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perception matters: who is your washington post?

In 2007, the Washington Post staged a social experiment in an arcade outside of a Washington DC Metro subway station. Managers were interested in context, perception and priorities so they strategically placed a 39 year-old violin player, wearing a baseball hat, T-shirt and jeans, in a location bristling with people on their way to work.

Would passersby notice the man? Would they stop to take in his performance? Would they find the classical music he was playing appealing?  Here are the results:

  • 1,907 people walked by.
  • 7 people stopped for at least one minute.
  • He played six 6 classical pieces for 43 minutes and received $52.17 in donations.

Exactly one person recognized Joshua Bell, one of the most talented classical violinists in the world and that woman gave him $20.00. No one called attention to his $3.5 million, 1713 Antonio Stradivari violin.

Didn’t the majority of those 1,097 people see exactly what they expected to see? Another down-on-his-luck musician trying to score a few coins.

Dress Joshua Bell up and place him and his Stradivari at Carnegie Hall in New York City and choice tickets will go for over $400.00 a piece.

Try this experiment at home

Dress up your top technician in a dirty T-shirt, torn jeans and an old hat. Do your customers hear his music? Or is he just another down-on-his-luck musician gathering in a few coins from passersby? Are you giving your customers reasons to ignore you?

This is about context and perception, right? A freshly groomed technician wearing a crisp, uniform and driving a clean, professionally wrapped van is perceived like Joshua Bell at Carnegie Hall. He’s worth more.

What are you missing?

In your frenzied quest to get to the next meeting, lunch or appointment, what are you missing? Are your field coworkers playing beautiful music? What about your office staff? Are you really tuned into the talent and behavior that drives your coworker’s KPI’s and your business success?

Who is your Washington Post?

While video taping your daily routine certainly isn’t a desire nor reality, it would be handy to have someone checking in with you on a weekly basis. Perhaps one of their questions might be, “Bob, are you really tuned into what your coworkers are doing?”

Are you interacting with a group or person on a weekly basis who is familiar with someone in your shoes?

Connecting with a group is important. Service Nation Alliance members meet weekly with their personal Advisory Board, a small group of non-competing contractors who are led by a dedicated Mentor. Among other things, members are encouraged to share successes and failures, compare their monthly performance numbers, and hold each other accountable for the commitments they make to improve their companies.  What better way to review your daily routine, your goals, your reality?

Think about context and perception surrounding your business and your employees. Connect with industry peers. Build a better business. 

Connect with others in your industry at Service World Expothe bold, must-attend conference, trade show, and networking event for residential contractors involved in Plumbing, HVAC or Electrical service who want to ignite growth and performance in their companies. Being held on Sept 7th-8th, 2017, at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, NV, the event will encompass compelling content, cutting edge educational breakouts, a product showcase that is more tailgate party than tradeshow and out of this world entertainment events. For more information on Service World Expo, visit www.ServiceWorldExpo.com, email info@ServiceWorldExpo.com, or call 844.742.3970.


For those interested, Gene Weingarten received a Pulitzer prize for Pearls Before Breakfast, a chronicling of Joshua Bell’s arcade performance.

Topics: Marketing, business culture, Building a Business, Customer Connection, Plumbing, hvac, learning, knowledge, perception

Posted by Dave Rothacker on Jul 2, 2017 12:05:00 AM

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