Molly Cox page 1
Molly Cox page 2
"At the heart of effective leadership is genuinely caring for people."
-James M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Posner- "Encouraging the Heart"
Take a Moment to Make a Moment
At the heart of joyously improvising your merry way through your personal and career life is developing the ability to recognize the appearance of golden moments. Chance moments of opportunity where you face a choice to care enough about someone, in a personal or in a work-relationship to make an instant effort to go the extra mile - to make someone's day. (Okay, in the positive sense of "making someone's day" of course, not in the "Dirty Harry" threat, or candidate Ronald Reagan's bluster.) You have the choice to take a moment to make a moment, or to allow that moment to slip away.
Many companies, large and small have adopted this ultimate guest service practice. Paris Las Vegas Resort calls them "Extra Mile Moments." The storied Pike Place Fish Market, which has become a national training model for fun, focused, and playful customer service, calls the concept "Make Their Day."
Guest Service wizards at Disney call this "Making Magical Moments." Those daily special instances in their theme parks when a Disney "cast member" notices for example that an elderly couple need assistance taking a photograph, or a young family appears totally lost somewhere between "Tomorrow land" and "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride." The cast member then takes a moment out of their normal work routine to personally take charge
of that guest-in-need. Disney cast members are required to seek out these moments to make the proverbial Disney magic. It's job one, whether they're a Vice President of Finance, a street sweeper, or Goofy. To recognize the importance of those moments, Disney recognizes the achievements of their cast members with "Guest Fanatic Awards," and individuals and organizations in the private sector as "Dreamers and Doers."
Why? Because today, many corporations, whether it be a fish market, theme park, restaurant, an airlines, or even an in-patient health clinic, now understand that in today's marketplace a customer must have a memorable "experience" with their club to make an impact. Indeed, questions that marketing gurus ask themselves in countless we-need-an-edge-up-on-the-competition meetings is "How does the customer's relationship with our business, representative of our business, and our product make the customer "feel? What's their experience?" Positive emotional reactions to not only the product, but to the entire experience with the club are paramount.
Let's turn up the heat, and boil that down to you. When it comes down to a one-to-one relationship, Service 101 tells us that if you make a positive impression on a client or customer, that's well, great. But if you care enough to make someone's day, to take a moment to make a moment - if they have a positive emotional experience with you - now, that's fabulous! And memorable. And highly profitable.
Day to day life is much the same, minus the billboards, and telemarketing.
However, Service 101 doesn't tell us how to make a genuine positive impression. Or create a genuine positive relationship. Or even how to recognize those golden moments. How do you do make it real, everyday? Simple. You guessed it - Use the tools and spirit of improvisation.
Everyone loves a gift
If you pay attention and keep your antennae up, you will notice people present you with "gifts." In improvisation, the term "gifting" is used when someone gives you a gem to work with; your scene partner will make a declaration, or tell you information that moves the scene forward. The inexperienced improviser may pass right over the information and take the scene in the direction they have scripted in their head. The experienced improviser will use active listening skills and weave the "new information" or the "gift" in the scene. The same can be done with customer relationships. People give us "gifts" all the time. The mother who is struggling with her twins at the grocery store; sighing, closing her eyes to control her temper. She is saying "Help me! Give me a sucker, something- anything to calm down these kids." The man who buys a car for himself and while shopping tells you about his daughter who just got her permit is "gifting" you with information. He is saying, "I may be looking for another car soon." Each time you receive a "gift" you are making a moment, moving your relationship forward. (And possibly a new sale.) When you accept "gifts" you help yourself and create a favorable impression with your customers.
As an individual, your affect on others (customers, co-workers) can be long term. However, to make this long-term impression we know that your personal "experience" relationships are really a series of moments. Yes, it all comes down to "making moments."
Okay, what is "making a moment?"
Making a moment is the essence of good improvisation scene work. It is first intuitively acknowledging that this moment is an important crossroads in a scene. Saying "yes" to it. Then exploring all the potential in the moment, making a choice, heightening that choice, and letting the chips fall where they may.
Examples of making moments
As small as:
Or as large as:
- A wink
- A sincere, unsolicited compliment
- Helping someone out at the reception desk, without being asked
- A smile
- Helping a co worker without being asked
- Sending a thank you bouquet
- Putting a treat and a note in your child's lunch box
- Donating a kidney (Just wanted to see if you were still with us)
- Exchanging the usual Car Mechanic's Roast for Starbuck's at your weekly meeting
- Giving an on-the-spot co worker massage (if you don't work in litigationville.)
A Week's Worth of Moments
Keep a small notebook at hand, or palm pilot if you're electronically inclined, and observe specific life-scene moments in your workplace where "moments could've been made." The list should include moments by a co-worker, or by yourself. Briefly describe the moment, and list what the improvisation possibilities are to spontaneously "make a moment." Keep them simple! It could look something like this:
Moments to Make:
I noticed that Sarah's assistant Marla was never introduced to the clients that passed by her desk.
Sarah could surprise Marla by introducing her to an important client as "Marla the Magnificent" - my associate, and the real brains behind the club!"
Sam had just been in an automobile fender-bender, and he's having a tough time getting to the office.
Tom, on his sales tea, could print up a couple of coupons that read "Tom's Temporary Taxi Service - good for 3 free rides to the headquarters & back," and lay them on his desk.
On my way to work, a young woman was selling roses on the highway. I pulled over and bought a dozen.
And when everyone was out during lunch I could put a rose on the chair of each of my associates, with a note saying: "From a not-so-secret admirer of your incredible work every day! Thanks for everything, Madeline"
True Touching Story
At an airport in New York, the young woman in front of us at the Northwest Skycap check-in encountered a -- hmm, how shall we say this? A jerk.
He was late for his plane and took it out on this woman. He kicked her bags over with his foot and called her an idiot for packing so much! When the self-important Neanderthal walked away she began to cry.
Now here's the moment: the skycap shook his head and said, "every once and awhile someone behaves that way. It's sad really, especially when it's directed at someone like you." She was holding her hand over her chest, trying to stop crying and said "He just took me by surprise? What did I do?"
The skycap, noticing where she had placed her hand, told her that women hold their hand over their hearts to protect it. And went on to tell her that instead of feeling angry and sad, she should use this experience to reflect how lucky she was that she wasn't like that man. He then took her hands, looked her in the eye and said, "it's people like you, kind, caring, people that make me feel the world is truly a good place." For one split second the world stopped. It was like a modern "Little House on the Prairie."
The whole exchange lasted probably 2 ½ minutes. And it changed that woman's entire day.
*Note to that "one" reader: There is going to be one of you out there who will send us a letter pointing out this was not just "a moment." In reality it was 2 ½ moments. Don't. Get a life. You know what we mean.
Live life as a series of moments. Look through the eyes of opportunity! Remember the waiter at the restaurant in Florida? Taking a risk and moving Molly's chair not only got a huge laugh, it made a moment - and a memory. When you "throw away the script" and react "in the moment" it makes the scenes of your life sing and your cash register ring.
Tips on the Topic:
- Smile! Check in with yourself throughout the day to make sure your face is communicating the message you want it to.
- Create positive impressions. Treat each interaction as a new "service scene."
- Make your club a living, breathing, feeling entity.
- Accept "gifts" by actively listening and acting upon the new information.
- Check your club for "Stepford Service" mentality.
- Make someone's day. Today.
Homework Exercise #1
MAKE A WEEK'S WORTH OF MOMENTS
This exercise may leave you feeling like a puppy - awkwardly running around lapping the hand or ankle of anyone in sight you try to please. But - remember, making moments can be subtle. By definition a moment is a "brief instant in time." The cumulative effect is what's important. Ready? It's time to take each moment personally.
Players: "One is the loneliest number…" You.
The Object: Take a moment to make a moment 3 times a day for 7 days, whether at work, play, or anywhere in between.
How To: Commit to put your energy out (not in), and observe moment-making opportunities. Immediately (without judgment or second-guessing) take the leap, and take action with those your gut tells you are important. Remember, the action can be small and simple! At the end of each day, take simple notes in your Improvise This! Journal:
The Result: Living "in the moment" during the scenes of your life will begin to have concrete, positive payoffs for you and those around you.
- The moments I identified.
- The moments I took action. Why. How.
- The moments I let slip by. Why. How.
- How did I feel?
Homework Assignment #2
PERSONAL ENERGY - YOUR "THEME SONG"
You may not be aware of it, but you have your own personal theme song. And just like Dick Van Dyke's, it plays every time you walk into a room. Hopefully, it doesn't start with… dum dum, dum dum… as in the theme from Jaws, but it might. Or it might be the theme from Survivor, (the band or the show!) It could be the theme from Sesame Street. As important as knowing the name of your own theme song (personal energy), is simply knowing that you have one, and that it is consistent with the energy you believe you give off to others. If you walk into a room and everyone hears the music from the shower scene in Psycho and you're thinking the theme from Love Story, well… Houston, we've got a problem!
The Players: You & your acquaintances.
The Object: To discover the name(s)of your own personal "theme" song(s) - which is a useful analogy for the positive or negative energy that you give off to others daily.
How To: A fine way to discover the name of your theme song is to start by asking yourself. Then ask people you trust. Ask a family member, a colleague, or someone from your social circle. Kids are great because they tend to be direct. Also, pay close attention to how people react when you enter a room. Is the reaction consistent over time? Is it consistent with the energy you want to give off?
Now, name your theme song or songs. Be honest with yourself. (But not overly serious, please). Write them down, along with who suggested them in your improv journal. Are they inspiring and energetic tunes such as "Climb Every Mountain?" or the depressed "Eeyore's Lament?" Are they somewhere in between?
Now if need be, choose another - your ideal theme song. Make it positive, up-tempo, and personal.
When you get a good sense of the energy you want to put out as symbolized by your new song, then everyday try to just be more of that. Be more of the guy whose theme song is "Don't Worry, Be Happy." Be more of the woman whose theme song is "Rocky." Whatever you choose as your ideal personal theme song, commit, live it and be more of it.
The Result: We use this game often in our playshops and training. It's an excellent barometer for self-awareness. The result is a sensitized perspective on how you see yourself, and how others see you in terms of the positive or negative energy you put out to the world around you.
About the Authors
Mark Bergren, Molly Cox and Jim Detmar are partners in Out of the Blue, a
entertaining and interactive corporate workshop, sketch-comedy, and improvisation company. They teach and perform nationally for companies such as Club Managers Association of America, International Health Racquet & Sports Association, Kemper Sports, Las Vegas Athletic Clubs, Mendakota Country Clubs,Kaiser Permanenete Health Care and Hospitals and 3M.
View Their Book:
Please call Out of the Blue for multiple copies, or for information on how to use the book as a training
tool at 612-377-3912.
Visit Authors' websites at:
Back to Articles Home Page