It's Not About the Food

The interviewing process can be harrowing.  It doesn't matter whether you are a college graduate going for your first real job or you are, ahem, a person of a certain age who has been downsized and now find yourself back in the job market...interviews are hard.

Just to add a layer of complexity on to a nerve-laden process is the...wait for it...interview over a shared meal.  Now what to do?

I'm asked, frequently, by interviewees of all ages...what's the right approach?  It seems that (rightly so) the interview lunch or dinner is seen as a more likely chance to get things wrong.

It doesn't have to be!

The first thing I suggest to someone who is stressed out over such an interview is to remember the first cardinal rule.

It is never about the food.

That doesn't mean that you can't enjoy what you are eating.  What it does mean is that you need to keep your eyes on the ball.  That "ball" is the person or persons sitting across from you.  They have chosen this opportunity to get to know you better and there is no better way to do that than over a shared meal.  Therefore, you will want to leave plenty of opportunity to engage them as keep it simple so your attention is on them, and not what is on your dish.

Now for the next question...what about drinks (assuming all parties are over 21)?

Call me old-school but its best to keep it simple here as well.  Order a club soda with a splash of cranberry if you want to be is not the time to order the $20 glass of wine.  For an interview, you want your full wits (because half-wits rarely get the dream jobs).  

This middle-of-the-road approach toward food and drink shows two things.  Firstly, you are taking the interview meal seriously (you can be relaxed and still take something seriously) AND it shows your prospective employer you value their resources.

And when the offer letter comes to can crack open the champagne then!

Don't Outsource A Sale by Deirdre Sartorelli

Recently, I contacted someone who I had worked with a while ago about a business engagement I had for him. He had started a consulting business exactly in the area of specialty I needed. The stars seemed to align. I needed someone with whom I was familiar and who could hit the ground running. This engagement would help him also build additional credibility for his rising business. It appeared, at least on paper, to be a win-win.

I connected via email with him and suggested we nail down the specifics. Time was of the essence! Working together would be exciting! The job could be his...isn't that music to any entrepreneur's ears!

And then he did what any salesperson should never do. He outsourced the sale. How? By simply stating that his "assistant" would contact me to set something up to discuss further. You guessed it...I never heard from the assistant. And yet I had already pre-qualified myself as a sales lead and was ready to issue a purchase order. That is the definition of "low-hanging fruit'.

What happened? I don't know and, frankly, didn't have the time to care. By not following up with me (in whatever fashion), the lesson spoke volumes. With a delivery date for myself looming large, I gave the business to another service provider (always have a Plan B) who worked hard to understand my needs and gave quality quick turn-arounds. That company performed remarkably throughout the project and will likely get other engagements.

It's easy in our harried and frenetic world to delegate stuff to other people, to the reminder app on our phones or to a piece of paper. Just remember: don't delegate sales. They are the lifeblood of your business!

It's Not Just About the Auto Pilot

Much is being written about electric cars these days.  

Perhaps the best known of this category is Tesla.  Elon Musk is one of the category's strongest and best known advocates.  Having seen him speak about a year ago about the technology being put into his Tesla cars, I have no doubt he is pushing the a good way.

One of the features built into his cars, and others like it, is the "auto-pilot" features.  Harkening back to the Jetsons, this feature lets cars navigate the roads themselves.

This blog is not about how that will work.  That is a future column.  No, this blog is about how one technology, a self-driving car, may be a major disruptor...just not in the way you think.

Think about this.   A major point of driverless cars is supposedly fewer accidents.  Work with me here and let's say that is exactly the outcome.  We all have fewer accidents.  Who stands to be disrupted by that?  A major segment that will be disrupted are insurance companies.  Fewer accidents means lower premiums.  And lower premiums means insurance companies will have a smaller float pool to invest.



It All Starts With A Story

Recently, we were with a group of really smart entrepreneurs, technologists really, who were anxious to get their business off and running.  

Their passion was evident for their creation.  Before long, we knew about every widget, screw and microprocessor that was in the product. 

One thing was missing.  The story.  

They had fallen prey to something so simple, it has somehow become complex.  They had forgotten that beyond the shine, the snazz and the jubilation about Their Great Invention that there needed to be a narrative.  Long after customers forgot about fast microprocessors, elegant code or the shine on the new car, they will remember the story they were told that compelled them to buy in the first place.  

Stories don't come easy all the time.  You may be special and nail what your narrative will be on the very first telling.  But just like those stories told around the Thanksgiving table about when Uncle Henry forgot the cranberry sauce for the sixth time or when Spencer the Wonder Terrier got into the stuffing, stories get better with lots of telling.  And the only way your story of your product or service can get better is with lots and lots of telling to lots of people.  

Weave in how great the product will be in improving their lives or how much trouble it will save them over the long honest, sincere and, remember to take a breath.  

You never taking a breath, you may be giving the customer a chance to place an order.  And that would be a very, very good thing.