Tuesday, April 2, 2013

synchronistic strategy for makers part 2 (adding value by valuing ourselves ... and providing free coffee)

“A mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes

 Now, before you start thinking this standing still thing is all about me being "spring-lazy" and expecting good stuff to just start falling in my lap

(I am and I do)

it is really about knowing that expanding one thing, expands everything 

and knowing (well, knowing is the wrong word here, but again I'm a little too spring-lazy to think up a better one) that like attracts like - that the law of attraction (please don't confuse this with The Secret) is always working.

When I managed a bank (many years ago and actually it was a savings and loan and not a bank) I organized Money Mondays at the local commuter train station.

We would set up a table and give out free coffee and a newsletter containing financial news and information. It included a networking component where we provided free space for local business people to post weekly announcements to promote their businesses.

The guidelines for these businesses were pretty simple.

Write the announcement as they wanted it to appear, use proper grammar and punctuation, make it under 2 paragraphs and have it to us by the Thursday - also we didn't allow repeats - a business could be involved week after week but the announcement had to be new.

I wanted to keep everything fresh and everyone physically and mentally involved in the process.

For the first few weeks/months, my memory is bad here, everything worked great. But there came a time when the announcements were arriving late with typos and poor grammar, businesses were changing a word here and there instead of offering up fresh information, sometimes people would just phone us with a few words and ask us to 'come up with something' for them. Commuters were just shoving them into their brief cases to get the free coffee.

I was ready to just bag the whole program. We had a team meeting and realized that our real frustration was coming from the impression that the local businesses, in their carelessness, were just not appreciating us. Now, I know that how we view others is really a reflection of our own behavior, so I knew that what was really going on was that we were not valuing our service.

Our early labor of love had become a chore and when we started taking our own efforts for granted everyone else did, too.

The minute we got real about what was going on - we decided instead of bagging the program we would make it freaking awesome. We bought new software and a camera, gave team members the time they needed to do a good job, we got more people involved - instead of expecting one person to throw it all together after the lobby closed on a Friday.

We made one small change to our guidelines for the businesses - we limited the number of announcements a business could run in any month to 2 and we limited the number we would print in any edition to 15.

We announced the new guidelines after we ran our first 'freaking awesome' edition and magically overnight we began attracting exactly the kind of announcements we wanted. Commuters began reading them again on their Monday train rides.

When we started valuing ourselves everyone else did, too.

So part 1 of our "spring stand still" is an assignment - think about where in our maker business we might be taking ourselves or our makings for granted. Where are other people not appreciating us? What did we enjoy doing in the past that now feels like a chore? What parts of our business are feeling tight and oppressive (a sure sign we have already outgrown them)?

Also think about any health issues we might be having, in particular with the right sides of our bodies, this might all fit in, too.

back tomorrow with part II (xo all)


lynn bowes said...

Oh this is so good. Just this week I made the decision to make no more donations of my work for auction, with caveats, of course. (A cause I believe in, the option to set a minimum bid, receipt for tax purposes, that sort of thing.)

I don't think I have valued my work enough and to say that it's okay to undersell myself by donating work for so little return is draining. In 15 years, I have gotten one written thank you and no return business that I can tell. I'm worth a little more than that.

Can I get an amen?


DancingMooney ♥ said...

Okay I've had a kink in my neck behind my right ear for weeks now, tell me what that means!!

And yes, I completely agree and have been going through the beginnings of a transformation lately, because I needed to start putting thought and value into the things I'm good at, and the things that speak to me... Not so much worrying what everyone else thinks. Each of our paths are different, I've just recently started to accept that it's okay to be different.

Catherine Ivins said...

AMEN Lynn - it's funny you mention donations because I was just thinking about them yesterday when I forgot to send something for an event in June and I got a testy reminder from someone - uh June? uh free? (and my work is obviously nowhere near as labor intensive as yours)- I agree about working from our hearts with donations - whenever I give something away and don't feel good about it I know I have made a mistake - I'm going to set guidelines with this too 1. list causes we would feel good about working with 2. set dollar and number annual limit, keep track, feel good everytime we donate something 3. write a quick "sorry charlie" email to copy and paste for everything else - I'm with you!

OK Janell - right side is our masculine side, what we put out into the world, our work - if you think about what your neck does - turns your head so you can look at things from another position, ie another point of view - so maybe some change in the way you are seeing things connected to your work needed - also 5th chakra maybe, finding your voice, speaking your truth - my neck is challenging too - also the fact that you choose the words "little kink" would make me think that maybe something having to do with your work or what you put out into the world needs to be straightened out - maCATma gandi :) xo

KJ said...

I have nothing to add about the right side, nor amazingly enough about the left side.

I did, however, recently post a comment on another blog about valuing our work. When we price our work at $10 potential customers will look at it and value it at $7 and think that 1) they can find something similar at a local store for less or 2) they can, (but never will) make it for less.

On the other hand if we place a $500 price tag on our work, our potential customers will recognize it as art and know they are getting something they value.

Now, the prices may vary, and so might your experience, but that has been mine.

Catherine Ivins said...

I agree Kathy - I have made so many pricing mistakes and can now totally connect it to me valuing my work. I used to always think well I can make X amt in an hour without considering the skillset, experience, equipment purchase etc that went into that X

xo- hope you are enjoying NJ, hoping it warms up soon!

Brewed Together said...

Love that first quote at the top. It's for good reason usually that the mind is stretched. Thanks for sharing! Xo, M&K at brewedtogether.com

Catherine Ivins said...

I love that quote too M&K!