What will I be doing in 2019?

As us usual, I’m always influenced by the current zeitgeist. Today’s inspiration comes from a Vox video attempting to answer the question: Does expensive wine taste better?

I’ve always told my clients that wine is a sensory experience that requires the use of all senses, but I’ve learned that what makes me more successful than my competitors are the stories I tell; and how I empower my clients with enough knowledge to “try something new” the next time they go to the store. That’s an investment that yields infinite returns no matter what products you represent. #AlwaysAddValue

Yes, it is true that awesomely well-trained, data savvy, wine professionals like myself can manipulate clients to buy whatever we want to sell (see the research), but my satisfaction has always come from surprising clients with profound and pleasurable discoveries.

That’s why I love treating curious customers to some of my rarest or more expensive wines in the first meeting. Sometimes, they can’t even afford the wines I present – so why do I take this counterintuitive approach? Well, aside from the fact that it fosters desire, it’s also because what my clients value most – above ownership and consumption – is a journey. So, setting them up with a view of what they “could be” drinking is more important than someone telling them what they “should be” drinking. My clients don’t just want me to help them make memories – they want me to inspire dreams. Doing this the right way always requires more work that most professionals are willing to put in, but it is the most sustainable strategy to truly winning hearts and minds. 

Customers and friends still contact me every time they find something new. The most gratifying aspect of this is that they want me to share their new discoveries with them. I go from being a consultant to a partner. #SoThankful #KnowYourCustomer #KnowYourCompetition.

Here is my recipe for the work I’ll be undertaking in 2019:

  • Take my unique CX approach to #MakingMemories #InspiringDreams; and
  • Marry that with my purpose to “give clients access to the best that life has to offer”; and
  • Add my love of #Datasets and #GeospatialModelling; then
  • Throw in a sprinkle of data science with a dash of #SeeingAroundCorners; and
  • Add a continuous stream of confidence and perseverance.

2018 has already come to an end in some parts of the world and is only a couple hours away from my comfortable perch. I sincerely want to thank every person who has been part of my #Superstory thus far. I am especially thankful for the obstacles I overcame and all the experiences that have led up to this exact moment. Most of all, I am thankful for my wife and family. I couldn’t have made it this far without their support.

In 2019 and beyond, I believe there will be a lot more stories wanting to be told, and more memories to facilitate. I’ll be focused on the consumer frontline – bringing the fringes to the front by empowering makers (a word borrowed from a company I admire) and consumers with the tools to unlock hidden value.

#TurningDesertsIntoGardens

#HappyNewYear

#NextBigThing

#StartedFromTheBottom

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UPDATE: Transactional Integrity and Luxury

I updated my last post on Transactional Integrity  with a new post on Linkedin Pulse. Check it out. I’m so glad to be blogging again. I also updated my visuals using free high-res images . Thanks to Kirby Ferguson (@remixeverything) for mentioning.

Transactional Integrity… and Luxury

As a brand guardian, every time I get to introduce consumers to a brand I consider to be “true luxury”, it is nothing less than a privilege.

However, there is one rule: I never advocate brands, with which I haven’t had some reasonable interaction (as a consumer, loyalist, or enthusiast). To do otherwise would be disingenuous and represses Transactional Integrity. Continue reading

I Love The Business of Luxury Like A Fish Loves Water

So, the HBS Retail and Luxury Goods Conference is over and I’m wondering why I go to this conference every year.

Well, its simple.

The Dream Team (and yours truly) - Members of the LuxRe Club from The College of William and Mary at the HBS Retail and Luxury Goods Conference

The Dream Team (and yours truly) – Members of the LuxRe Club from The College of William and Mary at the HBS Retail and Luxury Goods Conference

I like to listen to the array of views on what’s going on in the luxury industry. I also enjoy meeting new minds, and reuniting with old friends. However, the real reason I go to the conference is simply because it makes me feel good. It fires up my creative neurons and allows me to think about things in different ways. The best way to describe it is that I feel comfortable – like a fish in water.

Reimagining the In-Store Experience: One of the panels at the HBS Retail and Luxury Goods Conference

Re-imagining the In-Store Experience: One of the panels at the HBS Retail and Luxury Goods Conference

Key Idea: Find those environments and business cultures that make you feel good about who you are. Find the people and places that excite your true passions. You won’t go far if you fail to be honest with yourself about who you are and what you believe in. Act like a luxury brand and stand for something.

My View: The main reason I joined the industry is because it stands for something that is important to me. Though there are opposing opinions out there, I believe that the luxury segment benefits a vast array of stakeholders in different geographic, cultural, and socio-economic segments – governments, companies, the environment, and of course, consumers. The industry doesn’t just provide beautiful products and valuable services for consumers – it also provides jobs and supports economic development.

BOLD Customer Experience Management, Blogging, @doubletree… I need more than 140 characters

I need more than just 140 characters

As soon as I tweeted it, I felt like I had to say more. Have you ever met someone, read a book, or watched a movie that contained ideas or dreams that you’ve always had? Thoughts that, prior to the encounter, you couldn’t concisely express?

I’ve been having those moments as I’ve been reading this book about companies that adopt a customer-first culture.

BoldThe book has been the breath of fresh air I needed to fill my lungs of passion for the customer. After going through some of my past posts, it dawned on me that I agreed with the authors (Shaun Smith and Andy Milligan) long before I received the book as a graduation present in 2012. Since starting the book, I have ordered four more copies for my friends across the US (and even in Japan). I think you should read it too.

Heck I might just send a free copy to the first person to send me a message via the comment box. 
 
Past Posts

As I was looking through my old posts, I felt so proud for having a point of view of my own, before being introduced to someone else’s. I couldn’t have begun to formulate my perspective if I hadn’t had a cathartic outlet like blogging. It never really mattered if I sounded stupid, smart, or experienced, I just wanted to put my thoughts out there. All that mattered was for me to develop my own point of view. Finding this book was such a proud moment for me because it lets me know that I’m not crazy. I’m just saying what I think. So its really important to blog.

If you need to develop a point of view on something that’s important to you, start putting your thoughts out there. Start a blog…. do something.

On to the next piece.

I’m in Boston, MA for the Retail and Luxury Goods Conference held by Harvard Business School. I’ve been coming since 2011 because its such a comfortable zone, being around luxury industry professionals. It’s especially relevant for me because of my personal mission in life and business:

Tweet

Whenever I come to the conference, I stay with the same hotel brand – DoubleTree by Hilton Worldwide. I have to say it is such a wonderful customer experience because I always get what I expect – the feeling of a home away from home. More to come sooner than you think.

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How To Get A Job In The Luxury Industry – Forbes

Click the picture to go to the Forbes.com article.

Click the picture to go to the Forbes.com article.

My View: This is an insightful point of view from an industry practitioner. No one has all the answers, but this will certainly get you in thinking in the right direction.

 

 

JC Penney Going for Broke / Luxury Conference in Boston, MA

Ron Johnson’s Original Turnaround Plan for JCP – Circa April 2012

The Gist:

Less than a year ago, I wrote about JCP’s “square pricing” strategy created under CEO, Ron Johnson. The pricing strategy was intended to help the retailer grow its business, however, latest indications show the company has recorded four consecutive quarters of decline.

In combating the consumer backlash, Mr. Johnson is rolling out some of the previously discontinued sales that JCP is known for. There is no indication as to how many sale campaigns the retailer will bring back, but JCP’s CEO has vowed not to return to levels where the company ran up to 600 sales promotions each year. Supposedly, the retailer is going to introduce a limited number of promotions that tie in with the core habits of its consumer set – shoppers who only buy when they need something and require high value.

It’s bad enough that most of JCP’s consumers have decided to shop at its competitors (Kohl’s, Target, Dillard’s, and Macy’s to name a few). What’s worse is that Wall Street investors have also lost confidence in the stock. After losing more than half of its value, Penney stock is now trading at around $19. The company will also find it hard to raise capital as its credit rating is in the realm of “junk status”.

There is still no light at the end of the tunnel for Ron Johnson’s (RJ) turnaround. Though I was very pessimistic (and correct) in my initial assessment in April, 2012, I wouldn’t quit on RJ just yet. You do know he turned Apple and Target’s retail performance around, right? The past is the best predictor of the future. I just might roll the dice on some JCP stock.

Question

Where do you need to be this month?

Harvard Business School

Answer

In Boston, at the Retail and Luxury Goods Conference, at Harvard Business School. It happens every year (this is the ninth) and is never a dull event. I had some of my best professional moments there. If you can’t make it, you can trust that I’ll take notes for you.