Steve Ferrante's High Performance Blog for Sales/Customer Service/Leadership Champs and Progressive Professionals!

After nearly 150 years (146 to be exact) Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus “The Greatest Show on Earth” is coming to an end this week! Sad but true. The thoughtful article below was written by Brad Deutser, president of Deutser LLC, a consulting firm that advises leaders and organizations about achieving clarity, especially in times of transition, growth or crisis. He previously worked for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Ringling Bros Circus: The End of an Era

From ring to ring, you have entertained. From generation to generation, you have brought families together. You have invited us in to witness and be a part of the Greatest Show on Earth.

But, you have also become one of America’s great tragedies. After nearly a century and a half in business, doing what you do best, you will vacate your place in the entertainment space. There will be other circuses. But, there will never be another Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus. You have never wavered from your roots – your history, your way of working and promoting, and your way of entertaining. Until, recently. Pressures to change practices. Pressures to change acts. Pressures to conform to current ways.

Most people are unaware of the extent you cared for animals. Most are unaware of the brilliant business model to get people in the door to experience the circus and buy memorabilia and merchandise. Most are unaware that Ringling Bros. was the entry point for so many to begin their careers in show business. It was a gateway for many around the world to explore, to share culture, and to provide smiles. It was so much to so many.

In many ways, it was part of the American way. I remember the excitement when the train stopped in a city. I remember the authentic joy the clowns brought as the elephants paraded down the streets to the arena. I remember the genuine love of the circus by its performers behind the scenes and in the rings. I remember the sweat on the brow before each show and the smiles that filled the stands.

So it begs the question: Why did Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey fail? Or did we fail it?

I have struggled to explain how we allow our American icons to disappear. For what? Better, more wholesome family entertainment? Why did the business environment change so rapidly? Or did it?  Was it lack of strategic foresight? Was it changing societal norms? Were there simply better options? Or did we take it for granted that what was once here will always be here?

This was an icon that navigated the generations. It circumvented challenges over nearly 15 decades. Somehow it remained relevant year after year, until now. But why? To some, Ringling gave up its core values and become something different when it removed elephants from its show. To others, no matter the advances or new innovations, it was still the circus that you only needed to see once. To others, it was a lumbering icon that couldn’t change quickly enough to keep up with the pace of technology and today’s entertainment. And, to others, it was simply taken for granted that it would always be there for us, like it had been for the previous 146 years.

Perhaps, this is less Ringling Bros. giving up or giving in and more a statement of the America we live in today. We gravitate to sexy headlines. We are intrigued more by the glitz and less by the substance. We place stereotypes on things that we are reluctant to ever modify. We expose our youth more to what is ahead and much less to what is now. Reality works best when there is controversy or big names. But, that has never been the circus’ way.  Theirs was a way of basic, good old-fashioned American values.

This ending of an era sends a message to all of us.  It reminds us that relevance is fleeting.  It reminds us, as parents and grandparents, that we must find new forms of entertainment to bring our families together. It reminds us to hold on to what is important to each of us – whether it is the circus or something else. At its core, this is about family values – and working fiercely to protect them – in whatever way is most appropriate to today’s family.

The circus that convened families, generations and communities is soon to be no longer here. For many it has been replaced by the bright lights of the computer screen and video games as well as the solitude it brings. We may not be able to recreate the greatest show on earth, but we can recreate the environment and the magic that it was to families who came together to celebrate the goodness and wholesomeness it represented.

There will be many questions. What really happened to end this era? What will become of the animals for whom Ringling provided such genuine and remarkable care? What will happen to the children who no longer have the greatest show on earth?

There will be answers. But, unfortunately, not the same answers our parents had for us.

Ringling Bros., RIP.

“Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.” – Winston S. Churchill

Overcoming adversity is one of the true measures of a persons character and of success itself. If you have not endured adversity and have somehow taken the perfect path to success than good for you. And potentially bad for you too. When challenges and obstacles block your path will you have the resiliency, grit and determination to overcome them and succeed? 

Overcoming adversity is an essential trait of a ‘Pinnacle Performer’ and key differentiator from the average person who’s progress and success potential is hindered (and often halted) by adversity.

And with that I bring you one of the most powerful examples of overcoming adversity I have ever seen.  14-year old, Lorelei Mosnegutu, was born with no arms and abandoned as a baby. As you’ll see (and hear) in the video below from Romania’s Got Talent that certainly did not stop her from succeeding.

I hope Lorelei’s performance (and the judges comments) helps you put your own challenges in perspective and inspires you to overcome the adversity you face (or are facing) on your path to success!

Make a Great Day!

Steve

Never Forget > Lauren Hill

In the article,Customer Satisfaction Doesn’t Count,” the Gallup Organization stated that “if you do not make an emotional connection with customers, then satisfaction is worthless.” Their research proved that customers do not buy strictly for rational reasons and that, from a results standpoint, it is much more important to engage customers on an emotional level. 

The fact is no one remembers an ordinary transaction and they certainly don’t share them with their family and friends. They do remember extraordinary interactions and experiences. In this sense, creating a positive memory is the ultimate emotional connection!

We’ve all been there..

You’re at a restaurant with your family and/or friends. You just finished dinner and order dessert and perhaps a coffee. Then you wait and, sure enough, 10 or so minutes later your dessert arrives. Nothing special or particularly memorable about that. Enter the fine folks at Skullmapping..

From their website: 

At Skullmapping we create projection mapping projects, VR experiences and holograms. Our passion is to develop stories and present them in a new way, in order to surprise our audience. We love to experiment with the latest technology, and push beyond what has been done before.

And so now you’re in a delightfully different restaurant waiting for dessert and this happens..

I bet you and your family and/or friends would remember that!

While you may not have the capability to utilize virtual reality in your business as spectacularly demonstrated here, the concept is the same. To stand out and above your competition, you must strive to create positively memorable experiences for your customers!

the-best-customer-experiences-are-positively-memorable 

Make a Great Day!

Steve 

Want to create true emotional engagement and positively memorable experiences for your customers? I can absolutely help you! For details and contact info click-on > Sale Away LLC.

tom-brady-independence-day

In case you missed it, yesterday New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady became the NFL’s all-time winningest quarterback following the team’s 26-10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams at Gillette Stadium.

Now at 201 career wins, Brady is alone at the top breaking a tie with Peyton Manning for win No. 201.

Of course, this would be a monumental accomplishment for any quarterback but for the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL draft.. absolutely astounding.

Do Not Say Anything Cannot Be Done When There Is Tom Brady

As I wrote about in 4 Success Lessons from the Champion New England Patriots, Tom Brady prepares to win every game with a total commitment and an obsessive attention to detail.

“I’m grateful for all of my teammates and my coaches and for my family and friends,” Brady said. “There’s been a lot of great football over the years, so it’s always been about winning and I’ve been very fortunate to be on a lot of great teams. I just feel very grateful.”

At the end of the day, for Tom Brady it’s all about winning and doing what it takes to succeed at a high level.  

His results speak for themselves..

Congratulations to Tom Brady, a true Pinnacle Performer.

Steve 🙂

5-ws-of-service

Any sports coach worth his whistle will tell you that you must first learn, practice, and master the fundamentals if you’re going to be truly great in your sport.

That same philosophy is true of your business: your sales and service team needs to learn, practice, and master the fundamentals of customer service if you’re going to have a truly great service business.

Continuing the sports analogy, many businesses are playing without a good grasp of these fundamentals. They hope to win the game, but are not familiar with the playing field.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the fundamentals of customer service by answering the essential “Five W” questions.

Read the entire article here > The Five W’s of Customer Service

Defying The Odds To Succeed

A big part of achieving success is overcoming the challenges and obstacles encountered along the way.

With average or poor performers these challenges and obstacles usually hinder progress and limit success. For high-achievers, challenges and obstacles are anticipated and met head on.

High achievers understand that either the obstacle wins or you do and prepare both mentally (commitment, discipline, accountability) and physically (practice, behaviors, execution) to breakthrough and succeed. 

Either The Obstacle Wins or You Do

With that in mind, have a look and listen at the great little music video below from the band X Ambassador for their hit song “Renegades”. The video showcases an amazing group of disabled athletes and daredevils defying the odds and doing things average people do not–including the band’s keyboard player Casey Harris, who happens to be blind as well.

 

Make a Great Day!

Steve 🙂

Need More Inspiration? Check-Out Nothing Is Impossible

no fly zone

Not a very good morning here in New Orleans as I awoke to find that American Airlines cancelled my flight @ 10:50am and booked me on another flight @ 4:05pm.

Being a frequent flier, I understand these things happen and surely the airline had no malicious intent rescheduling me to another flight that would have me getting in some 6 hours later than originally planned.

Having been on the road all week and not wanting to miss another full day from the family, I took it upon myself to search flights and see if there was something that would have me home a little earlier.

The best I could find was a flight departing at 1pm, connecting in Charlotte, and arriving in Boston at 8pm. Although my flight out was from Manchester NH, some 50 miles away from Boston, and my vehicle is there, I thought this would be a better option than getting in at 10:30pm as they had re-booked me. So I called American Airlines customer service..

Enter AJ, customer service support extraordinaire. Or so I hoped. Initially, AJ was quite pleasant assuring me he understood my situation and would “do whatever it takes” to take care of this for me.

All it was going to take is a $200 change fee to re-route me to Boston from Manchester. I explained again that the original cancellation was not something I did, but rather they did to me, and that re-routing to Boston was actually adding to my inconvenience as I would need to be picked up and then have to retrieve my vehicle 50 miles away.

Suddenly, AJ transformed from “do whatever it takes” to “that’s the best I can do”, saying that “policy” restricted him from making the flight change without collecting the $200 change fee.

It’s worth noting that I am an American Airlines Rewards Member. Although AJ had my flight record with rewards member identification, this never came up in our communication and nothing resembling ‘rewards member’ consideration was given.

This is great example of how a business can let a policy get in the way and prevent taking care of the customer – in this case, me.

AJ’s transformation from customer advocate to customer assassin was a clear case of lack of empowerment. Ultimately, he was handcuffed by a corporate policy that prohibited him from doing the single most important aspect of his customer support job.. ensuring the customer receives proper service recovery for his or her  situation.

Sadly, this is not my first incident of customer disservice with American Airlines > Customer Disservice Lesson From American Airlines Seat 36F

Steve

 

 

Attract and Employ Top Talent

Having difficulty finding talented employees? Have a look at the engagement of your existing employees first.

Spending the last 21+ years in business consulting, the past 10+ in my own practice, I have heard the plea “we can’t find good people” countless times from business owners and/or management personnel. In fact, if you’re a business owner or manager, there’s a very good chance you have said this yourself at one point or another.

Of course, every business wants to attract, hire and retain “good people” but only the best businesses seem to do that consistently well. Why is that?

Read the entire article here > Creating a Winning Workplace to Attract and Retain Top Talent

Help People

Make a Great Day!

Steve 🙂

Business Insider Article Worth Reading > KFC founder Colonel Sanders didn’t achieve his remarkable rise to success until his 60s

Harland Sanders

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