Episode 87: The Extreme Application of Customer Personalization

Join us as we discuss a restaurant that makes meals specifically for you, a magician who wants you in on the trick, and a guide to living in the now, by learning from the past …

Sushi, Secrets, and Stillness – Oh My!

[CX Press] Taking Customer Personalization to the Extreme

How far can the trend towards customer personalization go? The trendspotters at Springwise explore a case of extreme application in their story, “Japanese Restaurant Will Test Your Saliva to Create the Perfect Sushi.”

Sushi Singularity – a new restaurant opening in Tokyo in 2020 – plans to use biometrics and 3D printers to create bespoke meals for every diner based on the individual diner’s personal health needs. After you make a reservation, the restaurant sends a collection kit in the mail to get samples of your saliva, feces, and urine. They then analyze these specimens to create a custom meal just for you – based on you personalized health ID.

3D printed sushi expands the possibilities of what your meal “looks like”

There are so many advances being made in personalized health, biome data, 3D printing, and hyper-personalization that I could envision a world in the very near future where people would think it’s odd to have food that wasn’t 100% customized for their personal DNA!

Joey Coleman, co-host of The Experience This! Show podcast

Sushi Singularity marries two trends in customer experience and innovation: 3D printing and personalization. And it does this in a very creative, albeit complex way. With this new standard for customer personalization, what will your customers expect when they interact with your business in 2020 and beyond?

Sushi Singularity – a futuristic take on sushi “just for you” (opening in 2020)

[Dissecting the Experience] A Magician Offers “Secrets” for Creating a Captivating Experience

When it comes to intriguing and captivating an audience, businesses around the world would be wise to study the spectacle created by two-time Olivier Award winner and world-famous mentalist Derren Brown in his show “Secret.”

The show (which regrettably is now closed) explored the stories and beliefs that guide our lives and did so in a magical, mesmerized fashion with three key takeaways for organizations:

  • The Show Begins “Before” the Show Begins – what are you doing to entice, engage, and entertain your audience (customers) before you deliver the product or service they specifically purchased?
  • Use Language to Keep Your Customers Engaged and Focused – an ongoing story, anchored with call backs helps customers maintain a state of wonder and concentration during your “performance.”
  • Enroll Your Customers in Something Special – what are you doing to let customers participate with you in a way that is so special that they must tell their friends all about it?

You don’t need to be a magician to create magic. You don’t need to be a mentalist to figure out what your customers are really thinking and then play with that information. All you need to do is learn from Derren Brown and his show “Secret” as it leaves clues for creating breathtaking interactions that will leave your customers raving to their friends and family.

[Avtex Engage 2020] Always Be Learning More

Any customer experience professional knows that the learning never stops – even if it happens on “summer vacation.” Don’t miss Engage 2020 this summer – hosted by our partners at Avtex!

June 21-24, 2020
The Walt Disney World Swan Hotel & Resort
Orlando, Florida

Engage 2020 offers unparalleled learning and networking opportunities, including multiple learning tracks and specialized breakout sessions focused on a wide range of customer experience topics. At Engage 2020, you’ll gain an entirely new perspective on what you can do to move your organization’s experience strategy and delivery forward.

To learn more and reserve your tickets before they are sold out, visit: AvtexEngage.com

Don’t forget to use the promo code: EXPERIENCETHIS10
to save 10% off the ticket price!

[What Are You Reading?] When Modern Life Feels Overwhelming, Turn to the Wisdom of Ancient Masters

In a world that increasingly assaults our senses with emails, text messages, commercials, tweets, and dozens of other forms of communication, more and more people are seeking relief. A sense of peace and calm can be found in the pages of Ryan Holiday’s third book in his Stoic trilogy: Stillness is the Key

Buddhism. Stoicism. Epicureanism. Christianity. Hinduism. It’s all but impossible to find a philosophical school or religion that does NOT venerate this inner peace – this stillness – as the highest good and as the key to elite performance and a happy life. And when basically all the wisdom of the ancient world agrees on something, only a fool would decline to listen.

from Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday

If you want some reading that is not specifically related to customer experience, but will help you experience life in a happier, more peaceful way, check out Ryan Holiday’s fantastic book Stillness is the Key.

Links We Referenced

Host Contact Information

Email Dan: Dan@dangingiss.com

Tweet Dan Gingiss: @DGingiss

Email Joey: JoeyC@JoeyColeman.com

DanGingiss.com

JoeyColeman.com

Subscribe to Experience This on Apple Podcasts

Episode Transcript

Download a transcript of the entire Episode 87 here or read it below:

Dan Gingiss: Welcome to Experience This!

Joey Coleman: Where you’ll find inspiring examples of customer experience, great stories of customer service, and tips on how to make your customers love you even more.

Dan Gingiss: Always upbeat and definitely entertaining. Customer attention expert Joey Coleman.

Joey Coleman: And social media expert Dan Gingiss serve as your hosts for a weekly dose of positive customer experience.

Dan Gingiss: So hold onto your headphones it’s time to Experience This!.

Joey Coleman: Get ready for another episode of the Experience This! Show.

Dan Gingiss: Join us as we discuss a restaurant that makes meals specifically for you, a magician who wants you in on the trick, and a guide to living in the now by learning from the past.

Joey Coleman: Sushi, secrets, and stillness. Oh my!

Joey Coleman: There are so many great customer experience articles to read, but who has the time? We summarize them and offer clear takeaways you can implement starting tomorrow. Enjoy this segment of CX PRESS where we read the articles so you don’t need to.

Joey Coleman: Welcome back to Season Five of the Experience This! Show. For those of our loyal listeners coming back for more, thanks for continuing to spend some time with us. For those of you that may be new to the Experience This! Show hold onto your hats cause we have a fantastic season for you, and we’re going to start it off with an interesting story that I came across.

Joey Coleman: Dan, I have a question. Have you ever heard about a restaurant and before it even opened or anyone you knew visited, you knew that you wanted to go there?

Dan Gingiss: Well, hey Joey, I’m excited to be back with you for season five and no, I have not heard of such a restaurant.

Joey Coleman: Well I had that experience recently when I was reading about a new restaurant opening soon in Tokyo and I wanted to share this CXPRESS article from a newsletter published by the team at Springwise. Springwise tracks interesting trends and the latest innovations and they shared a story titled, Japanese Restaurant Will Test Your Saliva to Create the Perfect Sushi.

Dan Gingiss: Now things are starting to make more sense. But wait, did you say saliva?

Joey Coleman: Yes, indeed, I did say saliva. So let me explain a bit. There is a new restaurant opening in Tokyo this year called Sushi Singularity. They plan to use biometrics and 3D printers to create bespoke meals for every diner based on the individual diner’s personal health needs.

Dan Gingiss: Wow. Now that is taking personalization to a new level.

Joey Coleman: Right? That’s what I thought and that’s why I was so interested in this. The restaurant’s a project by Japan based Open Meals and they plan to tailor the meal to your health. How will they do this, you might ask? When you make a reservation, you must do it at least two weeks before you want to dine at the restaurant. The restaurant will then send you a collection kit in the mail to get samples of your saliva, feces, and urine.

Dan Gingiss: Oh wait, hold on.

Joey Coleman: I figured I might throw him a curve ball with that one, ladies and gentlemen.

Dan Gingiss: Whoa, hold on. Now, you had me there and sushi. I was hungry for a little while, but now I think I’ve lost my appetite.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, no, I hear you, but bear with me. So once sushi singularity has your samples, so to speak, they will work with health technology companies to evaluate them and turn the results into a personalized health ID for each diner. This data then gets fed in devices like a CNC, or a computer numerical control machine, and a 3D printer, which will then custom create the sushi on a diner by diner basis. Nutrients will be added in based on the individual needs of each diner.

Dan Gingiss: Wait, time out. A 3D printer’s making my sushi?

Joey Coleman: Yeah, exactly. I know it sounds a little crazy, but just as I continue to tell about the story, I think you’re going to be as excited about this place as I am.

Dan Gingiss: So far, I’m not buying a ticket to Tokyo, but okay, if my health ID shows that, say I’m low on, I don’t know, magnesium, they would potentially put some into my salmon nigiri?

Joey Coleman: Well, yes, although since they’re going to be 3D printing the sushi one piece at a time, they won’t be inserting it into the salmon. Instead, they will build a piece of salmon nigiri that has all the flavor and the texture characteristics of salmon, without using an actual fish. And because they are 3D printing these pieces of sushi, they aren’t limited by the size, shape or colors of traditional fish.

Joey Coleman: In fact, one of their plan menu items, the dashi soup universe, is a cube shaped soup fashioned out of seaweed particles, or alginic acid, and white crystal and salt calcium lactate. Now I realize this is easier seen than explained, so if you go to our show notes at experiencethisshow.com, we’ve linked to a great promo video produced by Sushi Singularity that shows the entire sushi printing process and when you see the various shapes there’ll be able to print that diners will then eat. I think you’ll be as interested to see how this is all going to work as I am.

Dan Gingiss: You’re making a big assumption that diners are going to eat it first of all.

Joey Coleman: Here’s the thing, people are looking for unique experiences. We talk about this on the show all the time, and let’s be candid, if you’re in Tokyo, there are many sushi restaurants, so how do you stand out as a sushi restaurant in Tokyo? Well, one of ways, and I hate to give this away in the show, you print a piece of sushi that looks like an ancient Japanese temple that has all the tastes and characteristics of a piece of sushi, but it looks like you’re eating a little model of a building.

Dan Gingiss: But it isn’t actually fish.

Joey Coleman: But it is fish to your body. Hence the biometrics. When you eat fish, you’re not eating the piece of salmon saying, I’m thinking of the salmon swimming in the stream. No. Instead you’re enjoying the taste of the salmon. So if they get the flavor profiles that works, this is not that different than the move towards things like the impossible burger and burgers that aren’t actually made with meat, but they taste like that. This is just a variation on that same theme.

Dan Gingiss: What I think is interesting about this, and it’s mentioned in the article, is that Sushi Singularity is marrying two different trends, 3D printing and personalization. It’s clearly doing it in a very creative and complex way. And if that wasn’t enough, the video that we’re going to share on the show notes also shows how biometrics and fingerprint identification can be used to identify patrons when they enter the restaurant and produce custom menus and messages when they sit down and touch the table in front of them.

Joey Coleman: Now, let’s be candid. I get that this is a crazy concept, but I also felt myself thinking that this probably wouldn’t seem crazy if we were talking about this in the year 2030, or 10 years from now. There are so many advances being made in personalized health, biome data, 3D printing, and hyper personalization, that I can envision a world where in the very near future where people would think it’s odd to have food that isn’t a 100% customized to their personal DNA.

Dan Gingiss: Well, I know this isn’t an agree to disagree segment, joey.

Joey Coleman: But it’s turning into that. I can feel it.

Dan Gingiss: People also were saying 15 years ago when I was at a credit card company that credit cards were dead because we were going to only be using exclusively digital wallets and we’re not even close to that 15 years later, so I don’t think this is becoming a 100%. I don’t think this is a thing in 2030. It’s interesting in the sense that, and where I see the applications, are understanding your body and what your body needs and how your body’s needs are different from the next person’s needs and being able to influence what you eat because of that. Maybe you do need additional magnesium in your day, whereas your neighbor doesn’t because his magnesium is just fine. I think that’s really, really interesting.

Dan Gingiss: Where you lost me, and where I observed our audio engineer Taylor throwing up a little bit in his mouth over there, was this idea that we’re using this technology to create something that isn’t real, that is made up product coming out of a printer. I.

Dan Gingiss: Even the meatless burgers are produced in a similar way to burgers. They’re not printed out of an HP printer. That’s the part where you lost me, because I just… That does not sound appetizing.

Joey Coleman: All right. Fair enough. But here’s the deal. First of all, there are a number of restaurants around the world that 3D print food today. A number of restaurants that already do that. Some of the top chefs on the planet are experimenting with this because you can get taste profiles and flavors and combinations that you can’t find in “the real world.”

Joey Coleman: Number two, how many friends have you had, because I know I’ve had many, who because of a diet, or some type of dietary sensitivity, or a cleanse that they’re on, can’t get food at the restaurant that meets the requirements of what their health requires? This solves that problem.

Joey Coleman: Because imagine being in a situation where instead of just going to the pizza place to have a pizza and it’s like, wait, I’m gluten free, dairy free, I can’t order the pizza, instead of having them have to make the gluten free dairy free pizza, they can 3D print exactly what you want and make it look just like a pizza.

Joey Coleman: Now, here’s the thing I’d be willing to bet that if they 3D printed a piece of sushi at Sushi Singularity that looked exactly like a salmon nigiri piece, and gave you that to taste alongside a regular slice of salmon on a bed of rice, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference.

Dan Gingiss: Careful where you’re going here. That’s absolutely untrue, because I’ve tasted these fake burgers and they taste like I’m licking the floor of a forest.

Joey Coleman: Today. Today they taste like that because the technology is new. What’s it going to be like in three years? In five years? Not to mention, by the way, how much of the food that we currently consume is not actually food.

Dan Gingiss: That’s a fair point.

Joey Coleman: So if we’re going to get up on our high horses about, well, I only eat food that’s actual food, then suddenly 75% of American’s diets just got eliminated.

Dan Gingiss: Please give me my Doritos back, Joey.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, exactly.

Dan Gingiss: That’s my bag.

Joey Coleman: But look, it’s shaped like a triangle, like a wedge of cheese. They made it look like that so you would think it was cheese. That is the variation on the theme of Sushi Singularity.

Joey Coleman: Look, here’s the deal. Short of making a reservation and traveling to Tokyo for some personalized 3D printed sushi, which it’s clear Dan isn’t going to do anytime soon, how can you apply this story to your own business? This is what we’d like to do on Experience This! We like to tell you stories of interesting, unique things that are happening, but we want to help you translate that into your world as a listener. What can you apply?

Joey Coleman: In some ways the application is easier or harder based on your product or service offering, but what I like about this story is it forces us to dramatically expand our minds about what is going to be possible in the near future with wearables, data tracking, aggregative collection of biometrics, inexpensive 3D printing, and an increased expectation for hyper-personalization amongst the majority of customers.

Joey Coleman: It’s just a matter of time before your customers, regardless of your business or industry, are expecting this type of custom treatment in their interactions with you.

Joey Coleman: Now, while you wait to allow the technology to pair more specifically with your offerings, what are you going to do to shift your mindset about what you can do for your customers and how far you can take the interactions to make them feel special?

Joey Coleman: The time of giving your customers a standard menu and asking them to just point out what they want is fading quickly and the real masters are going to be the ones who can attract customers with offerings that are a 100% unique to them and therefore leaves the customer feeling 100% special and appreciated.

Joey Coleman: Sometimes a remarkable experience deserves deeper investigation. We dive into the nitty gritty of customer interactions and dissect how and why they happen. Join us while we’re Dissecting The Experience.

Joey Coleman: Have you ever been to a magic show, Dan?

Dan Gingiss: Oh, yes, I have been to many and in fact, both of my kids were really into magic for a number of years, did some at home, and were always begging to go to shows. And so we’ve gone to a number of them and had a great time.

Joey Coleman: I love it. Well, as is often the case in our life experience as friends, I feel like I’m having a very similar experience. My kids are a little bit younger than your kids and we’re going through that phase right now. I’ve always had an interest in magic, but I have a six year old son who is a budding magician, so I’ve spent more time in the last year watching magic videos, working on magic tricks with my son, purchasing magic books, and going to magic shows, than ever before in the past.

Dan Gingiss: But I remember that you recently went to a show by yourself.

Joey Coleman: Correct. I was in New York City a few months ago and I got the chance to see two time Olivier Award Winner, Derren Brown, stun the crowd with a unique blend of mind reading, persuasion, and illusion.

Dan Gingiss: Is that the guy that’s got a special on Netflix?

Joey Coleman: He actually has several and they’re pretty fascinating explorations of human nature, persuasion, messaging, experience, although I want to clarify it, they’re a bit intense, so you probably want to watch them by yourself without the kids before you decide whether you want the kids to watch them too. But these explorations of human nature and experience are the things we talk about on this show every week, which is why I wanted to go see Derren Brown live on stage. And it’s not surprising to me that he lived up to the legend and then some.

Dan Gingiss: So tell us about this show while I go onto Netflix and make sure that I add it to my list.

Joey Coleman: Nice. So the show was called Derren Brown: Secret, and while it had an extended run at the fabled Cort Theatre in New York, it’s actually no longer open. The show explored the stories and beliefs that guide our lives and did so in a magical, mesmerizing fashion.

Joey Coleman: There are a few things about the show that I found particularly useful to think about in the context of customer experience. First of all, the show began before the show began. So while we’re waiting in line to enter the theater, and then again while sitting in the seats waiting for the show to start, staff members gave the audience the chance to participate in a number of activities. Audience members could have their pictures taken. They were given the opportunity to fill out secret forms. There were multiple ways the audience engaged with the show that would actually come back later when the performance began.

Joey Coleman: So for example, during the show, Derren Brown took the photos that people had taken before the show and used them to select people based on their photo alone to come up on the stage and participate in the act. He told them things about themselves that there was no way he could have known.

Joey Coleman: Now as a mentalist, it seemed like some of this could have been based on observation and commonalities in the human condition. But that being said, he also seemed to be reading people in real time and the impact as an audience member watching all of this play out was quite impressive.

Dan Gingiss: I love the idea idea of starting the show before the show and I can already see the connection back to our show and the businesses that we’re talking to. Because often when businesses think about their customer journey, they begin when the customer first steps foot in their store, or when they first get to the website, or first call, instead of considering that the show for them actually starts well before that.

Dan Gingiss: The part of the journey where the customer is working their way toward you may not be as obvious as it was in the theater setting because it might be something that they’re doing off on their own, such as going to Google and searching something, for example. But if we’re willing to look at it, there are a number of ways to engage our customers before they even get to us.

Joey Coleman: Absolutely. So for example, when you purchase a ticket to a theater performance, I think the general presumption is that the show will start when the curtain goes up. In this instance, it was a real change from the usual expectation. The show began before I was even in the theater, let alone in my seat.

Joey Coleman: And if that wasn’t enough, this effort to actively engage the audience continued in each and every interaction and “trick” that was performed. In fact, when looking for volunteers for the different stage activities, Brown would throw Frisbees into the audience, including the highest balconies in the theater, and then ask the people who caught them to come down on and be participants. So this not only created a great bit of emotional theater, and as a speaker I found it a fascinating way to get volunteers, but it also helped reinforce the belief the audience had that every participant in the show was a random audience member. Something which I must confess, I’m still not sure about months later and is a big part of magic tricks.

Dan Gingiss: Well, and my mind always goes to, and I’m sorry for being a macabre person here, but my mind always goes to that guy in the front row of the top balcony that’s going to dive for the Frisbee and fall over. So to me it sounds dangerous, but again, it could be scripted, it could be in some way staged, and so it sounds like in any event that this show had many, many layers to it, which of course any good customer experience does as well.

Joey Coleman: Absolutely, and that brings us to our second takeaway, that throughout the performance, Brown kept using language and callbacks to keep the audience focused.

Dan Gingiss: For listeners that may not be familiar with the phrase callback, it’s a term that’s very common in the world of comedy to describe a joke that refers to one previously told in the set. Basically you tell the joke once and then later in the show, the later the better, when you tell the joke again, it usually gets a much bigger laugh. This is because the person leading the show, whether it’s comedian, or magician, or even your random keynote speaker, makes the audience feel a sense of familiarity with the subject material and the person leading the show. It’s a great way to create rapport with an audience.

Joey Coleman: Exactly. So Brown did a great job during the show of using callbacks to get the audience on the same page and each time he did, it strengthened his connection with the audience. Not only did the entire show build to the finale, which he kept referencing throughout the show, but there were several times where he would actually say, now, watch over here because something is going to happen. And then a few minutes later he would say, did you see it?

Joey Coleman: And because the audience had been distracted by other things he was doing, they completely missed the thing that he had pointed out before that happened right in front of their eyes. He then encouraged them to watch that same place and promised it would happen again. And once again, a ton of people missed it the second time around.

Dan Gingiss: Never underestimate the stupidity of your audience.

Joey Coleman: Well, humans are fascinating is the way I like to say it, Dan, but I hear you. It made me think about customer experience and how it can be designed to repeat in a way that feels new and interesting and exciting. See all too often a repeat customer will have the same product or service experience with a brand. And I think most brands usually miss the chance to spice it up every once in a while.

Dan Gingiss: So can you tell our listeners what happened during intermission? Because you mentioned this to me after you saw the show and I thought it was really interesting.

Joey Coleman: I did too, Dan. During intermission, once again, the free time that was not officially part of the show, was used to continue the journey and create more experiential touchpoints. Ushers at the back of the stage had more secret forms that could be filled out in case you arrived at the theater late and missed the show antics.

Joey Coleman: In addition, audience members were invited to come onstage and select their favorite animal from a long list of animals and then later this seemingly random activity was featured in the big finale in a way that it seemed as if the audience had selected the outcome of the entire show. It was pretty amazing.

Dan Gingiss: How did that part work?

Joey Coleman: Well, incredibly well. It kept the audience on an emotional high during intermission. It also allowed them to catch a breather if they wanted. I was reminded of how often organizations barrage their customers with communication when sometimes giving the customer the chance to come up for air actually serves your longterm goals even better than continuing to stay in close communication with them.

Dan Gingiss: Fair enough. But I meant how did the intermission work when it came to the second half the show?

Joey Coleman: Oh, well, I’m not exactly sure. And I also feel compelled to keep the secret, which wasn’t just the name of the show. You see throughout the show, Derren Brown kept enrolling the audience in the big secret, making us promise again and again that we wouldn’t reveal too much to other people that hadn’t seen the show and thereby ruin it for them, which not only had the desired effect of making people feel like they were special and part of the in crowd, but months later, even after the show was closed, I still don’t want to reveal too much and give anything away.

Dan Gingiss: Even though the show isn’t running anymore.

Joey Coleman: Yeah. Even though the show isn’t running anymore. Which brings me to my final observation. When you create connection with your customers and make them feel like they’re part of something special, they will, A, actively go out and recruit people to attend. In fact, that night I told an entire table of friends that lived in New York to make sure they went to see this show. And, B, the customers will protect the special aspects of your experience so that new customers can live it firsthand.

Joey Coleman: Throughout the show, Brown kept imploring us not to tell anyone the secret because it would ruin it for them, and by getting the customers to sign on to this commitment, he made sure we maintained a high level of interest, which almost guaranteed that people wouldn’t ruin the show for other prospective customers by telling them too much.

Dan Gingiss: I think there’s a really interesting opportunity here for our listeners to think about their own businesses. How are you enrolling advocates? How are you using mystery and intrigue to layer meaning and emotion into your various customer touch points? How can a sense of mystery, or intrigue, or even playfulness be incorporated into your customer journey?

Joey Coleman: Friends. You don’t need to be a magician to create magic. You don’t need to be a mentalist to figure out what your customers are really thinking and then play with that information. What you do have the opportunity to do is begin the show before it officially begins. Use callbacks to key phrases and moments in the customer journey to build rapport and connection with your customers. And figure out ways to enroll your customers in something special so they want to tell all of their friends about it, without giving away too many of your secrets.

Dan Gingiss: One are the biggest challenges that customer experience folks have at their organizations is convincing their colleagues, and boss, that CX is important. We often hear from our clients that while they believe in the value of creating remarkable customer experiences, their leadership team needs more convincing. If this sounds like your company keep listening.

Joey Coleman: Our partners at Avtex are hosting Engaged 2020 this summer in Orlando, Florida. They’re bringing an outstanding lineup of customer experience experts and thought leaders to offer insight about creating remarkable customer experiences and share the real economic impact that CX has on your bottom line.

Dan Gingiss: Now if that isn’t enough to convince you to come down to Florida and bring your boss with you, did we mention that the event is being hosted at Disney World?

Joey Coleman: Disney World.

Dan Gingiss: If you’re listening to this show, you know that the team at Disney is absolutely world-class at creating experiences that keep their customers coming back again and again. You also know that both Dan and Joey are huge Disney fans.

Dan Gingiss: At Engage 2020 you’ll get the unique chance to pull back the curtain on the Disney World experience through a series of special surprises right in the park.

Joey Coleman: As you think about where to spend your training and development dollars in the year to come, Engage 2020, which again is happening June 21st through 24th, needs to be on your calendar and we’re happy to share a special code just for listeners of Experience This! that will save you 10% off your ticket price. Just use the secret code experiencethis10.

Dan Gingiss: To learn more about the event, the agenda, and what you can expect at Engage 2020, visit www.avtexengage, that’s A-V-T-E-X engage.com, and we’ll see you at Engage 2020 this June.

Joey Coleman: We spend hours and hours nose deep in books. We believe that everything you read influences the experiences you create. So we’re happy to answer our favorite question, what are you reading?

Dan Gingiss: Joey, it’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to ask you what you’re reading beyond the books that are written about customer experience and customer service.

Joey Coleman: Well, it has been awhile, Dan, and to be honest, I’ve been reading a lot of books that probably would be defined as pure business, but I read a book at the end of last year that ended up being my most favorite book of 2019 and I’ve actually gone back and reread it since. It was that good.

Dan Gingiss: Wow. Tell me more. This sounds like a good one that I need to add to my own bookshelf.

Joey Coleman: You definitely should. So the book is called Stillness Is the Key, and in the interest of full disclosure, it’s by my good friend, the modern day philosopher, thinker, and writer Ryan Holiday. So to set the stage a bit, Stillness Is the Key, is the third book in Holiday’s trilogy about stoic philosophy.

Dan Gingiss: Stoic, philosophy. Let’s be careful here, Joey. This is not something that’s sounds like people are going to get excited about, after all it’s stoic.

Joey Coleman: Okay, I see what you did there. But, and you’re right, stoic philosophy doesn’t usually get folks super excited. But having read Holiday’s first two books in the trilogy, The Obstacle Is the Way, and Ego Is the Enemy, I was ready and waiting to see how he would bring everything together in this final book. And he didn’t disappoint.

Joey Coleman: So the book is divided into three parts, the mind, the spirit, and the body. And in each part of the book, Holiday offers a series of maxims and advice backed by diligent research into stories that you think you know, but you really don’t know the whole story.

Dan Gingiss: So how about you give us an example?

Joey Coleman: Okay, so in college and law school, I spent a good amount of time studying the American Presidency. And from the time I was very little, I was always fond of John F. Kennedy. I’ve studied his Presidency in classes. I’ve written papers about it. I’ve given speeches about it. I’ve listened to lectures about it. I’ve read numerous biographies. I know a fair amount of about JFK. I don’t think of myself as an expert on his Presidency, but I’ve spent enough time with it that I felt pretty comfortable that I knew most of the story.

Joey Coleman: But one of Kennedy’s most significant moments in his Presidency was the Cuban Missile Crisis, and in Stillness Is the Key, I got to see an entirely new side of the story.

Joey Coleman: So the book shares how Kennedy spent the entire crisis trying to get everyone around him, his advisors, the other elected officials, the military, the intelligence community to slow down so they could really think about the problem that was in front of them.

Joey Coleman: Now, all too often, especially in 2020, I think that situations and problems and crisis are coming at us so fast that rarely do we take the time to pump the brakes and think. We usually get locked into our initial impressions or go with our gut without making time to slow down and consider the situation all the way through.

Joey Coleman: During the crisis, Kennedy became fixated with insisting that people think about why the Russians did this. “What is the advantage they’re trying to get?” he would ask his advisors, with real interest.

Joey Coleman: He took his time and eventually ordered a blockade, which interestingly enough embodied one of his favorite expressions and I’m quoting from the book now, it used time as a tool. It gave both sides a chance to examine the stakes of the crisis and offered Khrushchev the opportunity to reevaluate his impression of Kennedy’s supposed weakness. In some, by taking the time and being still, Kennedy was able to slow things down and avert a potential nuclear war.

Dan Gingiss: Well, I find this really interesting if you bring it to today’s society and culture, that everybody always seems to be running, running, running. We’re using devices. We’ve got phone calls and emails and tweets to respond to. We’re going from meeting to meeting, to meeting, to meeting. Just getting home and sitting down on the couch after a long day is the new luxury, because we’ve spent the whole day moving.

Dan Gingiss: And so conceptually I think that slowing down makes a ton of sense and I’ve found that even taking, for example, a few minutes before bed to read a book, which is something I don’t do nearly as often as I should, just helps to remove the stress and get me to think a little bit more clearly. So I think conceptually this makes a lot of sense.

Joey Coleman: Exactly. And that was definitely the takeaway that I had from the book, is that there is so much rushing, why aren’t we slowing down?

Joey Coleman: Now I realize that the Kennedy story I shared is pretty dramatic, but rest assured that the entire book is filled with these types of fascinating behind the scenes stories of situations that you think you know about, but really there’s more to the story.

Joey Coleman: For example, he details what happened behind the scenes with the fall from grace when Tiger Woods personal and professional life imploded for all of us to see. He talks about Napoleon’s habits for opening and responding to mail. Shaw, Green’s batting slump with the Los Angeles Dodgers. And Fred Rogers, or Mr. Rogers as most of us know him as, ability to write programs for children that still resonate with today’s attention deficit kids.

Joey Coleman: Now, there’s so many times that we find ourselves faced with a challenge that we immediately jump in to solve or we go into triage mode. A customer complaints about a situation. A marketing campaign doesn’t produce the numbers we thought it would. A new competitor enters the marketplace. Instead of slowing down to truly evaluate the situation, we jump into action and we justify this behavior by citing our speed to answer, or our call resolution time, instead of taking the extra minutes, or hours, or, days to truly understand the situation and then decide what to do next.

Dan Gingiss: I’m going to be a tiny bit vulnerable here with you, Joey.

Joey Coleman: I like it.

Dan Gingiss: What I find is that in my professional life I’m able to do this. I’m able to advise a company, for example, don’t freak out that nobody’s responded to your social media message yet. It takes time, and relax, and let’s check it again in a week, and let’s not jump to conclusions.

Dan Gingiss: In my personal life, I’m not as good at that and I often jump into problem solving mode, or so I’ve been told, when somebody comes to me with a problem that they’re having, and sometimes as it pertains to me, it happens to be the women in my life often just want to talk and have somebody to talk to and somebody to listen, not to solve a problem. And I’ve even worked this little dealy out where I’m like if you can tell me ahead of time that you just want me to listen, then I’ll zip it and I won’t jump into problem solving mode.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, I love it. A not uncommon experience in many couples and many relationships between men and women around the world. We could do a whole segment and episode, in fact we could do a whole season, on this topic alone. And what I think it illustrates is that we are so compelled to take action as opposed to savoring things.

Joey Coleman: And one of the things I actually tried to do when I was reading the book was saver it. Not only did I find myself slowing down consciously to enjoy Holiday’s prose, but I found myself limiting my reading time so that I could draw out the number of days that I would spend reading the book, as opposed to I got to get to the end of the book because I want the next book to read.

Dan Gingiss: So you weren’t binge reading, in other words?

Joey Coleman: I wasn’t binge reading. Exactly. And in an age where it seems like we’re encouraged to consume as much content as possible, as often as possible, it was a real treat to seek stillness in my own reading and savor this book.

Joey Coleman: In fact, Holiday quotes Blaise Pascal as saying, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

Dan Gingiss: Is that Pascal, the French mathematician?

Joey Coleman: Exactly. And here’s the interesting thing, pascal was encouraging us to be still in 1654. How much easier do you think it was for him to be still almost 400 years ago?

Dan Gingiss: Children put your rocks down and pay attention.

Joey Coleman: Exactly. He didn’t have all the distractions that we have today and yet it was an issue back then. In fact, Holiday notes that if the quiet moments are the best moments, and if so many wise and virtuous people have sung their praises, why are they so rare? Well, the answer is that while we may naturally possess stillness, accessing it is not easy.

Joey Coleman: In Stillness Is the Key, not only does Holiday present the reasons for this type of approach to life, but he offers a roadmap of tips and techniques and behaviors that are designed to help his readers achieve the elusive stillness.

Joey Coleman: I think my feelings about this book can probably best be summed up by something Ryan holiday writes in the preface of the book, “Buddhism, Stoicism, Epicureanism, Christianity, Hinduism. It’s all but impossible to find a philosophical school or religion that does not venerate this inner peace, this stillness, as the highest good and the key to elite performance and a happy life. And when basically all the wisdom of the ancient world agrees on something, only a fool decline to listen.”

Joey Coleman: Do yourself a favor, friends, go purchase a copy of Ryan Holiday’s book, Stillness Is the Key. You won’t be disappointed and it might just change the way you look at the world and the experiences you’re creating.

Joey Coleman: Wow. Thanks for joining us for another episode of Experience This!

Dan Gingiss: We know there are tons of podcasts to listen to, magazines and books to read, reality TV to watch, we don’t take for granted that you’ve decided to spend some quality time listening to the two of us.

Joey Coleman: We hope you enjoyed our discussions and if you do, we’d love to hear about it. Come on over to experiencethisshow.com, and let us know what segments you enjoyed, what new segments you’d like to hear. This show is all about experience and we want you to be part of the Experience This! Show.

Dan Gingiss: Thanks again for your time and we’ll see you next week, for more…

Joey Coleman: Experience.

Dan Gingiss: This!