Awards are overrated!
I received an email “sorry to bother, but would you mind voting for me? I’ve been nominated for an award!”. They were serious. I went and voted for their competitors out of spite.
In all honesty, it’s 2017.Who sends an email asking for a vote?
Ask on social media sure, maybe text or talk to your close friends.In my eyes the more people you have to ask to vote for you, the less you deserve the award.
I do realize this comes off as a rant from someone, who doesn’t win awards. Ha! You’d be right if you thought that, but I don’t think awards matter! Here are four individuals, who have put award winning on the back burner and focused on doing things that matter.
For every winner, there must be a loser. Every time you show, talk about, or mention an award you won, it’s simply your ego rearing it’s ugly face. Don’t do it. Don’t buy in. Don’t talk about awards you won. There’s a time and a place for it. During a job interview, on your LinkedIn Account sure, but in your social media bio? No!
In the words of Seth Godin, “Don’t tell me what you invented. Tell me who you have changed.”
Humility is a virtue.
When you send an email asking someone to vote for you to win an award it makes you seem desperate. Awards are special, meant to celebrate something remarkable you did. If you ask others to “vote” for you via email, personally, I don’t think you deserve the award. With all the commotion about the awards out there, I thought something had to be said.
In the business community when you find out the vast majority of “awards” companies and people win, they had someone close to them apply for it, it doesn’t really seem like awards matter. Literally, an agency nominating their own client work for an award? I get a part of it, I mean, it makes them look great, but eventually unwarranted awards will ketchup to you. Results will always matter more than awards.
If you could afford to buy an award would you?
Five years ago a client asked about an ethical dilemma she was having.
“Do you think we should keep advertising in major Canadian magazine, they’re the ones who decide on Canada’s 50 Top Employers.We seem to be on the list if we advertise, but we won’t be if we pull our budget. What do we do?
If you automatically throwout the notion on advertising to win an award ask yourself, why? Sure it feels unethical, but all the major companies do it.Well at least the ones winning the awards anyway… You can choose to be a part of that world, or you can choose a different path.
How the holy hell did he get an award?
I always find it fascinating to look into the criteria for winning awards, generally someone has to apply for it. This reminds me of my 3rd year University. The Business faculty always had scholarships for “the top students”. This made no sense, because the top students were usually the kids who didn’t have to work, had school paid for, and could focus all their attention on class. Myself, on the other hand struggled to pay for school, had a terrible average and would have LOVED a scholarship. I just didn’t agree with “applying for it”.
As the story goes, my arch nemesis, the know-it-all kid, who never wanted to help out with the Business Students Society, who actually quit on us, applied for the BSS funded scholarship. Then he won. I couldn’t believe it. Why the hell would you pick the guy that was doing fine to give a scholarship to? Here I was struggling to get through classes (though I never failed one!) volunteering my ass off and the goodie two shoes just got a free ride, because he had a high average?!?
That’s when I began to mistrust “school” and any awards given away at school.
Life’s about being able to do your art, not winning awards.
Eddy introduced me to an amazing designer that he looks up to, Aaron Draplin. I’ve written about him before, You don’t need to win awards to be amazing. But I think you should watch his Ted Talk. He doesn’t care about awards, he cares about being able to do his art every single day.
What good is an award if you aren’t happy?
Aaron is a happy guy, my favourite part of his talk is when he talks about how lucky he is to just be able to do his art every day. How often we all take for granted what we do for a living? Here’s a guy, who is one of the most amazing designers of our generation and he is very open about not winning awards. I look up to people like Mr. Draplin. He could apply for awards and put that on his website and proposals, but I think his work speaks for itself.If you’re good enough you won’t need awards to make you feel better. Plus, putting syrup on shit doesn’t make it a pancake. Stop worrying about awards and start worrying about results!
What about BIG awards like the Nobel prize?
The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis tells the story of the remarkable relationship of two brilliant Israeli Psychologists, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman. Amos wasn’t a fan of awards. For every winner there had to be a handful of losers and that just wasn’t fair to Amos.
When the Nobel committee called Amos to notify him he was on a very short list to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, Amos didn’t even take the call. He was quoted later saying winning the Nobel prize wasn’t one of the things he was going to miss when he was gone. The Nobel Prize comes with a $1,000,000 cash prize. Not a small prize to be walking away from. Amos died far too early, the behavioural economics community and the world lost a brilliant mind on June 2, 1996.
This was coming for a guy that was offered a job for the rest of his life from one of the top Universities in the world. Amos, was one of the greatest thinkers of our time! On his deathbed when the President of Stanford was preparing a last lecture and celebration for Amos, he quickly called and negotiated out of the big celebration. He never wanted to credit for what he did, it just wasn’t important to him.
How smart was Amos Tversky? Really?
The Tversky Intelligence Test.
In 2013 in Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath, Gladwell tells a story about how highly Amos Tversky was regarded among his peers. As told to Gladwell by psychologist Adam Alter, the Tversky intelligence test was, “The faster you realized Tversky was smarter than you, the smarter you were.”
Don’t take credit for what isn’t yours.
Shep Gordon never needed the credit. (I’ve written about Shep Gordon, the Supermench before). When a music manager works on an album or with an artist they are entitled to royalties for perpetuity of the sales that album makes. Shep never signed contracts with artists to guarantee royalties. He never thought he needed to, he trusted the people he worked with. This created loyalty with the artists and groups he worked with. Shep’s reputation proceeded him, after he is referred to as the Supermench. He did admit there was a fine line between smart and stupid when using contracts though. Not to claim royalties on an album like the Beatles Anthology (he worked on it) would fall into the category of the later.
Shep is still doing fine, instead of all that money he’d much rather have Mike Myers refer to him as “the nicest person he has ever met”.
Being a good teammate is better than winning an award.
From the book Give and Take, Adam Grant tells the story of George Meyer a habitual ‘giver’ that has never worried about receiving credit, even though he was involved in some major television productions in the past 30 years.
If his name – George Meyer doesn’t – sound familiar, the shows he’s worked on will; Saturday Night Live, Late Night With David Letterman and The Simpsons. Many people involved with The Simpson’s production agreed that Meyer was a pivotal part of the team, a linchpin really.
Your reputation is far more valuable than receiving credit or an award.
Seeing your name in the credits is an ego boost.
Many people in the entertainment industry thrive off the mention of their name in the credits. To be a part of a major production even as a small role, most people would demand their name appear in the credits. George Meyer was not one of those people. Meyer was a writer and producer on over 300 episodes of the Simpsons and was only mentioned Twelve times in the credits. Having his name mentioned in the credits wasn’t important to him, being an integral part of the team was. We should all strive to be a little more like George Meyer.
Congratulations StratLab! You won an award!
Finally if you don’t believe me that awards are something you should never focus on or put time in to, because you never know when someone just makes something up. Look to the top right hand corner of this page (sorry not on mobile). “Canada’s 50 Most Inclusive Employers” was an award I made up to celebrate the first 50 companies participating in the 4to40 initiative. See even you can make up an award and give it to whoever you choose.
Thanks to Aaron, Amos, Shep and George for setting an example for future leaders.
I look up to these four individuals for the courage it took to focus on what really mattered to them. Instead of idolizing pop, culture icons or TV stars try putting up a poster of Amos Tversky in your office. Or maybe it’s a Draplin original, to keep yourself humble at work. I love looking up to people like this, people I want to be like some day. After all, we become our hero’s in the end don’t we? Just make sure you pick the right hero’s to emulate.
Just be around them more. That’s it, that’s all, no kidding. Regularly being in the presence of someone makes you more appealing. Do you want to build rapport? Show up, again and again and again.
Familiarity builds contempt? Actually it’s literally the opposite.
From Ori Brafman’s Click, it’s not personality, likes, dislikes, personal characteristic or anything else, close proximity to someone will make you get along with them better. They reference an MIT study about dorm rooms in university, students who live in the centre of a hallway have on average more friends than the people who live at either end. Your best friend on average in a dorm room? The person who lives closest to you, your neighbour. The students have nothing special about their living arrangements accept the closer you are to people, the more friends you’ll have.
It makes no sense, you feel there has to be more to it but there isn’t. Proximity is the single best factor in helping you build a relationship with someone.
The best teams I’ve played on and coached weren’t the most skilled but the ones that got along the best. If you get along easily, you’re going to hangout more. The more you hangout, the better you know someone. The better you know each other the better the team plays.
That matters in a team atmosphere because when things are going well it’s easy to manage a team, it’s when the shit hits the fan you come closer as a team.
Same in business, the closer you are as a team, the better you’re going to perform in the long run. And now you know the easiest way to grow your team, simply make them hangout more. Want to get along better with someone? Show up to events they’ll be at more!
Where are you putting in time just showing up again and again?
You can judge a company by the way their people treat you
There was a moment I’ll never forget that made up my mind we needed to unfriend them on Facebook. A Stratlabber was on the phone with one of this companies main people and the conversations went something like, “do you think I have time to figure out where you’re going to setup your camera’s? I have more important things to do with my time.” It was harsh, it was completely uncalled for and I couldn’t believe someone would be so pompous. The ironic part was we were doing a video on this companies new and innovative approach to their industry. Wow, did we feel dumb. We trusted them. We put their logo on our website as a pride piece (have since taken it off).
It’s 2017 if you want to berate someone over the phone because you think they’re wasting your time all the power to you, but just know there are consequences. You can’t yell at someone too many times before they stop listening and stop caring all together. It’s a sign of your culture, if your people are that stressed out on the job that they scream and yell at the folks they’re working with, something needs to change. I don’t think you can operate like that for very long. Turn over increases, quality decreases, and anyone working there isn’t doing because they want to, but because it’s just a job.
Lie to people
It’s unethical. It’s immoral at times. But if you want to be the best salesperson around just lie to people. Stretch the truth, “you look great in that shirt!”, “You definitely need the F-350!”, “You should go with the full rebrand package, it’ll be the best for your company!”
Lying to people may help you make a sale but you’re ruining a future relationship. People don’t forget.
There was a story of Patagonia, the retailer. They are known for being kind to the earth, their customers, and employees. I heard a story about an all-star salesperson. She was easily making her budgets sometimes setting records in the company for sales. So much success that the CEO had to go see how this person was doing such a bang-up job!
The CEO goes to the store to congratulate the employee, but instead instantly fires her on the spot. He had just witnessed this “all-star” employee lie to a customer so that they would buy a jacket. The CEO explained in a heartfelt email that Patagonia doesn’t want to simply just sell products, they help people what whatever it is they need. Over-selling to someone is a great way to lose a customer forever.
Just help people, no questions asked
The problem is people trust you, when you’re in a position of power (yes any salesperson is in a position of power) people look up to you, they assume you have their best interests in mind. When you take someone’s trust and use it to increase your sales, you will lose. Maybe not immediately, but in the long run you can’t keep finding new people to sell to, you’ll run out of repeat customers and won’t understand why.
You’ll blame marketing or sales. You’ll put more pressure on your salespeople, they won’t like that, they either get sleazier and “make a sale at any cost” or they quit. Both terrible options for the long-term viability of your company. Every time someone leaves, they tell more people about what you’re doing. It’s easy to blame marketing or sales for business strategy problems. Maybe it’s time you took your team off commission based pay, it’s ruining relationships.
I still think the worst people are the people who lie to you to help themselves out. The worst. Putting money before people is wrong.
Stop blaming “sales” start reinventing “how you sell“
No one likes “selling”. I mean they probably LOVE the money from it but c’mon, convincing people to buy your wares? What is this? 1933? No one wants to buy from you. We want to be entertained, we want our friends to tell us about you, we want to fall in love what you do.
That’s hard, any new strategy in 2017 will be, but as long as your strategy is difficult you’re on the right track. Stop trying for the “easy sell”. The low hanging fruit exists in every industry, don’t fall for that, do what’s hard.
Go for the long sale. Don’t over sell. Remember, everyone has a much better memory now that you share on Instagram every day.
We remember when people fuck us over
It’s hard to forget when someone uses and abuses us and our wallets. If you do it, or work for a company that does it, be prepared for people to never hire you ever again. I remember people from 10 years ago that made a sale, not caring about the consumer (me), you just remember the feeling you got after. It’s very unpleasant.
You don’t need to make that extra recommendation. You don’t need to oversell to everyone, McDonald’s does that, you don’t need to.
How do you “sell” in 2017?
You be really, really, good. Give people a reason to hire you. Show the value in what you bring to the table and believe in yourself. Word-of-mouth has been and always will be the most powerful form of marketing, use it to your advantage.
Find moments to do the right thing, when there’s no monetary value
Caring about your people, helping other organizations in your community, doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. This is the new competitive advantage. Leopold’s and Victorias group in Regina, every year in December give away thousands of dollars to charities in the communities they operate. Victoria’s alone gave away $12,000 last year at Christmas time. When you have a choice of when to eat or drink it hard not to at least consider going to Leo’s or Vic’s because you probably know someone who was affected by the give-a-ways. I know I was.
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Both Leopold’s and Victoria’s had to do something different this past December, so why not try help in the fight against drinking and driving? Yup, offered free rides during the month of December is what they did! These are pubs that serve food and all they do for marketing is try to be “a good corporate citizen” is what business school called it, I call it the new cool! Because caring about your community is the new cool.
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Hardpressed coming into the Queen city to sell their wares!? How do they get away with it? They are a Saskatoon company and people from Regina simply LOVE their clothing. Why? Yes it’s very comfy, yes it’s very stylish, but last year Hardpressed donated $8,000 to Carmichael Outreach after one of their pop-up sales. Do you want me to love you forever? Support the Non-profits that mean a lot to me. Hardpressed, Leopold’s and Victoria’s have done just that.
I’ll support these to organizations because at their very core, they believe in doing the right thing as a part of their business model. That’s something I can get behind.
“Be weird. Be awesome. Be loved!”
This was the latest sticker COR had printed and left out in a container on a table just inside their office. A circular container that has the likes of stickers, postcards, magnets, stress balls, pens, you name it. All with similar bright colours and uplifting messages. The table they are on is located by the pinball machine, just down the hall from the coffee bar and to the right of the foosball table, and PS4 complete with beanbag chairs for optimum gaming comfort.
This isn’t your regular not-for-profit organization
I’ve never met anyone with the same consistent energy. COR has its own unique culture and brand. Talk to their
employees family members, even people who don’t work there any more, you’ll hear nothing but amazing stories about how gentle teaching has changed their life. They don’t run the organization like a regular non-profit, they do things different and they don’t apologize for it. COR is a breathe of fresh air in an industry that was getting stuffy.
COR is an inspiring organization. You don’t have to go far to hear some of these stories:
Or check out one of their “COR Cribs Episodes”
Supermench, the legend of Shep Gordon. So I’m listening to the Timothy Ferriss Podcast and this guy who Tim’s about to interview has one of the coolest introductions, Shep’s done a lot. He’s cooked for His Holiness the Dali Lama, entertained who’s-who of Hollywood, and managed some of the most amazing musical acts, then the most amazing chefs in the world. He was a brilliant story teller and had accomplished so much. He seemed content, I wanted to know more. So i bought the book, They Call Me Supermench: A Backstage Pass to the Amazing Worlds of Film, Food, and Rock’n’Roll. This post is inspired by the book. I highly recommend it. Entertaining, funny, and thought-provoking, one of my favourite books this year.
This quote pretty much sums up Shep.
Shep Gordon is one of my hero’s, here are a few reasons why.
1. Create history.
Don’t wait for it to happen, you can create history. Most people believe all you have is what you’re dealt, like you can change your future if you want to. What a lie! Create history. When Shep first started managing his first artist, Alice Cooper, these were his marching orders, to create history. Quite literally working with Alice they didn’t try to “market” Alice Cooper, he didn’t “advertise” Alice Cooper. No that’s what the other managers would do, if he really wanted to stand out he needed to create history.
Whether it was wrapping an album in Panties or shooting Alice Cooper out of a cannon, Shep tried nearly everything. The first time Alice was to play in the UK they needed a really aggressive stunt as ticket sales were nonexistent. Shep got a flatbed truck with a giant billboard on the back displaying Alice wearing nothing by a large snake. Oh and he paid the driver handsomely to ensure the truck “broke down” several times in Piccadilly Square downtown London during rush hour. The driver was subsequently arrested, but they sold the show out! Create history.
Or the time that they promised to shoot Alice out of a cannon on stage in Pittsburgh. The problem was the cannon didn’t work. The night before the big show, Shep invited media to a “pre-concert party” where they were going to demo the cannon shot, how exciting! Shep was up to something, because when the cannon fired, Alice (or a dumby, who knows!) fired but only went ten feet. Panic strikes, the star is injured! Rush him to the hospital!
On the news you’d hear of the “accident” and how Alice was hurt with “non-life threatening” injuries. He played the show the next night in a wheel chair with hospital staff on stand-by if anything should go wrong. But how could it? It was all staged, Alice wasn’t hurt at all. It worked perfectly.
Create history, don’t wait for it to happen.
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