Within the myriad of books on business, there are many with tools and tricks to help in different facets of the business. While Giving Candy to Strangers does have its share of strategies and suggestions to help you create a more natural sales practice, the gift of this book is in giving us a different way of approaching sales. With the sheer abundance of companies offering the same products, available worldwide via the web, how does one stand out and create a lasting and loyal customer base? They key, in Stan’s opinion is to give candy to strangers. This is not literal, of course, as the last thing we need is to add to the diabetes epidemic.
“Giving candy to strangers” is a metaphor for stepping out of your comfort zone and creating new relationships in a spirit of generosity and openness, without trying to engineer any particular kind of outcome. – Stan Holden
Stan teaches us, right from the beginning, to get out of our comfort zone. He views anyone within arms reach to be a potential relationship, rather then a quick sale. You will learn why making a funny comment in an elevator might be better then cold calling. You might never think of wrong numbers in the same way, after reading this book.
Stan’s humorous style makes this book easy to read, yet don’t discount the wisdom found within. Whether you consider yourself a salesperson or not, this book can be beneficial for any entrepreneur or business owner. The new economy is no longer based on the best products, but on the best relationships and this book will challenge you on 52 main points. Within those 52 points lies hundreds of anecdotes, advice and tricks to create lasting and beneficial relationships.
Just like one has better success of catching a butterfly by simply letting them come to you, rather then run after them…the same is true with sales today. If you approach someone with a sales first mindset, they will run away (fly away if they have superpowers, which is what I would like to do when a pushy salesperson approaches). Stan’s method instills a genuine interest in those around you and makes people comfortable to approach you. Sales eventually come, in more abundance, because clients feel the motivation behind the actions.
I really enjoyed tip #5 “Get your ducks in a flow” which deals with Analysis Paralysis. It truly moves one to action.
I’m afraid that if an organization does not follow this new trend in sales, they will see their sales dry up and evaporate before their eyes. I started giving candy to strangers and it’s pretty sweet!
Interview with Stan Holder, author of Giving Candy to 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 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 ones comfort zone. It’s really more about getting outside of your own box much they same way children (and artists) do.
You mention that a terrible event that occurred during your childhood was as 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. 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
You can get a copy of Stan’s book at the following sites:
Stan Holden, owner of The LooneyBin Creative Studio, has created work for many Fortune 100 companies. As a protégé, he was first published in a national magazine during the 5th grade. A graduate of California University Long Beach, his screenplay, Rebel Without A Claus, has received a “recommend” by Disney and optioned for filming. He resides in Irvine, CA, with his wife, Renée, and their two teenagers, Sara and William.
Nice review and post!
Great review; I was still operating my childhood programming of “don’t take candy from strangers.” Guess I should be giving candy to clients, or more importantly, read the book!