2018 – 52 Books in 52 Weeks

Alright, so it came to my attention that this past December marked my 15th year of not owning a television. When I moved away from Detroit and began a new chapter in my life, I purged a lot of my belongings. TV, stereo equipment, furniture, clothes, a couple of businesses, real estate, 401k, and… a cat to name a few. I wanted to go into the next phase with as little as possible. Of course, I hung onto some childhood items, pictures, most of my books, CDs, and such.

Fast forward about 5-6 years and I’ll tell you what did it for me: the news. I spent some time with friends and their families who would usually have at least one TV on, be it background noise or for a game or something. I began realizing that I was continuously walking around life based on a lot of this background noise. Why? What does the next ‘news report’ really have to do with me? Will/Does it really improve my quality of life? Does all the overzealous commercial propaganda really need to be blasting me with its 30 seconds of magical ‘Buy Me Now’ strongarm? Nope.

During this same time, I myself going through a self-inflicted reinvention phase for about 12-18 months. I worked hard on resetting a lot of what I’ve ‘learned’ from mass media and it’s pop-culture child. Leadership Development and Team Building/Collaboration were on the top of my list for some reason… perhaps because of the current global economic state, political bantering, and some book series idea that I had outlined for a scholarship project I was working on.

While I did not own a TV, please don’t think I was some ultra weirdo and walked around shunning people who watched it. I still got together with friends on the weekends to catch a college football game somewhere or would find myself every now and then find myself catching highlights from the week’s sport’s recap.

So here were are in 2018 and I’ve realized that owning a TV does not obligate me to such noise. I’ve been streaming Netflix, Gaia, Amazon Primm, and such on my laptop for the past 4-5 years; and with so many a la carte streaming apps available now, being able to pay for an abundance of blackout hockey games hasn’t been easier!

52 in 52: To hold myself accountable and to make it as productive as I could think of, I decided that this would be the year I’d go ahead and replace the blank space my 32″ Sony Trinitron 1,815lb CRT TV once had in my life. But before I can, I need to read 52 books during the 52 weeks of this year. This post is a couple of months behind, but I’ve fortunately regained full access to my web domains and servers (that will be an entirely separate post) and decided to document the journey. If you want to check out what I’m reading, you can find this year’s recent reads over on my Instagram account; and I will be posting a review of each as I finish them. Just bear with me as I get caught up on the past 14 books or so!

5 Reasons Why Business is Always Personal

business is personal For years I believed “business” and “personal” were always separate. It wasn’t until realized that how I was handling my relationships with clients was the exact opposite. More often than not, I found myself wholeheartedly focused and concerned about my customer’s and client’s objectives as my own. Here are 5 reasons why business is always personal.

  1. We are human beings. We are both driven by emotion and logic. Passion, once found and combined with our purpose, becomes the driving force for why we wake up in the morning. Along the way we will connect logical points with our decisions, thus giving us the foundation we require to build relationships.
  2. Engagement is connection. When we engage with each other, we establish a connection. Actively listening to our clients will gain far more distance than any pitch you can come up with. Ever. I’m not sure if it was Zig Ziglar or John Maxwell that said: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Regardless, we need to genuinely let it be known that we care. We can dazzle our clients with endless amounts of facts, lingo, fancy words, marketing sparkle, or whatever — but it’s not until they feel/know we actually care about their business objectives as they are our own, that they trust us.
  3. Our work is where we gain our identity. Most of us establish our identities by the work we do. Everything we do carries over into who we are as people. The time. The commitment. The passion. The quality. Everything. We spend most of our time working (hopefully enjoying our work along the way). The second most thing we do is sleep. Well, those of us that are human and not constantly hooked up to a coffee drip.
  4. Relationships are long term. Business to Business (B2B) relationships is simply to branded entities exchanging products and/or services for money. But when it’s all said and done, business is conducted between people, with people, for people. Successful companies focus on establishing rapport with their customers/clients for the long haul. This is usually (or at least should be) done by focusing on customer service.
  5. The bottom line is not the goal. Although during any transaction, there is a goal and an end result. And although at the end of the day (and fiscal period) the bottom line does represent the overall progress and health of an organization, it does define the baseline of success. If your customer’s best interest is not aligned with your own, you’ve either lost perspective or… simply lost. Period. Take a moment to step back and evaluate where you are with each client’s objectives. In the end, it’s about their bottom line… not yours.

How are you currently handling your relationships with your customers and what are you doing to establish long term rapport to help them meet their goals?

Huffington Post’s Top 100 Customer Service Pros

top 100 customer service twitter huffington

After spending several weeks interviewing over 18,000 Twitter followers, Enterasys Networks Chief Customer Officer, Vala Afshar caught some of the customer service industry by surprise. Vala had put together a list of the Top 100 Most Social Customer Service Pros On Twitter and reviewed it with our friends at The Huffington Post’s Business Division. When I was first notified about this, it was nice to see some close friends and colleagues mixed within the list. It’s an absolute honor to be involved amongst multiple best-selling authors, industry analysts, keynote speakers, customer support management, service-oriented company executives, community managers, consultants, bloggers, customer experience architects, and media personalities.

Of course, each of us listed below has our own niche and view, the one thing that I’ve discovered while chatting the others within the tweetchat of #custserv, is that we all have one thing in common: values. It seems to me, that while we each go through our own ‘cycles’ of intensity and participation (myself is certainly included), that we can become enthralled within our own personal communities, yet always reconnect and pick up right where we left off.

Again, it’s been an honor to be listed with so many fantastic people and I’m looking forward to seeing what we do next!

I am listing Vala’s list verbatim below for reference.

  1. Shep Hyken, @Hyken
  2. Marsha Collier, @MarshaCollier
  3. Frank Eliason, @FrankEliason
  4. Paul Greenberg, @pgreenbe
  5. Kate Leggett, @kateleggett
  6. Tristan Bishop, @KnowledgeBishop
  7. Roy Atkinson, @RoyAtkinson
  8. Charlie Isaacs, @charlieisaacs
  9. Ray Wang, @rwang0
  10. Barry Dalton, @bsdalton
  11. Michael Fauscette, @mfauscette
  12. Kate Nasser, @KateNasser
  13. Ted Coine, @tedcoine
  14. Mitch Lieberman, @mjayliebs
  15. Brian Vellmure, @BrianVellmure
  16. Jeannie Walters, @jeanniecw
  17. Annette Franz, @annettefranz
  18. Kerry Bodine, @kerrybodine
  19. Natalie Petouhoff, @drnatalie
  20. Justin Flitter, @JustinFlitter
  21. Bruce Temkin, @btemkin
  22. Jeanne Bliss, @JeanneBliss
  23. Wendy S Lea, @WendySLea
  24. Colin Shaw, @ColinShaw_CX
  25. Michael Lytle, @Michael_Lytle
  26. William Band, @waband
  27. Guy Stephens, @guy1067
  28. Scott McKain, @scottmckain
  29. Bob Thompson, @Bob_Thompson
  30. Becky Carroll, @bcarroll7
  31. Ty Sullivan, @ty_sullivan
  32. Ginger Conlon, @customeralchemy
  33. Bryan Person, @BryanPerson
  34. Adrian Swinscoe, @adrianswinscoe
  35. Greg Meyer, @grmeyer
  36. Mila D’Antonio, @miladantonio
  37. Bill Quiseng, @billquiseng
  38. Rob Markey, @rgmarkey
  39. Aimee Lucas, @Aimee_Lucas
  40. Flavio Martins, @flavmartins
  41. Robert Bacal, @rbacal
  42. Rosetta C Lue, @rosettalue
  43. William Goddard, @W_Goddard
  44. Richard R Shapiro, @RichardRShapiro
  45. Christopher Carfi, @ccarfi
  46. Bob E Hayes, @bobehayes
  47. Caty Kobe, @catykobe
  48. Greg Ortbach, @GregOrtbach
  49. Mark Bernhardt, @ImMarkBernhardt
  50. Alan Berkson, @berkson0
  51. Rachel Miller, @rachelloumiller
  52. Michael Ludwig, @Michael_Ludwig
  53. Jason Houck, @MJasonHouck
  54. Bill Gerth, @comcastcares
  55. Mike Wittenstein, @mikewittenstein
  56. Paul Sevcik, @PaulSevcik
  57. Geoff Snyder, @Geoff_Snyder
  58. Kevin Baldacci, @KevinBaldacci
  59. Blake Landau, @BlakeLandau
  60. Al Hopper, @AlHopper_
  61. Dave Tidwell, @dave_t_pilot
  62. Sarah Stealey Reed, @sstealey
  63. Russel Lolacher, @RussLoL
  64. Jeffrey J Kingman, @JeffreyJKingman
  65. Ron Kaufman, @RonKaufman
  66. Mark Orlan, @MarkOrlan
  67. Margerita de Miranda, @MardeMir
  68. Nancy Porte, @nporte
  69. Jonty Pearce, @JontyPearce
  70. Melissa Kovacevic, @MKCallConsult
  71. Jennifer Maldonado, @maldyj
  72. Colin Taylor, @colinsataylor
  73. Graham Frost, @grafrost
  74. Lori Jo Vest, @lorijovest
  75. Steve Curtin, @enthused
  76. Martin Hill-Wilson, @martinhw
  77. Toni Newman, @Toni_Newman
  78. Adam Toporek, @adamtoporek
  79. Nick Kossovan, @Kossovan
  80. Greg Levin, @Greg_Levin
  81. Andrew Maher, @serviceplease20
  82. Barry Peters, @barrypeters
  83. Calie Waterhouse, @CWaterhouse
  84. Peter Lavers, @PeterLavers
  85. Jeremy Watkin, @jtwatkin
  86. Ian Jacobs, @iangjacobs
  87. Diana Oreck, @dianaoreck
  88. Ian Golding, @ijgolding
  89. Stephanie Thum, @stephaniethum
  90. Micah Solomon, @micahsolomon
  91. Myra Golden, @MyraGolden
  92. Yvonne A Jones, @YvonneAJones
  93. Bart de Craene, @bartdecraene
  94. Natasha Bishop @natasha_d_g
  95. Laura Northrup, @lnorthrup
  96. Jason Boies, @JasonBoies
  97. Donna Cutting, @donnacutting
  98. Wes Hayden, @weshayden
  99. Michael Pace, @mpace101
  100. Eric Tamblyn, @etamb

As with any list, there are always different views and many more people to be included. Is there anybody within the Customer Service Community you’d like to share with us? If so, please recognize them in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by!

3 Things I’m Doing to Improve My Platform

improved platformToday’s busy social space sometimes creates quite a challenge to filter out a lot of the noise. With so many “new” social media tools and app integrations, it would seem impossible for anybody new to the arena to gain ground.

Very recently, I was asked “Geoff, what are you doing to improve your platform?” This made me stop and think. Here is what I came up with:

Stay Proactive With Inquiries
Nobody like’s talking to a wall. When we reach out to somebody with a question or comment on one’s blog or Facebook page, we usually think others will respond. At the least, the person whose thread we area commenting in. I make it an effort to reply to every e-mail, blog comment, Facebook comment, tweet… etc. I’ve worked hard to position myself within focused marketplaces and still allow for my personal life to have its responsible presence. Because let’s face it… all business really is personal. The friendships accumulated along the journey.

Expanding Mediums
Anything I’ve signed up for in the years past, I’ve looked at closely to see how I can leverage it to help my position/brand. I also wanted to learn how it can help others accomplish what they want. If I can share with others what I’ve learned, and it helps them… my efforts have been worth it.

Maybe it’s because I work in tech that a lot of these things come easy to me. But I cannot express how many times I’ve seen others just start buying domains, hosting, themes, plugins, software, apps… etc, based on… nothing. Earlier this year, I was involved with someone very intelligent who bought up all kinds of stuff for their launch idea and clearly had no idea what they were doing. When it was brought up in conversation, their response was just that, “Well, I don’t know. I don’t know anything about this. I spent a bunch of money on all this. How was I supposed to know?” I was appalled when I heard this coming from someone who strongly advocates “Use Your Resources!” So, take your time and ask people who you know who have been down the road before. Otherwise, you’re just creating unnecessary work for yourself and others involved.

Again… take time to use your resources. You’ll find that the hidden community involved with content management, personal branding and positioning, and social media is filled with all kinds of great people!

Separating Personal and Professional Branding
This is somewhat of a new avenue for me. Several years ago when I decided to create my online presence by jumping from the “I’m a fly” approach, to the “I am the honey” direction, I learned that people wanted to know about me. They wanted to know a little about what makes me get up in the morning, opposed to just what I’ve done and what I’m doing during my day. Professionally. We want to learn about each other. I think this is just human nature. I always enjoy connecting with somebody and then learn what I can about them through their social media streams. And then when it comes time for me to meet them, the level of accuracy (or lack there of) is always rewarding. It helps me realize that my perception and interpretation skills are honed well.

So, creating a personal and professional avenue for both entities helps allow marketability. I believe if it’s done right, they can both help each other and greater results will occur. I’m sure I’ll be following up with this later. So, that’s it for now. I’ll leave this post by asking you this simple question:

What are you currently doing to enhance your online presence and how is it helping you daily?

5 Tips for Enhancing Team Morale in the Workplace

team morale workplaceIf you are responsible for managing a group of employees, then you should understand how important the concept of teamwork is in the workplace. Not only will it make your job easier, but it will also improve your productivity, your effectiveness as a manager, and your reputation amongst those above you. There are some very simple things you can do to promote positive, cooperative contributions from your employees. Follow these five tips for encouraging team spirit in the workplace:

Establish clearly-defined goals, guidelines, and tasks. If you want your employees to take responsibility for their roles on the team, then you need to make sure they know exactly what it is that they are supposed to be doing. Make it a point to clearly describe every aspect of the project at hand, as well as what you expect from each of the team members.

Delegate, rather than micromanage. Part of having team spirit is acting autonomously toward the team’s goal. When you micromanage, you undermine a person’s ability to be autonomous. It is not only dehumanizing, but also a surefire way to suck the enthusiasm right out of the workplace. Delegate responsibilities to your employees, making sure to be very clear about what you need each one to accomplish, and to what standards, and then allow them to find their personal methods for working most constructively. Whenever employees know they are responsible for the outcome of their work, they are less likely to pass the responsibility or the blame on to a coworker and more likely to find ways to work together and support each other.

Provide employees with the tools they need to be successful. Prepare employees for a job well done by providing the education, mentoring, resources, tools and support they need. This makes them feel valuable and boosts morale, which promotes teamwork.

Communicate with the team on a regular basis. Have team meetings as needed so that employees can express to you any questions, concerns, or suggestions they might have, and so that you can provide them with useful feedback and encouragement.

Offer team incentives. Once you establish the guidelines for a new project, offer the team a reward for timely, quality completion. The reward could be a paid lunch out, a company party, or a paycheck bonus. Give employees a few options and let them decide together, as a team, which incentive they prefer.

Write Your Own Prescription For Health And Happiness

prescription for happinessHave you ever said to yourself “I wish THEY made a pill for that?” If so, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re on board with about 95% of the population. But, the fact of the matter is that “the pill” has always been there, right in front of you the entire time.

I am convinced that 95% of all health problems and “need” for medication stem from lack of nutritional upkeep via healthy diet, proper sleeping habits, and exercise. But here is the kicker… each one of these depends on the other. You can eat like the biggest health nut on the planet, but if you’re not getting enough exercise and/or sleep, it’s not going to have the same effect as if it was balanced by the others.

“You are the sum of what you consume. Be careful what you feed yourself with; physically and mentally.”

I’m amazed at the number of people who are convinced that what they hear on the radio and see on their TVs is 100% accurate. I haven’t owned a TV for over 10 years and since I’ve moved to Phoenix, which was almost two years ago, I’ve yet to turn my radio on.

The amount of “noise” is sickening. I think it was Donald Trump who said: “I’d rather not be informed at all than to be misinformed.” Think of all the people you know who base their life on “other’s” lifestyle. Or worse yet, watching them to continuously watch Hollywood fed fairy tales and expect for their friends and family to follow suit. Sure, it’s an industry and a business but it’s not a healthy one. We all have the same amount of time, so consider how much of it you spend reading or watching about “bath salts” and “child abductions” or “political spin doctors.” Consider allotting that time reading a good book about world history, or the amazing wonders of insulin and how our bodies function properly. Or perhaps spend some time at a local community center or church. Better yet, spend the time with the people that you love, whether it’s in person, on the phone, or via video conference.

When you find yourself being unhappy with yourself, that’s the perfect time to love those who mean the most to you even more.

Decision Modes

decision makingJames Archer of Forty Agency released an excellent example of what takes place during a decision making process. He breaks it down into four different categories. They are:


Fast and Emotional decision making often referred to as Choleric. Spontaneous decision makers like it when they see themselves. When they see something as “quick and easy”, they encourage themselves to act upon and move forward.


Fast and Logical decision making often referred to as Melancholic. Competitive decision makers like to be given credentials and proof. Explaining the uniqueness of the product or service (much like Al Ries and Jack Trout refer to in their book “Positioning”) and showing “The Best” and/or “The Only”, is what attracts this group of decision makers.


Slow and Emotional decision making often referred to as Sanguine. Humanistic decision makers like it when a sensory experience is created for them. They seek a story told based on emotion.


Slow and Logical decision making often referred to as Phlegmatic. The methodical decision makes like the process explained to them, so providing them with details and examples allows them to dig in and decide accordingly.

I’d like to thank James Archer of The Forty Agency for doing the research and providing the content used in this post. If you’d like to read up and learn more about the four personality types listed in this post, I recommend reading “Positive Personality Profiles” by my dear friend Robert A. Rohm Ph.D..

Brain Trust

brain trustWhat is Brain Trust? When do we recognize an empathic trigger for decision making? Is there a thought process that takes place to make this happen? Or do we go with our gut feeling?

To neurophilosophy pioneer, Patricia Churchland, Brain Trust argues that:

“Morality originates in the biology of the brain. She describes the “neurobiological platform of bonding” that, modified by evolutionary pressures and cultural values, has led to human styles of moral behavior.”

I’m going to touch on a couple of areas that I feel to be key points in which allow us to make decisions. All three comparisons are very similar but each unique to their own.

Intuition vs. Intellect

Intuition is defined as the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason. This is a feeling in which we will posses for a very short period of time. A period of time that will either make or break the outcome based on our action(s). Most people I’ve discussed this with tend to refer to their “gut feeling” when we discuss this. A feeling. A heartfelt feeling that comes from the inside. Something personal and real. Most who are aligned with this often refer to a divinely guided source; faith based and often a very spiritual “pointer” or “marker” allowing them to come to a conclusion.

Intellect is often defined as the power of knowing as distinguished from the power to feel and to will: the capacity for knowledge. Now, I can’t say that I completely agree with this, as I’ve always been under the impression that it’s a matter of one’s capacity of knowledge (facts) but not necessarily anything to do with actual wisdom or what’s more commonly referred to as “common sense”. This kind of compares to what I recently posted about my “IF, THEN, and GOTO” philosophy. The use of intellect when making decision

Emotion vs Logic

I think most of us know the bodily feelings we get when emotion kicks in and I’m convinced that it’s the primary force in which guides us. And if not, it needs to be. More often than not, I see people over-think and over-analyze a situation (God know’s I’ve done this… a lot!) and create a very complex (and often busy, inaccurate) decision based on knowledge and noise they’ve gathered over the years. This is often self-sabotaging and damaging to others involved. We’re creatures of the heart and possess a certain amount of morality. I believe this to be something very personal and very natural for all of us and think we need to embrace it more than any other attribute assigned to us.

As far as logic is concerned, I believe this to have one place and one place only: To make a decision based on black and white. If there is something proven in an area that is not influenced by human opinion and has a solid basis, something proven in the area of science, then by all means… use it. Working extensively with technical professionals, and very recently being involved in an intimate relationship with a scientist, I’ve noticed one thing in common. Whether we want to admit or not, we all think we have a profound answer to all situations. Whether it’s something we’ve stored in our own little God-given storage banks or a reference we have access to. We believe we have all the answers and overlook one small detail: Emotion; one thing that has no predictability.

Do you think decision making is a methodological or humanistic approach?

Fail Like A Champion

success through failureHave you ever looked back and laughed at your past struggles?

Last week while sitting in on a podcast with other StorytellersAZ members, the topic of “Failure” was brought to the table. Tyler Hurst led us off and brought up some interesting points regarding the learning curve. Brian LaPan expressed he didn’t believe in failure. Now, I can certainly appreciate both viewpoints and respect each one, I just have to say this:

I’ve been failing for 35 years. Every person who God has brought into my life has been a teacher in one way shape or form. As a result, I work very hard to fail each and every day, better each time. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I realized that I need to embrace failure. Otherwise, if I resist… I cannot succeed. And that will give me results based on fear. Fear of failing and a halt to any progress on any project I’m working on. It could be anything: Professional, Personal, Spiritual, or Financial.

Now, I hope that this post doesn’t come across as negative. It certainly isn’t meant to. Because in the world of “balance”, we need to see both sides of everything. With every failure, through perseverance, is an achievement. And with every achievement, there is a success story. And we all like success stories. So for me (and probably anybody reading this), it’s all about the experience. I wholeheartedly believe that when we put forth an honest effort and keep clear of any outside variables that aren’t “for us”, that anything we want… we get. It is when we allow ourselves to get “murked up” by the world’s noise, that is when things get thrown off course.

I may or may not get into some of my failures later in future posts, but I can say this. With each one, I’ve learned that keeping a sense of humor is key. Be grateful for the experience and move onto the next attempt. If you should find yourself continuing the same mistakes, resulting in familiar failures, you probably want to ask yourself this: “Does my passion suck?” or “Am I just very stubborn?” – either one of these can and will be the demise of your goal(s). Learn to recognize and respond accordingly and fail like a champion!

What markers do you use when failures surface in your life?

How Is Trust Built?

how trust is built“Trust is a peculiar resource; it is built rather than depleted by use.” ~ Unknown

To build trust, we must use our self-awareness and self-management skills which we’ve acquired over time. Determining the level of trust we need to cultivate depends on the connection which we identify with others. For example, the barista who makes my coffee drink gets a different level of commitment to trust with me that the woman I share my life with. The project manager or resource coordinator of a business account gets a different level of commitment than a field engineer does. Now, none of these holds more or less value, simply some don’t require as much attention as others. It really comes down to focus and priority.

By using social awareness skills, we need to ask others what needs to happen to increase the current level of trust. Being sure to actually listen to the answer. This helps build trust, and overall deepens the relationship.

Here are few key points I’ve found that aid in building trust:

1. Open Communication – The willingness to share ourselves and what is important to us with others often helps establish a common understanding. If done honestly and wholeheartedly, the driving force of positive actions will allow for a foundation to be created, one in which can be used for continued growth.

2. Consistency in Words, Actions, and Behavior – Following through with what we say we are going to do is a huge part of building trust. When we commit to something, regardless of size, it’s still a commitment and must be followed through in order for it to have any value. Whether it be following through with a return phone call, arriving on time for dinner plans, meeting a school/work related deadline, or planning long term family goals. Any of these can “make or break” a friendship/relationship. No matter what size the commitment, no matter what level of importance, what we say to others as to what we’re going to do, it’s up to us to follow through. Otherwise, we can’t be taken seriously. We eventually establish a characteristic with others that we are “true to our word(s)” and display respect and integrity, or allow for ourselves to be seen as one who cannot be trusted, and often at times considered a liar. This is a very difficult place to be in and most often requires a deep look in the mirror. Otherwise, we’ll never be able to repair what we’ve damaged.

3. Avoid Giving Mixed Signals – How we communicate, whether it be via the written word, spoken word– consisting of the tone of voice, and/or body language – determine the level of accuracy which others will perceive us. The signals we send to the people in our relationships are made through proactive conversation and feedback. When we express feelings, we express the truth. More often than not, these expressions are raised to a heightened level through our reactions and body language, regardless of the words we choose. In a world that is saturated by text messaging, which is usually limited to 140 characters or less, our “on the fly” lifestyles that we’ve adapted in the fast paced and fairly disconnected society, it seems that we rarely establish an accurate means of dialogue. I’ve seen some of the world’s best authors and speakers completely misconceived due to a single letter typo, improper punctuation, or quick witted answer.

Something to consider: People will always trust what they see over what they hear. Actions speak louder than words… so focus on following through with everything you commit to. Otherwise, why bother?