Posts tagged ‘Nudity’

Building the Staircase of Success

Success Undressed www.successundressed.com business success staircaseHalfway through the project it dawned on me: building a staircase is a perfect metaphor for the pursuit of success.

Why was I building a staircase in the first place? A little backstory:

My partner and I were hosting a family reunion for the first (maybe the last?) time. That meant countless hours of sprucing up the ol’ homestead. The staircase (the exterior variety) was necessary because our yard has an upper portion – a private sanctuary perfect for the practicing nudist – and a lower portion accessible only via a steep embankment. Because we didn’t want any kinfolk somersaulting down the hill, a staircase seemed prudent.

Hence the construction. Hence the metaphor. Hence these lessons:

Begin with the end in mind:

I had a pretty good mental image of that staircase before I started construction. Likewise, you should picture success in your mind. Does success mean money to you? Does it mean independence? Comfort? Being debt-free? Think of success as simply, but as specifically, as you can. Some people create a vision board of images that represent success. Not a bad idea. Visualize success. Dare I say, undress it?

Have a plan:

When building the staircase, I made numerous sketches. (It helped that I had a background in architecture before I became a marketing, content and design geek.) These sketches were detailed and to scale because building a staircase on steep terrain leaves little room for error. Same for your success plan. With your vision in mind, chart a course. Make it as exact as you can, but be open to revising your blueprint as conditions change and opportunities arise.

Be direct:

It would seem natural when building a staircase to simply go from bottom to top in measured steps. But considerations and complications arise. Do you need a platform at the top, a concrete base at the bottom, a landing in the middle? Likewise for success: Are there necessary bends or detours for education, training, or strategic partnerships? Figure out the most direct route with the fewest steps. Then build that path.

Build on strong foundations:

Henry David Thoreau wrote that, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” I interpret that as meaning that dreams of success can only be made real when built on solid ground and with strong foundations. Anchor your success staircase firmly and your climb will be more surefooted. Your foundations for success could include training and skills development, a core team of strategic referral partners, a solid business plan and professional marketing.

Measure twice, cut once:

This is probably one of the fundamental tenets of carpentry. Taking an extra measure of care up front can save time and yield better results throughout your project (or throughout your journey to success). But beware of paralysis by analysis. The endless pursuit of perfection can scuttle your success.

Make sure your connections are strong:

My staircase is solid, man, solid. Not only did we sink support posts in concrete for the frame, we also used heavy-duty connectors, bolts and screws. Likewise in your quest for business success, you’ll want to make the best connections possible. Determine your best networks of prospects and align yourself with strong strategic partners. Help others succeed and they will gladly help you in return (especially if you ask).

Work with manageable steps:

Staircases are more easily built and scaled when the steps are reasonably sized and spaced. For success, know where you are going and be steadfast in your determination; but also be patient and deliberate. Rejoice in reaching milestones along the way, and use those achievements to energize you for the next part of your journey.

Install support rails:

Climbing the staircase of success (it’s not a ladder after all, is it?) will be easier if you have handrails to lean on. These can include your support networks of friends, family and associates; but they can also include your website, your branding, your marketing tools, your staff, your suppliers and customers. Install them firmly. You’ll need them.

The Bottom Line:

Success is a journey, but it is also a staircase that you will build and climb and build some more. But don’t be so focused on the construction that you don’t enjoy the climb. Take time to feel the sun and the rain and the wind on your skin, the boards beneath your toes. You’re a nudist, after all. What good is success if you can’t undress and de-stress?

Bob

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Keep It Simple, Smarty

Naked Businessman Keeping it Simple for Success UndressedAs nudists, we’ve already figured out that architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was right: “less is more”. As entrepreneurial nudists designing, building and operating our businesses, let’s keep that lesson close to our invisible vests.

Simplifying your business can make it manageable, enjoyable to run, and attractive to prospects and customers. Make life a little easier for your customers and they’ll keep coming back and telling their friends about you.

How can you simplify your business for a more positive customer experience? Try these tips on for size:

Lose the baggage

My partner is always amused that I pack so much to go to a nudist resort for a week: towels, food, computer, books and magazines, sunscreen; an abundance of everything except clothes. Likewise, business owners often carry too much baggage into daily business life. We try to do too much in too little time. It can weigh us down like an overstuffed suitcase in each hand. What’s the fix? Ask for help when you need it, especially with those parts of your business for which others might be better suited.

Keep your elevator pitch short enough for a quick ride

Your elevator pitch is that 10- to 15-second answer to the question, “What do you do?”. Keep it simple. Keep it short. Keep it focused. Remember: too much information can overwhelm a prospective customer. During that initial meeting, don’t inundate the prospect by detailing everything you do or every client you serve or every success you’ve had.

Answer the Universal Question

Ever hear of WIIFM? It’s the ultimate question in the prospect’s mind: “What’s In It For Me?” Specifically, to turn prospects into customers, you’ll need to accomplish two things: 1) build rapport, and 2) let the prospect know what you can do for him or her better than anyone else can. Asking questions up front and focusing on the prospect’s needs (rather than on your products or services) can go a long way toward accomplishing both goals. And the likely result of maintaining an interested “servant” mentality is that you will answer WIIFM even if the prospect doesn’t come right out and ask the question.

Keep your “user interfaces” simple

Google, Apple and John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (publishers of the “For Dummies” books) have built global success stories by making sure their user interfaces are simple. Even though your business is most likely not destined for world domination, you still want a market leadership position. Knowing your market – and identifying your ideal client – is essential to making that happen. But regardless of the type of customer you seek, it helps to make your user interface as simple and intuitive as possible.

Just what IS a “user interface”? It’s any point where the prospect or customer “touches” your business. Any point at which your business bares part of itself in pursuit of a satisfactory customer experience.  Your company’s user interface(s) could be your website or your phone system or your salespersons or your customer-facing staff.

Ask yourself: Do these points of contact satisfy or frustrate? Does your website answer the WIIFM question with a minimum of searching? Does your phone system simply and intuitively lead callers to the right person or answers? Do your salespeople listen actively and offer solutions based on the prospect’s needs? Does your frontline staff make the customer feel comfortable and important? If you’re not sure, ask your customers. Make necessary changes to simplify and enhance their “user” experience.

Be easy to do business with

You – yes, you – are a user interface. Are you easy to work with? Are you often thanked for going the extra mile? If so, you are blazing a trail toward success. I’ve now done three projects for AANR; I’d like to think that this is due in part to being easy to work with, a partner committed to the best results and a positive working relationship. If you are not getting repeat business and referrals, maybe you aren’t going far enough to serve and satisfy your customers. Play nice. Put the customer first.

The Bottom Line:

Remember the acronym, KISS: Keep It Simple, Smarty. Simplicity almost always creates a better environment for customer acquisition and a more satisfying ongoing working relationship. Less is more. It’s the way of the nudist, and the path for the business owner to enjoy…success undressed!

How have you simplified your business? Be sure to comment!

Bob

Better Answers to Better Questions?

Naked man thinking Success UndressedMy holiday gift to you is a shorter-than-usual blog post. (You’re welcome.) Here it is:

One of the most common questions we ask, and are asked, is “What did you do today?” Almost invariably we answer with a laundry list of minor accomplishments: “I washed the car and did the laundry and finished that report I’ve been working on and I finally got a call back from…” and on and on. It answers the question, certainly, but in a literal, if less than meaningful or memorable way. Such an answer gets the small talk out of the way so we can get back to doing more “things”, and to creating and absorbing more noise.

But what if that question and its variations were banned? What if, instead of asking one another, “What did you do today?” we asked, “What did you learn today?” After all, just because we are no longer kids in school doesn’t mean we stop learning, right?

Or maybe the question should be, “Whom did you help today (that you weren’t paid to help)?” Doesn’t that elevate the very notion of being helpful?

And on that same note, what if the question became, “Whom did you sincerely thank today, and what did they do that went beyond what you expected?”

Or what about this one: “Whom did you compliment today?” Or maybe: “How did you take someone by surprise and make them smile today?”

Or these:

“To whom did you listen, today? That is, to whom did you really and truly listen? Listen not just with your ears, but with your eyes and your heart. And how did that make them feel?”

Or, “What did you do, today, to make a child feel grown up?” or “What did you do to make a grown-up feel like a kid again?”

Aren’t questions like these just as important as – or more important than – “What did you do today?” But even if that typical, expected question isn’t banned, you can still answer it in an unexpected, but more meaningful way. You can respond that what you did was learn something and help people and thank them and compliment them and hear them. And you can say that when you did those things, you transformed the person, just for a moment, but the moment was enough, because it made their day a little better. And isn’t it true that better days make better lives? And that better lives make better people?

The sad fact is that in business and in life, we follow scripts. They become embedded in our DNA. Society says, “Do this,” or “say that” or “go here,” and these become the narratives that chart our course. We do unto others as we have seen others do thousands of times.

But we nudists are a different lot, aren’t we? We often see the world in a different light, stripped bare of pretense. So, as we approach the new year, aren’t we the right types to shed the expected and start looking at life in a new way?

Consider this to be food for thought (that might be a tad more palatable than Aunt Minerva’s holiday fruitcake). Till next time…may you enjoy health, happiness and continuing success undressed.

Bob

Giving Thanks for Freedom, Community and Opportunity

Giving Thanks Cornucopia Success UndressedIt’s always a great time to give thanks.

In fact, as we navigate through days filled with bad news and ill will clogging the airwaves and seeping into our gray matter, reminding ourselves to be thankful is a healthy exercise, for nudists and textiles alike.

I’m thankful for my loved ones, for my partner and our families and friends. I’m thankful for our children and our grandchildren and our pets. I’m thankful for our health and our home. For yesterday and today and tomorrow. For hope.

And I’m thankful for freedom and community and opportunity:

Freedom:

I’m thankful that we live in America. Yes, I acknowledge that freedom and what it means to be an American are ever-evolving things. The world doesn’t stand still. Targets move. Sometimes we take steps forward and sometimes we fall back. But we still enjoy freedoms in America that are the envy of much of the world. I am proud of that and thankful for it.

I’m thankful that, as nudists, we can enjoy body freedom. That we have the liberty to gather in appropriate places and shed our artificial skins. That in this land of the free and the home of the brave, we have the freedom to BE brave, to be nude, to feel the sun and the breeze free of artificial barriers. How many others, in America or around the world, truly feel so unencumbered and so free? We are a lucky group to have discovered and embraced the freedom of nudism. Be proud of that. Be thankful.

Community:

We do not make our life journeys alone. We are in this together. The groups and organizations – the communities – we choose say something about us, about our collective character, about our hopes and dreams and plans. We seek out others like us, we choose our friends and we pick our pathways. For nudists, our sense of community always makes things interesting, and I’m thankful for that.

I’m thankful, too, for AANR, for our regional organizations, for our nudist resorts and clubs. What a gift these communities are for us, bringing us together with our many nudist friends. We are all different. We are all the same. What a blessing!

Opportunity:

And I give thanks for being on the path to success undressed. I give thanks for the journey: the ups and the downs, the wins and the losses. These are our opportunities to learn, to do better the next time, and perhaps even to reach, to teach, and to touch others so we can make their success pathways just a little clearer.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to share these thoughts with you. I’m grateful that you take a few moments each month to let me be a part of your journey.

Till we meet in person (or by contacting me online here), be well, be happy, be free… and be thankful.

Bob

Why Your Business Needs a Tattoo

We are all alike in one significant way: each of us is one-of-a-kind.

Even nudists make personal choices to stand apart from the crowd, including chosen hairstyles, glasses, jewelry, etc. We can even brand our bodies with tattoos. The question I pose to you business owners is, “How does your business stand out from your competition? What does your brand – your business tattoo – look like?”

SuccessUndressed.com: Why Your Business Needs a TattooWhat makes up an effective “brand”?

Definitions of branding may vary, but here is mine: An effective brand is one which tattoos the mind of the consumer with a distinctive, trustworthy and shareable image of the company and its products/services. In other words, it’s a mental hook that consumers can latch onto, one they can remember, believe in, and share with others. That’s a pretty tall order, and not easy to accomplish, but creating an effective brand (and more importantly, being that brand) is essential to the naked success of your business.

So, what are the core components of your company’s brand, your business tattoo? Let’s look at three: Your company’s name, logo and tagline:

Your Company Name

I’ve often thought that the perfect tattoo for a nudist would be an inked-skin version of the seminar name badge. “Hello, I’m Bob.” Think how convenient that would be at an AANR convention!

Obviously, your name matters, and your company’s name is a key part of its brand identity. Large companies with huge marketing budgets can create brand identification even if their name doesn’t embody the essence of their products or services. Think Nike, Sony, Cadillac, Georgia-Pacific, Apple (all with registered trademarks held by their respective owners, of course). A smaller company, however, might be better served by giving a hint as to its products or services. My company, for example, is Chenoweth Content & Design, and provides — you guessed it — content (i.e., writing, blogging, marketing communications, etc.) as well as Web and graphic design services. Likewise, if you run a nudist resort, having those very words in your business name carries the added benefit of identifying and speaking directly to your target market.

Unlike This One, Your Company Name Should Be DescriptiveThe flipside might be a business that calls itself Things & Stuff Solutions, or Knick Knacks & More. Just what ARE “Things & Stuff”? What ARE these mysterious “solutions”? What on earth comprises “& More”? By not giving consumers a clue about what your business does, you’ll have some extra “splainin'” to do.

Your Company’s Logo

Now we’re really talking business tattoo!

Your business needs a logo. Period. Your logo can employ a simple typographic treatment (like Barnes & Noble, Google, or Bing) or an iconic element (like Nike, Apple, or Chevrolet) or use them in combination as appropriate to the marketing/advertising platform or space available (think McDonalds, Walmart, and Facebook).

Increasingly, it’s important for a brand to have an iconic element. Why? Online platforms demand it. Just as a person’s thumbnail image or avatar is their face to the online world, so it is with a company’s icon. These images must be recognizable even at a small scale (as small as the “favicon” that appears on browser tabs). If you include such an iconic element in your logo, ask yourself this: “Does the icon visually represent my business even if rendered separately from my company name?” If you’re not sure, maybe it’s time to freshen your logo.

The “No Tan Lines” Tagline

Just as your lack of tan lines probably tells the casual observer that you are a nudist, your tagline should be just as seamless. It should set the right tone and convey what your business does, how buyers benefit, and what sets you apart from competitors. In about 10 words. 15 tops. Seriously.

What’s more, your tagline should be closely aligned with, if not identical to, your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP (you DO have one of those, don’t you?); and can be part of your slightly more descriptive “elevator pitch” that also describes your target market.

Can you think of some memorable taglines? How about… “Got Milk?” (two simple words implying that because milk is good for you, you should keep it on hand); or “The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hands” (M&Ms’ assertion that they are less messy than other candies); or “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is” (Alka Seltzer’s way of describing its unique dosing as well as its benefit); or “Nothing runs like a Deere” (John Deere’s use of clever word play to associate the company name with an implied benefit of quality and reliability).

The Bare Bottom Line:

Your business already has a tattoo, whether you know it or not. But does it send the right message? Does your brand truly appeal to your target market? If you’re not sure, contact me or to start or join a conversation. And stay tuned for the next column in this series, where I’ll continue to strip away the mysteries of branding, marketing communications, and… success undressed.

Bob

Expose Yourself, Create Ripples, and Leave Footprints

Hi. I’m Bob. I’m a marketing guy and a nudist. You might say I know a thing or two about exposure.

Water Footprint www.successundressed.comI’m also a small business owner and, statistically speaking, I know that there are thousands of you who own small or medium-sized businesses, or own and operate nudist clubs, or simply care about others who struggle to succeed in a competitive marketplace. Believe me; I face those same challenges every day. That’s why I wanted to do this blog. For you. For me. For us.

But before we begin navigating those challenges and charting a course to success, bear (bare?) with me for a little backstory…

I’ve been an AANR (American Association for Nude Recreation) member for several years, and in 2010, I had the honor of being chosen by the organization’s leaders to assist with the redesign of AANR.com. The website project was a great opportunity to help AANR strategize, visualize and realize a more empowered use of technology to expand connections with current members and clubs while also reaching out to the nude-curious. I also produced an explanatory video to introduce the new site to AANR’s extended leadership. Because I was able to work with AANR in these ways, I became more attuned to AANR’s vision and its challenges. I recognize the issues of those in the business of nudism, and I strongly identify with nudists who own and operate businesses in mainstream markets.

Now, back to our program…

AANR Home Page 04302012One of the problems facing the small business operator today, nudist or not, is knowing which way to turn with branding and marketing. Frankly, there is too much information available. What’s my solution? More information, of course! But here’s the difference:  I’m going to share with you some insights into branding, marketing, business communications, graphics and Web design that have their foundation in something we know, love and share: nudism. You are reading the first in what will be a series of posts, and perhaps even an e-book, showing how you can “Use the Lessons of Nudism to Shamelessly Build Your Brand and Market Your Business (in an Age of Exposure and Transparency).”

Make no mistake: success can be elusive. The information, tools, methods and skills necessary to achieve it are moving targets. It helps to remember that success isn’t really a destination; it’s a journey. So let’s get started with some fundamental principles to start us moving in the right direction:

Expose Yourself (as a Professional)

If you carefully, proudly and expertly provide solutions to your prospects’ needs, you will become known as a trusted professional. Professionalism is about performance; it is not about looking the part because you are dressed to the nines (perish the thought!). Nonetheless, even if you are an outstanding solution provider, you can still struggle to succeed. Probably the biggest obstacle to being perceived as a professional lies in poor communication skills. Nobody’s perfect, of course (not even word processing spell checkers are foolproof), but in today’s fire-first-aim-later culture, yours is an uphill battle if you struggle to communicate as a professional. Keep in mind, however, that you don’t have to be an expert communicator to share expertly crafted communications. The most professional thing you can do in business is to recognize your limitations and hire experts in those areas to help you look your best. If you are not an excellent writer, hire a freelancer to ghostwrite for you. Can’t spell your way out of a paper bag? Hire a meticulous editor. Does your logo or business card look amateurish? Hire a skilled graphic designer. (And yes, I’m available for all of the above. Want to learn more? Contact me!)

Create Ripples

Effective marketing takes many forms, but the idea is always to create thought-provoking influence, or ripples, that lead to establishing a customer relationship. For many smaller businesses, well-crafted “drip marketing” via continuing value-added communications can build awareness and, over time, create long-term profitable relationships. We’ll “dive in” to the pool of marketing tactics as we continue with this series.

Leave Footprints

If you act professionally, continually share information your targets will value, and delight them with a job well done when given the chance, you will leave indelible footprints along your business path. If this is your goal, it can also be your business legacy.

So it is with these principles in mind that we begin our journey. It won’t be easy. Never is. But with the focus and clarity to be found in our common passion – nudism – we can cut through the unnecessary layers and ultimately achieve… success undressed.

I’d love to hear about your business challenges. Wanna start or join a conversation?

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