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9 Sneaky Marketing Tricks We Fall for Every Time We Shop

  By: David Griner

We all know we’re being manipulated every time we shop, but it can still be unnerving to see the true extent of mind games being played on us.

That’s why I was fascinated (and mildly traumatized) to browse through a recent Reddit thread called, “What marketing tricks do we unknowingly fall for?”

While not all the respondents are experts in pricing strategy or marketing psychology, many of them experience it on the front lines as both shoppers and retail employees. While the whole Reddit post is worth a read, we pulled a few of the more notable tactics that are as insidious as they are inescapable:

1. The Instant Markdown

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Find out how to make your own business excel while getting paid to do it.

Why wait for a holiday sale when you can find big markdowns pretty much any day of the week? Discount retailers and Amazon have made day-one markdowns so common, they’re popping up all over.

Redditor chriz2fer sums up the tactic pretty simply: “Retail price $139.99. Our price $49.99.”  

While tantalizing as a customer, all you’re really seeing with such a strategy is how far below MSRP a retailer is willing to go while still turning a profit. As we saw with popular fashion delivery service Stitch Fix recently, retailers who offer steep discounts and source products from the same wholesalers can be a risky proposition.

In an interesting response, Redditor Superraket noted that this tactic isn’t legal in all countries. “In Denmark, you can’t advertise a ‘before’ price if it hasn’t been sold for that price in your own shop for at least two weeks,” the user wrote. “If you keep selling the product as this discounted price, then this price is considered the before price if you advertise that product again.”

This pricing strategy is often called “anchoring” because it’s an extension of the negotiation tactic in which the seller tries to set the highest amount possible as the first offer so that subsequent offers will sound generous by comparison.

2. Decoy Pricing

While not citing it by name, Redditor chrisfrat summarizes this one pretty well: “If there is a small and a large size (of popcorn, let’s say) and the small is $2 and the large is $8, most people will buy the small. However, if you add a medium at $7, most people will buy the large because they say, ‘Oh, it’s only a dollar more than the medium.'”

Welcome to decoy pricing, a tactic that boosts sales of high-profit items by creating another version of the product solely to make the pricier versions seem economical by comparison.

The easiest way to spot this trick is when your barista or cashier says something like, “Do you want to bump up to the large for just 25 cents more?”

 3. The Expensive Menu Item No One Buys

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Why shell out $59 for ossobuco when the lamb shanks are only $29? Restaurant menu strategists have long used this tactic of creating overpriced items to make everything else on the menu seem rather affordable. 

Here’s how Redditor ignoramusaurus summarizes it: “Most menus in ‘nicer’ restaurants will have a really expensive option; this isn’t actually aimed at getting people to buy that product but to make people think that everything else looks cheaper.”

Clearly an extension of the decoy pricing mentioned above, this tactic is also sometimes cited by the scientifically minded as an example of “arbitrary coherence.” This term conveys that pricing is completely arbitrary, but once a price has been set, it dictates the way consumers view every other price put before them. 

4. A False Sense of Urgency

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“There are two ways this presents itself,” notes Redditor KahBhume. “Either the product is presented as to have a very limited stock, thus the customer must choose to have the product now or never. Or the product is part of a ‘limited time offer,’ again pushing the now-or-never decision. If the customer walks out the door/changes Web pages/whatever equivalent, they might notice that they don’t actually need the product to continue on with their lives, so the marketing tries to make the consumer feel like they’ll miss out on a great opportunity if they don’t buy now.”

While this tactic is timeless, its most recent incarnation can be found on travel booking sites and online retailers. Only three seats left on this flight? Fifteen other people are looking at this offer right now? Better hustle!

“I know it can’t possibly be true, but it gets me every time,” says Redditor ben7005. “I feel like if I don’t book the hotel RIGHT NOW, it’ll get snatched by someone else.”

5. The Loss Leader

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Retailers, drugstores and grocers are almost always willing to take a loss on a few items if it means getting you in the door to buy plenty of other things.

“Dropping prices on a few items to get you into the store—happens all the time in groceries and liquor,” says Redditor jelacey. “One or two things are very good prices. Those things bring you in, and while you are in you buy a few things that aren’t on sale that week. Repeat every week.”

A cornerstone of discount retailers and big box stores, this pricing strategy goes back ages. A 1987 research paper found what retailers still know today: shoppers will buy a loss leader because it’s a rational decision, but while they’re in the store, many of their other purchases will be impulse buys driven by in-store marketing and clever packaging. 

6. The Gruen Transfer

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Ever feel like you’re shopping in a maze? Whether it’s the snaking layout of a mall, the intentionally inefficient floor plan of a grocery store or just all of Ikea, what you’re navigating is sometimes called the Gruen transfer. 

Named, perhaps unfairly, for mall architect Victor Gruen, the term refers to shopping layouts that disorient visitors, slowing them down with the goal of increasing their impulse purchases. 

“It is basically when you enter a shopping centre and become confused by the layout, thus forgetting why you are there (what specific purchase you intend to make) and instead become an impulsive buyer,” says Redditor stephyro.

In his defense, Gruen was a new urbanist who believed in making life easier for pedestrians. He distanced himself from manipulative shopping designs late in his life, though the problem only got worse after his death in 1980. 

7. Odd-Even Pricing 

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It’s a pricing strategy so common, it’s become practically ubiquitous. 

“Consumers are more likely to buy something at a price ending in an odd number that is right under an even whole number,” notes Redditor MatchuTheGreat. “That is why a lot of things are priced $4.99, 4.97 or 4.95 instead of just saying it costs $5.00. Staying right under that next whole number somehow makes the product more appealing.”

This tactic hinges on consumers’ strange psychological penchant to always round prices down, meaning that a $1.99 item feels closer to $1 than $2. 

Several Redditors who’ve worked in retail also noted that odd prices help stores avoid employee theft. Pocketing an even dollar is easy, they said, but making change requires the employee to enter the transaction in the register. While probably not the main benefit, that’s certainly an added perk for the business.

8. Gift Cards

It’s hard to beat a gift card for a convenient, last-minute gift. But they’re also a pretty sneaky way to ensure a high-profit margin.

“They are marketed as a great gift idea, and to be fair they are, but they’re arguably the biggest scam in retail,” says Redditor Bisho487. “The average gift card where I work has a 35 percent return, meaning a $100 gift card will amount to an average purchase price of $135. The other thing is that they usually don’t get used for 4 to 5 months (ignoring the ones that get lost and never used), which is good for the businesses pocket and looks good on paper/in their budget.”

So while gift cards may make a handy present, remember that you’re really giving a gift to the retailer. 

9. Buy One, Get One Free

Flickr Creative Commons / Lori Goldberg

Ah yes, the BOGO, one of shopper marketing’s most powerful weapons. 

“They know people are drawn to the word free,” says Redditor TA1217, “and it makes people buy more than they intended. This allows them to move more product than usual, even though they are making a smaller margin.”

BOGOs come in all shapes and sizes, especially when you’re shopping for apparel such as shoes. Tracking down a second item “of equal or lesser value” can be a chore, often leading you to buy something more expensive than what you’d actually wanted.

This approach has also all but eliminated the half-off sale. A BOGO ensures most consumers will buy twice as much product as someone enjoying 50 percent off one item. While some retailers quietly allow you to buy one BOGO product and still enjoy the savings (thanks, Publix!), many make it mandatory for you to double up. And, come on, do you really need that much Irish Spring Body Wash?

What are some subtle marketing tricks you often find yourself falling for?

10 Problems at the Start of Innovation

By: Gijs van Wulfen

Many things can go wrong during the process of creating new products, services or business models. Let me give you ten examples from my own experience. You may recognize this as an array of all too familiar scenarios. If so, rest assured, you are not alone.

1. We´re not sure what we want.

Ideation of new products and services happens ad hoc, usually at a time when a problem arises or the turnover decreases suddenly or when a competitor enters the market unexpectedly. The first question is: “What now?” Then the creed becomes: “We’ll get Smith to create a list.” From this moment it becomes clear that any current strategic business plans no longer provide much direction for innovation. Ultimately, the lack of clear directives leads to random thought processes and frustration. Frustration because the management, further down in the innovation process, decided to concentrate on something else than what you were focusing on before.

2. We keep coming up with the same thing again and again.

When there is a need to get ideas for new products and services, a group of people are summoned together for a brainstorming session. This session usually takes place during a long and tiring day. It’s usually the same mix of colleagues, (known as the creative team) who are brought together, but nothing ever seems to materialize. That’s because when you attempt to brainstorm with close colleagues you run the risk of becoming easily irritated by the predictability that comes from knowing one another´s personalities and preferences too well. Everyone automatically makes a dash for the same goal. The result is that nothing new appears and everyone leaves the meeting disappointed. At these moments they share a feeling of failure, which no one is able to prevent.

3. Sticking to conventions.

Organizations have ample customer information at their disposal, do regular research into the market and are in daily contact with customers, but this process has become routine. Companies pay more attention to their current market share and what the competitor is doing right now. Products start to look alike because everyone is copying each other´s market successes. This in turn leads to common conventions in the market while the organization loses sight of what the customer really wants. As a result of this tunnel vision, management develops a ‘blind spot’. This makes room for a new competitor to appear unexpectedly with another kind of product, which just might meet some changing demand in the market.

4. The dominator.

Not everyone will be given a fair chance at a brainstorming session unless there is an expert facilitator. In most cases the dominating forces are either the extroverts or the highest managers. This makes things extremely difficult and tactically awkward for the manager in charge of leading the session. Especially when his or her manager has to have the final say in the brainstorming session and the rest of the group is silenced.

5. The negative spiral.

There are brainstorming sessions where everyone has his say. After all, this is the reason for the brainstorming session, isn’t it? Indeed, when you carefully listen, you can start building on the product ideas put forth by others. However, the risk involved is that ideas will be judged with immediate criticism. Remarks such as: ‘That doesn´t work for us’, ‘We´ve tried it before’, ‘We´ll never get permission to do that’, or ‘there´s no way that can be done’. In reality, these negative statements squash real creativity. A spiral of negativity kills any chance of creativity because everyone is silenced within a short period of time.

6. We´ve got hundreds of post-its. Now what do we do?

You generated ideas non-stop at a brainstorming session and covered a wall with post-its. Then, somewhere the process stalls. Where to next? Some good ideas might be amongst all those post-its, but the question is: how do we make heads or tails out of this clutter and choose a concept? I have to admit, in the days when I was still a manager, I didn’t have the answer to this either. I thought I had to find the answer on my own. I would thank all the participants for their input and take all the post-its back to my office, where they would just stare at me for weeks, until I finally threw them into the wastepaper basket. There are many places where a brainstorming session can derail.

7. Ideas remain vague.

When everything in a brainstorming session goes well and creativity is stimulated, new ideas are often expressed in beautiful, poetic sounding jargon. Be aware! This might be a self inflicted pitfall. Vague statements such as: ‘We are going to make an app whereby we can reach adolescents with trendy virtual mobile marketing’, or ‘It is going to become a very original product as its authenticity will appeal to the primitive man inside us’. Ideas at this stage can either represent everything or represent nothing at all and still have a long way to go.

8. The management pre-kill.

Ideas are screened at the beginning of the innovation pipeline. This is the often done by senior management to reset priorities during the process. Even though the goal is to innovate in a serious way, the most far-reaching ideas are the first ones removed from the equation; either because management is unable to relate or considers the idea be too far-fetched. The responsible innovators are then left wondering: “Wasn’t the intention supposed to be serious innovation?”

9. The development team re-designs.

It is great when the final decision is made to develop a new product idea. Subsequently the concept will transfer from the product inventors to the product developers – usually a multi- disciplinary team under the control of a project leader. It seems odd, but usually at this stage most of the life gets sucked out of an idea. The members of the development team have their own opinions as to the direction the product should take and they start dissecting the original idea. It can be helpful. It could be necessary to improve the idea during the development process. What often happens though is that the original product idea starts to look more like something we already had, as it was easier to produce that way. The risk is that you’re throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

10. Line management resistance.

During development, the product idea regularly has to be ‘sold’ to the line management. Should the product reach the finish line of the innovation process, line management will be the ones producing the product and putting it on the market. While you might be expecting applause for your innovation, you end up getting constant comments and questions. Questions you may not have all the answers to. It is only natural to wonder if these comments and questions are meant as genuine practical arguments or whether you have fallen victim to corporate politics or the dreaded ´not my idea´ syndrome. Resistance from line management can also be attributed to their regular workloads. When they don´t have the time to develop their own ideas, they will not be prepared to spend time on the ideas of others that are imposed on them. Hence, it can happen that a good new product idea is kept in the freezer for years due to a lack of internal support.

It is possible that you recognize the above-mentioned situations. Do not despair; you are not alone. In my coming articles I will provide solutions.

If you liked this content, please “like and share.”


Mike Lee

Click here to work with me personally!

Inspiring Person Of The Week: Rollie Peterkin — From Wall Street To MMA Fighting In Peru


It’s so rare to hear about someone that has left a secure job or lifestyle to drop everything and pursue their dreams, but Rollie Peterkin did just that when he quit his job on Wall Street to become an MMA Fighter in Peru. We got the chance to interview Rollie and learn more about his decision, his experiences and what inspires him!

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Image via Rollie Peterkin

What are you doing now?

“I am fighting mixed martial arts in Lima, Peru. I’ve been training here for the past five months. I’ve won four MMA fights (two amateur and two professional). I practice six days a week at the Pitbull Martial Arts Center under the tutelage of Ivan ‘Pitbull’ Iberico, one of Peru’s most legendary fighters.”

rollie peterkin fight
Image via Rollie Peterkin

What was your job before becoming an MMA fighter and why did you leave it?

“I was working as a corporate bond trader for the Royal Bank of Canada in New York City for three years after college. When I took a vacation to visit my friend Ben in Peru, I trained at his MMA gym. They invited me to come down to train and compete. At first, I thought this was ridiculous but the more I thought about it, I knew I had to do it. I still had the competitive drive from my collegiate wrestling career, and I wanted to get back on the mat. While I liked my job and the people I worked with, I needed a change. I felt like there was too much out there in the world to be cooped up in an office all day.”

Were you scared to leave your job? Did people tell you not to do it?

“So many people tried to talk me out of it. And they almost did at times. People made really good points about my future and the lasting impact of my decisions, but at the end of the day, I had to do it. Sometimes it scares me to think that someone might have talked me out of it. I know that if I hadn’t done this, I would have regretted it for the rest of my life. I would have always asked, ‘What If?’

The funny thing was that once I made my decision, it wasn’t at all scary leaving my job. I knew it was just something I had to do and that was it. I knew that I could always go back to that life, but I had a small window to do this. If other people didn’t understand that, it wasn’t my problem.”

Has it been worth it? And why?

“Yes, for so many reasons. For me, the most important reason is the breadth of new experiences I have had. Every day I get to try something new and different as I learn things about a different culture. Whether it’s learning a new technique or a new language, every day offers a chance to learn something entirely new. I have also made incredible friends down here through fighting. I know that whatever I do from here, I will have these friends for the rest of my life. And to me I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”

How has MMA compared to your old job?

“My parents were very concerned with my safety when I came down here. I don’t blame them, as I can see how dangerous it sounds (cage fighting in South America!). The thing is, at my old job I was extremely unhealthy. I went out late many days of the week with other traders and salespeople drinking and eating. I was chronically underslept. I had terrible stomach problems and couldn’t eat many foods or even drink coffee. I was drinking most nights of the week. And for the three years I worked, I rarely exercised. I felt terrible all the time.

Now, I rarely drink and I work out six days a week and I feel amazing. While I may be taking certain health risks in the cage, I think that on the whole I have added years to my life. Oh, and I lost 30 pounds.”

What’s the craziest thing that has happened to you in Peru?

“This is a tough question because my definition of crazy has completely shifted. The second day I was down here, my friend got pulled over for absolutely no reason and the police wouldn’t leave him alone until he paid them off. This has happened to me numerous times. They say it gets worse around Christmas time too.

Even just having a professional MMA fight would have been an absolutely crazy concept to me a year ago. Or that fact that I took my first amateur MMA fight on four hours notice after having trained for less than a month. That was a pretty terrifying experience.”

fight poster rollie

Image via Rollie Peterkin

What inspires you?

“My teammates. They train incredibly hard every day and never complain. It is something about the Peruvian psyche that is less inclined to complain about hard work. They just put their head down and get it done. Every single one of them is an inspiration to me daily. I strive to keep up.”

What is your long-term dream?

“I spent my whole life making long-term goals. First, it was get into a good college. Then it was get a good job. Part of this adventure was about letting go of the reins a little bit. People ask me how long I am going to stay in Peru and I don’t really have an answer. Indefinitely. I love fighting and want to be the best in the world. But do I want to be doing this when I am 40? Probably not. Who knows where this adventure will take me? I certainly don’t.”

Do you have any advice for others who have a dream they want to pursue?

“You can spend your whole life planning to pursue a dream, but at the end of the day, it is action that matters. The conditions will never be 100% ideal. There will always be a million reasons not to. But the more you plan, the longer you wait, and the more difficult it becomes. There is no better time than now.”

If you liked this content, please “like and share.”


Mike Lee

Click here to work with me personally!


This Firefighter Saved Her Life After a Tragic Car Accident. Now They’re Getting Married

By Liz Welch

On March 29, 2012, 18-year-old Stephanie Kaufman talked her big sister, Brandi, into going to get pizza with her and friend Savanah Pierce, also 18. The Pizza Hut was roughly five miles away from their mom’s home in Houston, Missouri, but Brandi was hesitant. She worried the car wasn’t safe – her mom had just bought it used, and Brandi had a bad feeling about it. Stephanie insisted on going and on driving, and Brandi sat in the back – one of the only reasons she survived the crash that killed both Stephanie and Savanah. The other was Dustin Blair. When the then 26-year-old volunteer firefighter responded to the accident, he had no idea the woman he saved would be the woman he’d propose to a year later. The two plan to get married May 15, 2015. They shared their story with

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Brandi: I begged Stephanie to fasten her seatbelt. Neither she nor Savanah were buckled in. Stephanie laughed at me and said I worry too much. I do. I am 11 months older than Stephanie and have always played that role. Stephanie was the free spirit; I’m the cautious one.

We crashed about three miles from Pizza Hut and hit an embankment and then a bridge. I heard gravel being kicked up, like a shower of BB gun shots pinging against the metal. The car shook wildly, then screeched. Then everything went black and silent.

Dustin: I’d just finished cleaning up a six-car pileup and thought I was done for the day when I got the call. I raced as fast as I could to the scene, on Highway 63. When I pulled in, an EMT was loading a young unconscious woman who was covered in blood into the ambulance. I did not know then that it was Stephanie. All I knew was that she was barely alive. She had been driving the car – the woman who had been in the front passenger seat had died at the scene. Their car had slid down a 15-foot embankment. Then I learned there was a third victim still trapped in the car. I ran down to help and found two other firemen trying to cut the door open. The girl they were trying to save was covered in blood and would scream every time the car moved. It was so bad that the EMT said she was at risk of even greater injury from our rescue efforts. She needed to be stabilized – or she could die. So I smashed the back window and crawled in.

It was clear she was in terrible pain – she was whimpering, and then when I touched her, she started cursing at me. It took time, but I finally managed to place a plastic C collar on her neck to stabilize her spine and head. I had no idea where her injuries were and knew I had to protect her spine in order to prevent further injury. Once she was secure, the other guys pried the door open. That felt like forever.

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Brandi: My next memory is waking up in the hospital, hooked to machines. Everything hurt. My mom was by my bed, crying, and I had no idea why. I have no memory of the accident. The doctors told me my body was like a bag of puzzle pieces: I had shattered my right arm from my shoulder to my wrist and fractured both hips in 13 places. My sternum moved five inches downward. I also had bleeding on the brain, so they had to keep me unconscious. I had no idea what day it was.

Dustin: After we loaded her into the ambulance that day, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. You see a lot of tragedy as a firefighter, but something about this girl stayed with me. I worried about her. I found out that she had been airlifted to Springfield hospital and decided to pay her a visit. She was still unconscious, so I sat with her mom and learned that her name was Brandi, and that the first woman I saw that day – the one who was still alive – was her sister, Stephanie. She died at the hospital. “Does Brandi know?” I asked. Her mother shook her head no and said, “I am worried that will kill her.”

Brandi: I drifted in and out of consciousness for days. I remember waking up once, five or six days after the accident, and seeing my godparents. “Where’s my mom?” I asked more than once. They said, “She’ll be back.” When she finally returned, her face was puffy and splotchy. I had a bad feeling and asked, “Where’s Stephanie?” It was all starting to come back to me. We had been in a car. We had just bought pizza. The car screeched.

Mom burst into tears. She did not say that she had just come back from Stephanie’s memorial service, but I knew then that my baby sister was gone. My grief at that moment was bigger than the pain from my broken bones. I went back to sleep hoping I’d never wake back up. I wanted to be with Stephanie.

I came close several times. During one of several incidents where I flatlined, I had a vivid dream. I was standing in front of golden gates with Stephanie. She was ahead of me and said, “You can’t come.” Then my grandpa Jack appeared. He had been dead for years. “Brandi,” he ordered, “Get your ass back down there.” Stephanie chimed in, “Mom needs you.” When I woke up, I told my mom this story and saw, by the look on her face, that it was true. She whispered, “I can’t lose you too.”

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Dustin: I went to visit Brandi once again – and this time got to meet her. She was still swollen and had cuts and bruises all over her face and arms. It was a miracle she survived. Her mom said more than once that I was the reason. I didn’t feel responsible, but I did feel intense relief that she was going to make it.

Brandi: I vaguely remember seeing Dustin standing next to my bed at the hospital that day. I did not make the connection though that this was the man who had saved me. At that point, I was still struggling with the fact I had survived. I spent the first month in rehab, where I had to learn how to walk again and how to do things with my left hand, as my right one was so badly shattered, it was useless. A month later, I was still in a wheelchair and needed help doing everything, including bathing and going to the bathroom, so my doctor sent me to a nursing home to continue my recovery. All of my injuries made it impossible for me to get around without help. My mom is as small as I am; she could not lift me and the house was not wheelchair accessible. Plus, she was still grieving for Stephanie. It was too much for both of us.

At 19, I was the youngest person in the nursing home by almost 50 years. Those days were the hardest – I really wished I had died that day with my sister. I missed her so badly. My survivor’s guilt was more painful than any physical healing. Why me? Why her? It did not make any sense. And then there were days where my physical pain was so intense that I was thankful that Stephanie did not have to suffer. She was in a better place.

My mom came to visit me often. I was still in rehab when she told me about the firefighter who saved me. I started thinking about this man and the role he played in my story. Finally, one day, I just blurted out, “Is he hot?” She smiled and nodded her head yes. I wanted to meet him and all the other guys who responded to that call that day – but not until I could actually walk into the fire department and shake each of their hands. That finally happened in November, five months after the accident. My mom set it up. We both thought it was an important part of my healing.

Dustin: Brandi’s mom walked in first. When Brandi followed, my heart stopped for a moment. I could not believe it was the same girl I had seen in the hospital only months before. My first thought was, “Whoa. She looks pretty good!” Everybody wanted to talk to her, so I hung back. Finally, I approached to say I had to go to work, which was true. Her mom suggested we take a picture together. We posed by the fire truck together, and I had a feeling this was the start of something big.

Brandi: I felt something similar. I cannot describe it, other than to say it was electrifying. I posted that photo on Facebook later that night and wrote, “If it were not for the man in the picture, I would not be here.”

At the time, he had a girlfriend. But four months later, my cousin invited me to go out with her boyfriend and his friend. It was Dustin. I could not believe he wanted to date me! I was still a mess in many ways. But Dustin had seen me at my worst. He had seen how far I had come.

Our first date was March 20, 2013 – less than a year before the first anniversary of the accident. Then my mom bought and planted a tree as a memorial for Stephanie in St. Peters, where she and I grew up. It is three hours away from where Dustin lives, but he came to the planting anyway. He brought Jordynn, his daughter, who was 4 at the time. I was so glad that he wanted to introduce me to her. We had only gone on two dates prior to that, but I knew it was serious and I thought he must agree. I also knew that this man saved me in more ways than one. He made me want to live again.

On April Fools’ Day, I posted on Facebook that we were engaged as a joke. It was only two weeks after we had met, and I knew my mom would think I had lost my mind. Instead, she wrote on my wall: “I wish it were true.”

Dustin: So did I. I knew Brandi was the one for me. It took me another year to pop the question. I asked her mom first. I wanted her blessing. She gave it to me.

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Brandi: Dustin proposed on April 20, 2014. My best friend had just gotten married the day before. We were still in the hotel room we had rented for her wedding when he pulled the ring box out of his pocket and said, “Brandi Kaufman, will you marry me?”

I paused. My heart was shouting yes, but my thoughts were stuck on Stephanie. How could I move forward with a happy life knowing she’s not here? I thought of all the nights following the accident where I would just lose it – I’d curl up in a little ball and weep. I’d say over and over, “Why her? Why not me?” And every time, Dustin would wrap his arms around me and say, “There is a reason for everything.” I soon realized that the reason was him.

Dustin: Brandi thinks I gave her a reason to live again, but she also gave me one. Watching her heal, seeing her resilience, made me realize the strength of the human spirit. It made me excited about the future.

Brandi: Right before the accident, I had broken up with a boyfriend and was devastated. I thought that guy was the love of my life. I was crying to Stephanie days before she died, and I remember she said, “Forget about him! Something better always comes along.” She then quoted Marilyn Monroe: “Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” Those words have become my mantra. I said yes to Dustin and to living a life that would make my little sister proud.

It’s Official: Micromanaging Kills Productivity

New research suggests the more you try to dictate how and when employees work, the less they will accomplish.

Ever wonder what really makes employees work harder?

Let’s start with what doesn’t. Contrary to the instinct of micromanagers everywhere, watching over your employees’ shoulders and dictating where and when they should work is perhaps the worst tactic for productivity. 

New research from University of Pennsylvania professor Alexandra Michel finds highly educated employees work more when given autonomy over their schedules. In fact, they’ll often work to the point of exhaustion. 

Michel saw this herself, when she began her career at Goldman Sachs years ago. There, the average investment banker burned out after nine years and typically quit by age 35. To understand this, Michel spent 12 years studying young executives at two large investment banks.

When employees were pressured to work more, they were less inspired, she found. But when allowed to set their own pace, taking fewer vacations and working on weekends, they could accept it because it was their choice, Michel explained in the summer issue of The Sociological Quarterly, where her study was published. 

Of course, employee-dictated schedules aren’t without their flaws. Michel noted many autonomous bankers worked excessively hard, suffering “debilitating physical and psychological breakdowns” as well as back pain, insomnia, addictions, and eating disorders. Others often sacrificed personal needs at the expense of a healthy work-life balance. So while the work schedules were on their own terms, their judgment, creativity, and ethical sensitivity suffered, making life miserable for those around them. 

What’s your take on how much autonomy employees should have regarding their schedules?

5 Ways to Know You Are Ready For Entrepreneurship

Some employees dream of the day they can fire their boss and become the master of their own destiny. How do you know when the time is right?

Some employees dream of the day they can fire their boss and become the master of their own destiny.  How do you know when the time is right?  If these five bullets describe you you’re ready to make the transition from employee to entrepreneur.

Understand the difference between tasks and responsibilities. Employees wait to be handed a task to carry out.  Even if you carry out that task to perfection, it doesn’t mean you are ready to be an entrepreneur.   Taking responsibility means asking questions about the task you intend to complete.  If you regularly ask these questions, you are on your way to becoming an entrepreneur:

  • Is this the best way to accomplish this?
  • Does this even need to be done?
  • Will someone always need to check my work?

Grow up!  You are now an adult and you act like it.  Chuck Blakeman says this best:

Adults ask questions, most importantly, “Why?” Unlike the Silent Generation, they don’t live passively but are self-motivated, self-managed, creative, and problem solvers. They don’t shut up; they make waves. They don’t sit down; they are highly visible. And they don’t expect the company or other adults to take care of them.

Take a risk!  Most employees value security over anything else.  They want the security of a paycheck.  The security of a pension.  The security of “knowing it all” without the fear of owning any responsibility.  An employee will never take a leap from the edge because it’s too risky.  The fear of failure is far too compelling to take a chance.  At the same time, entrepreneurs do not take foolish risks.  They have counted the cost and understand the cost and reward of risks.  If you ever want to lose employee status, you have to jump in anticipation of the payoff.

Stop thinking you can do things everything by yourself.  The Lone Ranger had Tonto to depend on for help. You need someone to lean on for advice, accountability and support. A major role change is going to be stressful, no matter how positive it may be. Finding a mentor, business coach or trade organization of fellow professionals can be invaluable. Having a support system will give you perspective and lead to stronger choices earlier in your transition.

Don’t wait for the perfect plan… none exists.  Employees are always waiting for the perfect plan to be in place before making a move.  In their minds, the world is completely linear and the best time to take action happens when the stars of the universe align perfectly.  Throw that nonsense out the window. Only Hollywood writes those kinds of scripts.  Planning is a good idea, but the minute you put something on paper, it will need adjustment.  Take General Patton’s advice here: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”  Just get started with your new project, business, or venture.  It is not going to finish itself, and it will never go as you plan. And that’s fine in the world of the entrepreneur.

Are you ready to do your own thing? Please take a moment to share this article and your comments with others.