The proof is in the glasses

Proof glasses 1Rob Smith is a principal at Architects Smith Metzger.

I have decided my next pair of glasses will be made of maple by a bunch of lumberjacks from Boise! Why? They are sustainable and cool.

Raised in a family lumber business in Utah, three brothers founded Proof in 2011. They loved anything made of wood and why not eye glasses?  Wood, of course, can be replenished rather than the plastic frames of the past. I suppose you could burn them when you were done with them.

The company has taken off because of one simple fact.  Depending on who you want to believe, between 60 and 70 percent of Americans wear glasses. That’s pushing 150 million people.  That’s a big need for glasses.

And the amazing news is the frames cost $100 to $150. I have spent much more for plastic frames in my years of wearing glasses!

Joni Schrup, owner of Discerning Eye Optical in Iowa City is the dealer for Iowa.  She was at a show in New York and visited the Proof booth and was attracted to the idea of wooden glasses. She says “The glasses are selling okay in Iowa. People like the way the glasses look and they are sustainable. And that’s good because eyewear for younger people is on the rise due to viewing phones and tablets all the time.” Proof glasses 2 Proof glasses 3

The idea has blossomed into wood wallets and cigarette lighters.  Maybe purses are next.

I would be happy to know what you think of Proof glasses.  Contact me at rsmith@smithmetzger.com

Pushing past procrastination

Rita Perea is President and CEO of Rita Perea Leadership Consulting Associates.

IowaBiz.com delivers cutting-edge content written by local business and thought-leaders.  I am honored to begin sharing my 25-plus years of leadership experience and future-forward thinking to inform and inspire IowaBiz readers in the area of Life-Work Balance. 

Being at the top of your game day after day, and living your life to its fullest, requires the development of successful time mastery habits. “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” carries the classic wisdom from a very accomplished Benjamin Franklin. 

As an executive coach and a certified work-life balance specialist, I have had many clients who express a feeling of being overwhelmed with “too much to do and not enough time to do it.”  This feeling of not knowing where to begin can lead to inertia, being weighed down and unable to move. They find themselves in a full-blown habit of procrastination - putting things off until tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day. 

At one time or another we have all fallen prey to the self-sabotaging behavior of putting important tasks aside until “some other time”.   Unfortunately for some who are stuck in the avoidance cycle, another time never magically appears.  This is the opposite of the Nike tag line “Just Do It”.  In our culture winners achieve results and losers just do nothing.  To be self-actualized at work and in our personal lives, we need to overcome the behaviors that shoot us in the foot, often making us feel badly about ourselves. 

The first step in breaking the procrastination habit is to take some spacious, mindful time and list all of your projects, committees and activities in both your professional and personal life.  Put everything that you spend your time doing on the professional or personal list. 

 Once you have looked over your list, the second step is to be honest with yourself.  This can be difficult but it is important. Have you said “yes” to projects or activities that you could have said “No” to and find that you have overcommitted your time?  If so, are there any areas on your list that aren’t aligned with your goals which you could gracefully exit from? Maybe its time to give another person the opportunity to lead a committee or be the PTA president.  This honest appraisal will help you release those things that are stressing you out.  It will also help you reclaim more of your 24-hour day to execute the tasks that you have been putting off.   That will feel so good!

After you have done some self-examination, maybe you have discovered the problem you have is that, honestly, you are just making excuses.  A great technique to break this procrastination habit is to ask your personal coach, or a friend whom you trust, to be your very own “accountability buddy.”  It works like this: you identify the one, two or three tasks, activities or projects that you want to accomplish and when you want to get them completed by. Then, on a set day and time, you report out to the other person about your progress towards your goal.

Not wanting to let the other person down, this technique is a motivator to help you begin to create the “Just Do It” habit.  Research from Brown University has shown that the use of a “weight loss buddy” can help a person lose twice as much weight. Having an accountability buddy is fun and it really works. 

I was having lunch with a friend a few weeks ago and she mentioned that she has been putting off making a doctor’s appointment for the past six months. She was not afraid or concerned about anything, she was just procrastinating.  Unfortunately, she was beating herself up each week for not making the time to make the call. My response was that all too often we procrastinate about our self care, but that really it is one of the most important things to accomplish in our quest for life-work balance. If we don’t make the time to take care of ourselves, who will?  I told my friend that I was going to help her out by being her “accountability buddy.”  I told her that I would  call her the following Friday to have her share with me that she made the call to schedule the appointment.  Her face lit up as she affirmed that this was a great idea and was just the kick in the pants that she needed to take a small action.  

I am happy to report that my friend received a gold star from me that week.  She went above and beyond expectations and scheduled three appointments that she had been procrastinating about.  A bonus is that taking just one small baby step, one micro-action, toward completing an important task feels insanely good. It releases well-being chemicals in our brain. This helps to break the self-defeating cycle and inspires us to want to accomplish more.  

So come on... what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to take one small step in the right direction and away from the self-sabotage of procrastination. 

 

Bad customer data = Bad PR

Recently, I've received a string of unbelievable emails from my car dealership. After the last one, I seriously got up from my desk and looked around to make sure I was not on Candid Camera. Elantra

The first ones started last year and they weren't bad. "Hey, Claire!" the personalized message started out. "It's Matt from XYZ Clive Dealership. Just wondering how your Elantra is doing. We're a little low on used cars right now, so I thought I'd inquire to see if you are ready to trade in your vehicle anytime soon?" I recognized the guy as the one who'd sold me the car. Since my car was about three years old, it seemed like a perfectly reasonable question. I politely declined, but before hanging up the phone, I told Matt that when I was ready to trade this one in, I would probably get an SUV.

The next series of emails were a little sketchy. First, I got an email asking me if I'd like to sell my red Honda Accord. That would be my daughter's car. I didn't even co-sign for it. My name was not on the title. I politely told them that they had the wrong person.

Let me just stop right here and tell you that I've purchased two vehicles from this place, the first in 2002 and the most recent in 2011, long after the invention of computers. 

Fast forward to this week. I got a curious email from another person who I've never met. "I noticed that you got your car serviced here last month," (true) he said, "I just wondered where you purchased it?" 

I responded with total incredulity. "Ha ha ha! You're kidding, right?" I replied. "I bought my last TWO cars there." The reply? (I'm not kidding) "Can you tell me who your salesperson was?" 

Can you see where I'm going here? Their total lack of control over their own customer information is causing them to lose a future sale from a very loyal customer. The solution is two-fold.

First, they must capture all customer data from the first inquiry all the way through to the sale. Then the process doesn't stop, it just gets a bit more segmented. For an organization like car dealership, there are even systems that are customized just for them. There is simply no excuse to ask customers the silly questions that I was being asked.

Second, you must TRAIN your people how to use the system. Customers should not suffer the consequences of employees plundering a pile of unorganized data. 

After you have all the data in a CRM (customer relationship management) system, the real magic can happen. By sorting and segmenting data, your salesforce can mine it to reach out to customers with helpful and timely sales offerings. For example, last year when I told Matt that I wanted an SUV, he should have entered that into their database. Then, they could've sent me an email with an offer to upgrade to an SUV and trade in my current vehicle. This is called "personalization" and it's a very effective sales tool.

The lack of data integrity at this dealership looks like a fixable problem - and they have good salespeople who are obviously willing to reach out to customers, albeit a little clumsily. As their PR person, I would advise them to fix this problem immediately before some pushy blogger writes a blog post about it.

Claire Celsi is a PR practitioner in West Des Moines, Iowa. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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