Saturday, October 15, 2011

Doughnuts and Muffins

Earline and Mama are having lunch together. Earline is buying:

Earline: (Smiles at Mama) Is your salad good?

Mama (Nods): Yes. The kitchen staff here always makes good meals. The head chef knows I eat here often and that I sign his paycheck.  

Earline: Isn’t that a bit unfair?

Mama: Not really. He is just excellent at his craft and I enjoy what he cooks. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. But enough of that.  What is on your mind, Earline?

Earline: I just want to thank you for the great advice you gave me a while ago.

Mama: To which pearl of wisdom are you referring?

Earline: Huh? Oh- I guess you mean what advice. Well, the one about how to get people to do what you want. I have been practicing and it is working out very well. I could never have figured all that out and your sharing it has helped me so much.

Mama: How so?

Earline: I have an A in Chemistry due to all the help my classmates have given me. All I had to do was be nice and friendly and give them some swimming pointers. They are so smart in science.

Mama: I am glad. So now that you have covered 1-4 with me, just what is your 5?

Earline: Well, it is personal again.

Mama: I am not surprised. But your candor is refreshing.

Earline: OK- so even though you are so old, er… mature now, I guess you were young once. You and Mr. Muscles had to meet sometime. I want to know um… I guess you love him even though the thought of old people doing… *cough cough*

Mama: Doughnuts and Muffins

Earline: Huh? You want dessert but you still have salad.

Mama: No, my little twit, men are either doughnuts or muffins.

Earline: I don’t get it. Are you getting that old lady disease?

Mama: No, Earline. Author Jennifer Crusie equates men to doughnuts or muffins. She says that doughnuts are the men who make you drool. They are gorgeous and crispy and covered in yummy icing and you see one and you have to have it, and if you don’t get it, you think about it all day and then go back to get it because it is a doughnut.

Earline: Mmm… I know about that. The real doughnut icing, I mean.

Mama: Earline- Snap out of the imaginary sugar high and focus.

Earline: OK  *Sigh*. Doughnut make us drool.

Mama: And at first sight muffins sit there all lumpy and they look alike and have no icing. While your favorite muffin is excellent, it is no doughnut.

Earline: So doughnuts are good.

Mama:  Well, for one night. But the next morning they aren’t crisp anymore, and the icing is stuck all to the bag, and they have watery stuff all over them, and they are icky and awful. You can’t keep a doughnut overnight.

Earline: But a muffin is better the next day??

Mama: Muffins are for the long haul and always taste good. They may not have the gotta-have-it-now thing the doughnuts do but you still want them the next morning. *Smiles to herself*

Earline: They taste even better and they are more appealing and you know they are better in the long run.

Mama: Exactly. They become seasoned. But beware! There are doughnuts pretending to be muffins. And muffins pretending to be doughnuts. The trick is to discern the muffin you want from the bag and even if it is a bit doughnut like you can still enjoy the frosting and the sprinkles knowing the underlying muffin value.

Earline: I think I get it. But I gotta think some more. Then go to the bakery.

Mama: Earline, be very cautious. I don’t want you to make a decision you will later deeply regret. 

Earline: (Smiling) Can you trust me this time? I am growing up and this responsibility thing is ok in bits and pieces.   

Mama: I will give you that. (Pats her hand) Now I must go. Thank you for the lunch and food for thought.

Earline: Food for thought. That’s good. Now I need to think about doughnuts and muffins.

Mama strolls through the park for a few minutes contemplating recent events.  Sitting on a bench she composes two lengthy texts. After sending them she looks up idly to see an oblivious Earline heading down another path with a bakery box in her hand.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Basic Salesmanship

*Knock Knock*

Mama: Come in…

Earline enters office.

Earline: Hi. (wringing hands) Can I talk to you?

Mama: (Puts down paperwork and gets up) Of course, dear. Come sit here on the sofa with me. You seem a bit upset. 

Earline: Um.. I… well…(They sit)

Mama: Now, I hope this isn’t about the kitchen. That is long in the past. But you haven’t been cooking any more, have you?

Earline: No. (Takes a deep breath) Here’s my question. Um… You meet with a lot of people and come out of meetings smiling. You must have good meetings.

Mama: I usually achieve the goal I set when I hold a meeting, yes. But that wasn’t a question.

Earline: I guess I am trying to ask about how to get people to do what you want them to. You seem pretty good at it.

Mama: Earline- Are you thinking of starting a business? You have enough going on right now, I believe.

Earline: No- this is personal.

Mama: Oh. I see. Well… First, remember that you can never make anyone do anything voluntarily and successfully that they already don’t have a glimmering of a mindset to do.

Earline: Huh?

Mama: You can force someone at times to accomplish something, but there will be no pride or internal sense of accomplishment to it. It will become a sticking point and close doors. 

Earline: OK. But is there a plan?

Mama: My friend, author Jennifer Crusie humorously spoke to this exact topic in her book Faking It.

Earline: Wait- I gotta take notes.

Mama: No- just memorize it. Never write this down. 

Earline: OK. More work, but this will be worth it. Go.

Mama: You need to approach people the right way. Think more about the other person than yourself. It is a sales pitch. Plan, plan, plan. Then, execute the plan in five steps:

First- Make the person smile.

Earline: How?

Mama: Smile at him. Most people smile back. Once someone smiles, they relax.

Earline. OK. 1. Smile.

Mama: Second- get him to say yes. To anything. Once someone says yes, it is likely he will repeat it. It establishes a pattern. Subsequently, talking with you equates to “yes”.

Earline: OK 1. Smile. 2. Yes.

Mama: Third- make him feel superior. It increases confidence and he will get careless. 

Earline: How?

Mama: Ask him a question he can easily answer. He’ll feel smarter. But not a guy-smart, girl-dumb question. You are creating a false sense of security with your sales pitch. This is serious business, but the mark, er, prospective customer doesn’t realize you, as a female, hold all the cards.

Earline: So 1. Smile. 2. Yes. 3. Superior.

Mama: On four you give him something. Perhaps a compliment, but sound sincere. A compliment goes a long way. Maybe something tangible, depending on the setting. You need to make him think he is way ahead in this meeting. And keep him smiling and nodding.

Earline: Sounds confusing but I will try. 1. Smile. 2. Yes, 3. Superior. 4. Give. 

Mama: Then you move in to close the deal. Ask for what you want but make him think you are doing him a favor by taking it. Be concrete but don’t push it. 

Earline: Like close and lock the door. But gently.

Mama: Somewhat. Go incrementally. Start with something small and with success increase the stakes over time. It builds trust and a sense of ease. People will let their guard down and your job can become easier. But never forget that you are working here. It isn’t a game. You are selling a product or item and you need to make it desirable and irresistible. Don’t lose sight of what you want. And practice, practice, practice.

Earline: OK 1. Smile. 2. Yes. 3. Superior. 4. Give. 5. Ask/take.

Mama: I think you have it. In theory. (Sighs)

Earline: (Looking up at Mama with a sniff) I appreciate this. 

Mama: (slight smile and nod); I know you do.

Earline: Since I don’t have a biological family I depend on you and Mr. Muscles for so much. 

Mama: I know you do. (Pats her hand)

Earline: You have helped me so much.

Mama: This is true, but stop practicing on me. I saw through 3 and 4 when you tried 1 and 2 with those big eyes. Now off with you and go pester your friends.
*Earline exits*

Mr. Muscles: (entering from another door) Should we call Zebrudus and warn him?

Mama: And spoil the fun? I think not. He can handle her. It works two ways. Let those games begin.

Mr. Muscles: *Nods* Yes. The girl is growing up.

Mama: Thank goodness. I had my doubts at times. Did you?

Mr. Muscles: Never. I have no doubts about you, either. (Nuzzling her neck).

Mama: You are right as usual. (Locking office door) I doubt I will get this paperwork finished any time soon. Can you help me?

Mr. Muscles: Of course- in about an hour or so.

*Paperwork flies off desk mysteriously as Mama giggles.*