Category Archives: Video

3 Rules for Wowing Your Holiday Office Party

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3 Responses to be Thankful For Video

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“No Idea” Means I Have One Video

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Wow of the Week: Play it Up

We all know the phrase, “play it down,” for making less of an emotion or situation than we might otherwise be feeling. And I think this can be a useful reminder to ourselves when considering how much time and energy we want to devote to a feeling or person or circumstance.

That said, there is a lot to be said, both personally and professionally for “playing it up.” For making more of an occurrence than we might originally have thought, or been hardwired to do; and for quickly acknowledging our participation in a “no-fault” situation.

Let me give you an example: Recently, I had an exchange with a conference coordinator with whom I was working on an event. When I arrived at the venue, I discovered she had not ordered me a lavalier microphone—my sole choice was the mic attached to the podium. “Well,” she said, “We’ll just have to make the best of it.”

We? The last time I checked she wasn’t the one who was going to be trapped behind a hunk of fake wood for an hour while trying to wow.

Now I understand her thinking—and the thinking of many peoplewhen a dropped ball results in an inconvenience/mistake/accident: their idea is that their minimizing it will lead to others minimizing it.

What I’ve discovered, however, is that you will get a lot further if you play it up, rather than playing it down. In this instance, I would have been far more impressed had she said, “I am so sorry—this is my fault. Unfortunately there’s nothing that can be done about the technology now, but is there anything I can do with the room set up, or the book signing area, that will make you more comfortable?”

Within the corporate world, I always recommend customer service departments play it up, rather than down—overcompensating for even the smallest complaints. Why? Because while most departments respond quickly to high stakes situations, many respond poorly, or not at all, to circumstances that are less than dire. The trouble with this choice is that these disgruntled customers can now take their grievances to the virtual streets, setting up URL’s such as or creating a music video about poor luggage handling along the lines of  a musical review over a broken guitar that has received over 500,000 hits on YouTube, and reversed United Airlines’ position on baggage handling. Or, speaking from my own experience, blasting out to their 3,000 Twitter follows when the customer service rep at their local big box store greets their tale of a broken appliance with, “Whatever…”

So the next time you find yourself in a situation where you’ve dropped the ball, and/or there’s no clear right or wrong, step up: play it up—meet, and perhaps even exceed—the person’s level of concern. I guarantee you’ll both move on more quickly.

Frances Cole Jones

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How to Wow With Your Voicemail Video


Beware the Sixth Sense

Real estate agents often tell sellers to have bread baking when potential buyers come calling—the idea being that this “grandmother’s kitchen” smell makes “a house a home,” thereby stimulating fantasies of the picture perfect life you’ll have once you live there. Cinnabon and Subway do the same thing by leaving the doors of their business open and blasting fresh-baked bread smells into the street: they want their chain store to seem more like a neighborhood bakery just waiting to hand you your picture- perfect treat.

While many of us believe we are motivated solely by the price tag on our sandwich or sweater, we are, in fact, heavily influenced by all our senses. And while most of us have noticed the rock sound track playing in the store with the $150 T-shirts (thereby motivating us to believe the purchase of such a T-shirt will give us a rock star life) we pay less attention to the manipulation of our remaining senses: our sense of smell, our body temperature (hence the icy air blasted out onto sidewalks in the summer) and- finally, our little discussed “sixth sense”. No, I’m not talking about seeing dead people—I’m talking about our sense of shame.

Yes, shockingly enough we are often being manipulated by this infrequently discussed “sense.” What’s an example? Well, many high-end restaurants have a practice of decanting expensive bottles of wine at the table, despite the fact that the vast majority of high quality wine served in restaurants doesn’t need to be decanted. Why do they do it? It seems their research revealed that the a ritual/performance not only makes those paying the big bucks feel better about it, it makes those at nearby tables feel the, too, need to spend heavily to keep from looking like a schmuk in front of their date– their sense of shame has been activated.

Other industries in which I frequently see this sixth sense being activated are, sadl, the wedding and funeral industries. We all know people who judge the quality of the love between two partners by the size of the diamond in the band; less talked about is the choice made by funeral parlors to display only their least and most expensive coffins (there are more in the back, but they’re rarely on display) The idea, again, being that love is measured by the choice you make– after all, “everyone you know will be there.” (Should you think I’m being cynical, please note, when my father died we went ten rounds with our funeral director for refusing the $750 makeup charge—despite the fact that his casket was going to be closed.)

How do I recommend you handle a situation in which you sense shame-based selling is in play? By asking frankly, “How much does that cost?” when presented with the wine recommendation/the 4-ply cashmere sweater/the one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry. Though it seems counter-intuitive, it’s the ultimate power question as it shows you’re not intimidated by the ‘theatre’ of the moment – you’re in places like this every day, and you know how much things SHOULD cost, just not how much they cost in this establishment.

Do I recommend manipulating this sixth sense when you’re on the selling/producing side? I do not. We’ve all heard of ‘reverse psychology,” I’m into reversing shame: making every customer feel like a king no matter what they’re wearing, how much they’re spending, or how busy your business might be.

How do I recommend you ensure you aren’t consciously or unconsciously activating this sixth sense? Well, in an office/conference environment, you might look at the shape of your conference room table. One of the things President Lincoln did was to insist on a round table, thereby sending an unspoken message that he didn’t think he wasn’t necessarily the most important person in the room—and he certainly didn’t need to control the conversation.

In a sales environment, I recommend having scripts, tools, and routines in place to make each customer with whom sales staff comes in contact feel recognized, understood, and respected. For example, if a number of customers come in simultaneously, the script salespeople might use could be, “Sir, I apologize, but I just need to finish assisting this customer.  It looks like it will be another two minutes. If you’d like to have a seat over here while you wait, I’ll I’d be happy to help you in a moment.”

The tool in this situation would be the chair in which the customer could be seated while he or she waits, and the routine a way the sales person might summon back up if the client they’re with runs over two minutes.

Thinking through the scenarios that work toward equality and unfailing courtesy will go a long way toward ensuring you never lose a customer by making him or her feel less than a priority—and will likely win you many more as your customers move through the world talking about the service you provide.

Frances Cole Jones

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Show Me, Don’t Tell Me

As you may know, the first rule of writing good fiction is, “Show me don’t tell me.” The idea being that you can’t say a character is resilient, thoughtful, or brave you need to show the reader that he or she is these things.

Somehow this idea has not translated into our other writing, particularly in the context of applying for jobs. For example, how many of us have seen cover letters in which a candidate describes him or herself, “a real go getter,” only to have that resume collecting dust on our desk three weeks later—three weeks during which that “go-getter” of a candidate didn’t pick up the phone?

How else might a go-getter distinguish him/her self from the pack? Well, recently I walked out of Grand Central Station to find two young people dressed in business suits standing on the sidewalk handing out copies of their resumes. What were their stated objectives? Entry-level jobs in finance and marketing. Their qualifications? The usual for people just starting out—captain of the swim team, internship at local retail store, a summer at the local copy shop. In addition to hard copies of their resume, however, they had also blown each up to a poster-board size and created video resumes and posted them on YouTube—the URL for these was at the top of their CV’s.  Seeing these actions told me more than any video: they were creative, gutsy, and self-confident. You can bet that if I had been at a financial or marketing firm with—or without—an opening, they would have been hired on the spot. They brought being a ‘go-getter’ to life.

Another gap in candidates’ descriptions of themselves is often revealed via a technique I recently heard HR professionals are using to weed out those who are truly committed to working for a particular firm from those who are not: what they do is stop the interview halfway through and says “I just don’t think you’re the right fit for us”—regardless of the candidate’s experience. One of the HR professionals with whom I spoke says it’s amazing how many people actually say, “I actually didn’t think so either, but I just thought I’d come in…”

Um…how not to wow.

How do I recommend you handle this situation, should you encounter it? First, make sure you don’t look down, lean back….reveal your discomfort through your body in any way.Smile. Inhale. Speak on an exhalation. Say, “I understand how you may think that, given my lack of experience with X/my checkered past/how long I’ve been freelancing, but I think you’ve underestimated how committed I am to working for your firm. If I may, I’ll take you through my thinking one more time.” A response that, both physically, and verbally, should reassure the most hardboiled of HR professionals.

Another misstep I heard about was the story of a candidate who touted his laser focus/unparalleled dedication throughout his lunch interview, only to take out his PDA and begin returning calls as his host paid the check. My guess is that he was either uncomfortable with sitting in silence, or wished to convey his busyness/importance. What I can tell you is that his choice backfired— instead causing the HR director to move him from the top slot to the bottom of the list.

Albert Schweitzer, the famed theologian/philosopher/physician said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”  Nowhere is this truer than in a job interview scenario—where what isn’t said is often far more important than what is.

Frances Cole Jones

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How to Wow With Your Voicemail Video

WOW– It’s a Paperback!

I’m proud to announce the release of the paperback of The Wow Factor: The 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today’s Business World available today at your favorite book retailer. Please pick up your copy today!

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