Two for a Quarter

When I was growing up there was an awesome bakery not far from our house. I swear to this day I can still smell the incredible aroma of all the fresh baked goods. There were donuts, cakes of all kinds, breads, and brownies. Brownies! I love brownies and my addiction started at that little neighborhood bakery. 

 

They were big brownies with frosting on top. I’d bet a brownie like that would be a couple of bucks these days. But back then they were only 10 cents and better yet, you could get two for a quarter. 

 

And that began at a very young age my introduction to marketing. 

 

I remember trying to take advantage of that “special” pricing but the wife half of the husband and wife team who owned the bakery said I was such an important customer that I could have both brownies for a dime. I was very proud of that!

 

As I grew older (and wiser) I became aware of exactly how “un-special” that two for a quarter deal was. But I also became aware of how little attention was paid to the real cost of “deals” offered by businesses to their customers. 

 

I saw lots of people take the two for a quarter special without stopping for even a second to consider the value of this so called deal. They might have figured it out eventually, I’d imagine most of them did. Some might have gotten mad about it but I’m hoping most laughed, especially at themselves. 

 

The bakery was around for many years and the “special pricing” was well known by the locals in the neighborhood. But every now and then you would see an unsuspecting outsider walk in and more times than not they “bit” on the two for a quarter deal. 

 

What I still find interesting was when the price of the brownies went up to fifteen cents the “deal” became two for thirty-five cents. Virtually no one took the deal. Every customer instinctively knew that 35 was more than 30. Apparently something in our brains makes us think that one quarter is worth less than two dimes. 

 

Today many people are still fooled by pricing schemes meant to hide the lack of value in a product. My Grandfather used to always say that price without quality is waste. That’s as true today as it was back then.

 

There is a reason some things cost more than other things that seem to be the same. That reason is most often the quality that’s included in the things that cost more. 

 

Most everyone has been fooled by a low price or a “good deal” from time to time. That happens to me when I focus too much on the purchase price of the product and not the value, hopefully long-term value, I’ll receive in return. 

 

If you’re in the buying mode make sure to consider whether or not two for a quarter is indeed a better deal than 20 cents. That old saying is still true today….if it seems too good to be true, it most likely isn’t true. Make sure you look past the price to determine if the value you’ll receive over the life of whatever you’re buying is really a deal or not.

 

If you’re in a selling mode make sure to explain the value of what you’re selling in a way that even people looking for the best price can see the real cost of what they are buying. If you’re a professional salesperson then you owe that to your customer.


One old beat up well worn quarter is still worth more than two brand new shiny dimes. Don’t get fooled into believing otherwise. 

Everyone Wants to Feel Worthwhile

Everyone wants to feel worthwhile. There is little doubt about that fact. Everyone knows that. I suppose there is someone who might be surprised by that but they must live in some alternate universe. 

Leaders know that their people want to feel as if they matter. Great leaders know that it goes beyond a want, it is in fact a basic human need. 

But knowing that and doing something about it are two very different things. Knowing your people need to feel worthwhile is useless unless you use that knowledge to actually take specific actions that help them feel worthwhile. 

Specific actions. Strategic actions. Intentional actions. Consistent actions. 

Showing your people that they matter, that what they do makes a difference, is not a once a year, or once in a while activity. Ensuring that your people know that they are worthwhile and demonstrating exactly how they are worthwhile, requires a high level of intentionality. 

I literally recommend that leaders put a reminder in their calendar to stop whatever it is they are doing and at least once a day connect with one or more members of their team to show them how they are worthwhile to the team. To explain to them how their skills and abilities add value to the organization. Human beings need to know that they matter. They need to know that they, and what they do are worthwhile. 

I think almost everyone reading this knows that, the question is what are you as a leader doing about it? 

I’ve spoken about this often enough in front of groups and with individual leaders to know that there is actually some hesitation with revealing a person’s true value to an organization. I’ve had “leaders” tell me that if my people know how much they are really valued by the company they will want to be paid more or they may leave. 

Yep, that’s possible. Here’s what else is possible, actually more than possible, it’s even likely that if your people don’t think they matter, if they don’t know that they are valued, they WILL leave. Often, they will leave for less money. 

But here’s the real reason for helping your people feel worthwhile: it’s the right thing to do. 

If you need a more compelling reason for helping people feel better about themselves and what they do then this isn’t the blog you should be reading. But I wish you luck in your leadership endeavors, you’ll just find them much more challenging than they need to be. 

 

Are You an Added Value?

Do you add value to your employer or organization? I ask because if you’re not adding value then exactly what are you adding?

Generally speaking, very generally speaking, companies have two types of employees, those who they think of in terms of “why should we keep them,” and those they think of in terms of “how can we keep them.”

It’s never good to be in that first group. Always looking for ways to be more valuable to your company is a great way to ensure you’re in the second group.

But what exactly is this “value” thing anyway. Well the answer to that is, it depends. I know that “it depends” is a really weak answer but the fact is, it depends. Value is determined by the person or group receiving it. What that means is if you want to be certain that you’re adding value you’re going to have to ask. 

If you’ve never sat down with your manager or leader and asked what you can do to add more value to your company or organization then you ought to consider doing that soon. It’s a worthwhile discussion and you’ll very likely learn something that will surprise you.

Without that specific information you’re left to guess at what adding value looks like. That said, here are a few pretty good guesses:

Lighten your leaders load. Whenever you have the opportunity, take something off your boss’s plate. If you can help them get more done then do it but never at the expense of your own responsibilities. Failure to do your job does not help your organization, your boss might like the extra help it at first but it won’t last. 

Learn new things. If you’re not consistently growing and learning it’s unlikely that you’ll continuously add value. Thanks to the Internet it’s never been easier to learn something new every day. Choose your sources well however as not everything you read online is true… I know that comes as a shock to some people but it’s true that not everything online is true. That however is true. 🙂

Share the wealth. Your knowledge makes you valuable, sharing your knowledge makes you value added. If everything you know leaves your organization when you do that’s a terrible waste. Coach, mentor and teach whenever you see the opportunity. If you have the ability to help others grow you’ll always be in demand somewhere. It’s the truest form of job security there is these days. 

It’s your actions that will determine if you’re a “should we” or a “how do we” type of employee. If you want to be a “should we keep them” type then don’t do a thing… you’re probably already there.

If you want to be a “how do we keep them” type then step up, do more, do it smarter,and do it often. 

It’s not just a mindset, it’s a mindset of success!

Life in the Overlap

I have written before about the importance of knowing what’s truly important. The most successful people know that they control very few things that really matter. Most people spend entirely too much time on seemingly urgent “stuff” at the expense of investing their time on things truly important. 

The other major waste of time we experience is worrying about things that matter but that we have little or no control over. While we are worrying about things we cannot control we are not focused on the things that matter that we can control.

I could write thousands of words on this subject but this week a colleague of mine named Billy sent me the drawing that accompanies this post. It “shows” what I mean better than I could ever say it. (I guess that’s where the whole “a picture is worth a thousand words saying comes from)

A life well-lived is a life lived in the “overlap.” The overlap is where the things that matter coincide with the things that we can control. While I’m certain my colleague drew this picture rather quickly I’d still bet it’s almost perfectly to scale. There really isn’t much overlap to live in. 

Maybe that’s why we find it so hard to do. 

Living in the overlap requires discipline, awareness, and as the picture shows, FOCUS. As for me, I’m pretty good at not worrying about things that don’t matter and that I have no control over. But I’m constantly straying into the things that matter territory that I can’t control. That happens at the expense of my controllable things that matter.

It’s a very human thing to do. It’s also a very unproductive thing to do. 

I’ve thought about this drawing a lot this week and it’s amazing how the overlap aligns with my core values. I have a very few core values and I’ve been reminded this week that leaving the overlap also means I’m likely living outside my core values. My deeply held core values. 

If I stay in the overlap my core values will always be nearby.

I have it easy compared to many people; my core values have been developed through years of introspection. I know what matters to me. Most people have yet to fully understand their core values and I’m guessing that makes living in the overlap that much harder. 

Pay no attention to those things that don’t matter and less attention to things that do matter but that you can’t control. Care about those controllable things that matter and if you can, help the people who do have some control there. But YOUR focus must be on the overlap! 

I highly, highly, highly recommend that you begin to look at what is in your own overlap. What truly matters to you? What can you truly control? What are you willing to let go of so you can hold something even more important to you closer than ever before? You will likely be very surprised at just how small your overlap really is. You will also be shocked at how much time you spend on things outside of your overlap. 

If you’re completely honest with yourself you’ll discover that you control far less than you thought you did. That is not a sign of weakness, that is a sign that you are human.

My overlap is very, very small and yours probably is as well. But the days I stay within my overlap are special days. I accomplish more and what I accomplish actually can make a difference. 

I am not unique in this, days in your overlap will be special days for you too. You must know where your overlap is in order to live there. Find it, focus on it, live there and grow there. 

Most of all, enjoy the very special days you create there!

 

There is No Value in Free

When I was growing up there was a little bakery in our neighborhood that sold the best brownies. They were 10 cents each or two for a quarter. They sold lots of brownies 2 at a time.

I wonder to this day how long it took for people to figure out that the “deal” wasn’t such a good deal.

I think the pricing worked because everyone loves a bargain. We love bargains so much that sometimes we don’t stop to even figure out if we’re really getting one.

Salespeople were just people before they began selling so they are just like everyone else, they love a good deal too. They especially love offering them to their customers and prospects. So much so that they often throw around the word “free” as if what they are offering is no better a bargain than 10 cent brownies selling at two for a quarter.

Thoughtful, professional salespeople don’t offer anything for free. They don’t need to because they add value, real value to every transaction.

Salespeople who offer “free” anything are also more likely to attempt to earn business by selling on price. That is a short-term strategy that is not sustainable in the long-term. When you sell on price you eventually lose on price.

So here’s some guidance for salespeople looking to be more professional: Understand that the only things truly free are those that bring no value to anyone. If your offering something of value to your prospect then stop saying it’s free.

Share with your prospects that you’re willing to absorb the cost in order to provide them with additional value, or that you and your company are willing to make the investment on their behalf for some additional product. If something offers real value then it can’t be free, somebody has to pay for it. If that somebody is you or your company then tell that to your prospect, don’t just devalue your offering by being lazy and saying it is “free.”

If you’re a professional salesperson and you, your company, and your product bring real value to customers then say so, repeatedly. To most people, if only subconsciously, “free” means “worth nothing” even if the free thing is something they want.

Always look for ways to ADD value, not subtract it. You will sell more, at higher margins, and you won’t have to offer anything “free” to do it.

Now, go sell something!