Public Speaking: Achievement Unlocked

Today marks a milestone for me.

On behalf of the Canterbury Development Corporation, I presented a 3 hour SEO workshop to a group of small to medium business owners based in Christchurch. Nothing too unusual about that, I’ve run workshops before and have presented at conferences and seminars quite a few times over the years.

But what made today different was that it was the very first time I can remember NOT being nervous prior to the event.

Let me explain. I HATE public speaking. Ok, so most people hate it. But the idea of speaking in public makes me sweaty palms anxious and physically ill.  My legs wobble while I’m up on stage, I develop a deer-in-the-headlights stare and I tend to mumble or speak too fast in the hope that the whole ordeal will be over faster. Consequently, I’m not very good at it. Think Bridget Jones without the amusing vocabulary.

But I continue to accept speaking opportunities and MAKE myself go through it. Why? Because I don’t like things that scare me and I want to conquer the fear. I’ve had other people tell me that the more you speak in public, the better you get and the less it intimidates you, so I’ve followed their advice and keep saying YES to situations requiring me to address an audience.

Today, that persistence seems to have paid off. It’s true I was a little jittery yesterday as it dawned on me I would be speaking in front of an audience in a few hours, but that initial fear lasted about 20 minutes. I slept well last night and today, I woke up feeling great. A gym class in the morning got my adrenalin flowing and by the time 1pm rolled around I was feeling confident and, (for the very first time), actually excited about the idea of getting up in front of an audience. I kept waiting for the butterflies to announce themselves in my stomach but they never came!

I spoke more confidently than ever before, had fun with the attendees and enjoyed myself from start to finish. It helped that I had prepared really well, made my slides interesting and interactive, plus I had a very responsive audience. I’m sure all these things contributed, but after 10 years of public speaking terror,  today felt like a huge personal milestone and I’m very proud to have passed it.

Now, if I could just conquer my fear of clowns.

Share this post with others

Wishing you a very jolly Xmas and see you in 2010

Well, that wraps up Ask Kalena for 2009.

It’s been quite a watershed year for us and if you’re a regular subscriber, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to every single one of you for sharing the ride.

I’d also like to thank my loyal guest bloggers Andy, Saurav and Peter, as well as my hard-working Virtual Assistant Sarah for their dedication this year.

I hope you all have a safe and memorable Xmas, a kickass New Year’s Eve and remember to find some time to reward yourself for your hard work throughout the year.

As for me, it’s time to unplug from the Internet and shut the laptop down to spend some quality time IRL with family and friends.

Catch you in 2010!

Share this post with others

Have been skipping blog duty

Just a quick post to say sorry for the lack of content on the blog over the past week or so, but I’ve been skipping school.

I’ve been indulging in a bit of rest and recreation with the family, touring around New Zealand after speaking at Search Engine Bootcamp in Auckland.

Apart from a few nights in Auckland, we went sight-seeing in rainy Wellington (where I introduced my son to the wonders of Te Papa), hiking the hills in Motueka, shell-collecting in Golden Bay, wine-tasting in Blenheim and soaking in Hanmer Springs where we had the bizarre and delightful experience of sitting in the hot thermal pools while it snowed on our heads!

See the picture of the pools included in this post.

Anyway, I’ve got lots of new blog material to share, a wrap of  Search Engine Bootcamp and a few Q and A’s coming up this week, so stay tuned.

Share this post with others

Battle of the Silly Pub Names

You know how sometimes you have a funny conversation with someone and it turns into a running gag every time you see them? Yep I love those too.

Because it’s the middle of the week and because we’ve had enough exciting search engine news in the past few days, I thought I’d break with tradition on the blog and share one of those funny conversations with you instead.

Warning: If you’re squeamish about naughty words, or just a prude in general, look away NOW.

So the other day my husband Jerry and I were reminiscing about a pub we used to go to in the nearby port town of Lyttelton called the Rat and Roach. It used to serve monster hamburgers which were delicious, but it ended up closing down, no doubt due to the poorly thought out name of the place.

That conversation led to us having a verbal competition to see who could come up with the silliest pub name, real or imaginary. It’s an ongoing battle but here’s the score so far:

ME: The Rat and Roach (real)

HIM: The Ox and Pickle (imaginary)

ME: The Spank and Fiddle (imaginary)

HIM: The Cock and Balls (imaginary)

ME: Ladies Pockets (imaginary)

ME: The Pickit and Hives (imaginary)

HIM: The Bendover and Wallop (imaginary)

ME: The Earl of Hurl (imaginary)

ME: Her Majesty’s Nipple (imaginary)

As you can see, I’m well in the lead with those last few, but I’ll add more as they roll in.

To help the cause, I took the competition onto Twitter to see what silly pub names other people may have come across. It even spawned it’s own hashtag #sillypubnames

It wasn’t long before we had some hilarious additions:

@Teifion: The Rat and Carrot (imaginary)

@netmeg: The Jox Trap (real – gay bar in Detroit)

@seoidiot: Fanny By Gaslight (real – I kid you not, in UK)

@Teifion: The Pig and Marmalade (imaginary)

@coplandmj: The Office (real – Brighton UK)

@barrysaunders: The Lick Her Store (real – bottle shop in Sydney)

@ninefish: The Slug and Lettuce (real – Worcester UK)

@Teifion: The Pipe and Cucumber (imaginary)

@ChelleC79: The Lion and Pineapple (real)

@ninefish: The Dog and Trumpet (real – Coventry UK)

But as @seoidiot pointed out in one of his tweets, when it comes to silly pub names that actually exist, the UK wins out every time.

Check out these classics featured in an article called The UK’s Weirdest Pub Names :

  • The Spread Eagle (Wiltshire)
  • The Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn (Stalybridge)
  • The Happy Medium (Chicester)

and the gold medal goes to:

  • The Fawcett Inn (Hampshire – pictured) – say it aloud!

Hope you enjoyed these.

Come across any silly pub names of your own? Join the fun and please add them in the comments or tweet them using the #sillypubnames hashtag.

Share this post with others

How to Win Customers and Piss People Off (a Tale of Customer Service)

Yesterday I experienced the entire spectrum of customer service from FAIL right through to WIN and it got me thinking – how many companies really *get* customer service?

This story starts with a tweet. I was logged into Twitter yesterday when saw a tweet from @BestBlooms for free chocolates with a beautiful orchid bouquet with a unique New Zealand kete wrap. My husband is always buying me flowers and I had been wanting to buy him some in return, but had never seen any style that wasn’t too girly. When I saw the orchid wrap, I thought it was quite a masculine yet beautiful – perfect! So I placed the order with @BestBlooms and they promised to deliver it that afternoon.

A short time later, I received a call from them. It turned out that @BestBlooms are located in Auckland on the North Island of New Zealand, while I am in Christchurch on the South Island. So they would be arranging the bouquet and delivery via a Christchurch-based florist. Not a problem. The bouquet arrived late that afternoon via a florist who drove an hour each way just to get it here.

My husband was delighted and the bouquet was very nice and came with 2 liquor chocolates as promised. BUT it didn’t have the kete wrap that was in the photo and convinced me to buy it in the first place. Here’s a picture of the bouquet that arrived (click on it for a larger view):

Orchid wrap BEFORE

Slightly disappointed and because they had asked for feedback, I got in touch with @BestBlooms to let them know I received the bouquet but it wasn’t quite what I expected. Immediately, they asked how they could make it up to me. I responded that I didn’t know, perhaps a discount on my next order or something. They replied via DM:

“Hi – leave it with me – i will make it right. thank you for your order – we do really appreciate yr business and hate it when not right!

and I forgot all about it.

Today, there was a knock at the door and the same florist who drove an hour to my house yesterday was back again today, only this time she was holding a much larger bunch of orchids, with a larger box of chocolates, in the elusive kete wrap! Here’s a picture (click on it for a larger view):

Orchid wrap AFTER

The card said:

“To Gerald and Kalena, This was how it was supposed to look! Our mistake. Sincere apologies, Best Blooms”

I was absolutely blown away. This was gold class customer service! They had managed to turn a customer’s disappointment into delight and if ever anyone in my family or circle of friends needs flowers, who do you think I’m going to recommend? Yep, @BestBlooms. This post will also likely give them positive exposure as well. When I got in touch to thank them, they replied:

“Thank you and you are more than welcome. Guaranteed service is what we promise and thats not what we delivered! Had to be fixed!”

Compare this with another customer service experience on the same day. Yesterday morning, a friend of mine @kiwidvr showed me an email exchange she was having with the manager of a local theatre following a performance of Slava’s Snow Show she had taken her family to on the weekend. They had been seated in the gallery area of the Isaac Theatre Royal and could only see half of the performance due to the location of their seats, much of the action taking place at the front of the stage (which they couldn’t see) and people standing up or lifting their kids up in front of them.

Apparently their tickets in the gallery were inferior to the regular tickets because they booked late, but nobody at Ticketek had told them this upon booking. Having paid $150 for the tickets, my friend was disappointed enough to contact the theatre and complain. What she didn’t expect was the rude and arrogant response she received from the General Manager of the Isaac Theatre. Let’s call him Mr Cox.

Here are some extracts from his email:

“…it was your choice to opt for the cheaper tickets which based on current ticket prices for international shows were extremely well priced and accessible for all ages.”

“We have had no other complaints of this nature… the joy that this show is bringing to is clear to see on the patrons’ faces as they leave the Theatre each night.”

“If there was case for refund we would have considered it. Most times if we believe there are real concerns we’d invite patrons back at our cost. In this case though there isn’t a case for either.”

“I have seated myself in every level, on all sides of the theatre and experienced every show I possibly can here at the ITR. I do know though that unfortunately, as much as we’d love to, we can’t please everyone all the time, its the nature of the business.”

I couldn’t believe that this representative of the company chose not only to completely ignore my friend’s concerns, but to dismiss them as unimportant and make an assumption that SHE was the one with the problem. He also assumed that she wanted a refund when all she wanted was an apology.

I was amazed at the arrogance of the guy. He had a chance to turn an unhappy customer into a grateful one and he chose instead to compound the situation with a condescending and rude response. It was customer service FAIL of the worst kind. Do you think that theatre will be losing business over this? You betcha. My friend and I will be telling everyone we know about it and avoiding any shows at the Isaac Theatre in the future.

Having just experienced a customer service WIN on the same day, the comparison was black and white. So the question is – if you’re in business, how good is YOUR customer service? Is it more likely to win customers or piss people off?

Please share your comments below:

[Added – it was noted in the comments that I didn’t give the South Island florist any link love. Fair point! The wonderful South Island florist who made all those trips out here was Hornby Florist. Hats off to you as well.]

Share this post with others