Yes, and…


If you have ever seen or participated in improv, you probably know the “Yes and…” routine. Each person in the chain makes a statement or asks a question to the next person, and they reply, “Yes, and…” then makes another statement or asks another question to the next person. The word “but”, because its implied negativity is a buzz kill, is not allowed. I recently found out just how powerful replacing “but” with “and” is in my own self-talk.

In my last phone conversation with my coach I was listing some of the things I had accomplished in the last few weeks. At the end of the recitation, she stopped me cold by asking me “why did you sometimes say ‘but’ when you were going through some of these accomplishments?”

I thought about that for a second, and replied that it was a qualifier to some of the things I had done, indicating that I hadn’t quite achieved what I had set out to do (even though what I had done was pretty darn cool.)

In response, she repeated some of the things I had said, using “and” instead of “but”. The result was amazing. What was once a denigration of an accomplishment became an affirmation of the deed, and an opportunity to improve on what I felt had made it not quite as special.

If you have followed me for a while or have spent some time with me, you know that I am not into what is best called “woo-woo.” I believe in the power of words (hey I write pretty much every week right?), but generally do not subscribe almost supernatural powers to them. I am much more into action.

However, intellectually I can understand the power of self-talk to either be a motivator or a de-motivator. In this case, replacing, “but” with “and” not only sounds different to your ear, but physically feels different when you say it. It also forces you to change what comes after the “and”: “I did this, but this part of it didn’t work” becomes “I did this, and while this part didn’t work, I still got a great reaction.” Changing what comes after “and” is pretty much required otherwise the sentence sounds incomplete – and we all know that we want things to be complete! (see “I thought you said…”)

We can all find good and bad in almost everything we do. Some of us are even programmed to temper our accomplishments with a “but” so we don’t sound boastful. The simple act of changing “but” to “and” can dramatically change how you feel about yourself and how others perceive your accomplishments when you are telling stories or informing someone what you have been up to. Try it. I think you will find it a fascinating and enjoyable change in your self-talk. I do.

It Worked Before

Change Vs. SameWe’ve all done it. We do something that works really well once, so we figure we can pull it off again and again. We start to think the gravy train will never end.

One company I know thought it would be a great idea to send out a post card to their existing clients announcing signing on a new client. They felt it would reinforce their credibility and let their clients know they weren’t the only ones who had made the smart choice to work with them.

The first couple of cards were relatively well received – multiple customers called in to congratulate the company, so they figured they would keep doing it for each new client they got. Unfortunately by about the 5th or 6th card, the company started receiving multiple complaints – especially from the customers who were getting multiple cards (the mailing list had duplicates, and no one cleaned it.) Yet, they sent out several more cards, before finally bowing to pressure from several key customers, and protests from employees fielding the complaints. Instead of customers seeing the company as a smart choice, customers saw them as annoying and unprofessional. Pretty much the opposite of the impression they had hoped to make. Imagine the reaction today if that had been email!  The unsubscribes would have shot up, and probably a few spam complaints just for good measure.

This example may sound extreme, but look at what is ending up in your inbox or mailbox every day. How many of the same-old, same-old messages do you just automatically trash without opening? How many of your messages might be meeting the same fate?

“It worked before” is a cousin to “We’ve always done it that way.” It is lazy marketing. Rather than trying to be creative and change things up regularly, we will sometimes look for the easy out. The thing that worked before that won’t require any thought, and especially won’t require any risk. At least no risk until it blows up in our face, or simply stops working. The truly interesting thing is how so many businesses when confronted with the reality that what they are doing has stopped working, blame it on outside forces – some new player with lower prices, or the economy sucks. It couldn’t possibly be what they are doing, after all, it worked before!

Take a look at your marketing. Are you doing the same thing over and over again, hoping that the old magic will suddenly reappear? Maybe it is time to say, “Well it worked before, but it is time to try something new.” Change can be scary, but it can also be incredibly profitable.


Why I left Infusionsoft

Why???I realized my jaw was hanging open in a most unbecoming way, so I shut it momentarily – long enough to gather my words together to verify what I thought I had just heard.

“Sir? Perhaps I misheard you. Can you repeat yourself?”

“Of course Watson, and for heaven’s sake shut your mouth, you look like a fish gasping for air,” The Effective Detective initially answered my question with his typical sarcasm before continuing on. “You did not mishear me Watson, I have dropped Infusionsoft in favor of one of the so-called lesser alternatives,” The Detective concluded, and waited patiently for my reply.

“I don’t understand sir, haven’t you yourself said that Infusionsoft is one of the most powerful tools available for the types of processes we design and implement?” I asked, hoping that my mouth had ceased opening and closing spasmodically.

“I have indeed Watson. And I stand by that. Don’t misunderstand Watson, I am not leading a rebellion against high-powered software that admittedly costs a pretty penny. If someone is using Infusionsoft to its potential, and truly benefitting from it, by all means stay with it!” The Detective answered.

“Then why would we switch, sir? I admit I am finding this quite confusing,” I mumbled.

“Watson, while I must admit it was a hard decision, when I analyzed our own lead attraction and sales funnel system, I felt that Infusionsoft could be a bit of overkill. I will also confess to some consternation over them working towards becoming “Swiss Army Knife software” – doing lots of things, all of them competently, but none of them excellently.  But lastly and most importantly, our clients, Watson. Are many of them best served by that particular software package? I think not,” once again The Detective paused to allow me to interject a comment.

“But aren’t there features that are critical to implementing our system sir?” I asked, finally regaining my composure.

“There are, but features can be duplicated either by human processes, or outside intervention via our own software solutions. We can tie into these supposed lesser systems, and I think that most of them hardly deserve that title. It is simply a matter of working out the processes and designing both a manual solution, and then a software solution. The result will be a cost-effective way to implement the proper processes in one’s business without driving one crazy,” The Detective concluded.

“We will be discussing these processes in this space of course?” I queried.

“Watson, do you have even a shadow of a doubt that we will be discussing this extensively?” The Detective asked, looking incredulous.

“Of course not sir, but you have already dropped one bomb on me today…”

“Hush Watson, we have work to do and word to spread,” The Detective smiled, ending our conversation for the day.

The Mystery of The Curious Complainers

I could always tell when The Detective was on to a mystery, his impatience with me directly corresponded to the level of concern he had for what was confronting him.

“Watson! Where are you when I need you? Ahh, there you are Watson. Have a seat and some brandy, I have a mystery to discuss with you,” The Detective was particularly short this day. Not a good sign.

I took a seat as well as a small snifter of brandy, and bade The Detective continue.

“I have noticed a disturbing trend around election time each year Watson. Business people everywhere seem to descend into a deep hole of self-pity and recrimination against the rest of world about this time, and they seem to have no compunction about letting everyone know about it.”

“You mean they seem to be complaining constantly?” I volunteered.

“What’s that? Yes! Yes, excellent Watson, complaining! That is exactly it; all they can do is complain! It would seem that scads of these business people – entrepreneurs if you will, who claim nothing can stop them on their way to achieving their goals seem to be brought up short at this time of the year. Obstacles that hadn’t stopped them from developing their business so far, suddenly will utterly destroy them. It seems to peak around every four years; festering, and building until finally erupting into a massive waste of time and energy. Whatever the reason, I find it quite annoying.”

“What difference should it make to you sir?” I asked, quite sure of the answer, having been down this road before.

“None really,” he admitted, “but confound it Watson! Can’t they see? It is so bloody… so bloody…”

“Ineffective, sir?” I volunteered.

“Yes! Exactly Watson! Ineffective. Complaining does nothing. Only action changes things. Why worry about what might happen? Rather, adapt to change and face the issues when they come. I just don’t understand this complaining thing. They should all just stop it!” raged The Detective.

“Perhaps you should have some brandy as well sir,” I said offering a snifter.

“Yes, perhaps I will. Then we need to move on to the next mystery Watson. I fear this one is unsolvable,” replied The Detective, visibly calming.

“Yes sir, I am afraid your deductions are quite correct there. There are more effective uses of our time as well.”

“Well put Watson, well put.”


Scott Ginsberg (the name-tag guy) is coming out with a new book “-able”. As with a lot of his stuff, Scott has highlighted something that should be obvious to most of us, but sometimes lies hidden: by applying yourself in the ways you are most “able” you can make things happen… in fact you will greatly increase the probability of those things happening. So let me add my own “able” word to that lexicon: “effectable”. If you are effectable, you are actually “able” in two ways:
1. You regularly effect positive change (i.e., make things happen; setting things up for others to be effective) both in yourself and in the world around you.
2. You are effective. Of course I mean effective in my definition of the word: “doing the right things, the right way for you”. Using your strengths and finding ways around your vulnerabilities. The two are intertwined. If you are effective, you will be getting things done that need to be done to advance your goals. Even better you will be doing them in ways that strengthen and energize you rather than weakening and draining you. You also set an example for others around you, creating an environment that allows for positive change and for them to be effective and deliver outstanding results whatever the endeavor. This is the stuff that drives successful individuals and successful teams. Don’t just stop at being effective, be effectable, make things happen for yourself and for everyone around you. You can find Scott’s book on Amazon by clicking here.

You can learn more about the book and Scott’s philosophy by clicking here to go to his blog]]>

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