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Monthly Archives: March 2009

I do not do this very often (not sure why, but I don’t), but I wanted to take the time to blog about work specifically.  In case you have forgotten, I work for this little cool startup (at least we like to think so) called Mixx.com.  Here at Mixx, one of the things that we pride ourselves on is our level of engagement with our user community.  In this day and age, you can find countless examples of how companies are engaging their users in new and interesting ways, that they have an open line of communication with their users, blah blah blah and so on and so on.  Yes, we can say all that too, and it is all true.  However, last week I think we took that level of engagement to a whole new level.

Let me set this up by saying that it is not uncommon for us to exchange e-mails with our users, hell we even get phone calls from some (you know who you are) and we even engage in a little tomfoolery with them from time to time.  Several months ago, a group of our users thought it would be a good idea to see who could come up with the funniest picture of me.  Trust me there were plenty, but one in particular took the cake.  I was a good sport and went along with it, knowing full well that after it’s 15 minutes of fame, I would never have to worry about it again.  Boy was I sadly mistaken.  For whatever reason (unbeknownst to me), someone decided to wake the sleeping giant.  This time around, I figured well those that live in glass houses should not cast stones, so I took t upon myself to have a little fun of my own.  In kind, I produced a picture that was equally as funny.  I could not just stop there, so I decided to submit the photo to Mixx and to tweet it out to all of my followers.  Well, needless to say that sparked a little battle and before I know it, the original picture of me was being retweeted all over the Twitterverse, and by some very influential people (social media speaking of course).  It was all in good fun, everyone got a good laugh, no harm no foul.

In running a company, whether it be online or off, engaging your users is critical to your success.  After all, they are ultimately the ones who wind up paying your bills, keeping your company alive and successful.  Finding new ways to engage them and stay connected is sometimes hard, but every once in awhile it happens by shear accident and is a huge success.  Am I advocating that you engage in the sort of  shenanigans that I found myself in (perhaps not if you are the faint of heart type), but there is no rule that says you should not or cannot have a little fun with your users.  We sure do, and it works.

In case you were wondering, here is the original pic of me and the one I retaliated with.  ENJOY!

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Being a father to four children under the age of five, I read a lot of children’s books.  On occasion, I find myself reading the story of the Little Engine that could.  The kids like it because the version that we have is written by a British author, so the choice of words is sometimes different than what you would get with an American author.  I rather enjoy this as it gives me the opportunity to exercise my British accent (albeit it very poor) and the kids teeter on thinking it is funny or annoying, but all in all it is good times.

The moral of the story is very interesting.  It touches on the notion of setting goals and achieving milestones.  At the beginning of the story you get the sense that it is going to be doom and gloom for the the stranded engine and all of the candy and toys aboard.  As each engine passes by, another rejection is handed down to the engine.  Finally, the little engine passes by the broken down train,and in a move of desperation, the broken down train begs the little switch engine to help pull the rest of the cars over the hill and to the village on the other side.

The little engine is floored.  He realizes that the task he has been asked to perform is next to impossible.  Instead of folding up the tents and packing it in, he decided to give it a go.  He set his goal to be getting the candy and toys up and over that hill and delivered to the children in the village below.  Realizing that what he has signed up for is a lofty goal, he sets out on his missions.  Along the way, he sets milestones to achieve, and as he achieves them he realizes that he is much closer to achieving his goal.  I think I can, I think I can, and before you know it he has achieved his goal.

The story is simple, but the lesson learned from it is invaluable.  Often times in life we set goals, but we do not take the time to figure out what our milestones are so we can ensure that we are on track to achieve said goal(s).  It is virtually impossible to achieve a goal if you have no form of measurement on your progress.  This seems to be so simple, yet more times than not we set down the path of creating goals and come up short in the end.  Take for example the phenomenon that occurs every new year.  Countless thousands of people set the goal for the coming year to be to loose weight and get in shape.  Great goal, but no milestones set to achieve the goal.  How much weight do you want to loose, where do you want to be in one month, three months, six months.  Without these milestones the likelihood of you every acheiving your goals is next to zero.  The only thing you are going to achieve is less money in your banking account and more weight around your midsection.  So what are you waiting for, get milestone setting 😉