It’s Hard to Help People Help Themselves

Photo Cred: Dimitri N.

A couple of months ago, I hosted an event in Philly.  It didn’t have the turnout I was expecting  and so I was a little bummed.   My friend Valeria Maltoni came up to me and said “It’s hard to help people help themselves.”

Those words really stuck with me.  I’ve given it great thought. Why wouldn’t people want to be helped? Are they just lazy?  So lazy that they wouldn’t even do the bare minimum to get something?  Or is it something else?

Then, I read Chris Brogan‘s newsletter today…and it all came together.  He said,

Look at your efforts through others’ eyes. Now, in measuring your self-worth, your own eyes are the only ones that matter, but in trying to better understand how well you’re serving people’s needs, try to see it from their side. Are you quick to pounce? Do you have their interests at heart or yours? The more clarity you can bring to this, the better you’ll do.”

So many “professionals” claim to be providing a valuable service, but are really just interested helping themselves. They have a backwards mentality.  Instead of building a more valuable product, they’re concerned with making their product LOOK more valuable. They’re pretending to help customers.

There are many of you that are really trying to help.  Unfortunately [potential] customers don’t believe that you’re actually trying to help them.  They think that you’re trying to take their time and money for your own gain.

They don’t believe you because they’ve been fooled too many times.  They’ve lost trust.

That’s why it’s hard to help people help themselves.

Are you really helping or are you just pretending to help?

Edit: Marissa Pherson left a comment on this post over on Brazen Careerist and linked to a speech that I thought was really smart and relevant.  It speaks about the difference between “helping” and “serving”.

btw…if you haven’t signed up for Chris Brogan’s newsletter yet, you’re truly missing out.  It’s really the only newsletter I’ve ever enjoyed and the only one I actually read through. I highly recommend you try it out.

Should All Customers Be Treated Equally?

Photo cred: saxarocks

I had an poor experience with a printing service recently.  After speaking to their customer service, I was still very unhappy.

Nutshell: They said there was nothing that they could do, and if I wanted to cancel my order, I’d have to pay a cancellation fee.

Being very frustrated, I tweeted a complaint about my poor experience with the company (not something I’m necessarily proud of, but that’s for another post).

After doing so, I was contacted on twitter by someone who asked me to email them.

So I did… and they went above and beyond to provide the best possible customer service they realistically could.  They were very respectful, explained the situation, and offered to waive the cancellation fee.  They even offered a discount on my next order.

Now how could you go from not being able to do anything, and even punishing me with a fee, to giving me everything I asked for and more?!

Many “experts” advise companies to approach every community differently based on their needs.  I’m going to go ahead and say that when it comes to customer service, treat every community and customer equally, regardless of their influence.

What do you make of this?  Should companies provide better service for some communities over others?

Take it further…if a customer is a brand evangelist of yours, should you provide them with more benefits?  I’ve always thought it a good idea to take care of your most loyal customers, but is it worth the risk of alienating your average customer?

DEBATE: Don’t Hire a Social Media Intern


If you’re relying on an intern to lead your social media strategy, you’re crazy.  I don’t care how small your business is.  You’re better off not doing it at all than bringing in an intern to handle your social media presence.  Here’s why:

1. Internships are short term. Building a presence online takes time.  You have to build relationships, slowly but effectively.  Your intern cannot build a social media presence, in the 3 months that they’re with your company.

2. Interns don’t identify with your brand. They view it as a stepping stone.  You want the person that’s representing you online to be passionate about your brand.

3. Interns won’t be available beyond 9-5. Have a crisis? Don’t count on calling your intern at 9pm and having them jump online to handle the social media backlash.  With your social media presence in the hands of your intern, your brand will only be present from 9-5.

4. Interns aren’t as accountable. If a full-time employee makes a big mistake online, they have to worry about losing their job.  Losing an internship? Not as big of a deal.

The debate is open.  Should companies hire social media interns?  What if they’re not responsible for the entire social media presence, but they’re managed by a full time social media manager.  Good idea then?  What responsibilities should you give them?

NEW: The u30pro Digest


#u30pro is a weekly twitter chat (Thursdays at 7pm est) started by Lauren Fernandez and David Spinks that covers topics and issues facing young professionals.

We started the chat at the end of August.  It’s been truly amazing so far and hearing how much everyone enjoys the chats really makes us love hosting them that much more.

We love the idea that young professionals can
have a place to discuss issues that they’re facing, and that we can bring in more experienced professionals to shed some light from the other end of the spectrum.

We’d like to continue to build out the chat and grow the community that is forming around it.  So we decided to launch the u30pro digest!

Once you subscribe, every week we’ll send out a digest of the best blog posts from young professionals in the #u30pro community.  We will also feature a U30 Pro.  You can sign up using the form below.

To subscribe CLICK here.

This is very much a work in progress as we are looking to make u30pro as valuable as possible.  We will continue to build out the chat, this weekly digest, and stay tuned for more updates!

If you’d like to submit blogs to be considered for inclusion in the weekly digest, you can comment here, email it to u30pro [at] gmail [dot] com or DM it on twitter to @u30pro.

DEBATE: Why “9-5” should be Eliminated

Photo cred: David Goehring

Last week during the #u30pro chat, we asked the question, “What would you change about today’s typical workplace”.  We ended up spending a lot of time talking about the concept of working from “9-5” and whether or not it’s necessary in today’s business world.

While 9-5 has never really been my thing (mornings and I don’t get along) I always just accepted it as the norm.  It’s a concept that has been around for as long as I can remember.  I’m assuming that it first started because in the past, without being physically present, communication and collaboration within an office would be impossible, and so 9-5 was established to have all employees present at the same time.

I will argue that the concept of 9-5 should now be eliminated…Here’s why:

  1. Different needs. Have kids?  Have hobbies? Have a life outside of work?  Working from 9-5 probably doesn’t suit your lifestyle.
  2. Different preferences. Everyone has a slightly different way of doing things.  We work more efficiently at different locations, using different methods and at different hours of the day.  Personally, I get the most work done at night.
  3. Increase in technology. If the company is worried about overhead costs (keeping the lights on), thankfully technology has allowed us to work remotely at any hour.  With tools like Skype, Jira and Yammer, you can stay productive from home when it’s convenient for you.
  4. Inefficient. Depending on your job, you may not have the same workload from day to day.  You should be able to work hours that align with your needs.  Otherwise, you’re either wasting time, or you don’t have enough.
  5. Results matter most. Perhaps you’re concerned that your employees won’t work as hard, or as much, if given the freedom to choose their hours.  If your employees are getting the job done, and showing results, then it shouldn’t matter.

I realize that not all industries can reasonably eliminate the 9-5.  My argument is that to automatically implement a 9-5 schedule without considering these issues, is arbitrary and inefficient.  If you analyze the needs of your company and it’s employees, and having everyone there from 9-5 is the most efficient, then by all means go with that system.

The debate is open.  Should the blanket concept 9-5 be eliminated?