Low Expectations Perfect for Building a Winning Streak

Going through customs at the Miami airport is a surprisingly decent experience.

Anyone else with me on this one?


The surprising truth here is I am actually telling the truth. No sarcasm, no satire. Ashley and I went through Miami customs yesterday and the line was always moving, the workers: friendly, the process seemed, dare I say, efficient.

Which went against everything we had been told. “Miami customs are awful” “An absolute bear.” “Arrive two hours early just to be safe.” 

Maybe our expectations had been set so low that any bit of customer service would seem 10x better than it really was, or maybe the Miami Airport happened to be on their A-game, who knows, what matters is their losing streak ended and they got a couple tally marks in the win column.

If you created a product, delivered a service, made a set of cold calls and the reaction was overwhelmingly negative, be it from your boss, your customers or even just negative thoughts in your own head, it’s not the end, it’s the beginning.

Downside – The expectations regarding you have been lowered.

Bright Side – Lowered expectations does not mean lower potential.

Examine the negative reviews. Fix the flaws. Begin converting opinions. A winning streak is never more than one good day away.


Hire a Chipotle Worker

The Chipotle on Michigan Avenue is incredibly efficient.

I got there at 12 and the line was almost out the door. There must have been 60-70 people ahead of me.

Behind the counter were five Chipotle workers just plowing through order after order. And the customers weren’t always the easiest to deal with either. I mumbled my order. The guy in front of me was glued to his phone. Guy in front of him, quiet voice. Guy after me, screaming his salsa order.

No matter the customer, the Chipotle workers kept the line moving. Never rattled. Always smiling.

Personally, I am absolutely terrified of being the one behind the counter building the burritos, no lettuce, yes lettuce, no guac, scanning credit cards, typing in orders, making change out of a $20. You are expected to be fast. No room for slowness, definitely no room for mistakes. High sizzle scenario.

So then why, in an office job, does having Microsoft Excel, Powerpoint, Word, (insert whatever other program experience here) carry more weight than “worked at Chipotle?”

In almost every office job, there will be moments when something is due at 3 p.m., but another assignment comes in that has to be done by 2 p.m. and yet another client needs a proposal by 3:30. How in the world are we going to pull this off?!

Relaaaaax. The Chipotle worker has seen this kind of stress before.

Programs can always be taught later. Poise under pressure is a harder skill to teach and a Chipotle worker comes readily equipped with this foundation in place.

Plus, they do it all with a smile.

Production Dollars are Advertising Dollars

I am on a website placing an order, but the continue arrow isn’t working. The page isn’t loading. Great, now there’s an error code. My session has timed out. What session? Does that mean everything I’ve been working on is just… gone… off floating somewhere in outer space?

I call the customer service line. I’m lucky, the hold time isn’t too long and I’m connected to a living breathing human being. He tells me to refresh the page. No luck. He asks me what internet browser am I using.

Most people use either Internet Explorer, Safari, Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. The browser “Opera” has lately been gaining momentum. I tell him which browser I’m using and the customer service rep replies:

“Our site doesn’t always operate well with (said browser) we recommend you try (better browser) or (2nd best browser) and then the page will load correctly.”

The reason companies dump millions of dollars into marketing/advertising is to reach this exact moment, one person telling another, “That product doesn’t work, try this one, it’s much better.”

If your programmers tell you they need two extra weeks and $50,000 more to fix a minor glitch in the system, this isn’t just a production cost, it’s a marketing cost. Same with the engineer asking for more time to fix a flaw with the car. Or the writer wanting to totally rewrite her book two days before you were set to announce the upcoming release date.

Saying no makes sense. There are deadlines to keep and the product is still good enough. A 94 percent is still technically an A.

The problem, though, with pushing forward despite the flaw is you leave the door open for someone else to make something better. The customer will eventually find out.

If you are already over budget in production costs, move money over from the advertising budget. Reasoning?

If I find out the product doesn’t work, there is not an advertising budget big enough to convince me otherwise. However, if the product does work, but I haven’t heard of it, I’m just one free recommendation away from being hooked.

My name is Chris O’Brien. I wrote a book called Medium Rare. The short elevator pitch: self-help advice in the form of a comedy. Available on Amazon.