Category Archives for The Encourager

An Olympic Gold Medal – what it takes to earn one. – SCN Encourager

For once, my topic and its timing match up perfectly!

Given that the 2018 Olympic Games start today in South Korea.

(Now… don’t get used to this, though. It’s likely I won’t be able to pull off this kind of relevancy again until the Tokyo Olympics in 2020!)

As the world begins to observe the daily “medal count” it’s a good idea to remind ourselves about the common path all of the Olympians took to their success.


U.S. figure skating great Scott Hamilton put it this way.

(You’ve heard of him, right?  Gold medal winner in 1984? The year the Tigers won the World Series? Oh boy, do I feel old…)

“I’ve fallen in front of thousands in arenas and in front of who knows how many people watching on TV.  Early in my career these experiences were extremely humiliating. I also finished dead last many regional competitions before I finally made it to the nationals.”

Now comes the good part.

“My mom was a teacher and she encouraged me to keep following my dream. Once I learned to embrace failure, be inspired by it, and learn from it, I accomplished so much more. Like Thomas Edison, I had to accept that the greatest ingredient for eventual success is always going to be failure. You just have to keep trying. Believing you can ever avoid failure and its embarrassments will only keep you in your rut.”


I’d give this life lesson from Hamilton a gold medal, wouldn’t you?

Now let’s get out there and embrace some failures of our own!

Go team go!

Hope you have a great weekend!






The “why” behind the NFL’s memorable Super Bowl Ad – SCN Encourager

If there was one Super Bowl ad that drew rave reviews the next day this was it.

The NFL nailed it big time with Eli Manning’s and Odell Beckham Jr.’s version of the famous dance scene from “Dirty Dancing.”

Of course, the fact that the movie premiered 30 years ago and has always been popular with “boomers” certainly didn’t hurt its appeal last Sunday, either!

As impressed as I was by the Super Bowl itself – I was equally impressed by the the explanation the NFL’s chief marketing officer gave for creating the ad in the first place.

Talk about having a purposeful and clear “why” to serve as the springboard for a great result!

Check out what Dawn Hudson said in Adweek. 
(You can also see the 1 minute video too!)

“Celebrations were a highlight of this season, and we had so many breakout moments where players showed their creativity together,” she said. “We wanted to keep that fun going for the Super Bowl and give our fans something to smile and laugh at that was just about football and how awesome it is to be part of a team.”

It’s definitely swipe-worthy.
Just fill in the blanks below with your school district in mind.

“Celebrations were a highlight of this [school year], and we had so many breakout moments where ____________________ showed their creativity together,” said [a good-looking school leader like YOU]. “We wanted to keep that fun going for ________________ and give our ________________ something to smile and laugh at that was just about __________________ and how awesome it is to be part of [our school family.]”


This works pretty well, don’tcha think?

Now… I may not be able to dance, dirty or otherwise.

But I sure know a great quote when I see it!

I’ll bet the bank you don’t have this in your communicator’s toolbox – SCN Encourager

Of course, I’m not risking all that much to be perfectly honest.

Closeup to An Empty WalletYou know it.

I know it.

You gotta have it to risk it.

And this photo shows my wallet on a good day!

So, I’ll just have to give you an I.O.U. if I lose this bet.

But I don’t think I will.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 9.23.21 PMI can’t imagine  you already have one of these in your school communicator’s tool box!

I didn’t even have one myself until last night.

I double-checked.

Even this toolbox that my daughters gave me on Father’s Day – chosen with my handyman’s skills in mind – didn’t include one.

But it’s a tool none of us should be without, and one we should use more than we do.

What I’m talking about is a “Readibility Score Index” calculator.

Now, the indispensable item I’m sharing with you today is quite different than all of those “More Readable” apps that many of you keep sending me.

C’mon. Really?

Do you honestly believe there’s an app out there that is going to make me more readable?

Quit wasting your time, my friends.

This might work, too!

This might work, too!

No, what I’m recommending for your toolbox is this amazingly simple Readability Score Index calculator that will help you determine the reading level (grade level equivalent) for any paragraphs you have written or are posted up on your website.

All you have to do is cut your block of copy and paste it into the big empty info box on your screen and hit “submit.”

That’s it!

And then you’ll immediately know if your copy (or the words written by someone else) is at a 5th grade or 11th grade reading level, for example.

Easy. Peasy.

And like I said – this is a good thing to have within reach in your toolbox.

I have another bet for you.

I’ll also bet that you’ll use the Readability Score Index calculator more often than I will.

I tested it out using three of the Encouragers I’ve written recently.

The problem I encountered had nothing to do with the calculator’s accuracy.

To my pleasant surprise, all of the figures were correct.

But my joy was short-lived.

While I was elated initially to learn that my writing came in at a comfortable, no stress level –

I sure wasn’t thrilled to see my Readability Index rank ahead of my credit score!

Dang, that’s depressing.









An insanely simple customer service tip (above 3rd grade math skills not required) – SCN Encourager

If you can count up to 2 you might find this tip valuable


the math isn’t important.

But what the numbers represent certainly is!

It’s 1 for “yes.”

And it’s 2 for “no.”

That’s pretty much it.

Shep Hyken, a first-class customer service trainer, says this tactic has worked wonders at every company where it’s been tried.

And it was by researching Ace Hardware – a company which has won many top independent customer service awards for years – that first got this on Shep’s radar.

This tactic is anchored in two real-world customer service “delivery” facts.

•   Many customers don’t like to be told “no.
•   Many employees will hesitate to say “yes” due to lack of support or the effort involved.

This effective tactic acknowledges both of the above realities and is also able positively turn them around.

This is why Shep says it’s a winner.

Let’s say a customer goes into an Ace Hardware and asks for an item not on the shelf or even in stock.

At many other places, the customer will be told, “Sorry, No how. No way.”

Ace wants to prevent this from happening.

At Ace, every employee must try to work with the customer to arrive at a “Yes. Can do.” condition.

To ensure the likelihood of this occurring, every employee at Ace is trained to only say “no” to a customer AFTER consulting with the store manager or another Ace employee.

The company wants everyone to work toward “yes” if at all possible – and have this mindset – even if a call has to be placed to the manufacturer or another Ace resource.

So you see why this tactic works, right?

It’s incredibly simple to communicate and monitor.

1 person for YES

2 persons for NO (or for the tango!)

What’s not to like about it?

Except once again, it’s yet one more fantastic tactic I can’t use at home.

Whether I’m thinking “yes” or “no” about something at home doesn’t really matter.

I’ve discovered things seem to go a lot more smoothly if I just go ask right away.

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Say now, just how important is the whole “mindset” thing? – SCN Encourager

Is it more important than the acquisition of skills?


Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 8.26.50 PMI wrestle with this.

Not because my mindset is all that complex (good attitude / bad attitude) or my skill set is all that deep (know it / don’t know it)…

It’s just that this is a good “chicken or the egg” kind of question for us.

Which one is more essential for success?

A positive mindset or a solid set of skills?

Here’s a true story that’ll clear things up.

At least it should be true since leadership and sports coach John Whitmore recounts it in his book Coaching for Performance.

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 8.46.09 PMFor many years Whitmore studied athletes, peak performers, and their coaches.

One of his “coaching friends” ran a highly respected tennis camp.

One summer his friend experienced what must’ve been the perfect storm for any tennis coach running a camp.

As he about to begin a new camp session, the coach discovered he had “overbooked” the number of  campers he had coming in – and had “undercounted” the number of tennis coaches he had lined up!

Big problem.

(And no, I wasn’t the tennis coach’s PR guy…)

Luckily, the tennis coach was part of peer-to-peer network (somewhat like an MSPRA for coaches) and he was able to talk several of his golf coach buddies into coming over to the camp and helping him out.

He told the golf coaches not to worry about teaching any tennis techniques.

In fact, he specifically requested that they don’t even try.

All he asked them to do was to carry a tennis racket around and “look the part” while they coached up what they were comfortable with: mental preparation, visioning, overcoming setbacks, developing consistency, and working on the wide range of habits that all winners share.

So now you can probably guess how this story wraps up at the end of camp.

(I couldn’t. My school PR training caused me to foresee a big lawsuit getting filed and the Tennis Camp Board of Trustees going into a “closed session” later to discuss it.)

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 9.32.15 PMAnyway, at the end of the tennis camp, the players coached by the golf coaches actually achieved the same or better gains in their overall performance than those coached by the real-life tennis coaches.


There’s a lesson here.

Did this happen because the golf coaches worked overtime to instill their messages about “mindset” knowing darn well they couldn’t teach anything at all about tennis?

This seems likely to me.

But whatever the reason…

I’m going to see if I can find a golf coach who can help me with my writing.

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