the last time we saw each other. I headed back to Michigan and joined a new team that was as dysfunctional as my previous team had been functional. The difference? Leadership. Be your team’s Leader by learning how to build your Team.