Saturday, October 22, 2016

Don't Flinch

Things happen. Society churns like a choppy sea. People buy into hype. This will never work. People will react negatively. There are a million negative self talk scripts that become words and actions. People get discouraged and change course because they perceive an insurmountable challenge.
Don't flinch. Don't buy in. Don't feed hype. I challenge you to defy it! In the face if disbelief dance, smile, shine and perform your finest as if there was no one watching even when hundreds are.
Your actions can change the tide. One person trying. One person becomes two. Two become five. Five become hundreds. Try it. My boss decided this week no more feeding hype. All masks are allowed in our Halloween event. All characters welcome. Family friendly behavior expected. To herald this shift back to normal operations from no scary or clown masks, various members of management decided to dress as everyday clowns seeking work. I decided to be the obligatory Hobo Clown. I was chargined that it took two minutes and minimal changes to my everyday clothes to transform. I grabbed two props: a rubber knife and a small box.
I greeted patrons coming in with a tragic face and my sign. They were shocked. They were surprised. Initially intrepid, my antics quickly reminded them what REAL clowns are. The smiles appeared like snowflakes in a blizzard.  They were amused. Delighted. They were caring, and they were protective. Some whispered "Are you allowed to be here, be careful, don't let anyone hurt you, I wish I brought a pie- just made some today..."
Thumbs ups, nods, and gratitude. Gratitude you ask? Gratitude for restoring their faith in what Clowns are.
I pulled my rubber knife and stabbed myself dramatically when I got fearful looks. The fear instantly vanished at the absurdity they faced. Clowns walk the razor edge, ridiculing our fears and reminding us to laugh when we want to cry or scream. They stand in the fire and dance daring the Universe "Is this all you got, cause I got a prop and I'm not afraid to use it!"
Last night I danced that dance. Last night I waddled, overreacted, made goofy faces, silly noises and helped the patrons who walked into our event remember to laugh and restored their faith in Clowns.
Feeding hype, feeding fear by curling in a ball or recoiling does not make it stop. Being strong, bold, defiant and performing with integrity does. In the face of hate, prejudice, and stigma- the best we can do is continue to shine. Uphold and demonstrate what it is to be human, to heal, care and connect with each other- despite the rampant hate mongering and fear based hype the media pumps at us. Real Clowns DO that. 
You will find that daunting mountain is nothing when the wind catches your wings and carries you beyond it. Let it. Soar.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Halfway Point: Staying on Target

When an idea first hits, it is electric. Excitement, enthusiasm, roses and chocolates in considering potentials. The Halfway Point is when the trail marks might be missed, the way might have debris and distractions or unforseen issues that need addressed. It is where we all tend to veer off or slow down, perhaps distracted by the next seductive idea just trembling to be put into action.
We set up the shops. Did the displays. Researched and properly marked prices, coached employees in customer interactions and tasks for each shop. Reorder and restock. The last few weeks we've been wading through warehouses of stock. Organizing. Discovering prior workers halfway points. Boxes and boxes of random stock mixed with broken pieces. Painstakingly, one box at a time we have replaced batteries, tested products and sorted. Labeled. Organized product. One full length warehouse of costuming left to organize this week. It will take six people working at least a two days to do.
Once it is organized, reordering will be easy. Knowing how much product we have will be easy. We've been hunting for an elusive pumpkin mask we know is in a box in the warehouse- it will be found as we open and count every item in every box. Historical pink wigs, go go wigs sorted by color, Killer Clown masks sorted by Name, fairy wings, orangutan costumes. Eventually, even sizes will be charted and organized as we order new costumes from a new supplier next year.
If you do not know what you have, or even if more could be placed out on the sales floor- you lose potential sales. Some things may be in inventory but not really right for the sales venue, we have two large boxes of mixed pieces- incomplete costumes. A box full of open, mussed up wigs. I suggested offering them at a low price to local theaters who need and will use them instead of ending up looking like a costume shop crashing into a thrift store. Appearances and what you put out are important. Treat your items as valuable. Learn about them. The more you know and demonstrate to customers, the more respect and higher your sales go. Three working sets of manacles sold because I took the time to tell patrons looking at them about the history, showed how to use them and gave costuming examples. Collector item masks sell because we explain the history and educate customers on the value of the individual items. Show closer fireworks sold consistently when we took time to show customers youtube videos demonstrating the various products.
This is true of the chances and goals we have in life. You have to take steps to move forward or you find yourself missing deadlines or depressed because you feel you aren't accomplishing your goals. Identify road blocks, look for solutions, learn new skills, consult with friends, reward yourself for the progress you do make.
In the end, exhausted, you will find you feel a whole lot better when the time and energy you invest pay off.
The work I have done, with an excellent sales team has resulted in 200% increase in sales in the costume shop compared to last year. The numbers are substantially higher than prior years sales.
Assess current situation, long term goals, and resources. Give yourself credit, accept feedback and move forward!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Pay Attention to the Fine Print

Excited, he opened the package of theatrical lenses. Pulled out the contacts. The petite folded instructions and warning fell like a discarded dirty napkin on the counter. "So I can just use water to put these in?"
I stared at the fine print trying hard not to be noticed on the counter.
Thirty years of wearing prescription lenses kicked in.
First. You wash your hands. He opened his mouth. My eyebrows went up. The edge of a razor sharp scowl threatened. He scooted. "With soap." He nodded.
He came back and presented hands. His mother never saw hands that clean.
Second. Never water. Saline is not water. Verbally reviewed the fine print. His eyes glazed. Paraphrased. Showed him the bottle of solution I carry and shared because lenses are daily for me.
Taught him how to put them in. Let him know about eye irritation and when you had best take them out. From experience.

Thought about the encounter.
How frequently people offer us the fine print we need to move forward but we glaze or hear the tone instead of the message or a defense mechanism dismisses it.
Fine print should be block capital large print, neon flashing red. Not quiet and tucked on the back page where the lawyer or the car dealer or the loan officer winked as they showed it to you dismissively. That's there for someone else or you know, legal purposes, har har wink wink.
Sadly, those little words could save us a lot of hurt. They could, prevent injury, frustration, misunderstanding. They are there as a shield and a ladder- but go ahead and recklessly race into and up the side of that precarious brick wall without checking to see if the mortar is good. Perhaps the seventh or eighth time look for someone to blame.
The little words in fine print softly say "I tried to tell you." Sadly say, "Will you listen now?"  How many nudges and repeated suggestions do you need from good friends and well meaning strangers? Out of curiosity, have you ever read the fine print on household chemicals?
The next time you step into a mire or an unfamiliar situation check: do you look for fine print or a knowledgeable source or do you wing it- or worse yet turn to the person next to you who also has no experience or clue?