‘Stretch Your Comfort Zone’ is my key message to Concordia University Chicago students

Yesterday, as part of the Concordia University Chicago College of Business Guest  Speaker Series, I shared key principles that have been integral to my professional and personal journey.

Many of the students in attendance are studying marketing. (Photo courtesy of Concordia University Chicago.)

Among those principles:

*Stretch beyond your comfort zone on a regular basis;
*Ask for help and seek out mentors in your field of endeavor:
*Value all people–not only those you think can help you;
*Look for ways to add value to others, without seeking anything in return.

Photo courtesy of Concordia University Chicago.

Speaking of stretching comfort zones: I shared a poster from my time, a decade ago, as the alter ego “Super Shopper Spotter” in the Village of Oak Park’s effort to spur on local shopping within the various business districts in the community. You can see the poster in the hands of the student in the image immediately on the left.

Thank you to Cathy Schlie, Marketing, Communication, and Events Manager for the College of Business, as well as professors and students who turned out–it was a most engaged audience and I appreciated the interaction and interest.

In light of the prominent role that business and personal networking has had in my career, it is fitting to note that Cathy extended the invitation for me to speak a few months after we met at an Oak Park – River Forest (OPRF) Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours event at the River Forest campus.

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In `Thank You Economy,’ 2% Extra Effort Can Reap Major Public Relations, Marketing Mileage

Exactly a week ago, my kids got an unexpected treat at Pump It Up in Elmhurst.

As it happened, last Monday was their 8th birthday, and the trip was a last-minute addition in an already-crowded day of activity for my wife. As she filled out the admission form for the duo, she mentioned that she was not suffering from a brain cramp by writing out Aug. 8 as both the date and the children’s birthday.

A few hours later, after jumping and scrambling and having an energy-expending great time, the kids were showered with Goodie Bags containing an assortment of cool gifts. Whatever dollars the business invested in recognizing them in this simple, impromptu way, it will receive back many times over in return visits and word-of-mouth stories about the thoughtful gesture.

That’s the business side of it. The plain-old human side of things: it’s just a really cool thing to do.

When I heard about the positive experience, my first thought was The Thank You Economy, a no-nonsense, common-sense urging from Gary Vaynerchuk in which he lays out a solid argument, and case studies, that underscore the merit of this kind of business behavior.

I’ve found that often you don’t have to go an extra mile to get most folks’ attention (and capture their appreciation). All the ground you need to cover is, oh, maybe 100 feet. For those scoring at home, that’s not even 2 percent of a mile–though more than enough to get a lot of marketing mileage from the effort.

Mobile Billboard Advertising Should Stay

The same fine folks who specialize in wasteful spending via patronage and other forms of bureaucratic bumbling–I refer, in this case, to the Chicago City Council–now are considering telling mobile advertising units to go away.

The latest example of government lackeys’ penchant for sticking their noses where it’s neither desired or necessary is a proposal to ban mobile billboard vehicles. In her piece in the Chi-Town Daily News, reporter Megan Cottrell reports that a council committee is mulling whether to assess a $5,000 fine “on any vehicle primarily used for advertising purposes.”

The lame rationale, as put forth by Alderman Bob Fioretti, is that the vehicles “pollute the environment, cause traffic congestion and distract drivers.” The first two concerns relate to any vehicle, so that doesn’t carry any weight. And as for distracting drivers, isn’t that the point of any ad–to get your attention?

What’s next–banning billboards? Pretty women strolling along the sidewalk? No, thanks, Big Brother.

The story notes, “Consideration of the measure has been delayed until now because Alderman Fioretti’s staff said they needed more time to gather resources and evidence.”

In layman’s terms, they’re winging it. Here’s hoping this lamebrain idea crashes and burns. In my experience, mobile advertising is far more effective and interesting than most any other form of advertising out there.

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