Posted by: joannabrandi | February 9, 2012

Southwest Gets the Jump on Love Day

I was in the Tampa airport yesterday headed home. As I was looking around for the “no bags to check” kiosks in the terminal I was distracted by people carrying big batches of red balloons saying “I love you”, “Be mine” and other assorted sweet sentiments.

I found a bunch of stationary balloons and a friendly (and smiling) Southwest employee named Tricia.

“What’s with the balloons?” I asked.

“Valentine’s Day, of course.”

“I know that,” I said, but that’s a whole week away,” I said sneaking a look around at all the other (un-festooned) airline counters. You’re early.

Tricia’s smiled widened as she gave me a knowing look and said, “Well, we ARE the love airline…”

I snapped a quick photo and went on to catch my plane back to Ft. Lauderdale. I was just returning from  doing a CEO meeting in Lakeland and the topic of my 3 hour talk was “Creating Happiness.”

Happy to be heading home I got on the plane and settled into my seat for a short and uneventful flight. When we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, the last thing I heard from the flight attendant doing the landing announcement (after the “drive safely” part) was “And make the first priority in life to always be happy.”

Thanks Southwest for making yesterday’s trip memorable.

Are you creating memorable, happy moments?

Posted by: joannabrandi | January 4, 2012

Happy New Year Intentions

Here we are in 2012! Can you believe it?

I am so glad its finally here. I know many people that were really happy to see 2011 go, with all its challenges and opportunities for growth.  This year starts with optimism and with wishes for happiness.

Last night I completed my first tip of the year and today it will be emailed and posted on the site. I’m going to duplicate a portion of it here, because I want to share the message with my blog readers as well as my “tip” readers AND have a place where you can share your comments with me.

What’s the First Word of the Year?

The very first sentence we say to each other at the very first moment of a New Year is “Happy”. The very first word we shout as the ball drops is “Happy!”

Our very first wish for each other at the beginning of a new year is a wish for happiness. One would think that with all that wishing, we’d be a little happier for it.

Happiness doesn’t come just because we wished for it, it comes because we intend it to.

In a changing, challenging and sometimes downright negative world, we need to put a little effort behind being happy if we want to invite it, feel it and encourage it to grow.

I intend to nurture my own happiness, because for me it’s been hard to come by. I wasn’t genetically programmed for it. Happiness comes for me as the end result of focusing my attention on things I can appreciate and love and by minimizing the fears that try to hijack my well being.

Some days it takes re-framing situations before I can find something in them I can appreciate.

I learned how to become happier. And I am so grateful for that learning and for all the new opportunities that now come my way because I know how to teach companies to become happier places. I teach the people in them to take responsibility for creating more positive emotions in a deliberate way for themselves and customers.

So here we are – a new year – 2012. It’s a significant year.

What will you do to step up to its significance?

What do you intend for your happy new year?

I intend to create more kindness and less criticism.

I intend to speak my truth more clearly and succinctly.

I intend to sit in silence more often.

I intend to look for and find things to appreciate all day long, every day.

I intend to rewire my internal circuitry by creating more positive pathways in my brain and by going to my heart more often to create internal coherence of body-mind-spirit.

[You can read more of my intentions in the “Articles” section of http://www.ReturnOnHappiness.com]

What do you intend for your happy new year?

I intend to keep more gratitude lists and do the exercises that are proven to help reduce stress and create positive emotions (not just happiness – there are lots of positive emotions!) Amy please link this back to the holiday list of all the emotions from the last tip)

I intend to create more positive emotions and radiate positivity as a result.  I intend to savor the good stuff more.

What do you intend for your happy new year?

I encourage you to start your list if you haven’t yet. In my workshops I teach that intention is a force as powerful as gravity because it can pull you towards what you want. It enlists the sophisticated circuitry of the human brain and searches the environment for just the thing you were thinking about.

Think about what you want – at work, at home, at school, in relationship, for your body, for your soul, for your good health. Think about it, and write down a list of intentions. The act of doing that will begin to get your brain on your side (despite any genetic tendencies) and working on your own behalf.

It’s the best time of year to create the habit of happiness.

What are YOUR intentions for the New Year? Post a comment here and I will witness them on your behalf and send a blessing for their speedy creation!

Thank you for giving me another opportunity to be of service to my favorite community – people that care about their customers!

Posted by: joannabrandi | November 4, 2011

A Moment of Magic

My plane was hours late. I arrived at the hotel tired and cranky. A major head cold (and possibly fever) was brewing and worst of all I hadn’t eaten any dinner, and was hungry. 

As I approached the hotel coffee shop I saw a woman at the cash register. She was counting money.  I approached her and asked “You’re not closing, are you?” “Yes we are ma’am” she replied.  My face must have involuntarily contorted into a look of horror, and she asked me “What’s wrong, dear?”  

My inner four year old came out and I whined to this stranger “My plane was late, I have a cold, I haven’t eaten any dinner and I feel miserable.”  

“Oh, I’m sorry, and our kitchen is closed for the evening. But..”  she added “Would a cup of tea and some toast help? I can get that for you.” “Oh yes.” I said with an audible sigh of relief.  As she walked to the door of the kitchen I ventured meekly “Whole wheat?” 

Shortly she returned with a steaming cup of tea, whole wheat toast and a lovely selection of jams, and then asked if I wanted her to sit down with me while I ate. While I refused her generous offer of company, explaining that I thought she had best to go on home to her family, it didn’t go unappreciated.  

I don’t remember her name. But she created for me, what we all should choose to be creating for our customers whenever they give us the opportunity to do so: A Moment of Magic.  

A moment of truth, according to SAS Airline’s Jan Carlzon, is anytime a customer has the opportunity to make a judgment about the quality of service you are delivering. A Moment of Magic according to me, is any moment of truth you turn into a WOW for a customer. M.O.M. = WOW!

How many moments of truth could YOU turn into Moments of Magic every day? You can create magic by adding a more enthusiasm, more energy, more attention, more kindness, by giving a little something extra, telling someone sincerely that you appreciate them and their business and sometimes just by smiling and saying “Thanks for stopping in to see us.” Can you create a little Customer Happiness with a gesture of kindness?

When you leave work ask yourself “How much MAGIC did I create today?” We all have the power to change someone’s world.

Posted by: joannabrandi | October 17, 2011

In Good Hands

When it comes to good service I guess I’m lucky. I actually expect to see some good service out there in the world, and I often do. We get what we focus on and perhaps I look a little harder than most to see it.

It was really easy to spot recently on a Delta flight I took from Minneapolis, MN to Pasco, WA. It was after 10PM when I boarded my flight and I was tired. I didn’t even look up when the flight attendant read her spiel –  rather dispassionately. Then I heard another voice and looked up to see who was talking.

First Officer Paul Wright, standing in the galley where we could all see him, greeted us to the flight and then announced that tonight he’d be doing the flying (but that if we didn’t like the bumps, the loop-de-loop or the landing we could blame the captain.)

He went on to say that if we did like things applause was appreciated (but please hold the standing ovation until after the seatbelt signs were turned off.) He got a weak laugh from the tired audience. His beaming smile lit up the galley as his genuine caring as he gave us the rest of the details and then invited us to enjoy 2 hours and 50 minutes of “aviation bliss.”

I’ll admit there was a moment where I said to myself “Oh Brother” but by the time he finished speaking to us and looking out over the people in his care that night, I’d come to appreciate his effort and intention, which I could certainly feel.

The same smiling face was there saying “Thank You” as we deplaned almost three hours later.

The next morning while having breakfast in my hotel I ran into Paul and asked him to talk to me a little. I wanted to know what made him different and what motivated him to come out and talk to people rather than using the PA system.

Paul’s thought about this a lot. He shared that when you are the other side of the door, in the cockpit, it’s easy to forget the people in the cabin. He likes to see the faces of the people he is responsible for flying. He loves talking to them – they all have a story. Perhaps they are traveling to a daughter’s wedding, or off to see their grandkids or on their way to a funeral. He wants to keep them in mind as he is flying.

As for customers who are challenging? You don’t know their “backstory” he says. Perhaps someone they loved just died or something else has happened in their lives that is influencing their behavior in a negative way. We can’t know what’s happened in their lives up until that point. What we can do is be kind and fix what we can fix for them.

Paul’s worked for a number of airlines and picked up the core of his philosophy from Midwest Airlines’ (Remember them? Big comfy seats and fresh backed chocolate chip cookies) culture. The mentality of doing the welcome aboard in the galley came from what he learned there.

He’s adopted it as his own. It’s his way of taking responsibility and ownership and makes his flying very personal. His intention is to project a calm confidence to his passengers, and help them feel good about their flight in his hands. His warm smile helps him connect. Paul loves his job and it shows. His early training stuck and the positive reinforcement he gets from happy customers helps it live on. Bravo Paul! You stand out in a field where great experiences are often difficult to find.

Do you stand out in your field? What is your intention? What will take ownership for in your job? How will you make your customers feel good about your ability to “fly them home” in good hands? What qualities do you project to your customers?

Thanks Paul, for making my flight safe, and memorable because of your personal touch.

Posted by: joannabrandi | September 21, 2011

I love my…

I love my travel agent Susan. I love my hairdresser Tonja. I love my IPOD. I love my wish list and one click ordering on Amazon.

Seems like a lot of other people love the convenience of Amazon too. It was just rated #1 – the top brand in a list of 20 brands rated by Brand Keys.

I had fun scrolling through the list and trying to name the one or two things that made each brand special to its customers. Take a look at the top 20 Brands and challenge your team to come up with the things that they think gives each brand its edge.  It’s a great way to get every body thinking and the list features names we all know (and some of us love.)

 

Posted by: joannabrandi | September 11, 2011

9-11-11: A Time to Remember and Recommit

10 Years ago at this time I was in shock. I was in Miami, and had just finished a very successful early morning (7AM) workshop with a banking client and was headed up to the CEOs office for a debrief and discussion of the series of workshops we had created to get people excited about creating a deeper sense of loyalty with their customers.

On the way up to his office there was a commotion in the hallway and people pulled us into a break room with a TV and there we watched live as the second plane hit.

I was born and raised and lived more than half my life in NY. I’m a New Yorker. The sense of shock, of disbelief, of anger, of despair – all at the same moment – made my knees shake and my hand cover my mouth tightly as I watched helplessly as the terror of the morning unfolded.

Where were my family, my friends, my clients?

The terror spread far from ground zero into the hearts of people all over the world who were somehow connected to someone there or someone connected to someone there.

Good people, people who cared, regular people, people who were just going to work that day, or flying home to see friends, good people died that day – and so did a part of all of us.

The shock remained for me for a long time. The first time I remember even a little bit of hope was the night of the concert for New York City. It was broadcast on all stations with all kinds of artists coming together and millions of people were watching and listening and singing along to music of peace and love.

I was filled with hope that this tragedy had broken open the hearts of so many people that we would be transformed by the massive amount of heart energy released and that the world would be a better place because of it.

And I suppose that was true for the evening, and perhaps even in the next days and even for the next weeks as blood donations poured in and stranger reached out to stranger to help. And then the edict came down from on high: Go Shopping. Let’s get back to normal.

As if we ever could.

And so rather than the deep exploration into the hearts broken open and the riches that might lie there, we put our hands into our pockets and grabbed for our wallets and got some temporary solace in the newest shiny thing.

Too bad. We missed an opportunity.

Perhaps this decade we’re better prepared to take advantage of that opportunity. For it is becoming clear that without unity, without understanding and compassion, without a unified vision, we will lose our American dream and the only ones to blame will be ourselves.

What will you do to foster the open hearted understanding that will move us forward? What will you do to add to the positive energy on this planet – or in you workplace and your life?

I am recommitting my focus to listen deeper, to transform judgment into understanding, and fear into faith. I am recommitting myself to cleaning up my language and using the positive frame five times more than the negative one, to asking myself empowering and useful questions instead of berating myself for being human. I am stepping up in my life to spend more time in my heart and less in my head.

Ten years ago it took a week before I could get any thoughts at all on paper. And then I remembered that I had an obligation to share what I could, and I did. While I am not going to revisit the raw feelings expressed in the piece I wrote then, I am going to revisit the suggestions I made to get past the shock and the grief. As I read them today, I feel they are just as relevant and just as important to master so we can cope with the craziness of this world we live in now.

Here are the suggestions I offered 10 years ago:

Today, I’d like to offer a few suggestions for making some changes in your life to affirm good, to affirm peace, to affirm your determination to use the pain and the anger and the outrage to fuel a new and better vision for this planet.

May these suggestions help you whenever you need them; I invite you to consciously use them to disengage from despair, rage and negativity, and to keep up your strength and help you tap into hope, calm and purpose.

1.  Pray and/or meditate. In whatever form you do it, do it more often. Calm yourself, connect with your higher power (or Divine Source or God or ancestors or Great Spirit…), remember you are not alone and pray. Pray in the morning, pray at night. Pray in the shower, while walking your dog or waiting to have your teeth cleaned. Pray for peace. Pray for relief of pain. Pray for courage. Pray for divine guidance, for yourself and for our leaders. Pray for healing of your wounds, and those of others and the Earth. Pray in your every thought, word and action for compassion and love to fill the gaping hole created whenever our hearts are broken.

2.  Take good care of yourself in mind, body and emotions. Be gentle with yourself. Healing takes time. Care for yourself with loving kindness. Allow yourself to grieve. Be aware that shock resulting from catastrophes brings up unfinished grieving from past losses. Though you may have obligations to attend to while caring for yourself, it can help to make sure your schedule includes extreme self-care and spending time with loved ones and friends.

3.  Go to your own “heart space” often. Frequently throughout the day, allow yourself to vividly recall situations that gave you joy and filled your heart with love. For example, envision a close moment with a loved one, the celebration of a child’s birthday, an intimate and loving dinner with a friend. Relive the moment really feeling the joy and love you felt then. When I do this I close my eyes and put my hands over my heart to keep my focus. Take a few deep, deep breaths and fill your body with love flowing from your heart. Follow Deepak Chopra’s advice and actually envision your heart smiling. Heart-smiles can’t help but drift to our lips; this really works! Practice staying in that space and revisit it as often as necessary.

4.  Use positive language. Language structures our reality. Listen to your own language and become aware of when you’re using words like “hate” or war-like language such as, “front lines, combat, etc.” Become aware of when you cross the line into spreading gossip or rumors. Start to choose your words more carefully and to speak with greater integrity and kindness. Use the power of your words to spread truth, love, caring and compassion.

5.  Ask yourself empowering questions. In every difficult situation you encounter, ask yourself, “Where is the good in this moment?” If none is apparent, ask, “Where can I create some good and contribute to a silver lining?” This can be challenging, but keep at it. Think of how people around the world came together as a global community after 9/11. Look at the outpouring of love and compassion that even children provide after natural disasters as they arrange fundraisers, book and clothing drives, and other healing, rebuilding activities. Inspiration for creating goodness is all around us.

6.  Be a hero. Remember the vast numbers of everyday people who became heroes on 9/11 and in the wake of that day? These brave, self-sacrificing folks never take credit for their heroics; instead they say things like, “I did what anyone else would have done.” Look around at what needs to be done around you, be the hero and DO it now, from your heart, for your soul.

7.  Ponder the deeper questions in life. Think less about what you want to GET or HAVE and more about WHO you intend to BE. Ask yourself what your higher purpose is. Ask how you can make this a more caring world. Ask how you can make a difference in the triumph of love over fear and hate. Then think about everyday acts you can DO in alignment with who you want to be. Can you facilitate peace in an ongoing family issue? Act locally to prevent violence and spread good? Help out a friend who’s having a tough time?

8.  Remember that miracles happen every day. Look for and focus on miracles every day, no matter how small they are. Build a body of evidence that they exist by recording all the miracles and blessings you experience each day in a journal you keep near your bed; it’s a comforting way to end any day. Feel deeply grateful for the miracles you experience. Einstein said “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Choose miracles.

9.  Take the high road. Rise above hatred, rise above intolerance, rise above anger, rage, petty differences, divisive actions and language. Rise above that which separates us and focus on that which connects us. Search for common ground and ways to create common good.

10.  Remember to tend to our children. After a tragedy make time to soothe their fears, dry their tears, give them opportunities to ask questions and talk, or to just play as children do to escape from stress for awhile. By example and through guidance, teach them well how they can be empowered to create peace, understanding and compassion.

11.  Love one another. “The Golden Rule” is one of humankind’s oldest directives. Put it into action by looking into the eyes of a stranger not with fear, but with love and respect. Be aware of the tenderness of every human being, the tenuousness of life. Reach out to others with comfort and understanding. Hug people when they need it. Remember we really all are one.

12.  Be open to receive all the good available to and directed toward you. Somewhere someone is praying for you or sending good energy your way. Whether it’s the everlasting vibration of prayers spoken by your ancestors at your birth, a chant for humankind from monks nestled on a lush plot of land in Europe, the intentions of a religious leader or of an old friend, someone is sending you love and light. In the physical world, someone is getting ready to open a door for you, ask you a question that will change your life for the better, or share good news. Be open to the abundant goodness that continues to exist even in the midst of tragedy. With that in mind…

…wherever your mind and heart are on this day, wherever you may be going forward from here, I wish you many blessings.
Peace,
JoAnna Brandi

PS  -Every one of these suggestions will work to help you build a life based on positivity not negativity. When we focus on what’s right and when we look for the good and things to acknowledge and celebrate, people feel valued. They feel good and they spread positive emotion (which makes us smarter, healthier and more creative.)

My Positive Leaders know this. They practice building positivity every day in most every interaction. I congratulate and acknowledge all of you who are out there spreading positivity in this sometimes negative world – Bravo!

Posted by: joannabrandi | August 9, 2011

Happiness Happens

All day yesterday I had been meaning to write this post, but one thing after another kept me from it.  I wanted to call it “Oh Happy Day” but thought better of it after I saw the news last night.

The news hasn’t been very good, in fact it’s downright bad.

So how do I have the nerve to talk about happiness?

Because learning how to create it and sustain it (and all the other positive emotions) can help to increase productivity, creativity, health and well-being at work and at home.

In fact, having the ability to look at the bad things that are happening with a mind that accepts it yet doesn’t focus on it or get attached to it, gives us perspective and the ability to ask the question, “What’s possible here?”

August is Happiness Happens month according to the people at the Secret Society of Happy People and we should be celebrating.

I got excited when I found out about this event last week. It’s the perfect time to announce the completion of our new Return On Happiness  website and our new Positivity Practices blog.  (Go there and get a special report)

We are committed to spreading the word world wide about the power of positivity and the economic advantages of the creation of more “Positive Capacity” at work.

So today I will suggest that you spend just a little time with the people at the Secret Society of Happy People 

Enjoy the suggestions they have on celebrating Happiness Happens month – take charge of your own world – take charge of your own economy and refuse to buy into the fear that is being fanned like a fire right now.

Yes, I will agree it does seem like the world is burning and we are being challenged like never before AND what we can control is our response to it and our way of looking for the best and the bright and spreading positivity wherever we have the power to do so.

Happiness happens when you cause it to. Happiness is contagious – it’s the perfect time to spread it around. Do it.

Posted by: joannabrandi | August 4, 2011

A Job is What You Make of It

I was sitting on the beach in NY last week happily snacking on some healthy junk food from Trader Joes. I turned to Suzanne and began my lament. “I so wish there were Trader Joes in FL where I live, every time I come here or go to CA to visit my daughter I go away with “Trader Joe envy.”

“I know she said, and you’re not the only one. When I was working there the number one complaint we got was that we didn’t have a store in FL and when the “snowbirds” flew south for the winter they were upset that they couldn’t buy their favorite foods.”

It’s a popular store. She went on to tell me that in the Manhattan stores it’s so busy that a person, for a part of their shift, stands at the end of line with a sign saying “The end of the line is HERE.”

“Wow,” I commented, “Sounds like a boring job to me.”

“That job is totally what you make it – just like any job,” she said, sounding a bit disappointed that such an unenlightened thought has come out of my mouth.

“Of course, of course.” (I must have been having a d’uh moment.)

Suzanne, a casting director recently relocated in NY, took a job at Traders while she was getting reoriented there and loved it.

“That job at the end of the line can be so much fun!  You get to visit with and talk to the customers – who are happy to be there and always comment how nice it is that everybody that works there is happy to be there. Customers are always asking, ‘How do you do that?’”

I asked her what she thought it was. What did they do right?

“They hire right. They want you to be outgoing and like people.” It seems that one of the main reasons that the climate at Trader Joes is so “friendly”. They hire people who already are.

Southwest Airlines has the same philosophy about hiring people who like people. Attitude first. Skill second.

How many of us forget that?

Posted by: joannabrandi | July 19, 2011

Mango Madness

It’s mango season in Florida. It’s been going on a few weeks and even every little corner convenience store has a bin with fresh, local and juicy mangos. Yum.

That’s probably why I was inspired to order the snapper with mango salsa a week ago when I went out to dinner with my friend Susan.

We hadn’t visited in a while and talked up a storm. The food became only a backdrop to the conversation, which is most likely why, when the server came over to ask about our meals, we commented “fine” and rushed back to finish the thought or the sentence.

It wasn’t until the evening was over, and I was taking home the half of my meal that I didn’t eat that I realized that the meal was a little less than “fine”. When I got home I opened the container and I immediately identified what it was. Here in the middle of juicy ripe mango season in Florida, my fish was covered with underripe, evenly cut little squares of mango that probably came out of a freezer bag and not off a tree.

It really made me think.

Sure, the restaurant probably ran more efficiently by using the precut and largely flavorless and pale mangos. Sure, it was probably a more cost effective way to manage the budget so food prices didn’t fluctuate with the season BUT was it the best thing for the customer?

Not this one.

It actually made me mad that with all the fresh, local and delicious fruit around, I was insulted with the industrial version of mango instead of the better choice.

It also made me wonder.

How many times do you make the same choice of your convenience over the customer’s delight? How many times could you be doing something – a little outside of the normal process perhaps – that would provide a juicier, fresher and more delicious experience for your customer?

Just askin’.

 

Posted by: joannabrandi | May 9, 2011

Happy Hour At Your Place

I’m sitting at the beach and looking up to a clear blue sky. A small plane passes pulling a banner advertising a local bar that has happy hour every day.

I wonder.

Do you?

Well maybe not even a whole hour, and maybe it’s not everyday (curmudgeons rejoice!).

But what if once a week there was a happy hour at your place? Can you take an hour – or even a half – when you get together as a team and talk about the things that happened that very week that made you feel proud, happy, inspired, elevated or appreciated?

Imagine taking time to celebrate customers, celebrate each other, celebrate and acknowledge milestones completed, ideas put into action.

I keep a journal on my desk – a nice black leather bound book given to me by Winning Workplaces when I spoke there last – and I keep track of the things that matter to me. I keep track of the things that I complete, delete, create and the things I do each week that feed my soul (soul food). If I don’t stop and acknowledge myself, I move too fast through my weeks and think I’m not doing enough. I’ve learned that I have to pat myself on the back.

Positive leadership practices matter whether you are leading a customer service department, a company or a life.

Happy hour? You bet. Find a way to do it every week – it ends the week on an up note and sets the stage for the next. Want to create more positive experiences for your customers? Start creating more positivity at your place.

Be well, stay happy!

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