Today I Go Bald. Gracefully.

Years ago I promised myself that I would age gracefully. I think that statement can mean a lot of things throughout life. Right now it means balding.

As I looked in the mirror on my wedding day I thought, “I’m glad Nicole is marrying me now before I lose all of this.” It was easy, even then, to see the thinning out.

That was almost 13 years ago. 

ShavedHeadsThere is no real reason why I haven’t shaved my head yet. For a long time, I didn’t have the courage because, somehow, I had convinced myself that my aspiring position as a C-level corporate executive would not tolerate a man who didn’t have a full head of flowing hair. Seriously! Slowly, over the last two years, I began spot researching other executives who shaved their head and found that of the 27 male Chief Marketing Officers listed on the Business Insider’s list of most innovative CMO’s, 7 were bald (or shaved their head down to practically nothing). That’s 26%! A higher number than I was thinking and the stat built up my courage just a bit more.

Today, I honor my commitment to aging gracefully by shaving my head. I will post a before & after picture but until then, enjoy the short video below of a few guys who gained the courage to do the same.

 

Business Lessons From A Children’s Author

It was 2 a.m. My wife and I instantly and simultaneously woke up. We did not wake up due to a sound outside or the thought of leaving the stove on.

I believe it was God-given.

Immediately a story popped into my head. It was far more than an idea as it included a name, a story line and all the imagery to go with it. Unfortunately, for my wife, she woke up with heartburn. This is often how our life goes; I get an idea and she gets heartburn. Months later, I would finish interpreting this story and publish the first of what will be two children’s books in 2017.

Tinko, by Matt Waters (pen name), is a message and project that has taught me more than I could have asked or imagined. I’ve always held a strong belief that the lessons and practice of our personal lives can be directly applied to shaping the success of a business.

Here are 7 such lessons.

1.   SIMPLE MESSAGES TAKE TIME

I tell people that what separates good writing from excellent writing is about 25 drafts.

Painters are known for explaining how their art reveals itself to them over time. With each passing of the paintbrush there is an opportunity for more layers, more depth, maybe even a new character. In this way, writing is a form of painting. You begin with a simple idea, “I want to write a book about my family.” What you soon discover is a need to allow the story to develop. Or, you may need to allow yourself to do more of the right research. It is never as simple as just writing about your family. There are so many more layers to add if you allow them in. What’s the conflict in the story? What color were the houses on the street? What was playing on the radio? The pie cooking in the oven filled the room with what smell? Joey had a laugh that reminded you of whom?

So, while editing is a writer’s greatest tool, so is a bed. Sleep on it. Allow the story to unfold in your mind, then write it down. Then edit. Edit again. Edit again. Repeat.

2.   YOUR BIGGEST INVESTORS ARE YOUR FAMILY

As I picked up the brown box out of the back of our Dodge minivan, my five-year-old daughter, Emma Grace asked, “Daddy, what can I carry?”

We had just parked our van and walked through the small downtown filled with one-story businesses of antique sellers, a local appliance store and a small print shop. We were on our way to the very first reading of Tinko. Emma Grace had been speaking about this event for two weeks. Her offer to carry something was just the latest example of her excitement and involvement.

Each of our three kids had direct involvement in the creation of the book. My wife’s suggestions changed parts of the final product. My extended family was the first to show up to the reading. It has been overwhelming to see the investment my family has made–their time, encouragement and thoughts. It has been a poetic blend of work/life balance I had not seen before. My work and home values were perfectly aligned. And I know it only scratches the surface of what it could be.

How does this relate to business? Prior to the 1990’s there was an unsaid belief that work and family life was to be kept separate. Those lines have been grayed thanks to our our ‘always-connected’ culture. As the workforce becomes more remote, the trend is to bring work home or to spend at least one day working from home. If we understand that work comes home, isn’t it also true that ‘home’ (family and values) comes to work with us?

In the workforce, Generation X and Millennials have made it clear that the values of a business are important. Organizations are now careful to select employees with a drive for high ethical standards aligned with values listed on the company’s website like trust, respect, integrity and creativity.

While business values are put in place to benefit an organization, they are shaped by the foundation of our personal lives–at home.

Both ‘X-ers’ and Millennials desire to work at a place in which they can make a long-lasting impact. They want to make a difference. When they hear about a company’s values and they are a match, they expect a seat at the table or an opportunity to contribute. If they don’t find those, what happens next is simple–they leave.

Put plainly, there can’t be an authentic work family without the introduction to the home family. They are no longer mutually exclusive.

3.   FEWER WORDS, BIGGER MESSAGE

Tinko is a book about creation and purpose. Frankly, wrote it because I was concerned about children being told that they arrived here as some sort of accident and their only legacy was to leave Earth as dirt. Trust me, I have many things to say on the topic, but there is no need. Stay with me.

My aim in writing Tinko became very clear. It was to begin a dialogue in homes. I no longer needed to worry about writing in every angle or arguing every side. That’s why Tinko’s mantra became “Created with purpose!” It is on stickers, websites, social media–even the reviewers began repeating it. What more did I need to say?

The Challenge: Today, our social media celebrates loud, obnoxious, fast, convenient and comfortable. “Slow to speak, quick to listen,” is an art lost in today’s society. We read long-winded, ill-guided, one-way rants on all sorts of subject backed up with little wisdom or life experience. Our younger generations are becoming very good at talking and very poor at listening. The byproduct is the shutdown of self-induced, continuous personal improvement.

The Solution: Listening, discussing, and finding purpose can change this. Simple messaging makes it easier for these things to happen.

Businesses need to adopt simplistic messaging to stand out. I’m often surprised why many still feel the need to give you a dissertation on their products, services or who they are as a company. The right, simple message evokes a discussion. It is about creating an entry point for your business offering.

When everyone else is using so many words in a world that is always talking, break through the clutter by delivering a big message with few words.

Yes, it takes longer to carefully craft. After all, “Quality is easy!” said no one, ever.

4.   THEY ARE NOT BUYING YOUR PRODUCT, THEY ARE BUYING YOU

I am convinced that no one is buying Tinko because they are on a mission to buy a book. Instead, they are buying an opportunity to be part of Matt Waters Books.

Unconsciously, consumers want to be part of your company. Their purchase is their vote and are letting you know “Here we are. What will you do next?” They are buying a piece of the puzzle right now with the hope that you will one day have all of the pieces

Everyone is looking for that one ‘diamond in the rough’ partner who is on a journey to solve all of their problems. These consumers desire to be your loyalists. They want to have a reason to share their experience with their contacts, good or bad. They have high expectations. They also have ideas.

Focus on building for the long-term. One product or service purchase is just one vote. Gather together enough votes from the same person, family or business and you will find yourself with a lifelong partner cheering for your success.

5. STOP TRYING TO BE EVERYWHERE

There are over 200 well-known social media sites, endless advertising opportunities, millions of media outlets, websites, videos, blogs, radio and countless places a business can live. It’s tiring. Trying to be everywhere is certainly not a wise mission.

Instead, focus on the few that are potential buyers. Serve them well. Personalize your communication to them so they know you understand them and making the effort.

Not trying to be everywhere looks a lot like a small slice of a demographic. If you are a real estate agent, that means focusing on newlyweds. If you are a commercially-focused CPA, it means focusing on small businesses with revenue of $200k-$1m. If you are a multi-billion dollar light bulb company, this method still applies to you. Don’t panic about ‘What if’s.’ What if there is a really opportunity outside this group? Have a rule for addressing the outliers but keep the focus.

You’ll save money, save time and be more effective. You’ll also become a well-known all-star of your niche market.

6. HAVE A STORY

I’ve been preachy about this for years. As a marketing leader, it is a life-long mission of mine. Tell a story. It doesn’t have to be your own, but I would argue that you have plenty of them. Businesses are missing truly great storytellers and the world needs more of them. Stories are rooted in educational gold because they all contain a challenge, a message and a lesson. I bet you can’t say you received those three things in the last Power Point presentation you heard.

I’ve wondered why people are reluctant to tell stories and I have come to this sobering conclusion; a story makes you vulnerable. It is also risky. Again, don’t ‘what if’ yourself to death. What if you don’t deliver it well? What if the audience can’t identify with it? What if it isn’t funny like you think it is?

Many ‘what if’s’ exist but there are too many positives. What if you DO deliver it well? What if they DO identify with it? What if they DO think it is funny? Don’t take my word for it. Listen to a Ted Talk. See how they use stories and model your next speech after the Ted Talk outline.

7. COLLABORATION IS WORTH IT, EVERY TIME

My biggest mistake in creating Tinko was not letting my wife in on what I was doing earlier. It was for no other reason other than I didn’t want to bother her in this strange new hobby of mine. For all I knew, I would give up and never do anything with it.

I remember that her very first post about Tinko was a re-post of mine that I had made announcing the book. Her words were, “So… THIS is happening.”

While I wasn’t sure where this book thing was headed, I had forgotten a very simple lesson. Taking people along for any ride is important. It would have made it better and it would have been more fun. I was including my imaginative oldest son, Evan who was giving me marketing advice. That was fun! “Daddy, let’s make an App for Tinko, or a game!” he once told me. My other son Aiden, was my on the street promoter. Emma Grace, our youngest, offered her artistic advice on the illustrations. Still, I missed an opportunity to collaborate more with my wife….and others!

Collaboration is often missing in the business environment. Especially in organizations who are dramatically changing through mergers, growing pains and acquisitions. It is as if walls and silos are built during those times.

Yes, collaboration does takes time, effort and explanation. However, final product is always better. It is also how tomorrow’s leaders are discovered.

Matthew Gosselin is a husband, father to three, a corporate marketing leader and an industry author. Matthew also recently published his first of two children’s books in 2017 called ‘Tinko.’ (Pen name: Matt Waters)

Tinko can be found on Amazon and other global retailers. For more information, visit MattWatersBooks.com

These Campaign Promises Have Been True For Thousands of Years.

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Placing your faith in what a person promises will fail you many times over in this life. This truth is fresh in our minds from presidential elections filled with campaign promises that will fall well short of expectations.

Empty promises can leave us hurt, confused, unprepared and frustrated. They damage relationships and leave us unsure about who to trust.

God knows this is a problem for us.

He even goes as far as telling us not to swear we  will do something.

“All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”‭‭ (Matthew‬ ‭5:37‬)

After all, we are just a bunch of dustballs (Gen. 3:19), who knows if we will even be around to fulfill our promises? “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (‭‭James‬ ‭4:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

How is that for some sobering perspective? This is why we should say, ““If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”” (‭‭James‬ ‭4:15‬)

By contrast, God makes promises that he keeps. His people can count on these promises as truths that will come to pass. It is interesting to note that while grace and forgiveness are a free gift to all accept it, no one can earn their way to heaven, these promises ask for an action before the reward is given. Almost like, “If you do this, then you will get this.”

So what are they? Hint: They’re big! You may want to bookmark the ones listed below. The best news is they are available to anyone who chooses to put God first. (Romans 3:22)

 

PROMISES

1. He will always be there for you

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have,because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5

2. He has a plan specifically for you!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

3. He will make you stronger

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41: 10

4. Troubles are guaranteed but through Christ we have peace

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

5. All that is good, is yours.

The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Psalm 34:10 

6. Evil will run from you

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

James 4:7

7. Know peace once and for all (You know you have been searching for it)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6

8. Promised benefits

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Galatians 5:22

What is your response to God’s promises?

Why I’m Not Celebrating Halloween

halloween-2013-scary-background1

Every few weeks, sometimes more often, we get together for a large family dinner. I love this. It’s something my wife and I had always wished for when we lived away in our earlier years.  It may just be dinner but we are celebrating something important; Family.

The truth is that when we do just about anything, we are celebrating. When we give someone a high five, we are celebrating success. When we share a hug, we are celebrating friendship and love. When we open presents on the 25th of December, we are celebrating the birth of Jesus.

I’ve never dressed up for Halloween in my life. It has simply been a choice of mine not to participate. While I don’t partake, my wife views it another way. Right, wrong or indifferent, it has always been our preference, not conviction.

I was surprised this year when my oldest son, Evan, told me he didn’t want to dress up for Halloween this year.  When I asked Evan why he didn’t want to go out this year he told me “I don’t want to celebrate it.” That word, ‘celebrate,’ was a very appropriate word to use. In the past, I haven’t communicated it in that way.

See, while it may be true that we are just “putting on costumes and passing out candy,” as many have told me, we are actually celebrating something. All Hallows’ Eve, Halloween, has a very clear history and was seen has a transition of the seasons and a “Bridge to the dead,” (History, 2009).

We are, in fact, celebrating the dead.

American culture has taken this even further with haunted houses in which you can watch people be killed and tortured and we have convinced ourselves it is just for fun. Somehow we are appalled about mass shootings but have dismissed the horrors of death, destruction and chaos so long as they are in an entertainment setting; as if the two had no impact on outcomes of young minds.

Yes, we are indeed celebrating something or someone perhaps. For me, I have chosen to celebrate the One who brings love and life to anyone who wants to accept his grace. It’s something to consider.

This is not a judgment on anyone who chooses to spend the night out and about on October 31. Oddly enough you will see me at the end of the driveway with a bowl of candy. It further proves my historic conflict of beliefs vs. accommodations of other’s beliefs.

I know I will battle this again next year but as for this year,  I am really looking forward to setting out one more chair next to me.

Sources:

History Channel Staff. (2009). History of Halloween. Retrieved October 28, 2016, from http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween

DesignBolts.com. (n.d.). Halloween Background [Digital image]. Retrieved October 28, 2016, from http://www.designbolts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Halloween-2013-Scary-Background1.jpg

There is Something Great Ahead of You.

“You have amazing things ahead of you!”

These were the words spoken to me many years ago. Not just from one person but many. They all said it in their own way and they all said at different times. The baseball coach, basketball coach, the English teacher, the history teacher, the mom, the dad, the swim team coach, the pastor and even friends! I can’t get over how many people have spoken into my life and still do to this day.

When is the last time you looked at someone into their eyes and said, “You have amazing things ahead of you!?” Isn’t it up to us to shine a light on their path to make that possible? Shouldn’t we be hopeful for the future by knowing we have a part to play in it?

Hey, the future of our country and children do not rest solely on them. It’s up to us to plant the seed that will one day grow into something more than we could ever ask or imagine.

 

An Open Letter to Mike Rowe. Let’s tear up the white and blue collars and start over.

Dear Mike Rowe,

You don’t know me and I know you. That’s ok, I won’t hold that against you. Nor would you hold that against me. Maybe that is what makes us alike. In fact, when I look at what I do and what you have done, maybe we aren’t far apart as some want us to believe. You see, society wants us to believe that a senior marketing professional and a ‘dirty jobs’ resume represent a great divide possibly as large as the Grand Canyon itself.

I don’t buy it.

mike-rowe

The root of these two tracks may begin differently but the success of those who travel both provide an insight into what makes them successful. Passion, knowledge, poise, swagger, inspiration and humility…to name a few. I have seen these characteristics from my humble upbringing in a small city in Vermont all the way to the financial districts of Tokyo. As a result, I appreciate the man slinging trash from our bin as much as I appreciate the young professional writing the 29th press release of the week when it is just Tuesday.

In an ode to dirty professions let us both declare that there are many dirty professionals in which society wants to make a hierarchy of, yet, we know better. Pouring over data can be burdensome and tiring and so can  sifting over hours of unknown recyclables and discarded items forgotten by the many and revisited by the few.

No, I won’t accept that dirty jobs are somehow divided by the color of the collar. White OR Blue. Instead, let’s recognize that the jobs no one else wants to do and the successful measure we weigh them by is about the same common ingredients. Passion, knowledge, poise, swagger, inspiration and humility…again…to name a few.

I love what I do and so should everyone else. I am thankful for the many that help to make my life work in the way it does. There are so many I don’t know; from the person who sprints among the homes reading my electrical meter to the woman who decides that it is time for my taxes to have their audit. These are not people we necessarily hope for, yet, they are people that make our lives turn for the better.

Mike Rowe, thanks for making clarity and purpose out of roles we often dismiss. We appreciate your stories that acknowledge these people. We appreciate you elevating our own, seemingly, meaningless tasks in a world that only reward those on TV. I am glad we acknowledge those who make a difference and serve a purpose.

Keep it up Mike.

~matt gosselin, a purposeful marketing professional