“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
This quote speaks to the need to be original in your life, explore new directions, and make your own way.
Both Emerson and Thoreau wrote often about this notion of making new paths (it is very apparent in Thoreau’s writings about Walden Pond). I think this approach leads us to new discoveries, new actions, and new opportunities for learning.
The last part of the quote highlights to need to remind oneself about the journeys taken, as well as to share knowledge – to share one’s experiences for others by leaving behind a trail.
I think it is important to note that creating new pathways in life is not exclusive to certain moments or circumstances. Sometimes we think trying new approaches is reserved for new things or big things or big ideas. But the concept of a path is a simple one, and as such, should serve as a reminder that life is filled with moments where we can go in new and unique directions.
Think about it as taking action that breaks your routine.
Maybe it is the first time you have volunteered at a soup kitchen, donated money to someone in need, or made a positive comment to a stranger. Or it could be driving a different way home from work.
The point is – life is better with discovery.
“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We sometimes forget just how unique we are, because we are taught from such an early age – and all throughout our schooling – to conform to rigid standards. Passing a standard is considered a measurement of success, whereas failing to meet it is considered failure.
Rarely do we get many opportunities as we grow up (and even after we have grown) to truly experiment and to fail in a way that is acceptable to others, least of all ourselves.
Experimentation and failure are not negatives. All of our life is an experiment. Embrace that reality, and you will live a more complete life filled with a wide range of experiences and perspectives.
This is one of my favorite quotes from Henry David Thoreau. I often refer to it when I am struggling or in need of inspiration or motivation.
Imagination allows us to form images in our minds. We can recreate moments in time, adapt or modify those moments, or create new ones. We also can do the same thing with objects around us. We can form things that do not exist and simulate how they would function. Or we can replay what we have seen or change the way current things are used or function.
When Thoreau talks about the world being a canvas to our imagination, he is saying that we can take our dreams and bring them into the real world – make them tangible so others can see, hear or touch them.
In many ways, the world around is a canvas.
And like a painter, we each possess the tools to shape it.
Every move we make through the world is a brush stroke that shapes the landscape around us.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill
There is so much talk about privileges, or the advantages that some have over others. In my opinion, it is waste of energy to think or argue about such things. You cannot change your skin color, your gender, where you were born, how wealthy or poor your family is, or those things in other people.
The truth is that there is no promise or guarantee in life of equality or privilege, of happiness or humanity.
No government or person can make such a promise.
Only you can decide to take control of your life instead of letting life control you. Only you possess the individual ability to seize opportunity no matter where you are and create happiness and success for yourself.
Every day you are alive there are new opportunities, regardless of where you are. If you only focus on what you do not have, on the disadvantages you perceive exist and cannot control, you are defeated before you have started – waiting for someone else to deliver on a promise that cannot be kept.
Who is going to buy from you?
What are their motivations and needs?
What propels them into action? Are they driven by habit, planning, or urgent needs?
The starting process for identifying who your customer is involves asking a lot of questions.
You need to gather data to build a successful marketing and sales strategy. Data that goes beyond basic demographics. You need to get to the data points that tell you how people take action, when, and why. This way – you can build a blueprint for influencing that action, so your company has a chance to win their business.
Market and Competitor Research
One of the first steps in building a customer persona is to gain some basic insights on your industry and marketplace, and then dive into researching the market and its competitors in greater detail. This helps us to build a foundation for additional discovery.
Once we have some of the details, we get into the interview phase of the discovery process. Interviews of your customers and your internal staff are essential to understanding both your target audience and your marketing operations. We also may interview prospects and customers of your competitors (if they are willing).
Build Customer / Buyer Personas
The final phase is building the customer / buyer personas, and then connecting them to either your existing marketing operations, or, outline strategies that will better communicate your offerings to your audience. The key to this phase is developing a “plan for action.”
A Roadmap For Creating A Customer / Buyer Persona
We start the process through a combination of market and competitor research. Then we conduct a series of detailed interviews. Our interviews often include customers, prospects, and internal staff. We also may have conversations with people who have used competitor solutions.
From there, we examine your company’s offerings and sales results to understand how your business is performing, and gather all metrics you are using to measure success.
We will put together a preliminary set of findings to review before we finalize our analysis. Depending on your business, you could have 2 or 3 personas or you could have 15 or 20.
BACKGROUND ON THE PROCESS OF CREATING A CUSTOMER / BUYER PERSONA
When we build customer / buyer personas – we want to be as thorough as possible in our research and in our interviews.
We are going to look at market data, and a lot of information that is publicly available. However, there is going to be a lot of information that can only come from you – the client. So, it is important you are prepared for the work.
Here are basic things to prepare for when developing personas:
- We are going to ask for data from your sales database. Customer data, notes, buying histories, and more. This is very sensitive information. We recognize that. However, it is essential to understanding the current state of your company, and building out accurate personas.
- We are going to ask for a list of your competitors. This should not be difficult to provide. The more detailed the list – the better.
- Do you know about deals you have lost recently? Or companies that are using competitors? That information also will be helpful, because if we are able to connect with a representative from those companies – we can understand your deficiencies better and build better personas.
- We also will need a list of customers we can talk to – and your permission to contact them. We will review all questions / surveys with you before we present them to your customer. But we need to speak with them.
- Last, but not least, we are going to interview people on your sales, marketing, executive, product, and customer support teams. In some ways, they will all provide some much needed context that will go into your customer profile(s), but also, we will be able to spot inconsistencies in messaging and perception.
Here are some of my favorite Rodney Dangerfield jokes… I will update as I uncover more gems from his old performances, especially those on the Johnny Carson Show. If you have any you remember, post them in the comments or send me an e-mail.
My Favorite Rodney Dangerfield Jokes
I have to tell you. Last week I was in rough shape…
My wife signed me up for a Bridge Club… I’m supposed to jump off next Tuesday.
I went out to a bar to have a few drinks, and relax. The bartender asked me what I wanted. I said, “Surprise me!” He showed me a naked picture of my wife.
My marriage is on the rocks again. Why, just the other day my wife broke-up with her boyfriend.
It’s tough to stay married. My wife, she kisses the dog on the lips, and she won’t drink out of my glass.
I was talking with my wife about the house, and I told her I needed to take out a home improvement loan. She gave me a $1,000 bucks to move out.
With my wife, it is always something…
Her father died. And instead of burying him, or cremating him, she had him frozen. Now, every time I open the refrigerator to get a snack, he falls out on top of me.
Last week, she crashed the car up against a tree. She said it wasn’t her fault. She blew the horn.
My God, is my wife a terrible driver. Under the rear-view mirror she has a pair of shoes hanging. They belong to the last guy she hit.
Just last night, I was sleeping and I woke up when I heard my wife saying all sorts of sexy things. I looked up, and she was on the phone.
Nothing in my life goes easy…
Last week, I went to the track. At the opening gun, they shot my horse.
I bought a water bed, and there were two Cubans swimming in it looking for Florida.
The other week, my house caught on fire. As they were going outside, my wife said to the kids, “Be quiet, you’ll wake up Daddy.”
I know I am an ugly guy…
I went to a freak show. They let me in for free.
After I was born the doctor turned to my mother and said, “I did all I could. But I am sorry. He pulled through anyway.”
When I was born, after the doctor cut the umbilical cord, he hung himself.
On Halloween, my wife sends the kids out looking like me.
On Halloween, when I open the door, kids give me candy.
I asked my Dad why he never took me to the zoo. He said, “If they want you, they will come and get you.”
I used to work at a pet shop. People kept coming in and asking how big I’d get.
I always had a hard time with my mother…
My mother never breastfed me. She said, “I like you as a friend.”
My mother had morning sickness AFTER I was born.
I get no respect from anyone. Least of all my parents…
One summer, I got lost at the beach. I asked a cop to help me find my parents. I said, “Do you think we will find them?” He said, “I don’t know, kid. There are so many places they could hide.”
My father never loved me. One day, I was walking home from school and I got kidnapped. They sent part of my finger back with a ransom note. My father said he wanted more proof.
My own family doesn’t love me…
My uncle’s dying wish was that he wanted me to sit on his lap in his final moments. He was in the electric chair.
I know I’m getting old…
When I was a teenager, I wanted two girls at once. I still want to have to girls at once. But now, it’s so when I fall asleep, they have someone else to talk to.
Times are tough today. People need to watch-out when they have sex…
I was talking to my doctor. He said that just last week he had 6 cases of VD in his office… He’s alright now, of course.
I know I drink too much…
Just the other day, I went in for a check-up at my doctor’s office. I gave him a urine sample. I looked in the cup, and there was an olive in it.
My doctor is quite a character…
I told him, “Hey, doctor. Everyday I wake up, and look in the mirror. And then I want to throw-up. What’s wrong with me?” He says, “I don’t know. But your eye-sight is perfect.”
I get no respect, I tell you…
I was so depressed the other day, I called the Suicide Hotline. They tried to talk me into it.
The other night I told my kid, “You know, someday you will have children of your own.” He said, “Yeah. So will you.”
My wife and I made an agreement when we got married that we’d only smoke after sex. I just realize I’ve still got the same pack from 1978… Meanwhile, my wife is up to three packs a day.
While ESPN’s quality in reporting has been in decline, one of the ONLY reasons to “read the articles” was to get to the end and comment on the articles – either to offer insight, trash ESPN, or just go crazy with absurd trade suggestions or just have fun…
I had a bunch of comments that would pull in 60+ responses. Sometimes people would come after you / insult you… other times, people totally had your back. Once I summarized a long ESPN article in two sentences, and people loved it. Other times, I wrote really tough, but totally accurate comments trashing the author (a couple of those actually got deleted – bastards! lol!). A few times, I even saw comments from friends…
It was fun.
Unfortunately, a few days ago, ESPN decided to shut-off ALL Facebook commenting. There is no commenting allowed on ANY ESPN article.
Way to take the fun out of being a reader, ESPN!
More to the point… What makes sports an entertaining topic, and why sports talk radio is so popular, is because anyone can watch a game, follow a team, etc, and chime in. You get to talk about plays you saw, players you like, trades you want, complain about team management, and more. You can celebrate with people you don’t know, and share your frustration and pain when teams lose.
So… Why would a sports media website remove fan engagement?
It’s called: Brain-dead business! It is like talk radio without callers or.. talk… So… Way to go, ESPN. Way to find a new way to suck!