Personality Type

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Why Don’t You Try This?

Dr. Howard Thurman was born in 1899 in the segregated South. In 1923, Thurman graduated from Morehouse College as valedictorian. He was ordained a Baptist minister in 1925, after completing his study at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. He then pursued further study as a special student of philosophy at Haverford College with Rufus Jones, a noted Quaker philosopher and mystic. Thurman later earned his doctorate at Haverford.Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School
Dr. Thurman was then invited to Boston University, where he became the first Black Dean of Marsh Chapel (1953–1965). He was the first man person to be named tenured Dean of Chapel at a majority-white university. Thurman was also active and well-known in the Boston community, where he influenced many leaders.
While at Boston University Thurman would tell the story of a man on a journey who came to a town where no one wore shoes. It was winter time and all of the residents had blue and frozen feet, in some cases even bleeding from the snow and ice. The visitor asked the manager of the hotel where he was staying what the bizarre practice meant. “What practice?” the manager responded. The visitor pointed to the man’s bare feet. “Why isn’t anyone in this town wearing shoes? Don’t you believe in shoes?”
“Believe in shoes, my friend! I should say we do,” the manager replied. “A belief in shoes is the first article of our creed. They are indispensible to the well being of humanity. They prevent cuts, sores, and suffering.”
“Well, why don’t you wear them?” asked the traveler. “Ah,” responded the manager, “that’s just it. Why don’t we?”
Later, walking through the town the visitor inquired about a huge building he saw. “That is one of outstanding shoe manufacturing establishments,” he was told. “You mean you make shoes there?” asked the newcomer in amazement. “Well not exactly,” was the answer. “We talk about making shoes there and we have hired a brilliant young fellow to speak on the subject every week. Just yesterday his speech was so compelling that his hearers broke down and wept. It was powerful!” “But why don’t you wear shoes?” the visitor asked. “That’s just it … why don’t we?”
The story ends when the traveler discovers a cobbler making shoes in a little basement shop. He rushes in and buys three pairs as a gift for his new friend. The friend was embarrassed. “Ah, thank you,” he said politely. “But you don’t understand. It just isn’t done. We don’t wear them.”
Thurman’s story suggests, all too often the way things happen in our industry. There are ways of life everyone believes in but no one practices.
I’m confounded by the things that are said verses the actions that are actually taken. I see this often when working with family businesses on a regular basis and talking about the importance of planning the transition from one generation to another. Not everything is the same when it comes to generational communication or training. However, we often apply a one size fits all approach to training and development. In addition, training and development is most often looked at from a single direction, meaning the elder generation believes they have little to learn and that the junior generation must understand how things have always been before they can begin offering suggestions. This is a big mistake in today’s fast paced tech driven retail environment. At the same time the junior generation often fails to realize and take advantage of the wisdom, patience, and relationships that have been built during a lifetime of minding the family business.
Today’s family business consists of a diverse mix of up to four generations dealing with the same business issues. While there are countless names and descriptions for each generation, I would like to use Greatest Generation, Baby Boomer, Gen – X, and Gen – Y as examples here. I want you to consider from the perspective of training how generational differences result in poor outcomes if they are not taken into account.

Training can be designed to avoid miscommunication. But time-and-time again I come face-to-face with family situations that make me scratch my head and think, “That’s just it … why don’t we?”

Here are seven serious differences between the generations. Consider these factors to avoid a communication breakdown and ensure that important training and transition takes hold.
1. Scheduling and timing of training or workshops should account for the differences of generations. The Greatest Generation will arrive early and be ready to “go to work.” Gen – X’ers have the expectation that training will start and end on time. No exceptions. Baby Boomers will be on the lookout for social time during the session, and Gen – Y will be looking for things to start on time, but they might be late and will be looking for ways to get things done early.
2. During training, it is perfectly acceptable to use a lecture style when dealing with the Greatest Generation, while the most effective way to reach Baby Boomers is the use of team activities or teaching methods. The two younger generations prefer activity based training for Gen – X, and the complete use of technology for Gen – Y.
3. Acknowledgment of the participants from the trainer is import to both Boomers and the younger Gen – Y’s in the crowd. Interestingly, Boomers are more interested in hearing from the rest of the crowd how smart their input is, while Gen – X could truly care less if they receive any feedback at all.
4. Case studies are effective for each generation, but the way conclusions are drawn are entirely different. Gen – Y, for example, will want casual discussion to further talk through the studies outcome. Gen – X will simply find a “one solution” case unacceptable while Baby Boomers will want a more experienced version of the study; they aremerely looking for ways everyone might role play each role within the study. And finally the Greatest Generation are simply making sure their opinions and wisdom are included in any finding that comes from a study.
5. Each generation is looking for training to align with their goals differently. The Boomers want training to align with the company’s strategic goals, the Greatest Generation is looking at training as it relates to bottom line success, while X’ers are looking for alignment to mission. Finally Gen – Y is focused on matching values and positive image.
6. In terms of applicable outcomes from training, each generation is again looking for something different. Boomers want deliverables that ensure survival. Greatest Generation attendees are looking to add to their skill set mostly for fun. At the same time Gen – X and Y’ers are looking for skills that are transferable to other companies. Unless the younger generations are family members, they realize they will likely be working somewhere else in a matter of years.
7. As a trainer in a multi generational environment, you should expect very different feedback from each group. The Greatest Generation will be respectful of the evaluation process and will provide detailed comments when asked. Boomers will be looking for additional time in order to provide a true assessment of what they learned. Gen –X’ers will provide feedback to the trainers and the rest of the participants throughout the session. Their feedback will be direct, but not patronizing. Gen – Y’s will do the something, but they will expect praise for taking the time to providing it.

It’s important to realize that you have a very short amount of time to capture people’s attention when training or working in a multi-generational setting. Throughout the session it is important to take people back to the beginning and reconfirm the objectives. If the session is not going well, it is important to be candid and confirm you have not done a good job at drawing everyone in and setting a positive interactive tone. This is when you must ask for forgiveness and time to “re-group.” If the facilitator is sincere, this time will almost always be granted.
Remember one size does not fit all when it comes to clear communication. Use the skills of each age group to deepen understanding and build a company that places value in the diversity of generations. This is hard work in any setting, but especially difficult in a multi-generational environment.
The fruit of this effort is stronger family businesses and often stronger families. Just as the Jewish saying goes; L’Dor V’Dor!

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Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

I might be the only furniture guy with a brain on the bookcase next to my desk. Brain science has changed our understanding of free will, consciousness, memory, motivations and indeed, connections between the mind and the brain.

There is branch of marketing called neuromarketing. Science is attempting to explain why we buy. Books like Buy-ology, Iconoclast, and The Power of Less all take a stab at explaining this emerging field of study.

If you’re interested in how the 3-pounds of soft tissue in your head works, you might want to begin with The Owner’s Manual For The Brain, a fascinating 1007-page technical explanation of why we do the things we do. Or check out this podcast series on the brain which explains how business will be structured, organized and run in the not too distant future.

In a Los Angeles Times article,Searching for the Why of Buy,” Robert Lee Hotz talks about insights into the human brain made possible by revolutionary new scanning technology. He wrote, “Much of what was traditionally considered the product of logic and deliberation is actually driven by primitive brain systems responsible for emotional responses.” So, what does this mean to you? It means that your customer buys because of emotion, not logic and deliberation.

Consumer behavior studies will never be the same. If you ignore brain research about human behavior, you are risking your future. Your competitors are studying this issue and putting their new knowledge to work daily.

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Friday, January 16th, 2009

Industry-Wide Web Summit

February 8 in Vegas, baby! REGISTER HERE

Many in the home furnishings industry are still trying to figure out how to best use the internet to boost the bottom line. To simplify the complex world of online marketing, home furnishings retailers, manufacturers, representatives and suppliers will gather at an Industry-Wide Web Summit on February 8, 2009, in Las Vegas.

The most pressing issues in the home furnishings industry are increasing expenses and decreasing revenues. Being online is the solution to both. We’ve broken online marketing down to its basic fundamentals. After four hours of teaching and an hour of interactive discussion, you will better understand the whole because you’ll understand the parts.

1245 Intro://Las Vegas Room@Harrah’s

1.oo Recipe for Online Content://Rick Doran/

2.oo Simplifying PPC and SEO Marketing://Mark Phelps/

3.oo The Power of e-Marketing://David McMahon/

4.oo What You Had Better Know About e-Commerce://David Lively/

5.oo Expert Panel Discussion://Mary Frye/

All segments of the home furnishings industry are invited to learn how to improve their business through online marketing. The agenda is filled with valuable content that guarantees you will not be disappointed in what you hear. Seating is limited. Registration is required for this free event.

Click here to register: please provide your name, company and telephone number.

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Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Beware of the Doghouse

To all the women out there who’ve ever unwrapped a vacuum cleaner,

and to all the retailers who think the best ads are about product, price and promotion.

Merry Christmas from The Lively Merchant

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Friday, October 24th, 2008

Flabby brains make Johnny a dull boy.

The brain has three natural roadblocks that stand in the way of truly innovative thinking:

1. flawed perception
2. fear of failure
3. the inability to persuade others.”
– Dr. Gregory Berns, neuroscientist, psychiatrist, and Distinguished Chair of Neuroeconomics at Emory University.

The brains of retail owners and managers are stuffed full of these roadblocks.

Dr. Berns explains how worthless the brain becomes over time. He says, “Did you know that when you see the same thing over and over again, your brain uses less and less energy? Your mind already knows what it’s seeing, so it doesn’t make the effort to process the event again.”

A trusted teacher-adviser taught me to never offer ideas without ways to help implement them.

Unlike other consultants, I choose to take this advice. Don’t let some marketing guru claim to know how it feels to walk in your loafers. Most of them have never risked their own money on much of anything.

So here’s the deal. Competitive Analysis, Differentiation, Market Segmentation, Persona-fication™, Discovery, and Strategic Planning are all designed and tested to improve your company’s sales.

Keep your brain well exercised! Life’s a hoot when you do.

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Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Toughing it out. Keeping it together. Making ends meet.

The language of the left brain is logical. The educational system in the United States has effectively taught generations of left-brained thinkers.

However, studies have shown that children loose a large percentage of their creativity between ages 5 and 7. Things like storytelling, art, music, drama, and design become second class subjects at this young age.

Leap forward and you’ll find that TV, radio, print, bill boards, yard signs and point-of-purchase messages all sing the same sound in the mind. Sales, discounts, two-for-one, buy-one-get-one and lowest price of the century are lyrics of the left-brained limbic system.

But your consumer is living in her right brain. “Keeping it real” has replaced “being cool.” Authenticity rules the day. The old saying, “Say what you mean, and mean what you say,” applies. People know when your offer is crap!

Your dreams didn’t change Just because business tightened up. It might have changed your focus. Deep down, in places we’re too embarrassed to talk about, the dream goes on.

So go ahead and hunker down. Count pennies. Save scraps. But, remember that imagination, perception, and faith are as fundamental as math, language and spelling.

They are simply the languages of the other side of your brain.

Creating interesting and compelling copy costs the same as the dull scream-and-shout hype of the last 50 years.

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Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

PROFITsystems and The Lively Merchant Team Up


Jeff Niskern, PROFITsystems, Inc. 719-219-6118

PROFITsystems and The Lively Merchant Team Up

New Joint Offerings Benefit Retailers

October 1, 2008,— PROFITsystems, Inc., the leading software provider for the retail furniture industry, and The Lively Merchant, a consulting firm offering a variety of business building tools, have formed a new working relationship. The synergy of the products that the two companies offer makes this a win-win situation for retailers. Wayne McMahon, VP of PROFITconsulting and David Lively, owner of the Lively Merchant, are combining their years of experience in business analysis to provide retailers with expertise in specialized areas of their business.

Lively specializes in generational transfer consulting, which PROFITsystems and The Lively Merchant are making available to their clients. McMahon stated, “Many owners of businesses in the home furnishings industry are second and third generation. Being able to offer a clear plan on transitioning the business to the next generation is vital to the continued success of these businesses.” McMahon continued, “Providing a path to this transition will be a huge benefit to our clients.”

The two companies will also be joining efforts in developing marketing campaigns for retailers. PROFITsystems’ e-Marketing is designed to offer retailers an organized way to utilize their client base for specified marketing efforts and The Lively Merchant has a unique copyrighted 47 point how-to manual for big event sales. These will be offered as an exclusive mix that will highlight the best of both programs. Lively said, “Advertising and marketing are evolving at an incredible pace. Many business owners are busy keeping up with the retail furniture industry and just do not have the time to keep up on all of the new avenues available in the advertising and marketing arenas. Our two companies have a unique opportunity to do the work that is necessary to bring the newest and most successful campaigns to the retailer.”

PROFITsystems and The Lively Merchant will remain independent companies although future projects will be developed to capitalize on the strengths of each. For additional information on The Lively Merchant or PROFITsystems please visit their individual websites: or

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Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

What A Shame.

“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.” Thomas Jefferson

After listening to President Bush and then a dozen channels of political pundits and Wall Street hacks I went searching for some sage generational advice. It seems Thomas Jefferson was clearly foreseeing the problems of today!

Which generation do you think he might have been talking to? I have an opinion. Email me if you would like to know. The answer will be two short words.

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Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Generational Training

Greed-is-good Yuppies and Bible-believing conservatives each handle training the same way.

This morning I was thinking about personality type as it relates to training. Of course, wondering always leads me to generational questions.

Remember we are living and working in an unprecedented four generational time. Never in earth’s history have four generations worked together – before right now!

Feedback from training might sound like this:

  • WWII Generation says, “I learned it the hard way, and you should, too.”
  • Baby Boomers say, “If you train people too much, they’ll leave.”
  • Generation X says, “The more they learn, the longer they’ll stay.”
  • Millennials say, “Always be learning, it’s a way of life.

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Saturday, July 26th, 2008

Boy scarred by tragedy becomes a symbol of hope to everyone.

Dreams and myths are constellations of archetypal images.

What then is an archetype? Jung said we have a“preconscious psychic disposition that enables a (man) to react in a human manner.” Archetypes may emerge into consciousness in piles of variations. There are a very few archetypes (about 8) which exist at the unconscious level, but there are an infinite variety of specific images which point back to these few patterns.

Jung found the archetypal patterns and images in every culture and in every time period of human history. They behaved according to the same laws in all cases.We humans do not have separate, personal unconscious minds. The mind is rooted in the unconscious just as a Hickory tree is rooted in the ground. When we have the courage to seek the source to which our mind, will, and emotion belongs, we begin to discover even more universal patterns.

The reality is concealed in the darkness of mystery.

So let me say something; I’m Batman.”

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