My Professional Story

I have a unique perspective from the past 14 years being part of a cloud communications startup during the birth of ‘cloud’ through two different acquisitions and changes of unified communications.

Startup Stage

In 2003, I was the first employee for Geckotech, a pioneer SaaS business phone service organization - designing business strategy, creating operational processes, and developing and implementing target product and service vision.

I managed staff across managed service delivery, help desk operations, and core infrastructure management. Playing an integral role in building the company, laid the operational and infrastructure groundwork that sold for $8M after just seven years. Executing operations in full our team earned a spot for several years on the Inc 5000 list for fastest-growing companies.

Growth Stage

In 2010, Geckotech was acquired by M5 Networks - a NY based SaaS business phone service provider. I spearheaded efforts at Geckotech LLC to integrate employees, core competencies, systems, and knowledge of the internal culture while doubling the service delivery team.

I directed 25+ employees from three teams across three locations responsible for onboarding all new clients. I worked cross-functionally to complete projects and design and implement cross-functional processes within Salesforce.com, leveraging ITIL best practices. Applying customer demand research and data, I influenced product and service offerings.

My teams helped improved initial recurring revenue install volumes by 50% and raised the new (Net Promoter Score) NPS— revamped install methodology to boost quality and speed, implemented automated campaigns for fewer customer-reactive interactions, and encouraged account teams to communicate and collaborate more productively.

Product Transformation Stage

In 2012, ShoreTel acquired M5 Networks in which I transitioned from business operations to focus on the core product - a Software as a Service voice platform.

I Worked as Agile product owner for the voice platform, consisting of 85% of the Cloud product’s recurring revenue. Led product team members, including the core ecosystem—premises, cloud and hybrid voice service, e-commerce platform, and service delivery infrastructure. My teams analyzed requirements to implement changes and create excellent customer experiences.

Presented unique service offerings, Expert Start and Jump Start, to improve quality and on-boarding speed of new clients. Launched the introductory product post-acquisition—the ShoreTel-branded phone series for the Cloud platform—which completed the end-to-end user experience.

Oversaw business requirements and worked with developers and cross-functionally from the design stage through execution for a client order management platform, serving as project lead.

Present Stage

After leaving ShoreTel, I started my entrepreneurial journey at Dreamforce and later obtained my certification. I applied Salesforce expertise to help Shake Shack improve the capabilities within the retail locations— store manager efficiency, customer interactions, and processes.

As part of the Salesforce Service Cloud implementation;

  • Reduced overhead and costs related to shipping gift cards by implementing email QR code integration to track issued cards better.
  • Replaced excessive email program that provided store information and news with a daily report dashboard using case automation rules, improving store manager efficiency and simplifying donation approval process.
  • Migrated all customers, case data, and information from Desk.com to Salesforce Service Cloud for comprehensive trend reporting.

Thanks for taking the time to read about my journey. Let me know how I can help your business. I can be reached at 646.634.2114 or a quick visit to the contact us page.  

Best,

Randa Green

The Pukka Panda

How Pure Barre Is Pure Brilliant - 6 Things You Can Learn From A Great Experience

In honor of my 100th Pure Barre class at Pure Barre Brooklyn in Park Slope, I thought I would share why Pure Barre is Pure Brilliant. I am no stranger to organized classes… Gymnastics through high school, Pilates, Aerial Silks, Martial Arts, Spin, and more - excluding those I took when I was young as I can assure you I didn’t critique business structure and experience until I entered the business world.

The Mind Body platform must have a monopoly on these classes as most of them use it as their system to enable payments and scheduling. What a great idea to allow the experts to focus on their core business! While they all use the same platform, it is the experience you have when you go to the class that makes all the difference.

Believe me, this franchise is killing it! Out of all of these places, I have not seen the level of experience in which you receive at Pure Barre. The branding, messaging, consistent approach, thoughtful motivation, guidance of technique, and attention to subconscious details through organization are all on point.

I am all for the statement ‘no pain, no gain’. Whether it is business, personal, or fitness - you need to push yourself to see the difference. There are no short cuts.

On my first visit, I walk into the front door to a welcome smile at the front desk. As typical behavior for me, I arrive early. I am pleased to see that it is not packed with people exiting the previous class. They brilliantly schedule 30 minutes between classes to avoid the mad rush of people at the switch of a class.

#1 Organization - Pay Attention To The Details

Pure Barre has an attention to detail and has everything ORGANIZED!

After I signed the waiver, purchased my Pure Barre sticky socks, they sit down with me to explain the concept of tucking your hips, how we will start with the most movement during the warmup and progress through each muscle group with tiny movements.

They conveniently sell everything you need to attend class in case you forgot, or just need to add to your wardrobe since you attend class so frequently. My forgetfulness is to blame for my sticky socks while the latter is responsible for my leggings and Pure Barre brand tops. I am hooked.

#2 Consistent - People, Classes, and Locations

After over 100 classes, every instructor CONSISTENTLY sits down with new students to explain the Pure Barre concept, introduces themselves, confirms there are no injuries which they are not aware of, and follows the routine perfectly for the remainder of the class. While consistent, they each add their own personality and flair to make the class unique.

Personality makes a difference at any business. I am drawn to personality. Even if I like a brand, I will not shop or do business with those that are rude. Just not my style.

One of the biggest reasons I continue to go day after day is that I am in pain EVERY SINGLE TIME, you work your muscles until they fatigue and shake - all in about 2-3 minutes per muscle group.

We start with 15 minute warm up for abs and weights.

#3 Emotional Connection - Understand and Motivate Your Audience

The MOTIVATION begins in the first part of class, and continues throughout as the instructors learn names and provide positive praise for technique well executed.

"This is your first big challenge. You have 90 seconds in this plank. This is your time. Take this time to set a goal for yourself. Leave everything else at the door..."

You have an option to use no weights, 2, 3, or 5. Whichever you choose, you will feel the pain when doing the technique properly. In fact, 3 pound weights never felt so heavy with small movements and ultra fatigue.

More MOTIVATION

"Only 30 more seconds until you are done with weights and can stretch your arms. You can do anything for 30 seconds. That's 10, 2, 3, 4..."

Your brain immediately grasps onto the CONSISTENCY and meaning of the count to 10 that ends each exercise and often feels like eternity.

The person at the front desk enters the room to help pick up our weights as we do an arm stretch with the stretchy tube. Another great example of ORGANIZATION and TEAMWORK.

Next we move into about 9 minutes of thigh work. Who is counting? Your thighs literally shake from the fatigue which proves that it is making a change.

"Down an inch, up an inch, now tuck and tuck. Down an inch, up an inch, now tuck, tuck deeper. Smile. It helps."

Yes. Yet another time when smiling does really help! There is a perfect balance of relaxation, pain, repetition, variation, and mental encouragement.

#4 Guidance - Provide An Opportunity To Learn

I learned during a recent ‘Breaking Down The Barre’, session which is free monthly at my Pure Barre studio, that you can literally take the class with your eyes closed since they provide such great verbal GUIDANCE.

Remember, if your customers are confused or don’t know how to use your product, it can lead to a poor experience. In addition to the free monthly class, Pure Barre does a fantastic job at correcting form during the class, and are available after class to assist. (Since they don’t schedule back to back classes, they are ORGANIZED to enable instructors to remain after class)

A big thigh stretch has never felt better! Just a few short minutes of drifting into la la land, and it is time to tone the butt. Or, commonly referred to as ‘The Pure Barre Ledge’. You know, the one that got Victoria Secret into all that trouble for screwing up their photo shop.

And, why wouldn’t the music be perfectly timed to all the exercises! Brilliant. I may have been caught dancing and singing to a few of the great tunes, but who is watching when you can take the class with your eyes closed?

"Close your eyes and let the music take you to the end..."

As we finish toning our butts and making funny faces from the pain, the instructor places the perfect quantity of BRANDED pink mats in the middle of the room to prepare for the deep abs part of class.

#5 Brilliance Indicator: Relaxation - Make Your Audience Comfortable

Pure Barre challenges me to RELAX my mind. If my mind starts drifting off to think about work or whatever else is going on, I lose my form.- and am luckily corrected by the  instructor. In order to get the most out of the workout, you need to concentrate and focus on the form.

The lights are dimmed at this point. DETAILS MAKE A DIFFERENCE

"Grab a mat and place it about 3/4 against the wall. Sit in a slouchy position so it feels like you are in front of the TV balancing a bowl of popcorn on your stomach. Now take your right leg and pull it up to your face..."

Okay. You will just need to go to a class to learn about this part. It is magic! You learn how to move your legs with your abs. I am not joking!

The music bumps up a bit for a faster pace of ab work against the wall.

"Now scooch that newly toned butt all the way back against the wall so there is nothing between your butt and the wall"

The lights are now turned completely off to encourage more RELAXATION.

"It's time for abs and cool down. Grab your matts and head to the center of the room... sit at the edge of your matt, legs out with a 3/4 length bend at the knees, toes together, heels apart, on your toes, now sit up straight and round your back to a c-curve.."

During cool down, the instructor drops of wipes for your ball and matt. Once again, a DETAIL that makes leaving class so much easier!

Class after class, instructor after instructor, my experience is the same each and every time! There is a reason I have gone to an average of about 15-20 classes per month since October… And, it may or may not be that they include a COMPETITIVE factor into the mix.

#6 Competition - Give Them Something To Win

Pure Barre incorporates COMPETITION into the program to MOTIVATE people in a different way. Twice in the past 5-6 months, there has been a sign up on the wall to post your name and put a sticker each time you attend a class.  When you hit the goal quantity of classes, you are entered to win - great prizes like an unlimited year of classes. The bonus is public recognition that you made your target.

As a reminder, here is why I am a true believer of why the Pure Barre franchise is Pure Brilliant, and you should either check it out or learn from their experience.

  1. Organization - Pay Attention To The Details
  2. Consistent - People, Classes, and Locations
  3. Emotional Connection - Understand and Motivate Your Audience
  4. Guidance - Provide An Opportunity to Learn
  5. Relaxation - Make Your Audience Comfortable
  6. Competition - Give Them Something to Win 

As a consumer, do you notice and appreciate these 6 areas?

As a business professional, how do you incorporate these tactics into your business? Do you have any plans to change processes to include them?

Yours Truly,

Randa Green

 

Be Consistent For Smooth Sailing Customer Experience

In my last post, I shared a few stories about my first experiences. Not only do I love to try new places for the first time, learn new subjects, challenge myself with activities like the Tough Mudder - it is great to experience new products and services.

As a business leader, you are the champion for a great customer experience!

Whether your first interaction with a customer is face-to-face, through technology, or as a reference - it is your first and best opportunity to connect. Once you connect, you are positioned to convert them as a new customer, and finally keep providing them a great experience - just like you did the first time!

In my experience as a consumer and customer service operations leader, consistency is a key factor to consider when you create your business strategy, develop processes, and choose technologies. Here is a story that truly opened my eyes to the importance of consistency.

The Story of Consistency

Starts with a great first experience. To Connect, Convert,

It all started with the first visit and a hand-written thank you note. I was hooked as a loyal customer for 6+ years until I moved from Chicago to NYC. Rashida is not only an influential female entrepreneur that I look up to, she is a friend. We both have a passion for customer experience and would often share business stories - even if beauty and hosted VoIP are different industries, human behavior and requirements are the same.

And Keep Your Customers!

There was something about walking into her studio that was refreshing. The entire experience was so effortless. As a subscription service, there was no hassle with payment upon arrival. While you waited; you sat in comfortable sofa and chairs, enjoyed your favorite mini soda, a variety of candy options, and movies with Audrey Hepburn to match the posters of the icon on the walls.

One day, she shared her perspective of consistency in customer experience with me. We subconsciously expect to receive consistent experiences in all of our interactions. As she explained it to me, I easily connected the dots of consistency in my visits with her over the years. One simple example was how she mixed the same 10 songs into the music playlists.

It can be the littlest detail like your hair dresser not using a familiar product or tool with no explanation. While it may not stop you from a return visit, it will likely leave a void as if something is missing. Ever since this conversation with Rashida, I always notice the impact of consistency as a consumer and business leader. I am so excited that Rashida is sharing her expertise to help others build brand identity strategy

Be Consistent

In the journey to connect, convert, and keep loyal customers - here are three key areas of consistency to consider. Establish initial trust during the first interaction and continue to provide the same across all channels, to each customer, and through the entire journey.

Across All Communication Channels

Customers want a choice in how they connect with your business. Be consistent in your communications across all channels. If you have different departments managing social media feeds than handling email and phone calls, using the same knowledge base to provide responses to customers will help them be consistent. Invest in tools to keep those teams aware of different channel interactions. Salesforce is just one option. Don’t blow a great first impression from the amazing store personality with lack of response via email or Twitter.

When Dealing With Different Customers

Customers share stories about their experiences, especially over social media. With so many choices available, recommendations from trusted sources are always welcome as a consumer - and for your business. Influencers… Document best practices for consistent interaction when customers deal with different roles across the organization. No one wants to hear praises about an experience with an amazing salesperson only to be shattered by a complete disaster with a different one. Next thing you know, there is a heated argument between best friends over a bad recommendation.

For Each Interaction

Consistency during each interaction with a customer can impacts his/her loyalty. Imagine that you have an effortless experience the first few times you visit a new store - you are greeted with a smile, offered the beverage of your choice (which should be consistent), and enjoy the familiar music. As you learn to expect the same treatment over time, of course you are surprised if you enter the store and feel as if you are in a different world! What happened? Is there new management? You decide to give them the benefit of the doubt - it must have been an off day…  While the tolerance for  variations in  customer experience will vary,  don’t test the waters when you have the power to manage the consistency.

What are your thoughts on consistency as a customer? How do you handle consistency with customers at your business?

Yours Truly,

The Pukka Panda

 

Learn Through Frequent First Time Experiences

There is something about the first experience that we don’t forget. Whether it is the first trophy, kiss, gymnastics competition, 'The First Time', or when we first learn what it feels like to be hurt - from peers, co-workers, someone we love… it shapes who we are as individuals…  The first time we experience something, we are the most vulnerable; hopefully open to learn and embrace the opportunities the world has to offer.

I personally love to try new things, embrace challenges, meet new friends, and welcome opportunities to learn and grow. Here are two recent events that remind me of the significance of first experiences.

Being Vulnerable

During a recent business trip to California, I watched ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ starring Audrey Hepburn - a personal fashion icon of mine. I am refreshed by her carefree attitude, authenticity, and positive outlook on life. She and her neighbor take a day of adventure in NYC to experience a day of ‘firsts’ - being vulnerable to both new things and about one another.  Wondering why I don’t do this more frequently, I texted my boyfriend the idea as soon as I landed…

To my surprise, Friday of that week, he planned an evening of first experiences for me in NYC; running 5 miles of interval training on a Friday evening (I typically like to run in the mornings…), walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (I had only biked), dinner at a new restaurant, and the top of the Empire State Building. I truly felt like a little kid in a candy store with the world to explore and learn - and luckily the world is a big place.

 Times Square and Bryant Park from the top of The Empire State building

Times Square and Bryant Park from the top of The Empire State building

Tough or Rewarding - It Is Your Choice

I signed up for my first Tough Mudder a few weeks ago for Saturday, August 15th. I didn’t really know the details until I watched videos a few days later… I just expected some mud, monkey bars, ropes; however, the Electroshock Therapy 2.0 particularly worried me a bit. I was secretly hoping I would nail the Funkey Monkey 2.0 with my background as a certified child monkey.

 As you can see on my face, the electric shock was not my favorite. At least it was the last obstacle. It was just a really weird feeling since you could feel it throughout your entire body.

As you can see on my face, the electric shock was not my favorite. At least it was the last obstacle. It was just a really weird feeling since you could feel it throughout your entire body.

Fast forward to past our team carpool from Brooklyn, Def Leppard jam on the school bus ride to the location, and coordinated ‘warm-up area’, it was finally our turn to be TOUGH! When we arrived at the start line, we were told to kneel down for a pep talk from Sean Corvelle, the MIC guy for Tough Mudder. During his speech, he emphasized the power of teamwork and positivity, shared Tough Mudder stories, and highlighted the importance of trying new things. 

 I am pleased to report that I successfully completed the Funkey Monkey! The monkey bars were always my favorite on the playground. Even today, I become a kid again at any playground that has monkey bars or anything to climb.

I am pleased to report that I successfully completed the Funkey Monkey! The monkey bars were always my favorite on the playground. Even today, I become a kid again at any playground that has monkey bars or anything to climb.

Sean said, "Try to do something for the first time at least once a week."

Done! The Tough Mudder was not only a great first experience, I am now inspired to try take Sean’s advice.

Whether the first experience is tough or rewarding, I encourage you to be open and think positively. You have the choice to create your own adventure, learn from each challenge, and create endless opportunities for yourself and others.

I look forward to sharing new first experiences with you all. I would love to hear about your first experiences.

Yours Truly

The Pukka Panda


A Challenge Is Your Opportunity To Create A Winning Solution

I don’t accept no for an answer. There is always a way to find a solution to achieve the desired objective. Think differently. Ask the next question. While It may not be the easiest path, there is a a way to get where you need.

Fortunately, my life is filled with family, friends, and business leaders that have taught me you can achieve anything with the right approach. I am always up for a challenge, which is well known to those people… especially my mother when challenging me to cross the adult rings at the lake at age 6, to climb a tree, or recently to swing on a vine in Puerto Rico.

When there is a challenge to overcome...

I recently watched ‘Moneyball’ - a great story of challenges and the motivation to win. In ‘Moneyball’, they are challenged by the lowest budget for baseball. How do you win with no budget to buy the best players? After losing their top player, Billy, the General Manager pleads for additional money as his first approach. Being told ‘no’, he tries his next option to buy a sub-par player from another team. When Billy hears ‘no’ again influenced by a recent Yale Economics graduate, he takes the opportunity to dig deeper with this individual and learn more about why he won’t give up this player. Sold on this new method using analytics to redefine what makes a winning player, there is an opportunity to get the right team of players to win the game.

It is not about one player, it’s about the team...

Billy is motivated to create a winning team and hires the Yale graduate to help him find those players. While Billy is motivated, his initial method to execute on the new analytic approach is a failure - the team loses 15+ straight games with the three new players, while giving him a bad name. Billy was determined, yet was trying to win with a strategy in a vacuum of two people, without properly communicating the tactics to the rest of the team.

And leading through personal connection and individual motivation.

After a tarnished reputation from failure to deliver using the new technique, it hits Billy personally when his daughter expresses her fear of him losing his job and moving away. At that point, there was something that hit home and he became a leader.

Before, he was unattached to the players on the team - not riding on the plane with them or visiting them in the locker room. There was no personal connection. He was not being a leader.

Billy took the time to meet with each person individually, to understand them, to learn what they needed to feel motivated. Sure enough, the team wins the next 20 straight games to beat the record.

In the end, they did not win the World Series; however, Billy grew as an individual and learned what was important. He was offered the highest General Manager position and refused it to stay with his team. It wasn’t about the money, it was about how he felt - accomplished - appreciated. In the story, he made a difference in the game with other teams adopting the strategy in future years.

Whether you are on the giving or receiving end of ‘no’, use it as an opportunity to help provide an alternative solution or think differently to achieve the objective. I would love to hear your story about creating an opportunity out of a challenge.

Yours Truly,

The Pukka Panda

How To Get Full Attention From Your Audience

"Communication is the process of sending and receiving messages. However, communication is effective only when the message is understood and when it stimulates action or encourages the receiver to think in new ways." (Courtland L. Bovée, John V. Thill, and Barbara E. Schatzman, Business Communication Essentials. Pearson, 2004)

As we are buried in endless communication from every channel, we need to bypass information overload and help our audience capture and lock into their memory?

In the beginning, its simple…

Being the first employee for a startup, I designed and implemented the operational processes used with the systems to support the voice SaaS business. At Geckotech, I led the teams responsible for implementation, customer service, and the data center infrastructure. Since we were all located within one office, communicating change was simple - and it occurred frequently. A combination of email communication, weekly training sessions, and management of defined metrics was a great recipe for success.

Once business grow into more than one location, the recipe needs to adapt. In fact, using an application called RescueTime  to understand productivity by application use, I noticed that my email usage went from 5 hours a week to 15 hours a week when managing teams across different locations!

When you grow, it becomes a challenge...

When M5 Networks acquired Geckotech, I transitioned to oversee business process and the service delivery teams which span across several locations. As a growing business implementing new technology and systems, it was a careful challenge to communicate change effectively and continue to maintain top NPS scores. Technology and systems will only have the expected impact when the people and change process are managed properly.

Emails, meetings, Powerpoint decks posted on Salesforce.com chatter, and knowledge base articles didn’t seem to be enough to effectively communicate the information required to both the impacted teams and the rest of the company. After all, everyone else is using the same communication channels. Rewind back to the comment about information overload... As a company, we adopted quarterly change sprints so make change consistent. Even with a corporate movement, there is room for creativity.

It’s time to disrupt the norm…

I can almost guarantee your message will be the only one in the restroom. Just like we need to take some time away from our smartphone and technology at times, we also need a ‘bio’ break!

I found the ‘sacred’ place a great way to capture everyone’s attention and generate some funny emails from those who were shocked by the placement. Here are some tips that I learned along the way through positive and constructive feedback which I used to iterate into the weekly posts.

Now, it is your turn!

Here are some tips on how to make your “Flush” most effective:

The Content 

Keep it simple with key messages and bullets

Repeat message from other communication channels

Provide online knowledge base source to access details

Use as a source to compliment individuals

Execution is Key

Choose an ambassador at each site to post in all stalls (and remind them to be careful when entering the opposite sex restroom...) 

Post it at the right place on the stall door AND standing height for men

Consistently provide new material and announce via email or meeting

Email a PDF version to remote workers separately (While worth a shot, I doubt they will post it at home) 

What do you think? Give it a try. I would love to hear the feedback and results.

Yours Truly,

THE PUKKA PANDA

Curious about Information Overload? Check out this article from Forbes.

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Compliment A Stranger Challenge - It's Free & Full of Smiles

Are you up for a challenge that requires you to pay attention to your surroundings, get outside of your work bubble, and look up from your smartphone?

Add one or two compliments to your daily activity to help brighten three days and beyond.

There is something different about a compliment from someone other than friends and family. It seems more genuine, it takes a bit of guts, and is just a great surprise.

Smile #1 Scenario: Complete Stranger - Give a compliment to a complete stranger each day. It makes your commute to and from work more enjoyable than playing 2048.

I was shopping the other day at one of my favorite places for jeans, GStar. Imagine that... As I was waiting for an Uber to return to Brooklyn, this gentlemen passes by on his bike, smiles, and says 'nice trousers'. I returned the smile and had a little giggle to myself about the word trouser which I don’t hear often.

5 minutes goes by... The same gentlemen passes by me on his bike, smiles, and again says 'nice trousers'. I return the smile for the second time. My Uber arrived so I am not sure if he would have passed by a third time. While he may not remember it, I still smile when I think of this interaction. That simple act of kindness produced 4 smiles on that day and continues to increase.

Smile #2 Scenario: Colleague - Give positive feedback or a compliment about work to a colleague with whom you don't typically interact.

While it is generally nice to provide compliments about style, positive feedback regarding his/her work is well received. About a year and a half ago, for a large conference, there was a colleague whom executed planning the event brilliantly. At that time, I had only a few interactions with her; however, I really thought she should hear of mine and others appreciation for making it simple. I sent a nice email to express that appreciation. In person is the ideal and likely most impactful.

Over the past year and a half, we have become close friends and frequently interact. About a month ago, she told me that she still remembers that email I sent. She shared about the planning experience and that I made her day! Guess what, she made my day, too - and the thought that a simple gesture can make someone smile and continue to bring smiles to our days, is amazing.

I would love to hear your stories about how you feel after giving or receiving compliments. Are you up for the challenge to help make our days brighter?

Yours Truly

the pukka panda

Motivate Winning Teams Through Perspective Training

In my last post, 'Walk In Their Shoes To Create Better Relationships And Teams', I shared the the power of learning perspective and truly connecting to people. Here is a personal story of the success I had with perspective training.

While managing the service delivery and support teams at Geckotech, I held weekly training sessions on soft skills, positive tone, team building, and such. It was a great way learn how to better service customers, carefully navigate difficult conversations, and truly understand each other as a team.

First comes the struggles

As a team, we were very good at meeting the customer deadline; however, there were times we struggled to keep all members of the team on 'Happy Street'. During those times, there were some heroic efforts of rushing each other to make that target date. If you provide a great customer experience while breaking your back or harming the team, the result is not ideal. I want win/win/win - customers/employees/vendors!

Then the opportunity

I asked what motivates them to drive reward programs that aligned with each person. We are all motivated in different ways because of our own perspectives. When we understand the perspectives of others, we can connect to the ‘root cause’ of the behaviors. My goal was to motivate them to provide the best customer experience AND team experience. 

To learn and improve

After learning the motivation of the team, I created a points program that could be exchanged for gifts (some people prefer gift to money so they don’t feel the need to spend on bills…), credit card (obvious reasons), or time off (for those with kids that often had to take more time off on school holidays, for example). The points were awarded for the 'Ideal' and 'Above and Beyond' behaviors. It was not a replacement for doing normal daily activities.

Working together

One way ‘The Team’ could jointly earn points was after each new customer implementation. The team had a customer install target date along with internal milestones that aligned to the ideal time to complete the work required in each role. The best score for the implementation was awarded when All Dates AND Key Performance Indicators were met. If the team only met the install target date to make the customer happy, it was not enough. They needed to meet the internal dates to make everyone happy. If one date was missed, it added extra pressure to other roles - which is not working together.

To create the ideal win/win/win

At the end, each person completed a survey on ‘THEIR PERSPECTIVE’ of the implementation. We had a review meeting to discuss the results. It was a great exercise for the team to learn the perspectives of each role. In the end, it made the team respect one another more and work better together to provide the best customer experience. 

Yours Truly

ThePukkaPanda

 

Walk In Their Shoes To Create Better Relationships And Teams

Walk In Their Shoes To Create Better Relationships And Teams

If you have seen ‘50 Shades of Grey’, it is a great example of understanding how different events shape our life and behaviors.

Now on to the story. 

I read the book 3 Laws of Performance several years ago. It is a great lesson on situational leadership, connecting to your team, and breaking personal and professional barriers. The stories in the book are eye opening and amazing! While the book has several other key messages that are important, the motivation for this article is understanding perspective and how you can create better relationships and teams through 'Walking In Their Shoes'.

Mastering customer service, among other areas in life, requires understanding the psychology of people. It is truly caring about what drives behavior for your customers, employees, peers, and others. It is not Rocket Science that being authentic and creating a personal relationship is what people desire. It is also learning the subconscious, the unknown, and the events that shape how we live our lives. It is learning and connecting to perspectives.

I continue to use this approach in both professional and personal relationships. On a personal note, I can think of several events that have shaped who I am today. There is not one specific event that sticks out, which is probably true to most of you. It is how you approach the events with yourself and others that can make a difference in performance. 

In the next post, I will share a personal story about how I used perspective training to improve the performance and relationship with my team.


I would love to hear your story. 

  • Have you ever thought of perspective training within your organization?
  • Do you take the time to authentically connect to your team, customers, and friends to relate?
  • Have you had any breakthroughs from asking the right questions to understand the ‘root cause’ of someone’s behavior?

If you have not tried to truly understand the perspective of others before making a judgement, gossiping, or other getting upset, give it a try! I bet you will have a new perspective and a happier moment.

Yours Truly,

The Pukka Panda


5 Tips to Shine... #5 Be A Flip Flopper: Keep Change Constant

Be a Flip Flopper: Mix up your daily routine to keep your brain active

One of my peers at work told me that I have the ability to light up any room. The light comes from the inside and shines through confidence, being genuine and caring, and staying positive with a smile.

We all have heard the phrase - beauty is skin deep, it’s who you are on the inside that truly matters. Here are some tips to save valuable time and money, while you let your inner beauty shine.

Take this for what it is worth… When I say ‘be a flip flopper’, I mean don’t get stuck in the same daily routine.

When we are stuck on ‘auto-pilot’ we are doing things subconsciously. Keep your brain active by practicing methods for sparking creativity.  Know when to kick the bad habits - which can include the daily routines and ‘auto pilot’ monotony that unwittingly stifle creativity - and learn how to pick up new ones that will enhance your well-being and productivity.  If you’re in a negative rut, make the conscious choice to ‘flip flop’ to a positive one.

Here is a story of a friend and vendor who is a partner in crime for an authentic and positive lifestyle - and an inspiration for this tip.

He and I share a love for operations and process so we immediately connected the first time we met. Our minds were always spinning on how we could leverage and optimize our processes. During a visit a few years ago, he was so kind to pick me up at the Cincinnati airport. When I got in the car, I noticed he had a beard, which was not his ‘normal’ look…  

He began to explain that he often changes his daily routine in order to mix up the subconscious.  He first learned this technique that I labeled 'Flip Flopping' during his training as a young Marine, and successfully continues to use them some twenty years later. 

 As he explained it: 

I had this great instructor during my primary occupational training; he was a 25-year Master Gunnery Sergeant (aka ‘Top’), who happened to have a degree in Psychology. I was trained at Landing Force Training Command Pacific (LFTC-PAC), Coronado, CA as a Logistician.

Effective logistics requires stringent adherence to proven SOPs for moving troops and cargo expeditiously, and while utilizing various modes of transportation (air, land and sea) under adverse or frequently changing conditions.

That said, our instructor, ‘Top’, would often admonish: ‘once you are assigned to your duty stations, do NOT become stuck in the rut of “this is the way we always do it”. Instead, remain always flexible to adapting creative approaches when the usual SOP cannot be applied. Be able to change and adapt, or die.’

Top said that in order to stay flexible, we had to both recognize and then make the conscious choice to mix things up when life becomes routine.

What he said next to our class was very intriguing: ‘I want you to try an experiment. The next time you shave and/or brush your teeth, put on your socks and boots, your trousers, etc—I want you to simply use the opposite hand or start on the opposite side.

If you normally put on your right sock first, then start with your left. If you shave from your right side to left, then start on your left side. If you brush your teeth from the left side to right, then switch hands and start on the opposite side. Just pick one habit per day, change it, and then let me know how your day goes from there…’

Well, we followed Top’s direction and the results were interesting. Over the next few days of classes he went around the room to ask about our reactions, and a lot of us reported common experiences: awkwardness, being off-balance, baffled by how much thought went in to (or not) something so basic and, in general, how something as seemingly simple as changing which side of our face we shaved first, somehow affected our perspective on the day ahead. Overall, we agreed that it did have an effect. Top explained this, partly, as the result of invoking and exercising brain hemispheres and states of brainwave (alpha, beta, theta, etc).
— My dear friend

He concluded this history by commenting that he was grateful for the lesson and continues to apply these and other techniques for avoiding the doldrums.   

While developing this article I sent him this link and he replied at once with enthusiasm:  “That’s it- this article explains some of the principles that Top was trying to convey to us so many years ago..!” I appreciate that he helped retell the story from many years ago.

You may think that a few Operations geeks that were so into process would not be fans of change; however, it’s the opposite. We all need to embrace change and creativity to improve how we love, live, and work. When change is constant, it becomes the norm. When we change together, it makes the biggest impact.

 “Your actions determine which direction your life moves in. Therefore, to change the direction in your life, you must change your actions.”

Yours Truly

ThePukkaPanda


 

5 Tips to Shine... #4 Be Active: Exercise your brain and body

Be Active: Exercise your brain and body - with a natural glow

One of my peers at work told me that I have the ability to light up any room. The light comes from the inside and shines through confidence, being genuine and caring, and staying positive with a smile.

We all have heard the phrase - beauty is skin deep, it’s who you are on the inside that truly matters. Here are some tips to save valuable time and money, while you let your inner beauty shine.

Use your extra time from less primping to exercise your brain and body.

If you have a significant other, use your imagination on the best way to glow from the inside out… You may see what ‘look’ is an inspiration for makeup.

Otherwise, a quick workout will do the trick. Don’t over obsess about how much you exercise. Start with a small goal and work towards the larger goal. Even though its tough, you feel a lot better after a good workout. I personally need to get back on this train.

Keep your mind active by reading articles and books on your favorite topics. I love to start my day reviewing my Feedly thread. It is a simple way to keep up on business, technology, and fashion.

Yours Truly

ThePukkaPanda

 

5 Tips to Shine...#3 Be Positive: Show your glow from the inside out

One of my peers at work told me that I have the ability to light up any room. The light comes from the inside and shines through confidence, being genuine and caring, and staying positive with a smile.

We all have heard the phrase - beauty is skin deep, it’s who you are on the inside that truly matters. Here are some tips to save valuable time and money, while you let your inner beauty shine.

Be Positive: Show your glow from the inside out

Start your day with a smile. If you need a kick to get you going, turn on your favorite music. Smiling is contagious so spread the love with others throughout your day. Practice smiling with your eyes, your true smile, "Duchenne smile" or "smizing".

Here is how you Smile With Your Eyes.

Learn the triggers to your authentic smile. 

Smile Trigger Alert: Hilarious Greeting Cards

I have a stack of funny greeting cards in my desk that make me laugh every time I read them! It is amazing how a good laugh can improve your perspective.

The brand is ‘Frank and Funny’

One of my favorites is...

Inside: “Unless you have diarrhea”

Yea, that wasn’t the right joke to pull out in front of kids. On the other hand, try saying the word ‘poop’ when taking pictures of kids. It works really well.

I literally bought almost all of the cards to save for the perfect time and person. You need to be a bit careful on the distribution of them... Check them out and tell me you wouldn't laugh so hard by reading most of them. 

Another way is to simply think of a great moment with friends or family. The mind is pretty powerful for staying positive and healthy. Mind over matter!

Yours Truly

ThePukkaPanda

5 Tips To Shine From The Inside Out: #2 Be Confident

One of my peers at work told me that I have the ability to light up any room. The light comes from the inside and shines through confidence, being genuine and caring, and staying positive with a smile.

We all have heard the phrase - beauty is skin deep, it’s who you are on the inside that truly matters. Here are some tips to save valuable time and money, while you let your inner beauty shine.

  • Be Yourself: Embrace the #iwokeuplikethis hashtag (link to 2/23 post)

  • Be Confident: Practice your confident body language and power pose

  • Be Positive: Show your glow from the inside out

  • Be Active: Exercise your brain and body

  • Be a Flip Flopper: Mix up your daily routine to keep your brain active


Be Confident: Practice your confident body language and power pose

Being your authentic self has many benefits including a positive impact to your confidence.

'Self-confidence thrives on authenticity. The more facades you have to keep up, the more lies you need to keep track of, the worse the beating your self-confidence takes.'

Source

Since you gained up to an extra 55 minutes from less primping, use it to practice your confident body language. Be sure to choose a style that is comfortable with a spark of confidence. I personally love to wear the power color red for large presentations. I have a killer dress, pants, and jacket combo I will be sure to share in a future post. I save it for special occasions outside of -5 degrees... 

Check out the powerful presentation delivered by Amy Cuddy:

“Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.”

Yours Truly,

ThePukkaPanda

Please take a quick minute to provide some feedback on makeup vs. no makeup.


Introducing Pukka the Panda look #1 - 'It's Business Time with a Smile'

 Practice your 'power pose' with 'Pukka' the Panda!

Practice your 'power pose' with 'Pukka' the Panda!

5 Tips To Shine From The Inside Out: #1 Be Yourself

One of my peers and friend at work told me that I have the ability to light up any room. The light comes from the inside and shines through confidence, being genuine and caring, and staying positive with a smile.

We all have heard the phrase - "beauty is skin deep, it’s who you are on the inside that truly matters". Here are 5 tips to let your inner beauty shine while saving valuable time and money. The focus for today is to 'Be Yourself'. Please scroll to the bottom to fill out the survey with your view of natural.

The Stats:

  • 55 minutes: The amount of time the average woman spends primping each day

  • 2 weeks: The amount of time spent per year doing hair and makeup

  • $80 - $150+: The amount of money per visit to the salon for highlights or

  • $15,000: The amount of money women spend on makeup over their lifetime

  • Instantly: The amount of time it takes to be your authentic self

The 5 Tips:

  • Be Yourself: Embrace the #iwokeuplikethis hashtag

  • Be Confident: Practice your confident body language and power pose

  • Be Positive: Show your glow from the inside out

  • Be Active: Exercise your mind and body

  • Be a Flip Flopper: Mix up your daily routine to keep your brain active

Be Yourself: Embrace the #iwokeuplikethis hashtag

I personally prefer no makeup and my natural hair color, which has been my normal routine since I can remember. I prefer to spend the extra time picking out a fun style to match how I feel each day - expect more on this topic.

People become accustomed to seeing us a certain way - either with or without makeup. We each have our own authentic style. If you are more comfortable wearing makeup on a daily basis, perhaps try one day a week without makeup to incorporate as part of your ‘regular style routine’. Next time you need some extra beauty sleep, worry less about how you look since it is part of your regular routine.

I hope the trend of no makeup and un-retouched photos continues to become the norm. See Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, and other models without makeup.

If you don’t believe me: Make up? It's pretty much a waste of time: Natural looks found to be much more important when it comes to how attractive a woman is  


Tell me what you think in this survey or comment below. 

To add some color, I will survey some random strangers in NYC. Stay tuned... 

Yours Truly,

THEPUKKAPANDA

We All Want It Simple - Is It At Your Expense Or Theirs?

Simple: At Your Expense or Theirs?

Overheard in the airport on my way to California for a business trip.

"Why do you always pick on me?"

"Because it's easy."

As someone people like to tease, the response to this questions was familiar to me. Of course, it is also typical for many situations in life.

If you know me personally, you may be smiling or nodding in agreement.

In the past, teasing sometimes bothered me. Now, I realize it is either a form of flattery or just not about me.

We aim to make it simple for the user in products, business writing, customer experience and many other things. We want it simple for people to read, customers to purchase, manage, and even return. Repeat customers are the easiest to keep. Let’s make it simple for them, even if when it is more difficult for us!

It is often the opposite when choosing your path in life. If it is simple, it doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. It's not always simple to try something new or take the high road. When you choose the simple path, consider the impact to everyone - for both the present and future.

Yours Truly,

THEPUKKAPANDA

Being Vulnerable Can Be A Challenge - Embrace The Challenge

Challenge Yourself To Be Yourself

When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make,” “Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.
— Brene Brown: Daring Greatly

It was a challenge for me to ‘Dare Greatly’ and start this blog. I was afraid of putting myself out there for the world to see. After months of following other blogs and comparing myself, it was even harder to take the leap. I am not as skinny as the other style bloggers; however, that is not the focus and message. The content includes positive inspiration, authentic business, and customer experience - with my personal style on the side. At the same time, it was a learning experience and discovery process that was necessary. Being myself is the only thing I know. Sharing with the world differs from my comfort with vulnerability in business, among friends, or other small groups of people. Looking forward to sharing this challenge with you. Continue to learn, grow, and challenge yourself to be yourself!

Brene Brown’s book ‘Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead’ was a great source to learn about the power of vulnerability. Woohoo! A simple win for me to live, love, and lead. Vulnerability comes natural to me - it makes sense. Perhaps it goes along with the inability to keep a poker face. Or that you are the best at being yourself.

Why not call out your known weaknesses or share an embarrassing story, like the time you walked into a screen door at your own house or your skirt blows up in the middle of a busy NYC street. Connecting at a personal level is critical for trust. Vulnerability and trust among family and friends comes natural to most of us. They have seen us at our best and worst. We have each others shoulders for times we need to cry or need a hug.

Extending that vulnerability into business situations is not always so simple. If this is not natural to you, try it. Take the challenge. Even though you are not likely to cry on their shoulder, you can speak open and honestly about your opinions. Genuinely praise colleagues for work well done or admit to weaknesses so you have the opportunity to learn. When you establish trust with your team and organization, it benefits customers and all areas of the business. Hidden agendas and lack of transparency harms the culture and ultimately hits your bottom line. Embrace vulnerability to truly connect with people.

What are your thoughts on being vulnerable? 

To learn more about shame and vulnerability, read Brene Brown’s book or watch her popular TED Talk.

Yours Truly

THEPUKKAPANDA

Follow @thepukkapanda on Instagram for updates


Improve Your Day Through Interactions With Strangers

Talk To Strangers

I was born and raised in the Midwest, actually the safest small town in Ohio according to Movoto - and at top of most other lists. Needless to say, I didn’t worry about talking to strangers, even at a young age. It wasn't necessary in my circumstances.

My first experience in NYC was December of 2010 for due diligence regarding the acquisition between Geckotech and M5 Networks. (See About Page for LinkedIn Profile). I was not excited about  experience that visit - even though I had an amazing upgrade at the Trump Soho that was bigger than my Chicago apartment. (I had two bathrooms, a few TVs, and an amazing view of the Hudson river.)


Over the next few years, my role change required me to travel between Chicago and NYC weekly. Often, I felt alone in hotels. I didn’t understand why people didn’t actively engage in conversation like I was accustomed to in the Midwest. When strangers did talk to me, they were typically from out of town or the Midwest.

Most of us have heard the ‘view’ of NYC. Not having ever been to NYC, it was all I knew. On the other hand, I also make a conscious decision to refrain from judgement in personal interactions and experiences - so why would I not stick to this perspective for a new city.

Fast forward two years, I moved to NYC to the wonderful community of Hell’s Kitchen. I was fortunate to get the cutest studio across from a community garden thanks to a coworker that was moving - bonus that there was no agent fee! At this time, I had grown a complete different feeling for the city. I understood the people and the city. I learned to love NYC.

My interaction with strangers changed my view of NYC

Once I allowed myself to have an open mind, I realized the stereotype of NYC was incorrect. While most people seem to be in a rush with minimal time to chit-chat like the Midwest or South, it does not make the human instinct to love and care different than any other geographic area. Most of NYC area residents live in small apartments with constant crowds on the train, coffee shops, and pretty much every place else. People need space - but they also need social interaction!

I was now immersed in the city. I walked to work everyday from Hell’s Kitchen to Midtown. Often, on my walk, several strangers complimented me - with a kind sense of authenticity. On those days, I had a strange sense of happiness. There was a great feeling of this genuine interaction.

My Smile Test

Being from the Midwest and hearing frequently of the NYC stereotype. I had an idea - test the stranger smile response. While on my way to the office, I smiled at every person I passed. My goal was to determine the percentage of those that would return the smile.

I call it a success. While I stopped after 9th Ave due to the amount of people, I counted 60%. If all made eye contact, I am confident it would have been at least 80%. 

My Conclusion

People are authentic and genuine when you have an open mind and allow them into your life. Your smile or compliment can make a difference in someone’s day. Try it tomorrow on your subway ride!


Thoughts by Randa related to reference articles

Steffan’s Personality Blog  shows the stereotypes across geographic areas.

My thoughts: Do we conform to the stereotypes that are given to us by society? I suggest we challenge all types of stereotypes - Everyone and every place deserves an authentic interaction - without previous judgement.

How Talking to Strangers Makes us Happier

“Interacting with a stranger ... can provide this unexpected source of boost to our mood,” she said. “People don’t seem to recognize this benefit they get from interacting with a stranger as a result of just being their most-pleasant, cheerful self.”
— Huffington Post

My thoughts: We want to be social. Why do we choose our smartphones vs real engagement with a person?

We’ve been told since our playground days not to talk to strangers, but avoiding those everyday interactions may be slightly hurting us when it comes to our happiness as adults.
— Huffington Post

My thoughts: We tell kids not to talk to strangers. Is it because they are still authentic and vulnerable to desire social interaction with everyone? Of course the real reason is for safety.


Additional References

These Psychologists Think We'd Be Happier If We Talked to Strangers More

 

Talking to Strangers Makes You Happier

What are your thoughts?

Yours Truly

ThePukkaPanda


Pollyanna Promotes The 'Glad Game' - Power of Positive

I remember a time at work when I was told I was the happiest and most positive person, which I accept as a compliment. As this was shared during a team dinner, I told the story of Pollyanna and her use of 'The Glad Game’ to influence an entire community. One of my favorites from childhood, I was shocked that not one person in the group had seen the movie.

Not only had they not seen it, one colleague informed me that being a ‘Pollyanna’ is viewed negatively. What? I was in even more shock! Or perhaps I heard it and did not believe it based on my interpretation of the character.

What is the a desire behind over analyzing a character to find a flaw? Let's encourage people to look for the good. I will have a section of my blog, “Gladly Green” to keep the spirit of the glad game alive. 

Positive perspective and optimism do not require a complete disconnection from reality - as some articles comment. Maintain a positive approach to a project at work while also understanding the details to drive and collaborate the team(s) to success.

In honor of 'Pollyanna', I created my version of the 'Pollyanna Look' today - with a quirky twist.


“Nothing is further from the truth. Turns out, Pollyanna was right! The positive power of gratitude has been overwhelmingly proven by science. People who are consciously grateful are more energetic, more determined, think more clearly, think more methodically, make more progress towards goals, have more resilience during tough times, and are more optimistic, enthusiastic, and joyful. As if that wasn’t enough proof, the grateful are have fewer illnesses, greater immune response, and even exercise more.”
— selfgrowth.com
We’re living in a moment of total happiness obsession, in other words, and Pollyanna is our perfect mascot. Her “glad game” goes beyond simple positive thinking. Pollyanna isn’t always cheerful; she cries over disappointments large and small, and initially refuses to play the game when she suffers a major tragedy. It’s not that she’s naturally the world’s greatest optimist; rather, optimism is a tool she uses to make herself happy. Her gladness is Gladwellian: It’s not a state of mind, but rather a skill that becomes stronger with practice. As the freckled little guru herself put it, “When you’re hunting for the glad things, you sort of forget the other kind.” Welcome to the 21st century, Pollyanna. You’ll fit right in.
— The Atlantic

In Seth Godin's post, he compares Cassandra and Pollyanna. I would rather be the Pollyanna. An optimistic view can influence positive interactions and teamwork  - it doesn’t always indicate everything is fine.

To form your own opinion on the 'Pollyanna Principle', watch the movie for yourself. 

What do you think?

Yours Truly

THEPUKKAPANDA

Randa Green - The Real Pukka Panda

ThePukkaPanda Story

Authentic, charismatic, clumsy, driven, energetic, friendly, leader, lovable, positive, and smiling are a few words that describe me - ThePukkaPanda. 

  • Initial Idea:

    Start a fashion blog to complement my hobby, as I love the creative outlet of choosing different looks. One day is preppy, next day edgy, perhaps classic the following day - the choices are endless.
  • The Problem:

    Fashion does not capture the complete picture of me, and there was no clear message or theme. 
  • The Message Discovery:

I am not a poker player - what you see is what you get. I hear this often from friends and colleagues at work. I am proud of my authentic and vulnerable personality. My face tells it all.

I often have a Cheshire Cat Perma-Grin some may also comment. I have a contagious positive outlook to share and promote.

  • The Result:

I strive to be authentic and positive in all areas of my life - family, friends, business, fashion, and with strangers. I will blog about embracing a true authentic and positive lifestyle.

  • The Name:

‘Pukka’ is a synonym for authentic. ‘Panda’ is my nickname - Randa Panda. www.thepukkapanda.com.

  • What to Expect:

Authentic and positive posts about my life: Business, Fashion, Lifestyle, Favorites, and links to articles around the web that support the message.

What is authentic?

I think authentic is being your true self - not being afraid of what others will think.

Here is a link to a good article on 10 habits of highly authentic people

What is your definition of authentic? 

Yours Truly,

ThePukkaPanda

PS

I chose the name for this blog back in September of 2014 and made the leap to purchase domain names from Godaddy.com on the first of October. Originally, I set a goal to launch on my birthday, December 7th - which I reset to the beginning of 2015 for various excuses. I failed to ship as Winnie describes Your Turn Challenge - until now.

I officially accept the challenge posted by Winnie on Seth Godin’s blog, Getting Unstuck - A One Week Challenge. Honestly, I do not have solid details for the execution; however, am clear of the message: Embrace an Authentic and Positive Lifestyle.

Blogging is something new to me! I would love for you to come on this journey with me.