There’s no such thing as a stupid question

In all honesty, this post should have been titled, “What I learned from working in a night club”.

I genuinely believe that there are no stupid questions, only lazy people.

I’ll explain.

When I was at university I got a job at the local nightclub. Funnily enough it was the second nightclub I had ever been to in my life. Side note – I didn’t like the first night club I visited so I left my mates in there and went to the pizza restaurant across the road to get something to eat, then hung out in a snooker bar until they were ready to leave the club.

But I digress.

The week I was due to start my job my boss went on annual leave. She asked one of the oldest serving members of staff (let’s call him ‘Omar’) to show me the ropes. They didn’t have a training manual or a staff handbook and I remember Omar taking me on a tour of the building and using the phrase “you know how x works” a couple of times. In most cases I didn’t, and would say as much, so he’d explain… but only when I explicitly stated that I didn’t know something.

Here’s the thing… If you don’t know what you don’t know… ask questions. It’s not a stupid question if you genuinely don’t know the answer, and if you do know the answer, it’s not a real question, you’re just being awkward. LOL!

The first two weeks were fun. I worked behind the bar pulling drinks and chatting with the clubbers. The shifts weren’t too long night, the music wasn’t bad and I knew most of the clubbers from dorms.

The third week I was put in the cloakroom. Not a problem. I’d had training. I’d been taught two things…

  1. The check in process
    • Someone comes to the cloakroom
    • That someone pays me a pound
    • That same someone gives me their coat
    • I hang their coat up in the cloakroom
    • I put a raffle ticket onto their coat
    • I give them the matching raffle ticket. The end.
  2. The check out process
    • Someone comes along and gives me their ticket
    • I go into the cloakroom and retrieve the coat with the matching ticket.
    • I give that someone their coat. The end.

In hindsight,some questions I should have asked during my ‘training’ were:

  • What do I do with the tickets after the coat has been collected?
  • What if someone presents a ticket and there isn’t a coat with a matching ticket in the cloakroom?
  • What if someone accuses me of theft?

… but I didn’t ask any of these questions. I thought I knew how a cloakroom worked. It hadn’t even occurred to me that I might not know everything I needed to know, and I had assumed that if there was anything else I did need to know I would have been told.

Now those of you who were regular ravers can already see where this is going, but for the rest of us I’ll continue.

My first night in the cloakroom (and my manager’s first day back from leave) a young lady comes to retrieve a coat at the end of the evening. She gives me her ticket, the coat isn’t there. I ask her to describe it, it’s a lightweight bomber jacket. I check again and it isn’t there. So I tell her as much. Then I ask another member of staff what to do with the lady. They advise her to wait until the end of the evening as it had most likely fallen off the hanger.

At the end of the evening it became clear that the lady’s jacket was not there… and it may not have been her ticket either as she was by now describing her coat to the manager as a very expensive designer coat. Sigh.

Needless to say, Omar told the manager that he had trained me, the manager couldn’t believe that I didn’t know the procedure, – I believe her exact words were, “Haven’t you ever been to a nightclub before?”

I was fired, escorted off the premises and banned from attending the club for a year.

The irony.

The moral of the story is, “Read the fine print”. If there isn’t any, ask some questions or get out of there, and quickly!


Birds of a feather

If you grew up watching the Animaniacs (The Warner brothers and their Warner sister, Dot), you’ll know exactly who The Goodfeathers are and exactly who they’re meant to be a parody of.

Parodies work because of pigeon holes or ‘stereotypes’.

Stereotyping happens to the best of us and can mean all the difference between a successful venture and a failing one .

Can a potential customer see from the public face of your business whether it is the kind of company it would want to work with or buy from?

People stereotype people. As a rule, our first impressions of a person (or a business) are based on their appearance and our previously held beliefs or experience with people who adhere to a similar aesthetic.

Picture a well groomed woman in a pencil skirt, knitted cardigan, a silk blouse, and sensible court shoes who wore her hair pinned up, and glasses perched on the end of her nose. If I were to ask you where she worked, you’d probably have a strong idea in your head even though I’ve not told you anything about what she does nor given you any insight into her personality.

This, my friends, is the power of personal branding. It builds upon common (mis)conceptions and as time goes on, either affirms one’s beliefs or conflicts with them.

Your mission for today is to figure out how people have stereotyped you and your business (brand audit) then make a plan to correct the stereotype if you feel it is incorrect (public relations) – Let me know if you need help with either of these.

Feel free to share your findings and your plans to correct course in the comments below.


Is it too late to start again

In knitting when something goes wrong, knitters have three options…
Start again, Frog it, or ignore it.

How the knitter decides to proceed once they’ve discovered the problem depends on three factors:

  1. How far they are into the project
  2. Who the project is for
  3. How bad the error is

I knit. I also build websites. Bear with me, it’ll all make sense in a minute.

Let’s say you’ve built something for yourself. A website.

You’ve invested time, money, and a ridiculous number of Google searches into it and it feels like the site just doesn’t reflect the effort you put into it. There are broken links,  pictures are showing in the wrong places and no one seems to be able to figure how to contact you.

In other words, it doesn’t do what it says on the tin.

When that happens, it’s important to remember – you can only learn what you don’t like or what doesn’t work by trying it first.

Take time out to reflect on what exactly you’re not happy about. Then rather than throw the baby out with the bath water, make a list of all the things you do love, and another of the things you don’t love about your website. Then make a bucket list of everything you want your website to be.

THEN figure out the purpose of the website for you and for your target audience. Maybe you’re trying to generate money (or sales) from your site or generate enquiries for offline sales (i.e. publicising a book you’ve published)?

The direction you take with your website depends on what your number one aim is. Once you’ve figured out what you want, figure out how you can help your visitor to benefit from whatever you are selling – be it advice, a physical product or a service.

Once you’ve figured out exactly what you want, and you’ve completed your bucket list, set some BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) for your site.

Visualise that destination and start the journey – but – and here’s the important part – take one step at a time so you can see what is working.

If you’re in the middle of rethinking your website, set yourself the challenge of completing one task a day (try and keep each task to between 10 and 30 minutes in time so it doesn’t feel overwhelming). You’d be surprised at how different your website will be within a month.

In other words, unless you’ve decided to do something completely unrelated to what you were doing before now, Frog it, and most importantly, START NOW!!!

Let me know in the comments what you’re frogging today. I’ll mostly likely be able to help.