1. How did you come up with the concept of the book?
As a professional artist most of my career, it occurred to me that there are not a lot of business books written by artists (and for good reason—many of us are flakey and not necessarily good at business)! I took a long look at the successful design studio I ran for years and realized that one of the major reasons I succeeded was not because I was such a great designer… but, because I was a connector, I was easy and fun to work with and I enjoyed helping my clients (and competition). I had written a few stories for Chicken Soup For The Soul and thought that a business book written with more sentiment and emotion (from the perspective of an artist) was needed. I also realized that as an artist I tend to do things outside of the box… why not apply and teach that to others as it applies to business and relationships in a practical way?
2. Where did you get the title and what does it mean?
Many of my advertising agency clients would come to me as a hired gun—so to speak—for conceptual writing and fresh ideas. Meaning, I would create catchy headlines, ideas and concepts for campaigns that their internal creative people would take and then expand on. (I also specialized in internal Human Resources Communications for Fortune 500 companies). I am fond of “double entendres” and playing with words, so I wanted a title that would make people think and then be attracted to. In this case, I took what is normally seen as a negative (Taking Candy From Strangers) and turned it around into a positive, Giving Candy To Strangers. Which is also the core philosophy of the book—turning things around and giving! As a side note to that, as a visual designer I created the cover of the book before I ever wrote a word. Normally, you do not design your own cover… much less do it before the book is written. But I like to do things differently.
3. How important is the heart to the marketing process?
Easy answer: It’s the most important part and the beginning of everything! It is where all ideas and creation start. Whether it be choosing to do something creatively or creating a new relationship. Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” even as a scientist he understood this. It all starts in the heart, including imagination, and then moves to your head. Apple understands this at a deep level. Their products fill a need at an emotional level before a practical level. I have had the pleasure of working on many projects for Apple and that philosophy permeates throughout the entire company, from accounting to marketing. You have to move people to move business and that starts with the heart.
4. What part do emotions play into the process?
Generally speaking, emotions play a big role. However, over time you can learn to control your emotions in a positive way. For instance, there were days when I had to draw cartoons when I wasn’t in a particularly good mood—not exactly a great combination—but as a professional, I learned tricks over the years to overcome that and get the job done. In the case of sales and building relationships, you always want to be upbeat and in a good mood. But, there are times when I am not in the best of spirits so I go out and “give candy to strangers,” and it immediately puts me in a happy place. The point is that everyone has their own boundaries in terms of emotions. You need to know what yours are and how to manage them.
5. What are some of the mistakes you see being made in sales?
It’s all about the close… No it’s not! People are not a commodity… so don’t turn them into a quota. They will see through that anyway. Another thing is… be yourself! My book is not a recipe for success but a menu that you can use to pick and choose what works for you. Many people in sales and business, in general, go about the business of their business without ever thinking about it! Bend the rules and throw out those preconceived ideas and do it differently, from the heart and with purpose.
6. What does the book say about abundance and why?
Abundance may mean something different to everyone. Most people immediately think money… but abundance can come in many forms. If you are following your purpose and passion and using it to also help others, abundance will flow back to you in the form you need it—which may or may not include money. Abundance really comes down to living a joyful life… Notice I didn’t say happy. Sure, everyone wants to be happy. But happiness is external and fleeting, whereas joy comes from within and therefore lasts longer. It’s the same with being motivated and inspired. Motivation will help you move towards abundance but inspiration will keep you there—and others will be attracted to that.
7. What can a mom who wants to start a business take away from this?
Your circle of connections is your greatest asset. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, ask questions and start conversations. Many moms, especially new moms, tend to segregate or isolate themselves. But, why not join a Mom’s club? Or, here’s an idea… instead of a Master Mind group, why not form a Master Mom group for networking and sharing ideas? You can have that one; I haven’t trademarked it.
8. What is the single greatest message that a person can learn from your book?
Picasso once said that it took him 4 years to learn to draw like Rafael but a lifetime to draw like a child. Let your hair down and play in the sand box just like a kid! The reason sales came easy to me is twofold: first I expressed my playful artist side and applied it to sales, and secondly, I didn’t know any better as to what not to do. My lack of experience became a blessing because I tried and did things that experience would have told me not to do. Be childlike, figuratively speaking, let down your guard and run amuck.
9. Why is humor so important throughout your message?
Depending on the context, of course—and that could be geographically or culturally speaking, which you always have to be sensitive to—humor is one of the greatest common denominators we have as humans. It’s also what makes life fun and healing. I am working on a project right now with the great comedian Craig Shoemaker called Laughter Heals. Laughter really is the best medicine… but it is also the greatest glue!
10. If connections are our most valuable resource, how does one nurture a large number of connections?
The most important thing to remember is that people just want to know that they are in your thoughts. You will have close friends—those are the first relationships to nurture—and acquaintances and everything in between. As you go about your routine of Giving Candy To Strangers, that circle of influence will grow! Manage it wisely. Be a connector. and introduce people to one another like a matchmaker. The internet is a great way to stay connected, say hello, stay in touch or send an “eGift” (which I explain in the book). Whereas, with a close friend… pick up the phone! Don’t let your existing friends become strangers!
You mention in the book that this is an unorthodox business book. Why do you think we need to start thinking and behaving in an unorthodox way?
There are not very many business books written by artists. I felt that I could add value from my unique position of being an artist (and cartoonist) who is also in sales. I applied my creative talents, humor and experience from my art career to my sales career… which would seem “unorthodox” to some. The key point here is that my book is not a recipe for business but rather a menu of ideas and behaviors you can use—which may or may not be outside of one’s comfort zone. It’s really more about getting outside of your own box much the same way children (and artists) do.
You mention that a terrible event that occurred during your childhood was a catalyst for your passion and drive to help others. How did that change your direction in life?
I like to say that without the valleys there would be no mountains. Well, I had a very “Big Valley” to go through when I was a kid—not to be confused with the TV show of the same name which I am sure was much more entertaining than my valley. I won’t go into details here (it’s in the book) but, let me just say that many great things have come about from great pain. And my life is no different, it is the driving force for why I do what I do… It is my purpose.
Your background includes creating Human Resources design and delivering information in a fun and wacky style. How can one give candy to employees?
The same philosophy in my book also applies to employees in an organization or business. When I was running my design studio, I became so in tune with this that I could tell immediately, when I entered a building, what the morale of that company was like based on how people walked and what their desks looked like. Some of these companies were very large with names that you would know. It was my job to create materials that would get the employee base to read (and act on) their benefits information. After all, who wants to read about their health plan or 401K package? Very often that would include “infotainment” like designs that were fun and wacky. We would also create out-of-the-box programs and campaigns to help keep employees healthy and happy. Humor was very often a component of that. Hence, the name of my business… The LooneyBin Creative Studio. It really comes down to a core philosophy that should permeate the entire company from the top down and create a culture of fun and creativeness.
In #8 you discuss breaking the rules of business. The number 1 rule in business is sell everything, be it your time, services or products. How can one benefit from breaking the rules in one of those three areas?
In this case, breaking the rules means being creative and letting go. Picasso once said that it took him 4 years to learn to draw like Rafael but a lifetime to draw like a child. Let your hair down and play in the sand box just like a kid! The reason sales came easy to me is twofold: first I expressed my playful artist side and applied it to sales and secondly, I didn’t know any better as to what not to do. My lack of experience became a blessing because I tried and did things that experience would have told me not to do. In other words, don’t worry about the rules. Be childlike, figuratively speaking, let down your guard and run amuck.
You speak a lot about reaching out and doing kind acts for strangers in an attempt to connect with anyone around you while using humor, which helps to defuse awkwardness. Why can this be effective, especially for those in the services business?
Depending on the context, of course—and that could be geographically or culturally speaking, which you always have to be sensitive to—humor is one of the greatest common denominators we have as humans. It’s also what make’s life fun and healing. I am working on a project right now with the great comedian Craig Shoemaker called Laughter Heals. Laughter really is the best medicine… but it is also the greatest glue! It’s what brings us together regardless of the business or situation you are in.
Jerry Mathers (of Leave it to Beaver fame) is quoted as saying he finds your message refreshing. He compares the simpler times of the 50s to the hustle and bustle of today. Do you think that the Internet exposes those who try to keep all the candy to themselves and rewards the good guys who share?
The internet is just another tool that can be used for good or bad. If you get yourself into a place of creativity and spontaneity, you will bring a different energy to the table or the keyboard in this case. For instance, one of the chapters in the book talks about giving “virtual candy” which I think can be a very effective use of your time on the internet.
In #16 you mention that we are all like clowns, people see the painted faces that hide the inner self. What is one thing about yourself that the world doesn’t see?
I would like to think that I am an open book (so to speak). But, if I had to hazard a guess I would say that I am better at dishing out advice to others than to myself. I was out and about yesterday and got caught up in my own whirlwind of busyness and stress… Then I thought to myself, “You just wrote a book with a chapter about this!” I immediately retooled. It’s great and very healing when you can convict yourself with your own words… Everyone should write a book!
If you were able to send a text to yourself back in time, when you were just starting out in business, what would be the one phrase you would say to your younger self?
Great question. I will answer it with a couple of quotes:
“People will quickly forget what you said, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel.” – Warren Beatty
“Each man takes care that his neighbor shall not cheat him. But a day comes when he begins to care that he does not cheat his neighbor. Then all goes well – he has changed his market-cart into a chariot of the sun.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
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