Business Growth Ideas #292 This week: Starting up, Conversations, Headphones

Sales and marketing Newsletter

Quick notes to help you grow your business in less time with less effort. . . sometime next week.

In this issue:

– Techniques for FIT
– Being Human
– Random Stuff

Techniques for FIT

  • Holding on to what’s happening today limits strategic conversation. Starting with a vision of the future and working back stimulates conversation. Work backwards.
  • Each story about the struggle to find people or inventory is balanced by a story of new opportunities. “I can’t find anyone but the phone is ringing off the hook,” she says. What can you do to expand your market when things settle down?
  • Doing what you can to protect margin needs to be balanced with cash flow, especially at launch. As the saying goes, turnover is vanity, profit sanity, but cash is reality.
  • Jump in and learn. Starting small isn’t a problem when you’re thinking big. What you do today doesn’t keep you from reaching your goals tomorrow. Balance “I don’t want to seem small,” with “I want to be around tomorrow.”

Being Human – Re-engaging

“When you have to do small talk, you know, ‘Hello, how are you?’ after that, I don’t know what to do. I go, ‘OK, then,’ and walk away.” – Naomi Osaka


I went to a dinner party. With strangers. Friend’s of my lovely bride’s friend. I knew no one, and it’s been a while since I’ve been in a social situation like this. As a matter of fact, it’s been a while since any of us has been in situations like this. Socializing is a muscle to be exercised and mine has been bedridden. After an exhausting night of small talk, I noticed a few things.

  • Weather remains the safest subject. It’s out of everyone’s control and doesn’t have feelings if you make fun of it.
  • Work is safe too, but this crowd included a few people in their 70s, so the “work” turned into questions about how free time is passed. Some people know a lot about golf.
  • My go-to prompt, “Tell me more about that,” still works.
  • Have a plan for the Unloader. You have no idea what garbage they’ve been dumping into their brains these last 18 months, but you’re about to find out. It helps to be the questioner and control the conversation, but if you get caught in a weird brain dump have your exits ready. The “step back,” the empty-glass-double-take move to the bar, the interrupt “I’m just about to head to the appetizers, need anything?” and in emergencies, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but where is the restroom?”

This crew didn’t offer any new networking opportunities, but I was prepared just in case. It usually happens when having occupation conversations. They own a business, I describe my work, and they start asking questions/describing a situation for me to weigh in on. Friendly chat, but there may be something there I want to explore. If it sounds like a prospect I say, “XXXX, I love shop talk, and it sounds like we could go on about this, but let me ask you, would you be open to a separate conversation, at a different time, where you tell me more about what you’re doing, I tell you about my work, and we see if there is a way we can help each other?” It gives them agency, it lets us get back to the party, and it gives me something to look forward to.

Have a plan.

Random stuff


“. . .I told Bill that if, if Sandra’s going to listen to her headphones while she’s, while she’s filing then I should be able to listen to the radio while I’m collating. . .”  – Milton Waddams


My first portable music player was a Sony Walkman. Space gray with a big belt clip and a headphone that was positively delicate compared to the heavy clamshells of my Dad’s stereo. Twelve-year-old me loads the tape deck with Iron Maiden, hooks it to my Op short’s belt loop, and mows the lawn. Glorious.

It was funny to give the headphones to my Dad because he would listen for a bit and then say something like, “The sound is so CLEAR,” and we’d all bust out laughing because he was using his outside voice. To this day, when I am wearing my thoroughly modern AirPods I’ll turn to my bride and use my outside voice. It annoys her to no end and makes me laugh.

I wear these new headphones to help the time pass when, say, mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, or partaking in my little home improvement projects. Just this week I was using them while setting up my sawhorses, attaching my saw track to a board, and attempting to cut a straight line. I bought this track to help because my old method, using a straight edge and clamps, tends to shift at the end of my cut. Luckily, the Home Depot had a $100 solution for me.

Since it was a nice evening, I decide to use my new tool in the backyard. I go to a flat spot, attach the track to this board, measure twice, clamp the track down, and proceed to separate the good part of the board from the bad part. Right at the end of my cut this $100 track does something to make me mad. It shifts. Exactly what it is not supposed to do.

Exploding in my brain is a series of expletives honed from years of absorbing the classic swears of my father mixed with the more modern swears of my brother-in-law, UFB. Both expert swearers in their own right.

As I stand with the music blaring, contemplating my slightly askew cut, I turn to see my young neighbor playing in his backyard with the dog Luna. He is looking at me, holding a crinkly raccoon toy. Actually, Luna is looking at me too.

I double-tap my headphone to pause the music. “Did I say that out loud?” I say to the pair. It’s like I break a spell, because without missing a beat the boy and his dog go right back to playing wrestle-fetch.

I definitely said it out loud.


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