Do the Unexpected (The Christmas Story)

Posted on by in Branding/Differentiation, Business, Creativity/Innovation, Customer Service, Planning, Remarkability, Strategy

Whether you buy into the Christmas story or not, you have to at least be amazed that over two thousand years later, in America alone, over $450 BILLION will be spent, that businesses will organize their sales cycles around, and that employees will organize their vacations around a day designed to remember and celebrate the birth of a little baby boy born to two teenage "parents" in a small rural town, six miles south-east of Jerusalem. Any way you add it up, that is rather remarkable.

But one of the reasons why this story is so remarkable (apart from it’s religious significance) is because it’s an unexpected story line. For example, if any of us were God, and we wanted to come to earth, I’m pretty sure most of us would have chosen to come to earth in full regalia, with lots of fanfare, attendants, and a couple of PR dizzying displays of power. We would have done all the major news shows and talk shows of the day. And we would have stayed in nothing less than a Four Season level hotel or eaten in a restaurant no less than a Citronelle level restaurant. As the saying goes, "When you’ve got it, flaunt it!"

That would be the expectation. However, that is not what we’re celebrating two thousand years later. The story line we’re celebrating (whether you believe it or not) is about how God came to earth in the form of a little baby boy, born in a feeding trough to poverty stricken teenage parents in a two-bit small rural town so that he could identify and be one of us. Again, whether you believe the story or not, you have to admit–that’s a pretty unexpected story line.

In essence, what makes any story remarkable is its unexpected nature. And, as a business leader, your business has a story to tell. If that story line is predictable and ordinary, it won’t be remarkable. But if you do some unexpected things (or some different things from your competitors), your story line will become more remarkable.

For example, I recently read about a dentist who caters to children who redesigned his office for "short" people by lowering the receptionist area so the receptionist was at eye level with the kids who entered, who gave away a free bike to every child who came back with a home care Report Card completely filled out, who called each child at home the night of their treatment and who gave each child an 8" x 10" autographed glossy photograph of the three of them from that day (the child, the dentist  and the dental assistant)! Based on your experience with dentists, don’t you think that every family that left that office remarked to other people about their experience? Absolutely! Why? Because it was different and unexpected.

So, if you’d like to grow faster and gain more word-or-mouth advertising, how can you do something unexpected for your customers or clients this year? How can you differentiate your story line from your competitors? And how can you keep telling a series of compelling stories to your staff and customers/clients to ensure that you create a more remarkable culture? Don’t rush by this principle too fast. Why? Because culture is ALWAYS created through the telling and retelling of stories. So become a great story teller!

P.S. If you happen to celebrate Christmas, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! And if you don’t, I wish you a most Happy Holiday and a Happy New Year!  Regardless of your faith orientation, we all have so much to be grateful for–and one of the things I’m incredibly grateful for is you!

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