The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are, by far, my favorite time of the year. There is cheer in the air and an overall feeling of generosity. Being in the financial field for the past 20 years I have also learned that this is the time of the year when advice is handed out most freely.
So take this as a word of caution for this “Advicegiving Season.”
Most of this advice is well intentioned however often unsolicited. It typically happens when the large meal of the day is finished, politics has been exhausted and the football games are winding down. Now enter the “rich uncle”, you know the one, everybody has one. (And they aren’t always rich) I can say everybody has one regardless of your economic situation or even knowing you. The rich uncle or relative is the guy that likes to tell you all of his huge successes throughout the year, whether they are real or not.
It almost always starts with a philanthropic tone of, “you should get into _________.” It starts this way so that everyone in the room feels like, wow! he is looking out for me or I am getting an inside tip. Then this person drones on and on about how well it has done. If it were to stop there I probably wouldn’t be even mentioning this non-event. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always stop there.
As I mentioned being in the financial field; Now I get to hear about all of these huge successes in the weeks following each of the holidays. It has happened repeatedly for the past 20 years. Which is both great and unfortunate?
It’s great to hear about these ideas/investments because I love to hear new ideas. Great because there are things out there that genuinely successful people do that I want to know about and be involved. Trust me, I certainly don’t claim to know it all and I also spend a great deal of time each year researching and learning anyways.
The unfortunate part is when it derails a financial plan that was totally on the right track. Unfortunately many of these proclaimed investment ideas aren’t always entirely true or even understood. Never does the afore mentioned rich uncle take the time to understand if his idea, be it good or bad, is appropriate for the season of life of the recipient or fits in to their overall goals.
So this holiday season take the advice and be gracious. However, I would caution you to think through who is giving the advice. Have they been successful? Are they in a different phase of life than you? Are their values in line with yours? Most importantly make sure that you overlay this advice with your well-coordinated plan to ensure that it fits into your families’ hopes and dreams.
Best of luck this Advicegiving season! I would encourage you to stick with throwing the football with the kids after lunch.
Do you have that Uncle? Let us know, maybe it would be even be fun to tag them on twitter or facebook as you respond:)
Would you date your company? This may come across as a weird question. Possibly because it creates the idea that companies can take on human personality and characteristics. I will submit that is entirely possible and does happen.
If a company can take on human characteristics, then who’s might they exhibit? In many cases, it’s the leader’s traits that a company can mimic. However, over time it may evolve into something entirely different as a company either ages or grows. Whether you are a corporate leader or if it’s the company where you work. Is it’s corporate image, if it were a person, one that you would be attracted to enough to date?
What type of characteristics can a company take on???? maybe fun, innovative, sexy, quirky or cutting edge, old & boring or elite and successful?
Many startups and tech companies at large work to be thought of as fun. Creating workplace environments and fun on-line images (changing logos) has been a hallmark of Google since day one, with numerous imitators along the way. Companies like this want to be that quirky friend that you never know what they may do next, think Southwest Airlines. It’s been an attractive model for nearly two decades that is effective at attracting customers and employees alike. Additional quirky hipster companies include Toms, Starbucks, Zappos and their father figure, Apple.
How about that cantankerous person that is difficult to deal with? The one that you hate to see coming…. If I may draw a parallel, Comcast or most any cable company really. I’m sure they have heard this as a common sentiment but I can’t definitively say that they have made any efforts to improve their corporate personality. Referencing my opening question; Probably not someone I would date!
Do you have any friends who are fine people but just quite boring? Most of us do and most of us could name a dozen companies that fit that mold as well. How sad that someone has a workplace which is boring. Worse yet, for a business owner, their life’s creation and it is labeled……boring.
Which companies come across with sex appeal? Certainly, fashion designers and apparel brands have an advantage in this area. Some of the hottest most dateable brands would be Calvin Klein, Victoria Secret and Abercrombie and Fitch. Outside of the fashion industry brands like Go Daddy, Carl Jr’s Hamburgers and even Doritos often push the envelope with advertising which suggests an edgy or racy vibe.
Lastly, the “success” brand image. Think of coming across that Match.com profile of someone who has climbed mountains, CEO, looks great, perfect car etc. etc.! Companies like Tag Heur Watches, Nike, Nordstrom, American Express have done a great job of establishing themselves as elite while maintaining a certain cool factor.
Almost all of our perception regarding these companies is derived from their marketing. Their marketing department has shaped their brand image or traits. For smaller companies marketing is certainly important also, however much of a company’s image is based upon a customer/client’s daily interactions with a company. Therefore, it’s imperative that companies hire the right people, train them well and continually reinforce the image that they want to portray.
I’d encourage you to use my opening question, would you date your company?, as your corporate litmus test. If the answer is no, I would not date my company; re-vamp your corporate marketing, hiring process and training programs. If you answered yes, I would date my company; make sure that your brand is continually evolving because you don’t want to end up as that ex that you can’t quite remember or worse a one night stand!