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The Paradox Of Shrunken Comfort Zones



Get Out Of Your Comfort ZoneWe Like Comfort.

Comfort is safe. Comfort makes us smile and feel happy.  We think our Comfort Zone is safe.  A good place.

We Don’t Like Change.

“I used to have a comfort zone where I knew I wouldn’t fail. The same four walls and busywork were really more like jail. ”  ~My Comfort Zone

Change introduces us to the unfamiliar.  Unfamiliar stuff  makes us uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable makes us frown and feel crappy.  We don’t want to feel crappy, we avoid change and embrace the comfortable familiar.

While we languish in the faux-safety and goodness of our familiar Comfort Zones, by the hour, change roils and swirls around us.  Attitudes, beliefs and politics are changing.  Behaviors, expectations and values are changing.   Knowledge, opportunities and possibilities are changing. Conversations are changing. Distribution is changing.  Technologies, tools, methods and competition is changing.

When things around us change and we don’t, things previously done comfortably don’t generate enough of what we need to be comfortable. Ut-Oh.  Our Comfort Zone begins to shrink.  Shrunken Comfort Zones become uncomfortable.  Paradoxically, the very things that made us comfortable, begin to make us uncomfortable, unhappy, frowny and feeling crappy.  Avoiding change actually shrinks our Comfort Zone.

The Shrunken Comfort Zone Paradox

“How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress” ~Niels Bohr

The only way to expand our Comfort Zone is to shove ourselves uncomfortably outside our Comfort Zone, embracing and engaging in the very change that makes us uncomfortable.  I know.  It sucks.  But there you have it. Now that we have met our Comfort Zone Paradox, what should we do?  How do we progress?

The “Fail Faster To Succeed Sooner” Solution

“No, no, you’re not thinking; you’re just being logical.” ~Niels Bohr

The question is, how do we progress?

First reaction, “Do Something”.  [That is correct.]

Second reaction, “Let me think about it.  Let’s be logical.  Let’s think about it some more. Let me research it.  Let me get ready to get ready, to get ready, to get ready….”  [This is incorrect.  This is Creative Avoidance. Avoid Creative Avoidance like the Swine Flu or Herpes, or the bi-polar ex. ]

Russell Shaw has a great post titled, “The Secret To Becoming A Top Listing Agent”  Russell sums it like this, “The secret to becoming a top listing agent?  First become a really crappy listing agent.  Become a really crappy one, then a bit less crappy, and so on.  That is the actual path.  There is no substitute for “stage time”.  None.  Fail.  Fail more and go right on doing it.”

David Kelly, CEO of IDEO said it like this, “Fail faster to succeed sooner.”

David and Russell are both right.  Are we ready to get started?  If not, why not?  What will happen if we don’t?  We are surrounded by cataclysmic generational change, what happens if we don’t?

Two Master Keys That Unlock Success

1.  Untended Comfort Zones shrink.  Paradoxically, doing uncomfortable things expands a Comfort Zone. Therefore, in thought, deed and action, we must embrace and engage in change.

2.  Don’t over think it.  Don’t employ Creative Avoidance.  Instead, Ready, Fire, Aim.  Do it now.  Do it crappy, fail faster, learn faster, do it less crappy, do it faster, learn, do it better, do it faster, succeed, grow your Comfort Zone, get uncomfortable, change, do it crappy, do it faster….Rinse, Lather, Repeat.

If It Was Easy, Everyone Could Do It

You can’t have winners without losers. Yin-Yang.  Pain and Pleasure.  Happy and Sad.  Passion and Apathy. Rich and Poor.  Smart and Stupid.  Surprised and Disappointed. Etc.

Whata we gonna do?

Photo Credit:  Get Out of Your Comfort Zone by ~slickwilly5891 on deviantART


Thanks for reading:-)

Business Is Change

Ken Brand - Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors. I’ve proudly worn a Realtor tattoo for over 10,957+ days, practicing our craft in San Diego, Austin, Aspen and now, The Woodlands, TX. As a life long learner, I’ve studied, read, written, taught, observed and participated in spectacular face plant failures and giddy inducing triumphs. I invite you to read my blog posts here at Agent Genius and On the lighter side, you can follow my folly on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, you’re always to welcome to take the shortcut and call: 832-797-1779.

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  1. Joe Loomer

    June 1, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Excellent Ken. Sometimes we get mired in the day-to-day and forget to get out there and fail some more. Years ago I’d take every listing even if the Seller and I were tens of thousands away on what the list price should be. Because I failed to sell them, I don’t take them any more.
    “Doc, it hurts when I go like this”
    “Don’t go like that.”

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  2. Lani Rosales

    June 1, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Ah, I SEE! The secret to business success is that there is no secret…

  3. Brandie Young

    June 1, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Hi Ken,
    I like to think that’s why *some of us* have big butts … it doesn’t hurt so much when we fall flat on ’em!

  4. Ken Brand

    June 5, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Joe – No kidding right. If it stings, STOP. Classic.

    Lani – Yahtzee, no real secrets. Like Yoda said, ‘No try.” “Do”…or something like that.

    Brandie – I like big butts and I cannot lie….. No harm in falling as long as we get up right? Cheers.

  5. Mark Eckenrode

    June 5, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    @ken: i sort of follow the “sink or swim” idea of getting out of the comfort zone. just jump in, if you want it bad enough you’ll figure it out. however, i still catch myself sticking my toe into the water to test the temperature sometimes 😉

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Business Marketing

No-reply emails don’t help customers, they’ve run their course

(MARKETING) No-reply emails may serve a company well, but the customers can become frustrated with the loss of a quick and easy way to get help.



no-reply mail boxes

Let me tell you a modern-day horror story.

You finally decide to purchase the item that’s been sitting in your cart all week, but when you receive your confirmation email you realize there’s a mistake on the order. Maybe you ordered the wrong size item, maybe your old address is listed as the shipping location, or maybe you just have buyer’s remorse. Either way, you’ve got to contact customer service.

Your next mission is to find contact information or a support line where you can get the issue resolved. You scroll to the bottom of the email and look around for a place to contact the company, but all you find is some copyright junk and an unsubscribe option. Tempting, but it won’t solve your problem. Your last hope is to reply to the confirmation email, so you hit that trusty reply arrow and…nothing. It’s a no-reply email. Cue the high-pitched screams.

Customers should not have to sort through your website and emails with a microscope to find contact information or a customer service line. With high customer expectations and fierce ecommerce competition, business owners can’t afford to use no-reply emails anymore.

Intended or not, no-reply emails send your customer the message that you really don’t want to hear from them. In an age when you can DM major airlines on Twitter and expect a response, this is just not going to fly anymore.

Fixing this issue doesn’t need to be a huge burden on your company. A simple solution is to create a persona for your email marketing or customer service emails, it could be member of your team or even a company mascot. Rather than using you can use and make that email a place where your email list can respond to questions and communicate concerns. Remember, the whole point of email marketing is to create a conversation with your customers.

Another great strategy for avoiding a million customer service emails where you don’t want them? Include customer service contact info in your emails. Place a thoughtful message near the bottom of your template letting people know where they can go if they’re having an issue with the product or service. This simple change will save you, your customers, and your team so much time in the long-run.

Your goal as a business owner is to build a trusting relationship between you and your customers, so leave the no reply emails behind. They’re annoying and they might even get you marked as spam.

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Business Marketing

Influencer marketing isn’t new, it’s actually centuries old

(MARKETING) You may roll your eyes at sexy strangers hawking snake oil on social media, but influencer marketing is nothing new…



Influencer marketing people taking video on a smart phone to record dances.

Influencer marketing is now one of those buzzword phrases that you can’t go a few days without hearing. In fact, it’s become such a popular term that it was officially added to the English Dictionary in 2019.

While this is a recent change, the concept of an influencer is nothing new. For years, people have looked to friends and family (as well as high-profile people like celebrities) to be influenced (intentionally or unintentionally) about what to buy, what to do, and where to go.

Social Media Today notes that influencers date back centuries.

One of the first “influencer” collaborations dates back to 1760, when a potter by the name Wedgwood made a tea set for the Queen of England,” writes Brooks. “Since the monarchy were the influencers of their time, his forward-thinking decision to market his brand as Royal-approved afforded it the luxury status the brand still enjoys today”

Now, influencers are known as people blowing up your Instagram feed with recommendations of what to wear and stomach flattening teas to buy. Influencers are basically anyone who has the ability to cultivate a following and, from there, give advice on how followers should spend their money.

After the 1760 tea set influencer, influencers were found in the forms of fashion icons (like Coco Chanel in the 1920s, and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), celebrity endorsements (for example, all of the money Nike made in the ‘80s after signing Michael Jordan to be their spokesperson – I wonder if Hanes is raking in the same bucks as Nike…), TV stars endorsing products (like Jennifer Aniston when she was at the height of “The Rachel” cut and became the face of L’Oreal Elvive; now she’s the face of Aveeno).

Then in the mid-2000s, blogs became a space where “everyday” people could use their voice with influence. This trend has continued and has shifted into social media, usually with a blog counterpart.

Now, blogging and influencing is an industry in and of itself with influencer marketing being a key form of comms. According to the HypeAuditor report, the influencer industry will be worth $22 billion by 2025. Where can I sign up?

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Business Marketing

The use of offline marketing can still be advantageous in a digital world

(BUSINESS) Offline marketing is usually skipped over nowadays for the sparkly, shining ‘digital’ marketing strategies, but don’t forget the roots.



offline marketing billboard

Everywhere you look, people want to talk about digital marketing. In fact, if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy in today’s business world, you’re not going to last long. But just because digital marketing is popular, don’t assume that offline marketing no longer yields value.

When used together, these strategies can produce significant returns.

“Some people will argue that traditional marketing is dead, but there are several benefits to including offline advertising in your overall marketing campaign,” sales expert Larry Myler admits. “Combining both offline and online campaigns can help boost your brand’s visibility, and help it stand out amongst competitors who may be busy flooding the digital space.”

How do you use offline marketing in a manner that’s both cost-effective and high in exposure? While your business will dictate how you should proceed, here are a few offline marketing methods that still return considerable value in today’s marketplace.

1. Yard signs

When most people think about yard signs, their minds immediately go to political signs that you see posted everywhere during campaign season. However, yard signs have a lot more utility and value beyond campaigning. They’re actually an extremely cost-effective form of offline advertising.

The great thing about yard signs is that you can print your own custom designs for just dollars and, when properly stored, they last for years. They’re also free to place, assuming you have access to property where it’s legal to advertise. This makes them a practical addition to a low-budget marketing campaign.

2. Billboards

The fact that you notice billboards when driving down an interstate or highway is a testament to the reality that other people are also being exposed to these valuable advertisements. If you’ve never considered implementing billboards into your marketing strategy, now’s a good time to think about it.

With billboard advertising, you have to be really careful with design, structure, and execution. “Considering we’re on the move when we read billboards, we don’t have a lot of time to take them in. Six seconds has been touted as the industry average for reading a billboard,” copywriter Paul Suggett explains. “So, around six words is all you should use to get the message across.”

3. Promotional giveaways

It’s the tangible nature of physical marketing that makes it so valuable. Yard signs and billboards are great, but make sure you’re also taking advantage of promotional giveaways as a way of getting something into the hands of your customers.

Promotional giveaways, no matter how simple, generally produce a healthy return on investment. They increase brand awareness and recall, while giving customers positive associations with your brand. (Who doesn’t love getting something for free?)

4. Local event sponsorships

One aspect of offline marketing businesses frequently forget about is local event sponsorships. These sponsorships are usually cost-effective and tend to offer great returns in terms of audience engagement.

Local event sponsorships can usually be found simply by checking the calendar of events in your city. Any time there’s a public event, farmer’s market, parade, sporting event, concert, or fundraiser, there’s an opportunity for you to get your name out there. Look for events where you feel like your target audience is most likely to attend.

Offline marketing is anything but dead.

If your goal is to stand out in a crowded marketplace where all your competitors are investing heavily in social media, SEO, PPC advertising, and blogging, then it’s certainly worth supplementing your existing digital strategy with traditional offline marketing methods that reach your audience at multiple touchpoints.

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