If you haven’t heard of Stranger Things then you’re part of a rare crowd. The series is set in the eighties and has a distinctive look and feel of an original Steven Spielberg with a horror narrative similar to that of Stephen King. The series is fast-paced and each character group moves very quickly in trying to find a lost boy.
As a business owner you need staying power, you need a doggedness that is unwavering, resolute. If you view your target market as a lost young boy and your business as the characters trying to find him, would you succeed?
The plot follows the disappearance of a young boy and the otherworldly entities that are creating havoc in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. The storyline separates into three different threads.
First, there’s the adults’ pragmatic search for the lost boy. Second, the boy’s pre-teen friends’ relentless pursuit to find him with the aid of a telekinetic girl. And, finally, teenagers’ journey demonstrating bravery, belief and romance.
However, each thread has a distinct method and strategy in place. The series is eerie but excellent.The tenacity, persistence and drive showcased by the various characters in Stranger Things is never ending and it made me think: What if we all operated in this way when going after our goals?
Nostalgia and emotion
If you want your target market to sit up and pay attention you need to make your offering relatable. Clever marketing strategies abound but Stranger Things has created something that attracts its specific audience in a way that’s genius. There’s an emotional connection.
The series’ target market grew up in the eighties, the very era the story is set in. This means the audience is filled with nostalgia – an absolute feel-good factor – and they inevitably relate to all the characters no matter their age. So, Stranger Things feels like a place we’ve been before but with a storyline that’s fresh and exciting.
The details and authenticity
One of the most exciting parts about this series is that every single little detail about the setting, period and characters is completely authentic. Nothing is out of place. The message is clear and committed and leaves no room for questioning.
This means the audience is completely invested and trusts they won’t be let down. Similarly, when sending out a message to your consumer base, the devil is in the detail. Your message must be clear and concise, authentic to your brand and leave no room for questioning.
Make sure you’ve covered all your bases and leave no room for error in your messaging. Stranger Things covered all of its bases from the types of TV sets used, interior decor and even food the characters eat.
Be as reactive as you are proactive
In Stranger Things the different groups of characters take varied approaches to finding the lost boy. However, every group remains both proactive and reactive. They think on their feet whether they’re planning their moves, searching for answers or managing an attack.
Their goal never shifts. Each moment is filled with proactive strategies around the rescue, gathering information about the unknown enemy, investigating those who are trying to thwart their success and setting up contingency plans to mitigate risk.
Similarly in the business world you have to take a proactive stance on the daily with some strong Plan Bs when you find yourself needing a quick reaction to some or other curveball.
Practise your strategy
The group of kids in Stranger Things play the well-known game Dungeons and Dragons. It’s an old favourite from yesteryear and it’s referenced from the very first episode.
The game is included in almost every episode and nearing the end of the series it forms the foundation for the strategy the kids take going forward.
The Dungeons and Dragons game provides the audience (and the characters) with an understanding of how to take down the unknown entity that they believe has kidnapped their friend.
If you want your team to understand how to implement a strong strategy why not play Dungeons and Dragons in your own office? It couldn’t hurt. It’ll have you practising your responses to unexpected crises that might come your way.
Stranger Things may be just a TV show but its success is astounding and the formula the creators have followed must be revered. When somebody creates something and nails it, we must learn what we can from their strategy and smarts.
What A Grade 1 Sticker Business Taught Me About Business
It’s the very fundamentals that are frequently overlooked amid ambition and “blue sky thinking” – yet, these remain the most crucial element of any business.
When I was a kid, my father believed that instead of getting pocket money, my brothers and I should learn how to make money. Stickers were the school craze when I was in Grade 1, and we wanted a collection for ourselves, so Dad said if we wanted to buy the stickers, we needed to make the money. So, logically, we started a sticker trading business. Dad gave us the start-up money and took us through the basics of business.
We had a cash float for purchases, and learnt about cost price, mark-up and selling price – very basic accounting. We kept recycling that money, making extra and using it to buy more stickers. Then we worked out that if we increased the mark-up, we’d make a bigger profit – so why not make the mark-up as big as possible? The obvious happened. Our prices were too high, and we lost customers.
Valuable business lesson learnt, we came back down to a mark-up that other kids were willing to pay for.
More lessons to learn
Then people came to us and asked if they could take a sticker today and pay us tomorrow. We saw no reason not to trust them. Guess what? They didn’t pay us back. We had bad debt on our hands. When we sold out of stickers, we had cash-flow issues and couldn’t buy more stock. Dad was there to help us out, though, so we received another capital injection to get back off the ground. And this time, if we did extend credit, we loaded it for the privilege of “buy now, pay later” – another lesson learnt.
We ran a proper ledger for the business, tracking our inventory, sales and profit. Even if our “bank” account was a piggy bank, we had a clear record of what was going on. When I look back on it, none of what I learnt was irrelevant.
Today, I run a leading financial services company with billions of rand running through our bank accounts. Even though the finances of the business are run on a much larger scale, the principles of business – those basic principles that we learnt trading stickers – still power our company. And when I see entrepreneurial ventures failing, or when friends come to me for advice because their business is struggling, it’s almost always because they haven’t got these basics right.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt is that if you don’t fully understand how the money is being made, walk away. Whether you are dealing with stickers or financial services, the business principles should be straightforward: money coming in, money going out, and profitability.
Every day, I look at an Excel statement of my company’s forty bank accounts. Every day, I look at the cashflow, and unusual big-ticket items get a note so I know what’s going on. It’s just like that Grade 1 business, only on a bigger scale.
Once the other kids saw the success of our sticker business, they started to want to get in on the action, so they came to market with their own competing products. At first, we were able to innovate as the competition squeezed our margins and started to impact on our profits. Eventually, the whole situation got completely out of hand and the school banned sticker trading for profit.
While I didn’t become a sticker magnate, the lessons I learnt in Grade 1 remain central to every business I am involved with – get the basics right.
How To Handle A Director Who Always Says No
Diverse opinions on a board is a good thing — but is it boosting your business, or hindering growth and decisions?
Do you have that director on your board who always says ‘no’? Regardless of what the issue is, regardless of the context, who raises it or whether or not it is indeed a good idea, their response is either a simple ‘no’ or an elongated perspective on why they disagree? It can even feel at times that they are actively working against the company and against the board. Although they obviously do not see it that way.
Experienced directors will have multiple war stories related to this subject. Aspiring directors should be aware of how to approach these situations when they arise and how to avoid becoming the subject of such stories.
Develop a culture of trust, candour and professionalism
A board’s conduct must be characterised by trust, respect, candour, professionalism, accountability, diligence and commitment. It is the board’s collective responsibility to build this culture and to engage with one another in a productive and effective way.
Dissent should be welcomed when it is constructive and engaging. The idea of being the ‘devil’s advocate’ for the sake of it however, is not the best way to approach this. Dissent should be based on a real belief that the issue has not been fully debated or creates a real challenge for the company going forward.
If you have a director who genuinely believes a different path is right for the company, hear them out and engage in the discussion. In my experience, this often opens up an issue or changes a detail that when taken as part of the whole, improves the decision-making outcome for the board and the company.
Related: Contributing In The Boardroom
Remove the politics from the boardroom
At the heart of this issue is often politics. Politics between directors, who are also shareholders or executives. Politics between the ‘new guard’ and the ‘old.’ Regardless of the genesis, politics really do not have a place in the boardroom and directors who engage in it should be called out by the chairman or another senior director.
In local government I have heard stories of councillors who always vote ‘no,’ so that whenever something goes wrong, they can say “I told you so,” and show the public why they should be re-elected. But that is indeed politics. The boardroom is a very different space. It is private and discussions should be confidential.
Board rotation, a simple solution
While the removal of an errant director should never just be left to resolve itself, there is a simple solution that can support the easy removal of the most difficult directors. The challenge is that it requires forward planning prior to the appointment of any new director.
Directors should only ever be appointed for a predefined term, with automatic rotation at the end of that term. This does not stop you from reappointing a director for a further period. It is, however, always easier to ask someone to consider a further term than it is to tell them that their time has come and they should resign from the board.
Having a predefined term for a director essentially ensures an automatic resignation period. A simple rotation policy for directors is not just good governance, it is a practical step you can take to provide a way out of a sticky relationship.
Ultimately the board as a whole must address issues that detract from the board fulfilling its function as and when they arise. A rotation policy might provide an effective backstop. A high-performance board is one that will tackle the issue head-on.
Read next: How Diversity Drives Board Performance
The Power Pose: Using Body Language To Lead
Use the way you move and stand and interact with others to become a better entrepreneur and leader.
In 2012, the power pose became a global sensation. A Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy hit a staggering 46 million views and became the second most popular Ted Talk in history. The premise was simple – hold a powerful pose and it will not only affect the way you behave but it will even change your body chemistry. Since the talk, the power pose has met with heavy criticism and been labelled as nothing more than pseudoscience. Fortunately for believers, they were proven right. Amy Cuddy released further research this year and it fundamentally proves that this bold stance works exactly how she said it did back in 2012.
The power pose isn’t something that you’d adopt in a meeting or around the office but the science behind it shows how important it is to pay attention to your body language as it can fundamentally change how you are perceived.
Notice how you are noticed
People spend a lot of time reading one another’s body language and the way a person stands or holds their hands or moves can influence how others see them. It’s very natural to judge someone else’s posture, but what about the way they are judging yours? Few people look at how their body language is affecting the way people engage with them.
So, what are you supposed to do?
Fake it until you make it
Want to know how can you adapt to become a better leader? You can fake it.
The power pose isn’t the only way to change your mood. Research has shown that whether you laugh naturally or put on a smile and make yourself laugh, your body still releases the same levels of serotonin.
Whether you are really laughing or just pretending to laugh doesn’t matter – they both have the same impact on your demeanour.
Change how others see you
Think about the pose that every athlete adopts when they win a race or achieve something that’s been physically taxing. They hold their hands outstretched in the air. Even blind athletes hold the same pose. It’s big, it’s bold and it’s a physical manifestation of success.
Now consider the defensive pose. The tight hunched shoulders or inward curve of the spine. These poses immediately make a person look nervous, afraid and lacking in confidence. Like the porcupine curling in on itself for protection.
The same ideas apply to daily business life. While the power pose and the athlete pose are not necessarily a team activity, ensuring that you hold your body upright and with confidence means that you’re conveying an attitude of strength. You come across as confident and capable and positive. You are ready to take on anything and overcome the odds.
By contrast, if you are hunched and withdrawn, you come across as nervous and lacking in confidence and these are not the qualities you want associated with you as an entrepreneur and a leader.
Body language for entrepreneurs
- Shake hands like a hero. The way you shake hands with someone is very significant in terms of establishing equality. Be even, be firm but don’t pull people towards you or turn their hands under your own. This makes them feel like you are trying to establish dominance.
- Create an atmosphere of openness. Maintain eye contact, say hello to people with warmth while holding a strong posture. A warm and open greeting is essential to establishing trust.
- Do the power pose for two minutes before any meeting or interview. This will get those chemicals stirring and make you feel confident and in charge.
Entrepreneur Profiles7 days ago
8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion
Technology6 days ago
3 Things Africa Must Get Right If It Wants To Leapfrog Into The 4th Industrial Revolution
Business Ideas Directory1 week ago
10 Cannabis Business Opportunities You Can Start From Home
Branding5 days ago
Why You Should Prioritise Brand Image
Setting & Achieving Goals2 weeks ago
Your Worth Is Not Measured By Your Productivity
Start-up Advice1 week ago
7 Top Lessons You Can Learn From The US Cannabis Market
Innovation2 weeks ago
Innovate For Change – Think Like A Social Entrepreneur
Cash Flow5 days ago
Outsmart Cash Flow Problems With The Right Financing