Don’t be a douche. 5 customer service tips for dummies.

Marshall Field says, "Don't be a douche bag."

Marshall Field says, “Don’t be a douche bag.”

If you’ve been following the interwebs, then you’ve likely come across the story of the Comcast rep who fought the customer trying to cancel their service.

If you’re not up on the incident, a mini-recap is in order.

Dude wants to cancel his service. Wife calls Comcast and is abused by the rep for about 10 minutes. Frustrated, she hands the phone to dude, who is similarly abused for another 10 minutes. Inspired, dude decides to start recording and captures the last eight minutes of the rep’s totally ridiculous behavior.

You can listen to the call here.

As someone who suffered under the oppressive yoke of Comcast before Fios gave us free, I was not surprised by the shitty customer service experience.

And as someone who has experienced shitty customer service from brands like Louis Vuitton (I know how Oprah feels), I realize that customer service is no longer a self-explanatory term.

Every day, we are all faced by people in customer service roles that could give a fuck that their job is to be helpful, and instead have cultivated the art of showing you their full asses.

How many time have you been condescended to? Cut off? Passed inaccurate information? Yelled at?

Far too often, I’m sure.

So today, I’m sharing my top five tips for not being a customer service douche.

1. Remember that the customer is always right.

When I was growing up, I heard this maxim over and over: “the customer is always right.”

Businesses knew that customers kept them in business, and they knew that they had to keep their customers happy. How, pray tell, did they do that? By teaching their public-facing reps that their job was to keep the customer happy. Happy customers meant more sales. More sales meant higher revenues. Higher revenues meant profits. Profits allowed the business to thrives. Ergo, happy customers equalled a thriving business.

If businesses treated their customers like kings and queens, they could never go wrong.

2. STFU.

I used to work with a dude who would routinely black out on customers. He was so abrasive, so condescending, so insulting and dismissive, that I marveled at his ability to keep his job.  As project managers, we’re frequently on the receiving side of abuse, so inwardly, I rejoiced at the “Fuck you!” he routinely doled out.

But outwardly, I was more often alarmed about how poorly he understood his role. His whole attitude demonstrated that he didn’t get the fact that his behavior was a reflection of the brand that employed him. My advice to him, which he failed to observe – ultimately to his demise – was “hold your tongue.” When you’re feeling frustrated and want to go off on your client/the customer, take a breath and shut the fuck up.

3. “I’m sorry.” and “Thank you.”

When customers are mad, you’ve got to recognize they’re looking for scalps. Invariably, by the time they reach you, they’ve already run the gauntlet, gotten the run-around or are simply so frustrated with whatever it is they’re dealing with, that the need no excuse to go thermonuclear.

There are no greater calm-inducing words, than “I’m sorry.” When you say “I’m sorry” as a customer service rep, you’re telling the customer “this is our fault” and putting yourself at their mercy.  Similarly saying “thank you” throughout your interaction, even for the slightest thing, helps to establish that you’re appreciative of the customer working with you to resolve their issue.

4. Never bite the hand that feeds you.

Always remember that the person on the other end of the phone, opposite you at your desk, or on the other side of the counter, directly or indirectly pays your salary. In essence, the customer is your boss. If you wouldn’t tell your boss to (proverbially) kiss your ass, you shouldn’t tell the customer either.

If you treat the customer like your next paycheck depends upon how satisfied they are with your interaction with them, you can’t go wrong. Unless you don’t like money.

5. Don’t be an asshole.

At the end of the day, when someone is having a problem, which you’re in a position to assist them with, your attitude is the last thing they want to deal with. Sure, the customer may be a total jackass, with no home training, and just because you picked up the phone, you’re in their crosshairs and the object of their abuse.

But their lack of home training doesn’t give you license to treat them badly. If you can’t figure out if you’re being an asshole or not, act like you’ve got your grandmother on the other end of the phone, and treat them accordingly.

It’s really quite simple: Keep the customer happy. Keep your job.

Or you could be like the jackass from Comcast – who may not have his by the time the dust from this debacle settles.

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Embarrassing? Who? Me?

I never thought this day would come.

That my cool would ever come into question.

I’ve always considered myself relatively hip.

I’ve got tats.

I wear dreads.

Tall. Dark. Handsome.

I’m fucking Black goddammit!

I’m the personification of cool.

Al least so I thought.

But today, I’ve been forced to rethink my stance.

You see, today I learned that, at times, I’m somewhat of…

How do you say…

…an embarrassment.

A collective gasp rises from the audience.

Yes.

Can you imagine?

Moi? An embarrassment?

On more than one occasion, I’ve been asked to (and I quote) “stop embarrassing me.”

Who could utter such caustic (and clearly inaccurate) words?

Brace yourselves…

Mes enfants.

Not just any of my children, mind you.

But the eldest two.

The alphas.

The one who looks like me.

And the other who bears my name.

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How is this possible, you ask?

Well we’ve been in Martha’s Vineyard for a week, and I was told – on no less than three separate occasions – that I was embarrassing them.

I. Was. Embarrassing. Them.

How can that which sprang forth from my loins malign me so?

And question my cool no less?

Sure. I can be a little loud sometimes.

I’ve been known to molest innocent passers by.

And accost strangers.

So what if many within the sound of my voice are alarmed by my sudden and unprovoked outbursts?

It’s part of my charm.

But apparently, the same qualities that make me charming and a hoot as an adult, are the source of embarrassment as a parent to my tweens.

Do I tone it down, “chill out” and play the back to avoid embarrassing my kids?

Or do I stay true to self and force them to deal?

I think we all know the answer.

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Moon Medicin is trippy. And I like it.

moonhand1_1_7bb66a

Have you ever experienced something that was so trippy, surreal and ethereal that you thought was a dream, but turned out to be real?

Last week, I had one of those experiences.

“What happened?” you ask.

No.

I was not tripping on acid, popping pills or high on the stickiest of the icky.

I saw Moon Medicin at Neuehouse.

Why was it so trippy?

Well, if you’ve never experienced a Moon Medicin show, it will be somewhat hard to explain.

But here goes nothing.

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Moon Medicin is a five piece band consisting of lead vocalist and guitarist, Martin Luther McCoy, DJ and background vocalist, Jahi Lake, drummer, Swiss Chris, bassist and background vocalist, Mark Hines, and keyboard and background vocalist, Sanford Biggers.

Moon Medicin is also a performance piece, created by Sanford Biggers, which explores the creative intersection of music, visual and performance art.

Indeed, the pieces that Moon Medicin performs are mashups that push the boundaries of music and performance art.

Moon Medicin shows are one part live music, one part DJ, one part visual and one part experiential.

You’ve got to experience a Moon Medicin show to truly understand how you can be transported from sitting or standing in a performance venue, to a sandy dune in the desert, feeling waves lick at your toes in the ocean, or running frantically through a forest.

Trippy right?

Perhaps it was experiencing Moon Medicin from the steps at Neuehouse.

Maybe it was the combination of the lighting, the massive visuals projected on the screen behind the band or the other worldly music they play.

It might have been the ghostly silhouettes of passers-by against the backdrop of the frosted glass windows.

I could go on and on trying to figure it out, but I’ll do you one better and let you peep a short video from their set at Lincoln Center in April.

Moon Medicin Lands at Lincoln Center – Weird Fishes, Soul Assasinator, The Great Escape from Visualeyz on Vimeo.

If you get a chance, make sure you check ‘em out.

It will definitely trip you out.

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Don’t be a jackass! Read before you comment (or repost).

jackass

File this under “rant.”

Has this ever happened to you?

You wake up, pick up your iPhone, open the Facebook app and start reading through your feed.

The first thing you see is an image of Morgan Freeman (or some other celebrity) with the caption “RIP”.

rip_morgan_freeman

You admire Morgan Freeman, feel a fleeting sense of loss, and reflexively “like” the post.

Or how about this?

You’re on the train commuting to work.

Your friend’s timeline includes a post about KFC using biologically engineered chicken with a graphic image of a skinless, four-legged fowl.

Does KFC use genetically modified chicken

A visceral feeling of disgust overwhelms you and instinctively, you “share” the article he posted, adding “The FDA has to stop this!”

Or perhaps this?

Skimming the headlines of your favorite online rag, you come across a compelling article title, like “Taco Bell warns employees against directly exposing skin to food.”

Taco Bell warns employees not to touch food

Alarmed, you comment, “I can’t believe that anyone would do this!”

Nothing wrong with any of these fairly common occurrences, right?

Wrong!

The problem with your reactions to each of these scenarios, is that the information you liked, shared or commented on, was false.

Morgan Freeman is not dead.

The image of KFC’s genetically engineered chicken is an internet hoax.

The Taco Bell article was in The Onion.

I’m sure that this has happened to all of us at least once (if not multiple times).

You happened upon something that, at first blush, seemed plausible, but upon further examination was a crock.

We’re not gullible, but how do we find ourselves in this position?

Are we daft?

Simple-minded?

Stupid?

No.

We’re just lazy.

Think about it.

Do you actually read the full articles you find in your feed or simply skim the titles (or look at the picture) before “liking”, “sharing” or commenting?

No you don’t.

Like most people, you just skim.

You see a compelling image on Facebook and respond automatically.

You read a controversial article title or comment to a post and just react.

Instead of mining the article to gain a substantive understanding, you’re content with the superficial sheen of knowledge.

And you comment, repost or share without context or perspective.

And what do we do in response?

Do we read the article our friends have posted, re-posted, liked, or commented upon?

No.

Most likely we’ll add our ignant (aka “ignorant” for my Ebonically challenged readers) two cents to the fray.

There have been a spate of articles recently discussing the prevalence of “blind posting” (I believe I’ve just coined a phrase).

Blind posting refers to posting, reposting, liking, sharing or commenting without reading the article first.

The issue with blind posting is the rabid dissemination of inaccurate information that quickly goes viral.

Or, worse still, is the advocacy of a position that you don’t truly support.

Actually, the worst thing is that you look like a jackass.

Don’t let social media turn you into a jackass.

Read before you post.

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Size matters. Three tips for building a better app.

app under constructionAnyone who knows me, knows I’m in the app space.

I’ve been developing apps, managing the development of apps and critiquing apps for years.

As such, I’ve seen my fair share, both on the development side and as a consumer.

There have been absolute standouts – apps that I swear by, for their sheer utility and execution.

And there have been the sheer fails – apps that deserve to be put out to pasture and their developers shot (acts of mercy, let me assure you).

And everything in between.

What separates a brilliant app from a crap app?

I thought you’d never ask.

There are a number of things that makes one app a star and another a dud.

Anything from great (or poor) UI, to UX, to competitors apps (doing it better or worse).

But today you’re going to learn the three tips for building a better app.

Drumroll please…..

1. Size matters.

size-matters

If you’re going to build an app, remember that you’ve got extremely limited real estate to work with.

As my handy dandy graphic illustrates, with a mobile phone, you’ve only got so much space to work with.

You’re only going to able to place so many buttons before it’s a crammed, jumbled mess.

Not only does it look bad (to have a bunch of buttons) it also reduces the utility and functionality of your app.

And there is nothing, NOTHING, more frustrating than being unable to access a function from your mobile device because the button or icon is too small.

Many an iPhone screen has been shattered from sheer frustration that it’s owner felt being incapable of accessing an item on an app.

With space at a premium, the smaller the screen size, being judicious about how much you place on the screen is essential.

The more stuff you put, the smaller each item becomes, the more difficult it will be to access those items.

People complain of “fat fingers” as the reason for mistyping or shooting out emails before they’re actually done.

But the truth of the matter is that buttons are often so close together that you’ve got to use surgical precision to not make mistakes.

It’s not just button size that’s an issue, text size is just as important.

Tiny text is stupid.

Who wants to use a monocle just to read their screen?

Tip: Make your text big enough to see and  buttons big enough to press.

2. Not there. Put it here.

wireframe-ui-ios

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating.

There is limited space on a mobile device.

As such, the placement of buttons and actionable portions of the screen, is as important, if not more than, the size of the button.

I hate apps that place buttons along the screen edge.

Think about how many times you’ve found yourself pressing an “inoperative” button over and over again – seemingly right on the icon.

But never able to actuate.

If you’ve got a protective case like the Otterbox, which has a wide beveled edge along the screen, trying to access any button or navigation element is virtually impossible.

If you’re not conscious about the placement of your buttons and navigation elements, you’ll definitely frustrate your users.

Tip: Space your buttons and navigation elements far enough apart to avoid “fat finger” syndrome.

3. Show me what you’ve got.

menu-alt-512

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “less is more.”

I’m not sure if that’s an actual ‘adage’ versus a mere ‘saying’, but you catch my drift.

The point is, when it comes to apps, keeping your interface clean, and focused on your primary functions and navigation, is best practice.

What to do with all those secondary functions?

Stick ‘em in a menu, that’s what!

Users have come to expect that there’s more to your app than meets the eye.

Updating your profile, accessing settings, providing feedback: these are all elements that, while important, don’t need to be front and center.

More importantly, things that are essential shouldn’t compete with the primary functions of your app.

Tuck them away in a discrete, easy to locate and intuitive location – a la the menu.

 Tip: Place non-essential items in a well designated menu.

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Filed under apps, digital advocacy, mobile

Sugar momma wanted. Wealthy biddies only need apply.

Sugar Momma Needed immediately. Now taking applications.
Note: Chanel close your eyes.

For the record, I believe that a man should stand on his own two feet and fend for himself.

We are the bread earners, hunter/gatherers, protectors.

It is our duty to bring home the bacon and provide for our brood.

I am no exception.

Each day, I pound the pavement and handle my business.

In addition to my 9-to-5, I juggle numerous side-hustles, all to make ends meet.

Being an entrepreneur at heart, I stays on my grizzy, but every once in a while…

I aspire to be taken care of.

A kept man.

A mimbo.

There.

I’ve said it.

And I’m not ashamed to admit it.

I want to be arm candy.

A vacuous man cavorting about at the behest of some paid broad.

Who wants me solely because of what I represent.

No. Not raw unbridled sex.

I am sexy.

But I’m not a prostitute.

I meant flyness.

I represent male flyness.

As such, I often fantasize about being taken care of by some old(erish) biddy, who enjoys my looks, company, and overall joie de vivre.

I’m sooooo shallow.

But indulge me.

I know a few women who live this life.

They’re single, fly and have men banging down their doors, vying for their attention.

Routinely, they get offers from CEOs of major corporations, titans of industry, moguls and tycoons, to do this or that, flit about here or there.

You name it, they’ve been offered it.

Vacations in Milan.

Shopping sprees on Rodeo Drive.

Cars, furs, jewelry.

Baubles for their attention.

Sometimes, they take them up on their offers.

Sometimes, they do not.

Regardless, the offers pour in.

Granted, these are single women.

But that’s besides the point.

I just want in on the action.

Not from men, you morons!

I want in on being the object of attention from wealthy female suitors vying for my attention.

Damn! I’m shallow.

But continue to indulge me.

Why is it that dudes don’t get this type of treatment?

Why isn’t there some chiseled boy toy with secret recordings of Martha Stewart’s racist rants?

How come Oprah hasn’t been spotted with some Black Adonis on her arm?

Doesn’t Laurene Jobs want some handsome aspiring actor breaking her off?

I’m not even saying that I’m trying to break anyone off.

But, biddies, feel free to Indecent Proposal me – I’ve already been pre-cleared for a seven figure roll in the hay.

That’s right. The wife will pimp me for seven figures. This dick ain’t cheap.

But I digress.

I’m just looking to hit pay dirt using my good looks, wit and charm.

And have some wealthy heiress bequeath me her fortune in her will for my years of loyal companionship.

Is that so wrong?

Apparently, there are a bunch of sites devoted to linking hunks (like myself) to wealthy women.

Sugarmommaclub.org, sugarmommasearch.com, sugarmommamate.com, sugarmammas.net, cougarlife.com.

All geared towards helping eligible men meet rich women.

But I need something more organic.

Like the stories of regular people, discovered walking down the block, or working at MacDonalds, and become super models.

I’m not trying to find a sugar momma.

I want one to happen upon me.

And shower me with gifts – simply to get my attention.

Because it’s not like I’m just going to give in.

There’s got to be some courting.

I can be coquettish.

Man, if I were born a woman AND I was as fly as I am, nigga’s would be in trouble!

Whew!

Finally got that off my chest.

Now I can get back to grinding.

Every once in a while, I slip.

But I’m back.

Crisis averted.

But if there are any old biddies out there, looking for a 6’3″ fine Black man to accompany them to $1,000-a-plate fundraisers, the Whitney Biennial, Cannes Film Festival, or any other event of this caliber….holla at your boy!

Chanel, you may open your eyes.

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Filed under Smack talking

Wanna be first at something cool? You better Brabble.


It’s not every day that you’re the first to do something.

That’s especially true in the tech space.

The minute you think you’ve got an original idea or stumbled onto the next big thing, someone drops it or says that they’ve already heard of it.

Got a great idea for a social media network?

Oops! Some kids at Harvard thought about that a minute ago.

And by the time you were up on it, you were far from a first mover.

You were on it – eventually.

And it probably took you a minute before you even were comfortable using it.

The same was probably true of Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and any of the myriad other social media trends that were once obscure platforms you never heard of, and are today the targets of billion dollar acquisitions – if not technology behemoths themselves.

And even though you may not have been there at the beginning, you probably fancy yourself “hip” when it comes to being able to spot and adopt social media trends.

Vine. WhatsApp. Snapchat.

You do that.

You may not have been first, but you were up on it by the time it became vogue.

And you were probably first among your friends or network for some things.

Shoot, I’d heard of Pinterest, but my wife actually put me on.

And now she can’t get off the damn thing.

But I digress.

Anywho, I’m about to put you up on the next ish.

What if you could have Facebook, Twitter, Instragram and Vine/Snapchat in one?

Where you could capture something in the moment.

Tag it up.

Decide who you wanted to share it with.

And post it in an instant.

See who’s posting.

Like.

Comment or respond to directly.

Share.

All from a mobile or web dash.

Well now you can.

It’s called Brabble.

And it’s barely a year old.

So you’re not exactly first first.

But you’re damn near close.

And it’s that next thing.

Trust me.

“What do you know Stephen? You couldn’t spot a trend if it walked up and bit you on the ass.”

Sure, my bum is a bit tough.

But I knows my nose knows.

What’s so great about Brabble?

It’s just another social media platform like Twitter.

Right?

Wrong!

It’s better, and I’ll tell you why.

For one, think of it as a dashboard.

Even though it IS a social media platform, what it DOES is give you the ability to manage multiple social media activities, within one place.

Sure, you can take a picture with your iPhone’s camera, and email, text or post it to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or Instagram.

Yes. You can shoot a video and upload it to Facebook or YouTube, and share it.

But once you’re done, your plopped back into your camera or photo album.

If you start from inside an app, say Instagram, and shoot a picture or video you’re stuck where you are.

And the user interface and experience for most social media platforms leaves much to be desired.

Especially on your mobile device.

Buttons are too small.

Items located too close to the edge of the screen are virtually inaccessible.

At the end of the day, you’re simply scrolling through an endlessly loading stream of posts, or pictures.

But not with Brabble.

For one, you start off with a Flipboard-like grid of images.

My Feed

You can elect to view content in either a grid or basic view.

Grid or standard view.

Clicking any image immediately pulls you into the thread of that Brabble (their version of “conversation”)

Second, the UI is basic.

Your primary navigation is found at the bottom of the screen, titled (quite simply) Menu, My Feed, Explore, Notifications and a big “+” sign to add a post (Brabble) of your own.

Like, love, Brabbleback.

Third, “liking” (one heart press/click) or “loving” (two heart presses/clicks), something, responding to or commenting on a Brabble (“Brabbleback”), is as simple as clicking on an icon and typing.

Finally, Brabbling (posting) is also super basic.

Brabbling. I think I just made up a term – must be sure to trademark that.

Hitting the big “+” sign opens up an overlay, with a large dialogue window to enter text, radio buttons you can select if you want to post to Facebook and Twitter, and icons above your dialogue box which lets you select which type of media you want to share with your post (or not).

A simple drop down next to the “Post to..” button lets you select whether to share your content with the World, your Followers, your Friends or Privately.

Brabble overlay

You can even save your posts to your Feed to send later.

This is not to say that there’s no room for improvement.

If I were going to make any changes to Brabble, they’d be few (and I could live without them).

But if I were, I’d make a persistent footer.

Generally, whenever you’re on the app, the footer is present.

Mine too deep into any individual piece of content, though, the footer goes away.

And you lose your bottom navigation.

If you go back, it returns, but there should be a persistent way to get back to “start” without having to repeatedly hit the “back” button.

It looks like the deeper you go into the app, there’s a transition from native to mobile web pages (which may account for the loss of your footer).

I could go deeper, but you get the picture.

Brabble is a cool app, which seamlessly aggregates all the things you like to do with your mobile device, into one app.

It’s not perfect, but it’s enough to make me take the leap.

And recommend it to all of you (my 42 readers).

I’ve been on the platform for three days now, and it’s pretty cool.

There isn’t a heck of a lot of traffic right now – and if you sign up, consider it part of an extended Beta.

Now go and Brabble, and be the first among your friends to be up on the latest and greatest tech trend.

And remember who told you about it when it tips….

 

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Filed under apps, iPhone, mobile, social media, technology

Lift. I wanted to be inspired, but now I hate you. An App review.

lift logo

Live long and prosper?

Last week, I was having one of those days that started off as a drag and I just need a boost.

Some inspiration to get me going.

I may have been raggin’ on Facebook or something, and someone (seeing my plight) recommended Lift to me.

If you’re not up on Lift, no worries. Neither was I.

Apparently, Lift is a platform that is supposed to “help you succeed at everything.”

According to their website, Lift “employs coaching, community and data, to help you be your best.”

Sort of like a cheerleader in your pocket, inspiring and motivating you.

Happy for the recommendation, I  Googled “Lift” on my iPhone.

Sure enough, it came up.

I followed the link the App Store and eagerly downloaded the app, confident that I had found the thing to put the (missing) pep back into my step.

And then…nothing.

The app was open on my phone but that was all.

No “Welcome to Lift.”

No “Let’s get started.”

No video or animation to guide me.

Nada.

Not one to be daunted by poor UX, I searched for clues for how the app was supposed to work.

There were three buttons in the footer: “Goals,” “Activity,” and “Me.”

Hit each one in succession.

Nada.

Nada.

Nada.

Hmmmm…

Maybe there’s a FAQs link around here somewhere?

Nope.

Perhaps there’s additional info in “Settings.”

Wrong.

I started to have serious misgivings about my people’s recommendation.

I finally realized that I had to set up an account online, which would then ‘unlock’ all of the app’s magical features.

Duh. It would have been nice if they had said that somewhere.

But rather than go on an exhaustive profanity-laced rant about all the things I found wrong with Lift, I decided to give it a good old fashioned review.

So without further adieu…Lift.

Pros

Simple, easy to remember name. Lift. How can you go wrong with that?

Basic UI. Many apps go wrong by trying to cram too much content in a small space. Banners, buttons, drop downs, arrows and menus all vying for some attention from your fat fingers.  Lift doesn’t suffer from button overload. The three buttons in the footer (Goals, Activity and Me) are widely spaced and easy to access.

Singular objective. Lift isn’t trying to be all things to all people. It’s goal is to provide its users with a clear path to success, by helping them to establish habits that, if followed, will improve health, focus and productivity.

Reminder alerts. If you’ve got Lift set up on your iPhone’s notification center, you’ll get a daily reminder to perform your task or tasks for the day.

Cons

Indistinguishable logo. The first time I saw the Lift logo on my phone, I thought I was looking at the Telegram logo. But I could have been looking at Remote. More than once, I’ve opened Telegram, when I intended to open Lift. Lift you should fire your designer.

One of these things is just like the other.

One of these things is just like the other.

Too few options. One of the main criticisms I have of Lift is that you can’t set your own goals. I wanted to be able to establish unique goals and milestones instead of using Lift’s narrow predefined ones. But Lift doesn’t let you customize goals.

Fixed frequency. Lift lets you establish “streaks” – consecutive days of accomplishing your goals. But you can’t set the frequency of when you’ve accomplished goals. If your goal is to work out three times a week, and you work out every other day, Lift won’t acknowledge that you’ve achieved your goal since you didn’t work out on three consecutive days.

No privacy settings. Lift is community based, so everyone can see the goals you’ve set. But I don’t necessarily want to share all of my goals with everyone. I want the ability to create groups (like Google Plus) or define which people see which goals. Unfortunately, with Lift, it’s all or nothing. So if I want to stop flatulating as a goal, everyone will know that I have gastrointestinal issues. No bueno.

‘Discussions’ are flat. Too few of the discussions offer anything meaningful, aside from individual reflections or impressions of the particular goal or exercise.  I don’t know about you, but I can read this type of mindless drivel only so often. Perhaps I’m too jaded, but reading the discussions for “Setting Priorities for Your Day” or “Meditate” made me want to kill myself.

No “how to’s.” When you’re launching something new, it’s typically best practice to assume that your user knows nothing and provide them the tools with which to get started. Otherwise, you get this

Zoolander

All in all, Lift is just okay.

After almost two weeks of Lift, I’m not convinced that it the app for me.

And (unlike my friend) I couldn’t in good conscience, recommend this app (in it’s present state) to anyone.

I’m not gonna be able to do.

Lift, if you’re interested in my opinion, I’d suggest you take a look at the reviews in iTunes.

I’m not talking about the glowing ones that you had your friends write when you first released the app.

I’m referring to the ones where people are complaining that your app sucks, like this one:

App review

Sure, it’s blurry.

But you get the point.

Lift, you’ve got some work to do.

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I am a Rockstar. You are a Rockstar. A study in self confidence.

Lipperhey_portrait

I regularly find myself giving out sage advice to folks.

Of course my advice is sage, why else would people seek me out I offer it unsolicited?

Anywho, the advice I give ranges widely from person to person.

Sometimes its about technology, sometimes business, sometimes branding.

But usually, its about helping folks to overcome whatever obstacles they face in their path to success – however “success” is defined.

“Stephen, how can I get my boss to give me more money?”

“Stephen, I don’t feel appreciated at my job. What should I do?”

“Stephen, why do I keep getting passed over for promotions?”

“Stephen, can you show me how to get more followers on Twitter?”

“Stephen, what if no one reads my blog?”

I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

And while the individuals and circumstances they find themselves in may change, there is one constant theme: self confidence.

I find that people are often unaware of their self-worth, and as a result constantly look to external sources for validation.

And that, my friends, is what I call “The Mind Fuck.”

The Mind Fuck is when the opinion of others matters more to you than your own (opinion).

You fuck yourself royally, when you’re incapable of achieving a sense of self-worth in the absence of the support of others.

But, it’s not your fault – well not totally your fault.

I’ll tell you why.

Since we were children, we’ve been programmed to seek the approval of others.

It started with our parents.

Oh how they cooed when we spoke our first word, ate solids for the first time, crawled, then walked, made caca on the potty.

Our formative years were spent being trained like puppies to live in civilized society.

Such that today, Like Pavlov’s dog, we still salivate for those doggy biscuits of approval.

With that kind of insidious brainwashing, it’s understandable why we fall into the trap of giving two shits about other people’s opinions.

What are we as humans, if not social creatures?

But that’s the rub.

Because we are all social creatures, we crave that approval, the “likes” and “follows,” shares and retweets, that say, “you are somebody” and (unfortunately) define many of our current social interactions.

And when we don’t get it, for whatever reason, many of us take it as a blow, a slight, a diminishment of who we are.

Why?

That’s easy: we’ve never cultivated our Inner Rockstar.

What’s an “Inner Rockstar”?

The Inner Rockstar is that thing that makes us unique.

It’s that special characteristic that sets us apart from the rest of the world.

It’s that thing that we possess, that defines us.

Maybe you’re a whiz with PowerPoint.

Or can automatically calculate the ROI for every dollar spent by your firm.

Perhaps you’ve revamped your company’s non-existent marketing strategy.

You might be able to whistle the Stars Spangled Banner with your nose.

Yes. Whistling through your nose is awesome.

Your Inner Rockstar is the part of you that is awesome, regardless of who else knows it.

“Okay Stephen, I’m a rockstar to myself.  So what?”

So what?

So everything!

What makes a rockstar a rockstar?

They let everyone know they’re a rockstar.

They may not rock a t-shirt emblazoned with “I Am A Rockstar” on it.

Although they should – it would make them easier to identify.

But they wear their rockstar status openly.

Think about it.

Tony Robbins. Wayne Dyer. Steve Jobs. Corey Booker. Mick Jagger.

What do all these people have in common?

Confidence and swagger.

They way they hold themselves out to the rest of the world.

The presence they command when they walk into a room.

It’s their confidence.

Confidence.

Plain and simple.

Confidence makes you a rockstar.

Don’t believe me? Try this little experiment.

The next time you’re with a group of people, offer up a fact about something obscure.

For example, did you know that Google Glass was actually conceived by the 16th century inventor Hans Lippershey, who created the telescope? He was the first person to conceptualize images projected on (or through) thin panes of glass. Google owes their innovation to Hans.

This is not true.

Hans Lippershey did invent the telescope, but didn’t conceptualize a wearable computer.

But if you present this information with confidence and authority, stating it as fact, 9 out of 10 people will believe you, without pause.

Why?

It is because Hans Lippershey actually developed a Google Glass concept in 1570?

No. It’s because of your delivery.

You sell it and they’ll buy it, hook, line and sinker.

Imagine, now, that you do everything with that same level of confidence.

Especially things that you’re good at.

I’m certain that you’ll start to realize that you’ve got some mojo.

To be clear, being confident and good at something will not necessarily make you a rockstar in the eyes of the public at large.

But if you can manage to convince yourself that you’re a rockstar, you’re one step closer to convincing others of the same thing.

Now get out there and rock out!

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Take the Steak. Be fearless. Insight from Social Triggers.

newbrain

I was listening to an interview this morning with Adam Braun, the author of “The Promise of a Pencil.”

Braun is a philanthropist who left Bain Capital to start Pencils of Promise, a not for profit organization that builds schools and increases access to education for children in the developing world.

In the course of four years, Pencils of Promise has broken ground on over 200 schools and provided educational opportunities for more than 20,000 children.

A friend of mine put me up on this podcast, Social Triggers, and this interview is one of the episodes.

If you’re not up on Social Triggers, let me school you.

Social Triggers is a blog founded by Derek Halpern, an online and web traffic expert.

It’s also the title of his podcast series which provides advice on building and growing your brand online.

Halpern publishes a blog with over 100,000 subscribers and produces one of the most popular podcasts on iTunes.

So the interview with Adam Braun was one of the many he offers to his listeners to help them be more successful.

Anywho, as I’m listening to the podcast, I’m struck by one story that Braun shares from his book.

Apparently, when he was being courted by Bain Capital, they took he (or is it “him”?), and the other Bain prospects, to an expensive dinner, where they were treated to Kobe steaks.

Having backpacked through the third world two months prior, subsisting on communal meals and charity, having a 2 pound steak all to himself was heaven.

He was seated next to a female partner who barely touched her steak, and she asked the waiter to take it away when she was done.

Rather than wait for the plate and steak to be bussed away (and after two months of “waste not want not”), he surreptitiously spirited the steak off of her plate onto his.

Needless to say he was not quite that surreptitious.

The partner noticed – as did the rest of the table.

And he became known as the guy who would “take your steak.”

At first glance, this incident seems embarrassing.

I mean, who takes a partially eaten steak off another’s plate?

A savage clearly.

But there is another way to see this.

And my rather long retelling is really meant to emphasize your one takeaway for today: Be fearless.

If you want something, go after it.

Boldly.

Take the steak off the plate.

Adam Braun wasn’t concerned about what people thought of him when he took the steak.

The partner was done with it and was going to send it back to the kitchen, where it was invariably going to be thrown away.

He wanted the steak.

Two months backpacking through developing nations, eating crickets and grass will do that to ya.

And so he took it.

No harm. No foul.

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Well it’s true.

You’ll never get anywhere sitting on your ass waiting for opportunity to find you.

You’ve got to create opportunities for yourself.

My friend D says that you should never couch things in terms of fear.

It’s a negative emotion.

But being fearless means that you are devoid of that negative emotion which holds many of us back.

Being fearless means that you make opportunities for yourself.

Being fearless means that you dive into the abyss.

Being fearless means that you start where conventional wisdom stops.

You take the steak.

If you’re about self-improvement, or simply want to learn more about Adam Braun’s experiences I’d definitely recommend his book “The Promise of a Pencil.”

And the next time you find yourself confronted with a situation and you’re unsure of what to do, think of Adam and take the steak.

Note: For my vegetarian readership, please replace “steak” with “eggplant.”

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Filed under advocacy, books, branding