Posts

Book Review: The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

The jist – Thank your community.

A shoutout – This review is courtesy of my brother. Thank you G for turning me on to Gary, he’s been influential in the way I approach life and grind. I’m pretty blessed to have a brother who motivates, inspires and runs alongside me.

Onto the book.

First, Mr. Vaynerchuk owes me a neck massage. While reading, my head bobs like I’m constantly checking to make sure the sky and ground are still there. His message is simple, straight forward and courageous. I say courageous because there are so many executives, business owners and leaders who are afraid. Afraid to lose control of their brand, afraid to change. When you have courage, you have the ability to stand for what is right, regardless of how hard it is.

When you’re a:

-Leader, part of your job description is to be courageous (even if it doesn’t say it in the black and white).

-Good community member, you talk to your neighbours.

-Great friend, you take care of your friend’s cats when she’s away.

Bingley the Cat trying to read The Thank You Economy

We’ve gone back in time

All of those courageous and kind acts are reminiscent of a time when we said “hi dee ho neighbourino” and waved at the neighbour who was mowing their lawn. As Vaynerchuk points out, consumers used to have a lot of power. Over time, that waned and the consumer didn’t have a customized or even friendly experience with their retailers any longer. They were numbers with dollars and little sense. With the advent of social media, we’re back in the driver’s seat in a different way – and business is slow to respond. Government is even worse. They’re still trying to “engage” with letter drops. (Seriously).

When the consumer has the power, they have the capability to talk. To have an opinion. After being quiet for so long, having a global platform to stand on and either sing praises or expose an injustice is a right.

I think that building these expectations back into our consumerism is a step in the right direction. Being heard is a basic human need and we want to be heard by the people and companies that we invest in. Additionally, putting down a foundation of manners, trust, and courage in our business practices and economy will determine how our next cycle goes. There is a significant shift coming in the workforce and to ignore the direction the ship is turning in is a mistake.

What’s that? Millennials?

Yep, we’re here and we’re most definitely reading these type of books. Those of us who want to grind, who want to work, who want to build our surroundings, are nose deep in these books. Millenials pay attention to where we are going, to what the successes who came before us said to do and, most importantly, we experiment then leverage. We take the time to do something like creating an Instagram account and saying thanks to everyone who gives us a heart. We tweet a thousand times during one election night and respond to others who are also reacting. The reality is that, because we’re more connected, we expect to be able to connect in our jobs, our homes, and our families. At work, we expect that we are going to be good brand ambassadors for the company, if we’re given some latitude to do so.

For example, during a sales job when I was younger, I was activating two cell phones. One for a father and another for his daughter. Usually an activation like this would take an hour, max. Well, turns out this gentleman was new to Canada, therefore he had no credit. The company I was activating him with was risk adverse but I worked with them to get both activated with a reasonable deposit. The total time? 8 hours. Every time the gentleman walked in the store from that day on, he refused to let anyone else help him. We had shopping appointments.

The moral? Anyone who is worth their ilk has their own equivalent of Gary’s wine delivery and making dinner stories.

The question? What’s your story? What has someone profusely said thank you to you for?

These people are your rock stars. You don’t need to worry about them or their work ethic. Likely, those people will grow… and leave the company.

Investing in Others

I learned that people will leave your team. It’s how you welcome new people and thank the ones leaving that matters. Our practice is cake, lunch and a card – no matter if you’re coming or going. Sometimes we have cake because it’s Tuesday. Most importantly, we train and work together as if we’re going to be together forever. We take the effort to build high performing people and treat each other as team members because that’s what we’ve proven we deserve. Vaynerchuk explains why this type of behaviour is imperative to building a Thank You Economy:

“It’s okay if you put this effort into employees and they still choose to leave for bigger and better positions at other companies. You want ambitious people on staff, and it’s inevitable that ambitious people will be on the lookout for new opportunities. Even if they leave, your efforts will not have been wasted, for you will be developing your company’s reputation as a place where people in your field can grow their careers. That’s the kind of reputation that attracts the best and brightest, which is exactly what you want working with you.” (pg 101)

 

The Takeaways

I’m a big believer in takeaways. Any time that I spend intentionally I expect to have a return. With The Thank You Economy, there were so many takeaways that I would simply be giving you the book.

My top five were:

  1. Be human – and remember that you’re interacting with other humans. They aren’t dollar bills and they appreciate honesty.
  2. Companies need a Chief Culture Officer – This person can help take your company from okay to amazing.
  3. TRUST YOUR PEOPLE – I had to yell that one. Your people are your business and they’re the ones who your customers rely on to deliver. Trust them with your brand and if one makes a mess, don’t punish the rest.
  4. Invest in a social media team – It’s not a fad or “all the rage”. Social media is part of the fabric of our society and if you’re not on the train, talking to people, you’re not going to know what they want.
  5. Give quietly – Don’t give money because someone hearts your Instagram photo. That’s slacktivism at its finest (Google is your friend). Give to initiatives and charities that matter to you. Donate your time to gain experience in your community. Stop shouting from the rooftops that you’re doing a thing and just go do it.

Is this book for you?

I would highly recommend anyone to Gary Vaynerchuk’s content, including this book. The reality is that, as a community, we are lucky to have someone like Gary to lead us through the fold of social media. We need to make sure that people who are visionary are listened to because they know what’s coming. They see it before we do.

Social media is here to stay. Doing business in today’s world means that you have to be in tune with the people who haven’t spent a dime in your store but want to know about your company AND in tune with the customers who are already buying from you. It’s all about relationships and relationships aren’t easy, they take dedication and effort. Sincere effort that is.

If you’re looking for advice on how to use social media in your company, I would recommend taking this book and studying it. Gary makes all the points you need to know and if you follow it, you’ll still be miles ahead of the competition.

Solid five stars from this gal.

 

Book Review: The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

The Happiness AdvantageThe Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work

I am a self-admitted self-help junkie and The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor is like those first few drops of rain after a hot week – refreshing and welcomed. Personally, I have found that work places are perceived as places to escape from and we seem to think that we’re clever in how we do that. Vacation, sick days, personal days, quitting.

Try taking a different approach to work – My mindset is that I’m there for a third of my day anyway, might as well make it great. That mindset has paid off. I love going to work. I love my job (and no, not just the people). Yes, I admittedly get frustrated, annoyed, and flabbergasted sometimes. It’s about 5% of the time. As with Shawn’s research, it has taken me years (not decades, I’m not old enough for that yet) to figure out happiness at work. I’m excited to share this book with you because it is based in science.

Bill Nye It's Science

Why is this book great?

  1. Accessibility – the language is plain, the actions are clear and manageable.
  2. Stories – there is a healthy smattering of relevant tales throughout.
  3. Actionable! – Bring each of the principles to life in a series of small actions.
  4. Acknowledges the human factor – written by a human, for humans. Not just those with big brains.

“Person-activity fit” is often just as important as the activity itself…Find a personally tailored substitute instead. (pg 51)

Achor expands on seven principles as methods for gaining the Happiness Advantage for yourself, if they work for you. However, if you try them and they don’t jive with your mojo, it’s okay. It’s a starting point. For me, yoga rocks my socks and my hubby thinks it’s awkward and breathing in a specific way is weird. Instead, he prefers to play strategy games. Find your thang.

The Seven Principles and My Findings

Dicing up the big idea of happiness into seven principles makes the idea of achievement much more real:

  1. The Happiness Advantage

    The Zorro Circle

    The Zorro Circle

  2. The Fulcrum and Lever
  3. The Tetris Effect
  4. Falling Up
  5. The Zorro Circle
  6. The 20-Second Rule
  7. Social Investment

First, readers can consume this book in bits. Achor writes for the average person and encourages taking a break from section to section allows for digestion of the material. I find that I get the most from self-help books when I take the time to read, relax, perceive and action.

Second, readers are encouraged to experiment, which I love to do. I personally tried The Tetris Effect and The 20 Second Rule. I’m still using them a month after reading this book and am seeing results. That is exciting for me. Here’s what I did:

The Tetris Effect:

One great way to train your brain to look for the positives is to practice reciting or recording gratitude’s. The best practice is to ritualize the task, choosing a daily time to stop and record or recite the things you’re grateful for. (p.102)

I started a ritual of taking two minutes during my morning routine to write down what I am thankful for in four areas of my life:

  1. Life – the grand, overarching narrative that I walk through every day.
  2. Career – the recording of my contribution to others. I include my writing career and my personal endeavours to help in here.
  3. Job – the tasks I do at work, the people I work with, the relationships I have in the workplace, the initiatives I’m involved in.
  4. Relationship – the intimate relationship I share with my hubby.

T

Personally, the afterimage is real. I discover more positive experiences throughout my day, I am more patient and calm with others and I smile each time I think then write what I am thankful for.

The 20 Second Rule:

If we can lower barriers to activation for positive activities, we can begin to form habits. Likewise, if we raise barriers to activation for negative activities, we can break those habits. (p.154)

Essentially, “make it easy to go right and hard to go wrong” (Gretchen Rubin). After clearing this experiment with the hubby, I moved our PS4 controllers across the house, about 15 seconds away from the living room, in an effort to curb my Netflix/Anime/TV habit. I placed books in the living room instead and within a few days, I was reading more. The controllers haven’t made it back into the living room and I’m more productive for it.

This principle is fun to try in other areas too! I aim to be focused in whatever work I am doing and my phone is a major distraction to that. So, I turned off all notifications except for phone calls, installed an app called BreakFree. The app tracks your unlocks, blocks notifications and alerts you after you’ve been using your phone for a preset amount of time. After tracking for two weeks, I have noticed habits of mine. For example, I will check my phone a LOT if I’m bored. I also don’t miss those Facebook, Instagram, email and other notifications. Nothing has been so pressing that it can’t be attended to in 20 minutes or more.

At the end of the day…

I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for ways to better themselves. It is so important to find useful information and methods that answer why and whether it will work. I would find something within the book that speaks to me, try it out and see if it works. I sincerely believe that what you get out of this book is truly going to be the effort that you put into finding with works for you.