Pet Friendly FloridaApril 22, 2015
Marsupial Kama SutraMay 24, 2015
“It’s Dick Cheney’s company, American made” said the shop owner, as he tried to sell me a backpack made by Haliburton. “And I’m supposed to like it because it’s Cheney’s company?!” I said, to which the owner, noting my displeasure, swiftly replied: “But it was a long time ago, don’t worry about it, he is not involved with the company anymore.” I can see somebody trying to sell me a product associated with Scarlet Johansson, but Dick Cheney! This exchange brought home for me what’s wrong with the American economy: Instead of plastering stores with pictures of Scarlet Johansson, they tell you that goods were made by Dick Cheney. No wonder we had a recession.
A few days later I found myself in an optical store trying progressive glasses for the first time. The delightful store manager was telling me that my brain would get used to the blurry peripheral vision. “What if I have a car accident while getting used to them?” She said not to worry, “just bring the broken glasses and we will replace them.” That was the second revelation about American retail in a week: Optical stores fail to sell life insurance with progressive lenses, missing a great opportunity.
As I was experimenting with the glasses in the store, trying to read emails from my phone and signs in the store, Betsy (not her real name) suggested that I walk around the mall for a few minutes to see how I felt. She told me that my brain would get used to it, but what if I did not get used to it, I thought. My brain is one thing, I’m quite another. I don’t really care what my brain does; I care about how I feel.
My progressive lenses experience lasted exactly 45 minutes, enough to come home, try them in front of the computer, and drive back to Aventura Mall to return them. To read a sentence I had to point with my head towards it, calibrating my vision as if I was a sniper trying to shoot words with my eyes. I phoned the store and Betsy told me that I need to give it sometime and that my brain would adjust to it. I don’t care about my brain; I care about meadjusting to the darn thing. I’m going to recommend that if they want to increase sales that they show more empathy towards clients and worry less about their brains.
People in real estate can also use a bit of empathy training. My wife and I have had our share of buying and selling houses (and thanks to my business acumen, losing tons of money along the way). More than once we have had agents trying to convince us of the unparalleled features of a dump. As you are trying to prevent an argument with your spouse, doing your best to handle all the stress, and attempt to memorize the 78 houses your spouse forced you to see, the agent would annoyingly ask “what is it that you don’t like about this house?” As you repress the urge to say “that you are an idiot and should have never wasted my time with this dump,” you slowly but surely go on to develop another ulcer.
In the last couple of years we also witnessed the President trying to sell health insurance and we all know how well that went at first. The President of the United States of America should have known better. Trying to launch a new venture is hard. Instead of hiring a bunch of consultants from Montreal, Obama should have annexed Canada and we all would have gotten government-provided care at affordable prices. Imagine the cost savings. Instead of invading Iraq, which is so far, and has a terrible medical system, we could have marched right next door and gotten public health insurance from Ontario, Manitoba, or British Columbia, depending on your time zone. Even Sarah Palin could have gotten free health care from Nunavut, which leads me to the mayor of Toronto and his failed attempt to sell an image of composure in light of revelations of drug abuse and undignified behavior.
Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto, should borrow a page from Barack Obama when it comes to apologies. While the President took responsibility for not invading Canada, Rob Ford should have taken responsibility for not running Miami-Dade — which is used to corruptions — instead of ruining Toronto’s pristine reputation.
Whether you sell backpacks, glasses, real estate, or insurance, remember to know your audience. And most importantly, plaster your website with pictures of Scarlet Johansson.