Why Telling People What to Do Doesn’t Work

Why Telling People What to Do Doesn’t Work

Telling your community or customers what to do doesn’t work. I’ve seen people try this over and over again in community and business. Traditional conferences are the worst for this, where some sort of expert spews a bunch of facts and tells the audience what to do.


Two things happen when you tell a conference audience what to do:

  1. The audience who does know the person, like the person, trust the person, or already agree with the facts will listen and agree.
  2. The audience who doesn’t like the person, trust the person, or agree with the content will not listen and not agree.
The two groups will debate the facts about this after the conference and nothing will change. Facts don’t change minds and telling people what to do doesn’t work. There’s oodles psychological research on this. Telling people what to do is what dictators, and politicians, and bully’s do, it’s called oppression. It may work short term, but eventually people will revolt.

Here’s an example of why telling people what to do doesn’t work:

My good friend Emily Legrand, an outdoor play consultant, often suggests imagining adult behavior as an expression of the inner child.
Let’s experiment with this.

Ever try telling a fiesty toddler what to do? Does it work? Of course not!

So what do people typically do with a toddler instead of telling them what to do?
  1. Ask them leading questions
  2. Inspire them with a story
  3. Lead by example and do something else that will compel the toddler to join
  4. You invite them to join in something else
  5. Incentivize them (not ideal)

Disclaimer: I’m not a parent yet, nor am I recommending these options, these are what I observe that works.

These toddler strategies work for someone who already trusts you. What if you tried telling a toddler who didn’t know you what to do? Would they listen? Not likely! They’d likely do something else, have a tantrum, cry, or run away.

Building a customer base or community is no different. Telling people what to do is the least effective way to persuade people to change their behaviour.

Why Your Website Might Be Leaving Money on the Table

Why Your Website Might Be Leaving Money on the Table

As a followup to “How to Build Trust and Grow Sales in 2017,” here’s a helpful infographic that Bluewire Media created, based on consumer research, that explains various ways to help customers get to know your enterprise, trust it, and buy from it in 2017.

Content Marketing Sales Funnel

As you can see, this content marketing funnel infographic shows how a website visitor moves from gathering information about your offerings (products, services, experiences) to becoming your customer. Since 98% of website visitors are not ready to buy, it’s critical to have content for them to get to know you and like you.

Know: 75% of your website visitors are looking for information

In other words, 75% of customers that visit your website are not ready to buy and only looking for information. The question is: what can you give your website visitors that is no risk or a low risk for them? What kind of no risk offers ( no registration required to get blog articles, Youtube videos, interviews, audio files) or low risk offers ( email registration or social media registration to get e-books, templates, reports, guides etc.) can you create easily and well? Now, you may think creating such content will take too much time or be too costly, but consider this: If your business spends $300 on a print or radio ad just to make someone aware of your business, isn’t it worth $300 of your time (or some other professional’s) to create content for a potential customer who has already made it to your website? Who do you think is more likely to sign up for your email newsletter or buy? The person listening to the radio on their way to work or someone who is actively searching for something and comes to your website? Regularly putting informative and useful no risk and low risk offers on your website is critical if you don’t want to lose out on the 75% of visitors that come to your website. Plus, regularly posting content on your website is a necessity for people to find your business when they search in Google (A.K.A Search Engine Optimization).

Like: 23% of website visitors are comparing

In my last blog post about building trust and growing sales, I wrote about the importance of social proof. For my clients, demonstrating social proof means uploading customer testimonials with their photos, sharing photos on social media of where the food comes from, doing demos or presentations, sending email newsletters, collecting endorsements (for example reviews on Google, Facebook, Tripadvisor, Yelp, or from food critics, etc.). This kind of social proof is very important to have on your website for website visitors that are comparing your businesses with others. This will give you a “leg up” because many business underestimate the value of social proof and skip it altogether. An easy way to add social proof to your website is to copy an endorsement from Tripadvisor, Facebook etc or a quote from a media review. It’s even better if the social proof comes with a photo or video of the endorser. Without social proof, website visitors who could be customers, have no reason to like your business and or trust it. As hundreds of studies and experts have reported, customers have to trust a business before they buy from it.

Trust: Only 2% of website visitors trust your business and are ready to buy

It needs to be easy for customers to contact you to buy from you, but this is often not the part of the funnel where businesses are leaving money on the table. However, I will make a few quick comments on this for different business types:

  • If you’re a brick and mortar business, your phone number needs to be on every page of your website and it needs to be clickable from a mobile phone. Ever try to copy text from a website page on a mobile device? It’s a nightmare. When I was doing wine tourism marketing, research showed that over 50% of website visitors were just looking for the address of the business. Long story short, make it easy to find your address on the website or you will lose business
  • If you’re an online product based business, it needs to be easy to buy from you. There must be a link to products from every piece of your “Know” and “Like” content, as you can’t expect customers to take in your content and then go searching for a product on your website. This seems obvious, but you’d surprised how many businesses don’t link directly to their product pages from their content. There are so many tricks and tips for optimizing online based product and service based businesses, see the blog conversion link below  for a video series on this topic.
  • If you’re a service based business, the service page should include how your service addresses the“pain” or “gain” that you are addressing for your customers (for example, “how this lead generation program helps build an effective automated system for sales and lead generation”- from Scott Oldford’s Lead Craft), then content explaining how it works (video, text whatever works best for you), list of benefits with icons, social proof (testimonials, client logos, media logos), additional benefits included (for example, also included “free growth hacking guide for increasing Instagram followers.”) Pro-tip: have a guarantee of some kind for your customers to show confidence in your service. For example, “30 day money back guarantee.”

If website conversion is what your business needs, I recommend checking out Derek Halpern’s series of website reviews on “increasing blog conversion” https://socialtriggers.com/increase-blog-conversions-video Choose one that applies to your business type.

More on Building Trust and Growing Sales in 2017 here

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How to build trust and grow sales in 2017

How to build trust and grow sales in 2017

People who like you will listen to you, people who trust you will buy from you. – Zig Zigler

People buy from who they know, like, and trust.

From working with over  50 growing food businesses in the past 5 years, I know that the fastest growing enterprises invest more time in deepening relationships, aka, getting customers to like and trust them. Once their customers like and and trust them, buying and advocating for their business comes naturally.

I’ve seen too many companies focus on “getting their name out there,” but neglecting to ensure that they are liked and trusted. While it is important to be known as a business, it is even more important to be liked and trusted. Being liked and trusted as a business is what generates Word of Mouth (WOM).  All successful entrepreneurs know that Word Of Mouth and Referrals are a big part of building a thriving business. Word of Mouth (WOM) is critical for all businesses, and even more critical for businesses with low advertising budgets (start-ups, small food business etc.)

Awareness is ONLY the first step to getting sales

For my customers, getting known often includes activities like advertising an event or sale, sending a press release, sharing info about their business on social media, guest blog posts, brochures etc.  These activities are very important, but by themselves they are not enough to get customers to buy from you. Their focus is often only awareness about what product, service or experience the business offers.

In order for your potential customers to like you, trust you and buy from you, customers need to see that and why other people are happy with your offering (product, service, etc.) or immediately get some sort of educational value that is useful to them now and demonstrates your company is good at what it does.

What can you do that will help people like and trust your business?

Show social proof 

Testimonials, good reviews, positive news articles, awards, partners and suppliers. In practice, for my clients this often means having these elements on their website or sharing them on social media. When sharing on social media, it’s generally best to share social proof with a tone of gratefulness and appreciation. Modesty trumps boastfulness, unless you have a brand like Donald Trump’s.

Lead through Education

Millions of searches are done every day and sharing knowledge is one of the easiest, low cost ways to get known, be liked, and build trust. What do your customers ask you about? Make a list of their questions and answer them in whatever format makes the most sense for your team’s skills. If you have writers, get them blogging. If you have people who are good at talking, do live videos and send them out on whatever social media channel your community is on. By creating and publishing valuable content through your business, your customers will grow to like and trust you very quickly.

Build a Community

Once a customer has seen the social proof and benefited from your businesses’ educational gifts, they are primed to join your community. The next step is to answer this question: how do potential customers opt-in to your business community? Is it an email list with exclusive benefits or content? Is it a Facebook group? Facebook bots? Snapchat? This is different for every business, but it is imperative for all businesses to have an easy way to regularly communicate directly with potential and existing customers. While growing your social media community (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) as a business is a good idea, these channels are becoming very “cluttered” and it has become more difficult to ensure potential customers see your message without paying for advertisement. I don’t have a blog post up yet about how to choose the best way to directly market to and grow your business community, but the first 3 businesses who send me a note about this will get a free consultation about the least expensive way to build their communities.

Try this: take 5 minutes now and look at your marketing (website, online marketing channels etc) to see where you can improve on your social proof or create more value through educational content

For every business, there is room to improve on showing social proof, sharing knowledge,  and building a community. Start by looking at your businesses’ website and social media channels. Are you demonstrating social proof? Are you sharing knowledge? How are you directly communicating with potential customers and existing customers?

Questions? Thoughts Ideas? I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment below.

If you found this useful, join my email community to get the next articles in this series.

5 Second Rule Brain Hack that Has Changed My Life

Recently I watched this 5 Second Rule podcast interview of  Mel Robbins and it’s rapidly increased my productivity by reducing procrastination and overthinking in the last few days. It’s also helped me to understand how we’re all wired neurologically to do these things, but how we can beat them.
Memorable Moments for Me

Confidence isn’t a personality trait, it’s a learned habit.

The 5-4-3-2-1 blast off metaphor

What resonated with you? Please leave a comment below.

How to listen with unselfish understanding

How to listen with unselfish understanding

I love Brain Pickings, it’s such a “breath of fresh air” on Sunday mornings. Recently I’ve delved into learning about participatory group processes as means to make better decisions with collaborators and make better decisions for our local food and health system. Today Brain Picking’s nailed it with an article on “listening.”

One of the key principles of good participatory decision making is to gather all the wisdom in the room. This requires  hearing all the voices in the room and striving for a deeper understanding of each other’s thoughts. Only by doing this can we “unlock” the potential for innovation. I knew this intuitively, but I was finding it difficult to put into words until recently.

I’m very grateful for to my facilitator partner Anne Stieger for encouraging me to read participatory decision making books and for inviting me help host an Art of Hosting Training in the Valley.

Anway, here’s the part that I think is most useful from Maria Popova’s Brainpicking’s  Erich Fromm’s 6 Rules of Listening: The Great Humanistic Philosopher and Psychologist on the Art of Unselfish Understanding article this morning:

Listening, Fromm argues, is “is an art like the understanding of poetry” and, like any art, has its own rules and norms. Drawing on his half-century practice as a therapist, Fromm offers six such guidelines for mastering the art of unselfish understanding:

  1. The basic rule for practicing this art is the complete concentration of the listener.
  2. Nothing of importance must be on his mind, he must be optimally free from anxiety as well as from greed.
  3. He must possess a freely-working imagination which is sufficiently concrete to be expressed in words.
  4. He must be endowed with a capacity for empathy with another person and strong enough to feel the experience of the other as if it were his own.
  5. The condition for such empathy is a crucial facet of the capacity for love. To understand another means to love him — not in the erotic sense but in the sense of reaching out to him and of overcoming the fear of losing oneself.
  6. Understanding and loving are inseparable. If they are separate, it is a cerebral process and the door to essential understanding remains closed.

I’m curious to hear from you, what strategies do you use for better listening every day?

Slow food is peasant food

Slow food is peasant food

Slow food is peasant food. It is the way our families have been growing and preparing food for centuries. It tastes good, it’s feels clean, and it’s honest. We feel more alive when we eat it.

Learn more about Slow Food in Canada and the upcoming national summit Eating Heritage festival in New Brunswick

Learn more about what Slow Food does at SlowFood.com/what-we-do

I’m involved in Slow Food in Canada and Internationally, I send monthly updates to my email community about events I’m involved with, recipes I love and other food work. If you’d like to join it, go to my homepage


Canadian Hero Wab Kinew Drops Some Wisdom

Canadian Hero Wab Kinew Drops Some Wisdom

Here’s a mic dropping moment from Wab Kinew. We have so much to learn about peace and living with nature from the indigenous people of Turtle Island (Aka North America).

My interpretation of the best ways to learn in this video:

  1. Immersion and learn through doing
  2. Learn as a child
  3. Have children teach adults

So grateful my parents encouraged me to try everything, learn and go to all types of religious gatherings, were great teachers, and made an effort to find great teachers.

Happiness Music by Coco Love Alcorn

Anne and I saw Coco Love Alcorn at Al Whittle Theatre in Wolfville. Her new album Wonderland is mind blowing. The album’s theme is “the spirit” and the music is wondrously soulful, lively, and inspiring.

As you may know, I loooove coffee, so it’s a big statement for me to say that  Coco’s new Wonderland album is better than coffee in the morning.

I just can’t stop singing Coco’s song “The River.” Last night, she sang this song with 150+ people at the Al Whittle Theatre and the room was vibrating with the voices and happy energy. Fun fact: since the release of “The River” has been covered by over 30 different choirs since she released it. Have a listen and you’ll know why. It’s a classic already.

Here’s some happiness music for your soul.

Have a happy day!

First day at 2016 Slow Food Terre Madre

Hi there, I’ve just arrived back from a one month work and learning trip in Germany and Italy. The photos in this post highlight a few memorable moments from the 2016 Slow Food Terre Madre and Salone del Gusto conference in Turin, Italy. I was fortunate to be one of the 55 Canadian delegates selected to go. In 2014 we had only 4 youth delegates go to Terre Madre, while only two years later, we now have over 20 youth delegates. I’m excited to say our Slow Food Youth Network Canada is slowly growing. Check out Slow Food Canada and Slow Food Nova Scotia to see what kinds of things are going on locally.

Arriving at 2016 Slow Food Terre Madre Salone del Gusto– thousands of food producers, leaders, activists await.


Slow Food Leadership Meeting: Models for Change

This workshop opened with Felia, from Hivos International, explaining how we can use the Iceberg systems thinking model to think about Slow Food and creating systemic change. The Iceberg model, in the case of Slow Food, can be used to illustrate how the things we see “above the water”, such as Slow Food events and campaigns , are the most visible parts of change, but in reality, are a very small part of systemic change. She suggests that in order to create lasting systemic change, we must look deeper at where real change happens – below the water.

To illustrate an example of a change model that addresses the Mental Models, Underlying Structures, and Patterns within the Iceberg model, Felia explained how Theory U, or Hivos‘ version of it, can be applied to slow food projects. The model she presented resembles the Business Model Canvas and Social Enterprise Model Canvas in terms of market testing and prototyping, while additional tapping into human emotion and group commitment.2016-09-22-15-33-41

Felia explained how this model works well with both enterprises and not-for-profits explaining how she has used this model to implement a successful food project in Uganda. She explained that this project was successful because the change making group really listened to the community without judgement or jumping to conclusions. After listening well, the group in Uganda found it easier to obtain commitment and build a solution that worked for everyone. I was excited to learn about this model because I can see how I can apply parts of this model to my food community building work.

Sidenote: when I arrived home, my partner Anne Stieger, the facilitating genius and love of my life, already had the Theory U book (affiliate link) on the bookshelf. Of course 🙂

Measuring Success

Next, Felia used the Youth Food Movement Netherlands’ Slow Food Youth Academy as an example of how to measure social project outcomes using Social, Physical, Natural, Financial, and Human Capitals. It was nice to see a Slow Food being measured in a holistic and thorough manner. This event helped me realize that the next step for Slow Food Youth in Canada, that will have real value for young food professionals in Canada and forward the movement, is to start a Slow Food Youth Academy in Canada. More on this topic coming soon.

For lunch, I headed to a plating workshop with a Piemontese Chef Christian Madura, formerly at Noma and Cambio


Canenlloni with crispy bacon, and microgreens. A bean purree to be added next


My attempt at plating: Soy sauce marinated veal with tuna sauce and crumbled egg yoke

My attempt at plating: Soy sauce marinated veal with tuna sauce and crumbled egg yoke

Slow Food Canada Meetup

In the evening, our Slow Food Canada group had a meetup at one of the Canada delegate apartments. Wine, cheese, Italian cured meats, and awesome slow foodies from across Canada  Need I say more?

More adventures coming soon.

Socializing with the Canadian delegates

The Easiest Way to Ferment Vegetables

The Easiest Way to Ferment Vegetables

This post is for anyone that wants to get started with making sauerkraut, kimchi, fermenting vegetables etc. It’s basically an email I sent to a friend about how to get started making ferments. I’m writing this now because I’m visiting Amade Billesberger at Billesberger Hof and about to share with him the basics of fermenting vegetables.  We’ve been making fermented vegetables at the Hill House since last year’s Slow Food Youth Nova Scotia “Canning Jam” at Moon Tide Farm. It’s changed how we eat and my partner Anne now longer has migraines. It’s not well understand how fermented foods affect our health in western medicine, but they do immensely and fermented foods provide the most interesting of flavours. Almost all the worlds favorite foods are fermented (for example, chocolate, coffee, all sourdough bread, traditional meats etc.

Hi there,

This video is a little 90s and not the recipe I would use, but the process is good, basically the same as I was taught. The fermentation wizard in the video is Sandor Katz, he’s basically the North American wild fermentation guru.

I suggest doing the same thing as he does in the video with some cabbage (80%), carrots grated or chopped (I like chopped better) and lots of grated or finely chopped ginger in every layer.

Put enough salt so that if you taste the vegetables before they ferment, they will taste a little saltier than you would like to eat (taste it! :-)) To be sure it will work use sea salt or another natural, unprocessed salt. Table salt with iodine (iodized) or kosher salt will very likely not work.

Other combos that I like and are easy:

  • Cabbage, fennel, a couple dried cranberries, salt
  • Simple cabbage (80%) and carrots (20%), salt
  • Onions, cabbage, carrots, and a couple juniper berries is yummy

Fermentation Vegetable Tips:

  • Ferment in a warm and well ventilated space(warmer areas makes the fermentation process speed up). Most counter tops are fine. It will mold easily in a shelf with two walls and shelve close above because of lack of airflow. Even if there no cabinet door in shelves, we’ve had the jars mold in shelves.
  • When you start to play with ratios of other vegetables, remember that too many sweet vegetables or fruit can make your ferments foam (this can be scooped off and is just yeast, but it’s not very pleasant) This is why I mention the cabbage to carrot ratio above, we go as high as 70% cabbage to 30% carrots, but never more carrots than 30%.
  • The scooping the mold off (in video) is debatable, we usually chuck ours if it gets moldy.
    To lower chances of mold, which happens when veggies are exposed to air, take a cabbage leaf and use it to cover the top of the submerged vegetables to prevent small pieces of vegetables from floating to the surface of the brine (the water and salt mixture)
  • We use a wide-mouth mason jar (500ml or 1L) for the ferment, and use a 250ml smaller jar filled with water to keep the vegetables submerged like this (as you can see any glass jars will work)
    If you add water at any point during the fermentation process and your tap water has chlorine in it or it’s treated (most town and city water is in Canada) leave water out on the counter in the sun for a couple hours before adding it to your fermenting vegetables.. The chlorinated water can kill the fermentation or reduce the beneficial bacteria
  • If vegetables or part of the cabbage leaf sticks out of the brine, push it down with your finger or a jar
    If you do stuff with acidic foods like tomatoes (fermented salsa!- delicious!) or a ton of sweet foods, us a recipe to get the PH right and have success

Next steps:

  • Taste every day then re-submerge so that no vegetables are above the water. I find it tends to be acidic after 5 days, but depends on how warm it is. In warmer conditions, we’ve had ferments ready to put in the fridge after 3 days.
  • It will continue to change flavour and acidity, getting stronger in flavour and more acidic over time out of the fridge. If you leave it for a while and it doesn’t taste good, leave it longer and taste every day, it should taste better unless it goes moldy (you’ll know if white stuff starts growing on top.
  • We eat with bowls, eggs, on rice, with meat, and with tofu…basically anything. I love fermented vegetables with mustard, toast, and something fatty (cheese, cheese-like stuff, avocado etc.). I also love them with hummus or a seed paté