Today has been a fascinating day from an observation standpoint. Some random thoughts from the day...
1. I had a conversation with someone today that left me a little uncertain if I was in on the joke or if I was the joke. Even now, hours later, I'm still not sure which it was. But, just like a car wreck you can't stop yourself from looking at, I wasn't willing to leave the conversation because I wanted to figure that out. Was it a "conspiratorial" or "condescending" tone? No idea. Maybe after I sleep on it I'll know.
2. In marketing we often talk about who the audience for a particular product or service is. If you don't have children using cloth diapers, you're probably not in the market for a diaper service. If you are 17 you aren't likely to buy life insurance. You get the idea.
Today I was at a business where I thought their whole premise was odd, and the people running it to be very sloppy in their approach to everything - from poor planning to bad execution. It was loud, with terrible food being served by the managers who were dressed like they were going clubbing instead of talking to business people. As I was mulling over how this just wasn't "right," the obvious occurred to me - it was very simple - I just wasn't their market.
One person at my table was quite interested in their services and was picking up brochures. She was also the only person at our table who ate heartily and went back for seconds. I took one bite of the food, politely spit it out in my napkin, (well, as politely as one can do anything involving "spit"), and pushed the plate aside. I'm not the market.
The people who are their market aren't interested in being served great food - if they want food, it just has to be basic sustenance - and they don't see much difference between one thing or another. The loud atmosphere suits them just fine - they're content to speak loudly over it - and they're not there for conversation. The clubbing vibe is cool - they like clubs. I'm just not the market.
Doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the business. It's just not geared to me. I would never trust a gathering to these folks because I think they don't handle details well. Other folks would just think, "it's okay... no big deal." But I'm not the market. Period.
It's good to be reminded of this obvious fact on occasion.
3. I went to a number of schools today to deliver materials. Thank goodness for GPS units. Even when it would tell me, "you have reached your destination," sometimes I couldn't figure out exactly what I was looking for. But, very quickly I learned to search for something that looked like a prison.
When did we start building schools to look like prisons? I didn't vote "yes" on that bond issue. All that's missing is the barbed wire fence. But, some of them do have the fences, as if preparing for this inevitability. I began to say aloud to myself in the car, "oh, there it is, the prison for children."
Is there some reason we have to build schools to look like prisons? Is there some reason we have to confine children in a prison-like structure in order to teach them?
The contrast to this was that the people I met inside the schools, by and large, were open and friendly. I caught a glimpse of fourth graders playing various Olympic games in a gym at one school, and a first grader skipping down the hall at another. I decided there's not much that's more adorable than a first grader skipping from the office back to class. Her dark hair was in long, braided pigtails if you need to complete the picture in your mind. What could be cuter?
I'm guessing I'm very much the Johnny-come-lately to this observation and the rest of you have already noticed the striking architectural similarity between prisons for adults and schools for children. Rather ironic since there's a correlation between people not achieving in school and going to prison, but it's too late for me to go off on that tangent. Maybe another time.
4. It's really good to connect with people. Different people on multiple levels. I watched two people who are geniuses at connection work rooms today. It was masterful. I wanted to prostrate myself like Wayne and Garth and chant, "I'm not worthy," but it would have been disruptive so I refrained.
5. Things change. Even things you don't expect. You can't stop it, so you might as well welcome it.